Must Buy Now: Best Gear for Summer Adventure

Summer travel season is kicking off, and whether you’re going to do some serious backcountry hiking or just go for a stroll along the beach boardwalk, there’s some new travel gear on the market ready for you to try out. Here are some of our choices for the best of this summer’s offerings.

Kindle Voyage


Photo: Amazon

Because who wants to lug around a brick-sized paperback in a backpack or beach bag? The latest version of the Kindle is easy to read in any light (or no light), with a variety of ways to turn the pages, a super-slim profile, and a small-enough size (4.5 by 6.5 inches) to fit in a jacket pocket. The specially designed magnetic “Origami” cover is a must-have to protect (and prop up) your Kindle on the road. $200 for Kindle, $60 for shell

Taschen “36 Hours. World”


Photo: Amazon

Can’t decide where to go this summer? Or what to do when you get there? Grab Taschen’s beautifully packaged and well-arranged three-volume compilation of the New York Times’ “36 Hours” series of capsule reviews of 365 cities worldwide. Color photos, detailed maps, and activity ideas will have you paging through the books even if you’re not planning to travel anywhere. $79 (via

Big Agnes mtnGLO tent


Photo: Big Agnes

This easy-to-set-up tent has the bonus of built-in LED lights on its roof — a handy feature for anyone who’s had to scrounge with a headlamp or flashlight in a darkened campground. The mesh tent top is good for breezes and stargazing, while a sturdy rain flap protects you against the elements. The tent can fit three adults (very snugly) or provides plenty of room for two, without being too heavy to carry on the trails. $330

Gorilla Ultralight Backpack


Photo: Gossamer Gear

One of the best ways to cut down on weight you’re carrying while backpacking is with the backpack itself. This ripstop nylon and mesh pack weighs an amazing 26 ounces, yet is sturdy enough to hold 30 pounds of camping supplies — plenty for a weekend excursion. It’s so light and comfortable that you might not even bother taking it off when you stop to rest on the trail. $200

Thermacell Mosquito-Repellent Lantern


Photo: Thermacell

It never fails: Put up a light in the campground, and the bugs come in swarms. This lantern uses a butane insert to heat a natural insect repellent that creates a 15-foot-diameter bug-repellent zone around the light, so there’s no need to slather yourself and family with bug spray. Each insert works for three to four hours. $60 (lantern), $7 (refills)

Grilliput Duo portable grill


Photo: Grilliput

This clever portable grill packs away into its own steel tube, weighs under 20 ounces, and can be fairly easily assembled anywhere to help you have a small cookout and grill a couple of burgers (on its 10-by-9-inch cooking area) wherever your travels take you. $30

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FlameStower fire-powered USB charger


Photo: FlameStower

You can actually charge your phone or other electronic device using fire! This unique, 10-ounce contraption folds out to support a metal blade over a campfire, which then heats up water in a silicone cup and somehow creates electronic energy that (slowly) powers your device via a cable. $100

Ember Power Light Flashlight/Recharger


Photo: Black Diamond Equipment

This combination flashlight and USB-based recharger lights your way on the trails with its dimmable bulb, and then recharges your phone battery when you get to the campground. It’s also a very handy thing to pack when you’re going to a country experiencing blackouts. Sturdy and weighs only 3.4 ounces. $50

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Maven B.3 binoculars


Photo: Maven

Not just for optical geeks, these crystal-clear, high-end binoculars are half the price of comparable brands, small and lightweight enough to easily carry in your backpack or jacket pocket, and are such an ergonomic pleasure to use that you’ll be stopping every five minutes on your hike to sit on a rock and check out the scenery. $500

Roark The Savage Windbreaker


Courtesy of The Roark Revival

This lightweight windbreaker can handle a cool evening breeze or some ocean spray, and packs down into a tiny ball. It features a funky print based on Senegalese basket patterns, part of the company’s unique The Gnar of Dakar line of world-travel-inspired styles in men’s clothing. $70

ExOfficio BugsAway Sandfly Pant


Photo: ExOfficio

From socks to pants to shirts, ExOfficio has introduced a comfortable line of clothing infused with Permethrin, a chemical that repels bugs (but not people). The anti-bug properties are rated to last 70 cleanings, so they won’t wash away with rain or sweat. In practice, the clothes seem to work as advertised. And with their mesh inseams, the lightweight Sandfly pants are a good choice for a hot summer day — even without bugs.

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Chaco OutCross Evo 2 water shoes


Photo: Chaco

For a hike that takes you through marshy areas, along beaches, or through rivers, these mesh-topped, neoprene-lined shoes are a great way to handle a continual dousing while providing protection and support. They’re comfortable to wear without socks, dry quickly, and have an odor-shield technology to help avoid stink-foot. $110

Sperry SON-R Flex Slip-on Shoe


Courtesy of Sperry

These lightweight, very packable women’s slip-on shoes are great for around the pool, along the beach boardwalk, or at a beachside bistro. The comfortable footbed sits atop a sole that offers good traction on slippery surfaces, and the tops quickly wick dry after a soaking. $75

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Patagonia Long Haul Western Shirt


Photo: Patagonia

Summer brings sweat-soaked shirts along with the heat. This new short-sleeve button-down is a durable and versatile travel shirt — stylish enough to wear indoors, while lightweight with venting holes in back to keep you cool on the hot streets. The secret added ingredient is the Polygiene odor-control technology, which enables a few extra wears between washes. $89

Black Diamond Modernist Rock Jeans


Photo: Zappos

This cool pair of pants looks good enough to wear rocking out in a nightclub, and is flexible and sturdy enough to wear while climbing rocks in a rainstorm. Its technical fabric is breathable and quite resistant to tears, stains, water, and spilled beers, which makes it a fine choice for a travel adventure in which anything may happen. $179

Toad&Co Transito Skirt


Photo: Toad & Co.

This super-versatile skirt is comfortable enough to wear on a long flight or an all-day walking tour, and stylish enough to keep on for a night out dining and dancing. You can dress it up or down (with the Marley T-shirt), and hide your passport in its small zip pocket. $69

Pacsafe Anti-Theft Wheeled Adventure Duffel


Photo: Pacsafe

Whether you’re sending the kids off to summer camp or packing a ton of stuff for a world expedition, this sturdy, tamper-resistant duffel has anti-slash mesh built into its side panels, puncture-protected zippers, slots for locks, padded straps for easy carrying, and wheels for pulling along a heavy load in its 120-liter interior. $220

Extreme Glare Sunglasses


Photo: Bollé

This pair of Bolle-framed lenses protects against the sun’s glare without being polarized — meaning you can easily read LCD or LED electronic displays on phones, cameras, and navigation devices without having to lift up your shades. Optician-designed by Zurich International, they’re high-quality glasses at a decent price. $145

SmartWool Toddler Socks


Photo: SmartWool

SmartWool has a great selection of comfortable, long-lasting hiking socks for men, women, and, now, toddlers. At the rate kids tear through socks, it’s good to have a couple of go-to pairs for them to wear while toddling along trails or running shoeless around hotel rooms — and for keeping their toes warm in a tent on a cool summer night. $21 for two pairs

Klean Kanteen Sippy Cup


Photo: Klean Kanteen

A sippy cup fit for the rugged outdoors! This 12-ounce stainless steel kids’ canteen is tough enough for multiple drops onto rocks or sidewalks, but still has a soft, plastic sippy top that can be protected from trail grit by an included dust cover. $17

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