Over the course of this busy year of hiking, backpacking, and RV camping on the long and winding road to compile the next edition of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, this hiker has had the opportunity to field-test a variety of cool, new outdoor products.
Here is a brief overview of some of the items I found useful and recommend for the trail and campsite. They may be good choices for your gear locker, and make nice holiday gifts for outdoor friends and family. Have a look at:
Kahtoola RENAgaiters. Kahtoola’s reputation for quality and performance (think MICROspikes and narrow straps) continues with RENAgaiters, which help keep moisture, grime and debris out of your hiking boots, but with several new twists. The durable, replaceable instep strap is guaranteed for 1,000 miles and its connection points are extra protected from wear. Side zippers make putting them on and taking them off super easy, and the stretchy nylon fabric is light and water-repellent. $60 high mid and $50 low.
Phunkshun Versa headband. Phunkshun helps you take on hot-weather/trailway efforts messing things up in style with the Versa headband, which comes in an array of fun and funky colors and patterns (think flamingos, avocados, pineapples, and more). Made from recycled materials (plastic bottles) and special moisture-managing yarns, with these eco-friendly headbands you can look cool and stay cool while doing a good job. $17.
KUIU Kenai Refillable Gloves. With a name like Kenai (Alaska), you’d have to imagine these gloves would keep your fingers warm in the frigid Maine winter weather. And you are right. The rubber outer shell is windproof and waterproof, and the palm has a sturdy silicone print to keep your trekking or ski poles close at hand, but it’s Primaloft’s higher insulation that really makes the score on these warm and comfortable gloves. Ultra light at 3 ounces, it zips into a small mesh storage bag. $79.
Naturehike Cloud UP 2 Ultralight Camping Tent. Naturehike has been producing high quality, affordable outdoor gear for over a decade, and the Cloud UP 2 Ultralight Camping Tent is a great addition to their collection. The unique counter-rotation cross hooks make attaching the tent body to the poles easy with one hand. The tent material is light, durable, and weather-resistant, as is the attachable footprint, which adds extra moisture protection while keeping the tent floor intact. Cloud is ready for the wilderness at just under 3 lbs and $225.
The sound of Rain Packable Poncho. Generously cut to fit you and your pack, this bomber jacket will keep your gear dry while you enjoy some extra ventilation in inclement weather. Made from recycled polyester fiber (plastic bottles) and treated with an eco-friendly coating, it features a storm visor, shaped hood, bat sleeves, and two stash pockets with zip. Just under 9 ounces, the poncho packs into its own pouch. $89.
Hand soap sheets. This product from Natural Urges of Bath will help you get the right hygiene job right on the road. Each slim mini pack contains 50 sheets of natural hand soap made with botanical extracts. Take a sheet out of the water, add the water and rub it with your hands until it becomes a lather, then rinse and dry it. there he is! Clean hands, pure and simple. And since the leaves are wilting, there is nothing left to get rid of. $5.
Blend Jet. Billed as the “original portable blender,” the BlendJet 2 wasn’t made for the trail, but rather the road, or better yet, your campsite, where you can create cocktails, smoothies, shakes, and other refreshing beverages as the finale to a fun day outdoors. One hour charge is enough for 15 or more blends. The BlendJet is a fun complement to any car camping outfit. $50.
Hiker Hunger Outfitters Summit hoodie. This moisture-wicking, quick-drying hoodie checks all the boxes for year-round work as either a base or mid-layer. The micro-mesh fleece provides serious protection against the cold and moisture while providing breathability during a hard workout. The sleeves feature thumb holes and mitts to keep your hands warm while the hood helps keep heat on your head. Just under 13 oz. $65.
Carrie Kish of Mount Desert Island is an award-winning member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. His latest book, “Beer Hiking New England,” will be published in March. Follow more Carey adventures on Facebook and Instagram @careykish