Technology Goes Camping

May 24, 2016  
Filed under Columnists, Feature Stories

By Gary M. Kaye

Chief Content Officer,
Tech50+ (www.tech50plus.com)

When many of us were growing up, a family camping trip really meant roughing it. Back then our folks would cram us and whatever gear we had into a sedan, or if we were lucky, a station wagon. But with the advent of minivans and SUV’s, you could carry a lot more gear. And as technology has gotten into the mix, a night in the woods with the family has become more like a day at the beach. Here’s our compilation of products that combine the best of new tech and old fashioned camping:

Food 

Technology is playing a major role in coming up with better and safer ways of storing, preparing and serving food than ever before.

Yeti Coolers – This is definitely not your father’s picnic cooler. Yeti’s Tundra line of coolers feature thick, heavily insulated walls and cover that will keep ice solid for days, not hours. If you’re into fishing or hunting, you’ll be able to store your catch, or ¼ of a deer. We’ve tried out the 65-quart model, big enough to hold food for a family of four for several days. A removable rack keeps your cold cuts cold, but not wet. They all have firm rubber strap catches and heavy duty rope handles. They also have holes that will fit locks to make them bear proof. The 65-quart model sells for just about $400, but they come in a large variety of sizes and prices.

The BaseCamp Stove uses small pieces of wood or branches for fuel, reduces the smoke, generates electricity and even comes with its own light so you can see what you're cooking at night (Courtesy Photo)

The BaseCamp Stove uses small pieces of wood or branches for fuel, reduces the smoke, generates electricity and even comes with its own light so you can see what you’re cooking at night (Courtesy Photo)

Biolite BaseCamp Stove – This brings cooking over a campfire into the 21st century. For starters, while most cooking solutions for a family require a gas fueled stove, the BaseCamp burns small pieces of wood or branches. No canisters of fuel needed. It also reduces the smoke that comes if you cook over an open fire with a grill. And even better, it generates electricity so you can charge a USB powered device – and even comes with its own light so you can see what you’re cooking at night. Price is just about $300.GoSun Sport Solar Stove – Here’s a cooking solution that requires no fuel at all, just sunlight. The GoSun Solar Stove will cook a meal in about 20 minutes, even on a cloudy day. It uses a glass vacuum tube and a big curved reflector. You can cook a huge variety of meals, from eggs to meats, veggies to fish. But there are some limits because of the shape of the tube. For example, hot dogs are easy, but you won’t be able to make a steak unless you cut it into strips. Fortunately, there are lots of recipes available so you can get the most out of this innovative cooking system. Price is $279.

MSR Reactor 1.7L Stove System – MSR, or Mountain Safety Research, makes a complete line of very well-reviewed camping and backpacking stoves. Their Reactor series comes in three sizes, 1 liter, 1.7 liters and 2.5 liters. The big plus for this system is that it will work in almost all weather conditions. So even if the weather outside is frightful, you can still make a hot meal. And if you are on a winter excursion, this is an easy way to convert snow into drinking water. We’ve seen it on sale at Amazon.com for $186.

MSR Flex4 Gourmet Cookware System – This set contains most of the cookware you’ll need to feed four people on your camping trip. The 13-piece set contains two anodized aluminum pots with strainer covers, four deep plates, four insulated mugs. They all fit together like Russian nesting dolls into the largest pot. The only things that aren’t included are a frying pan and flatware. We’ve seen it priced for $159.95 at Amazon.com.

Gerber Freescape Camp Kitchen Kit – When you’re out camping it can be tough to find a clean surface to prepare your food. An easy-to-wash cutting board is just one item in this handy kit, which comes with a camping knife, a paring knife and a knife sharpener. Both knives have slots in the carrying drawer which also has room for other small utensils or tableware. The Gerber Freescape Camp Kitchen Kit is available for $51.62 at Amazon.com.

AvexSport 24 oz 3Sixty Pour Thermal Bottle – When you’re at home, it’s easy enough to warm your cup of coffee by nuking it in the microwave. But when you’re out in the woods, it’s a little tougher. This big hot and cold bottle will keep that coffee warm for up to 16 hours. It will keep drinks cold for up to 30 hours. It’s designed so you can pour easily from any angle. It’s available for $26.83 at Amazon.com

Sleeping and Shelter

Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch Dome Tent – This new line of tents features Dark Room technology which blocks more than 97 percent of sunlight. That means you don’t have to wake up at dawn just because the sun is up. It has a screened-in front room so you can lounge without bugs. It uses several technologies to keep the interior dry, no matter the weather. It can be set up in about 15 minutes and the poles slide into continuous no-snag loops. It comes in versions to accommodate four people or six people. The four-person version is available for $153.99 at Amazon.com, while Amazon carries the six-person model for $219.

Therm-a-rest MondoKing 3D Mattress – One consistent complaint about camping is sleeping on the hard, cold, rocky ground. This new mattress will alleviate that problem. Among its features:

  • Comfort: 4 in. of stabilized loft provides the comfort of home anywhere.
  • 20 percent More Sleep Surface: Vertical sidewalls maximize useable sleep surface.
  • Incredibly Warm: Foam core delivers all-season warmth to assure a great night’s rest anytime.
  • Self-Inflating: Dual valves allow compressible foam core to expand/inflate when unpacked; just a few breaths top it off to your ideal firmness.

Available from Amazon.com for $179.

The Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch Dome Tent can be set up in about 15 minutes and features Dark Room technology which blocks more than 97 percent of sunlight so campers don't have to wake up at dawn just because the sun is up. It has a screened in front room and uses several technologies to keep the interior dry, no matter the weather. (Courtesy photo.)

The Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch Dome Tent can be set up in about 15 minutes and features Dark Room technology which blocks more than 97 percent of sunlight so campers don’t have to wake up at dawn just because the sun is up. It has a screened in front room and uses several technologies to keep the interior dry, no matter the weather. (Courtesy photo.)

Coleman Mountain View Screendome Shelter – This is a great way to have an outdoor meal without the bugs to keep you company, or to stay dry in the event of a sprinkle. It features two moveable shade walls to allow you to customize your sun protection, removable screen walls fend off bugs and stability for protection against the wind. It’s 43 percent lighter than a comparable Coleman Instant Sun Shelter and over 66 percents smaller when packed up. Available at Amazon.com for $194.

Wind Warrior Block – If you’ve ever tried to cook over a campfire in a stiff breeze, or set up a tent on the shores of the beach, you’re going to appreciate this wind block. It uses sturdy panels held up by strong poles that sit firmly in the ground to shield your campsite from the wind. It will hold up in sustained winds of up to 35 mph. It will protect your campfire, your picnic table, or even shield you while you’re making outdoor repairs. It’s available from Amazon.com for $179.

Lights and Gadgets

Coleman Northern Nova Propane Lantern – This is the brightest lantern Coleman has ever made. It combines old and new technologies to fill your entire campground with light. Its beam will illuminate an area more than 100 feet from the source. The patented tube-mantles shine brighter than standard versions and this lantern doubles up on that brightness technology to produce an unheard of 3000 lumens of light. Starting the lantern is easy. Just hit the Instastart™ push-button ignition and dial in the perfect brightness with the adjustable control knob. Once your lantern is lit, the legs provide extreme stability (and a space-age look) when placed on a table and the chain handle allows for easy hanging. Meanwhile, the globe guard helps protect the globe from breaking. The PerfectFlow™ pressure control technology produces a steady fuel stream and consistent performance in all kinds of weather. When you’re ready to head home, the legs fold up for more compact storage in the included travel case. Available at Amazon.com for $130.

Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Lantern – The new Thermacell Scout Lantern provides powerful portable light and creates a 15 ft x 15 ft zone of protection against mosquitoes, black flies and no-see-ums. The lantern has three light levels plus an SOS strobe. It comes with new 12-hour Max Life Repellent Mat and uses 12 hour butane Thermacell Refills. Available at Amazon.com for $33.

Biolite NanoGrid Portable Lighting and Power Hub – The NanoGrid is a compact, powerful system of rechargeable lighting and power storage. An advanced energy hub, the PowerLight stores shareable energy in the palm of your hand while the daisy-chain SiteLights provide a home-like network of overhead lighting. The system Includes:

  • (1)BioLite PowerLight and (1) BioLite SiteLight Set
  • Battery can fill three smart phones, or run the light for up to 72 hours
  • Dimmable lighting modes with emergency strobe setting
  • USB rechargeable: charge from an outlet or BioLite stoves
  • Light range: 33 ft. – lantern; 328 ft. Available at Amazon.com for $99.

Biolite Solar Panel 5+ – Get the most from the sun with the lightweight and portable solar panel. Featuring BioLite’s Optimal Sun System, an integrated sundial aligns you to the sun to capture direct rays while a 360 degree kickstand simplifies positioning on uneven terrain. The 2200mAh onboard battery stores energy for later, allowing you to charge devices when you need it most. Power phones, tablets and BioLite gear with this ultraslim 5-watt panel. Available at Amazon.com for $72.

EnerPlex Kickr IV Solar Charger – This solar charger unfolds to expose five solar panels. Originally designed for use by the United States military, the EnerPlex Kickr™ IV is a flexible, super-durable and lightweight 6.5 watt portable solar charger, powerful enough to charge mobile electronics at the same rate as a wall outlet. It’s made with ultra-rugged and flexible Solar-on-Plastic, it’s only 0.6 pounds, weather resistant and it’s a snap to fold. Available at Amazon.com for $69.

Outdoor Tech Kodiak Plus Portable Rugged Power Bank – You’ll be able to use your solar panel to charge up this behemoth of a power bank for those hours when the sun isn’t shining. This is about as large in terms of battery power as anything we’ve seen in a portable form factor. Among its features:

  • IPX7 waterproof, shockproof and dustproof
  • Dual USB out ports
  • 10,000 mAh
  • Charges up to 2.4 amp
  • Battery level indicator

Available from Amazon.com for $79.

RinseKit Portable Shower – After a day roughing it in the woods, bet you’d like a nice shower. The Rinsekit is a portable shower that delivers a pressurized spray for up to three minutes without pumping or batteries. RinseKit’s patented design features a pressure system that holds up to two gallons of water with a spray nozzle with seven different settings from jet stream to soaking shower. It comes packed with features, including: a two gallon pressure chamber, folding handle for one-handed carrying and easy-to-remove lid to stand on for changing. The RinseKit comes with a hose nozzle, 6 hose, hose bib adapter, on/off valve and quick connect. It’s available at Amazon.com for $89.

 

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