The sun is shining a little brighter, the water is glistening like a million diamonds, and the mountains are surely calling – yup, it’s summertime in Boulder County.
Before you head out to the trails, lakes, and rock walls this summer, we want to make sure you’re prepared with the best gear on the market for whatever outdoor activity floats your boat (or, in our case, kayak).
A poorly-made piece of gear can throw off your entire outdoor experience. But with glamorous advertising and a reasonable price tag, who’s to know any better? Before you head outside with your backpack full of less than exemplary products.
Some of the worst offenders are not only poorly made, but entirely impractical when out in the elements.
Among some horrid camping gear is any sort of wearable sleeping bag. Don’t do this to yourself! The Musuc Selk’bag sleeping bag has scathing reviews across the internet, and Outside Magazine has openly bashed the Poler Napsack (leg- and arm-holes included) for being a novelty item rather than providing protection or insulation, two of the most important sleeping bag qualities.
If you’d like to be mocked mercilessly as well as unprotected from the sun, check out the Solar Safari Cool Hat. No, please don’t do that, because this hat is anything but cool, and the cheap solar-powered fan is only a nuisance when it comes to being active under the sun. Not to mention that a fan is not a replacement for plenty of sunscreen and protective headgear, two safety essentials out on the trails, lakes, and anywhere else under the sun’s glare.
The bottom line is to make sure that you’ve invested in pieces that will serve you well and keep you safe every step of the way.
We’ve talked to the awesome gear experts and seasoned outdoors-people of BoCo to see what their favorite tried-and-true gear is that will be the safest and most effective for you to get out there and conquer the great outdoors worry-free.
The first recorded piece of outdoor equipment was a lot more hardcore than you would think – a personal flotation device made of inflated goat skins (!) was created around 860 B.C. when enemies of the Assryians used them to flee in the Euphrates River, according to Outdoor Magazine. Yikes.
A good bit later came the first sleeping bag, insulated with reindeer hair and kapok – it was 1899, after all – by Ajungilak, a European gear brand that still exists today! They still make sleeping bags, sans animal hair and tree bits.
The beloved spork made its debut in 1874, innovating the outdoor dining experience forever, and making sure historic and modern explorers alike could eat their baked beans AND potatoes without switching utensils. 1892 brought the Primus stove, which was the first kerosene stove with a pressurized burner, so no one was forced to eat said potatoes raw.
Even though some of these pieces of gear are a bit incomprehensible for modern day use, they supplied the essentials: safety, warmth, protection from the elements. More importantly, they set the stage for what has become an explosion of outdoor gear products for every activity imaginable, designed with safety, durability, and comfort in mind.
In Boulder County, we’re fortunate to be an absolute mecca of outdoorsmanship. With access to plenty of natural gorgeousness comes tons of outdoor adventure opportunities, making us a key location for stores like REI, Moosejaw, Patagonia, and more. We’ve talked to experts from some of these stores, as well as a handful of Colorado’s most passionate and dedicated outdoors-people to get the scoop on the gear YOU need for summer fun.
Whether you’re a hiking newbie or a seasoned trail-goer, check out our gear guide to make sure you’re all ready for summer fun.
UPF Sunscreen Shirt
When you think summer, you think sun – and in Boulder County, we get more than our fair share of it. #MileHigh These UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) tops provide the ultimate protection from potentially harmful rays while you go about your day. Lightweight and flowy with moisture-wicking fabric, it’s the perfect outdoor summer top. $59.95
prAna Stretch Zion Hiking Pants
prAna, Moosejaw, REI
Among the top rated outdoor women’s and men’s hiking pants on the web, not to mention a Moosejaw staff favorite. Superb comfort and durability combined with abrasion resistance and stretchiness makes these a top pick. Bonus points for water resistance, so those unexpected trail puddles are no problem at all. $45-85
TrekLight has your back (literally) with their comfortable and super portable hammocks. They only weigh about 3 oz and can be rolled down into their own pocket-sized carrying pouch. A lifetime warranty proves these babies are built to last. $34.95-110.00
L.L. Bean, REI
Be prepared for all levels of light with your personal illumination, because in Colorado, you never know when the weather might take an unexpected turn. Comes in a variety of colors with the red one even serving as an insect repellant.Triple win in our book. $39.95
Vargo Titanium Dig Dig Tool
The multifunctional tool that is bound to be a backpacker’s best friend. Made of titanium, this piece serves as a trowel, tent stake, burying tool (don’t wanna go there, but digging deep holes is a necessity for long distance hikers when nature calls), you name it. The ridged bottom can even cut through thick branches and roots. $24.95
Vasque Breeze III Hiking Boot
Versatile, protective and comfortable. Made with GORE-TEX®, meaning it’s waterproof, breathable, and super-durable, made to last through even the toughest conditions. $50-180
CGEAR SandLite Sand-Free Mat
Ensure a sand-free, dirt-free tent space or perfectly comfortable picnic with this soft and versatile mat that keeps your preferred rest area neat and tidy. Conveniently folds into a self-carrying tote for easy portability and comes in a variety of sizes and colors, all with “sand-free” technology. $50+
Kits Adventure First Aid 2.0
For under $20, you can have sufficient first aid gear to assist up to four people. Feel confident in tending to muscle pains, blisters, bug bites and most minor injuries with a hassle-free kit that only weighs 1lb. $18.99
MTI Personal Flotation
Check out MTI’s awesome, high-quality PFDs which come in a range of sizes and styles to best fit your needs and ensure your safety so you can ball out on the lakes all summer.
Roofnest Roof Tent
For the outdoor family looking to splurge for the long haul (literally). These tents attach right to the crossbars of most vehicle roof racks, allowing you to camp whenever, wherever. Get a bird’s-eye view of your favorite lake and mountain spaces through viewing windows, with some models even having space for up to 100 lbs of storage. $2200+
Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles
Keep your balance out on the trails with these easy-to-use trekking poles. Perfect for outdoor newbies or those looking to save a buck on gear, these poles are a great budget buy. A flick-lock lever system makes them collapsible down to two feet, so they won’t weigh you down after use. $50
Gear Aid Tenacious Tape
Moosejaw, REI, Walmart
Never fear a ripped tent or pant leg again. This ultra-strong tape is a great solution for any outdoor gear in need of a repair. Weatherproof and durable, it’s made to permanently adhere to almost every outdoor fabric, keeping you safe, dry, and happy wherever your path has led you. $5
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
Target, REI, Moosejaw
Tiny and portable with massive lifesaving ability, this nearly magical instrument can eliminate 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of parasites from any water source. Stay hydrated without the risk as this two stage water filtration system does the work to keep you safe. Check out Moosejaw for the family-sized purifying system. $30+
hiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion Wetforce
Macy’s, Nordstrom, Shiseido.com
Like Mom always said, “don’t forget the sunscreen!” The best way to avoid harmful sun rays and keep your skin healthy outdoors is with a 50+ SPF sunscreen. Moisturizing, hydrating, and long-lasting, this one does the trick. Feel free to splash around all day with its water-repelling formula. (But remember Mom’s wise words and always reapply.) $22+
Streamlight The Siege Lantern
Cabela’s, Walmart, Streamlight.com
Light the way through a night hike or camp expedition with this long-lasting LED lantern. This durable piece is basically made to be beat up outdoors. Water resistant and reliable with up to 295 hours of battery life on lower settings, you’ll be set for any outdoor trip. Did we mention it floats? $35+
Buff High UV Coolmax
Keep your face and neck protected from UV rays, debris and vapors with the coverage of this versatile piece. The stretchy material allows you to wear it a number of ways and can keep you cool in the heat and warm as temperatures drop. Unique designs and color combos help you serve some fierce outdoor looks, too. $16+
Mariposa 60 Backpack
You’re going to need a lightweight and ergonomic backpack to tote all that gear. Tons of accessible pockets, including some for wet gear, and an adjustable waist harness to help lighten the load in this pack. It’s no wonder it’s a Backpacker Magazine’s Editor’s Choice for 2018. $225
Klean Kanteen Classic
Water Bottle, REI
The best thing you can do for your body while enjoying the great outdoors is to stay hydrated. These insulated stainless steel water bottles will keep your water cool and are BPA-free, keeping your body free of chemicals. Being environmentally friendly and having a leak-proof design makes this a definite favorite $20+
Bonus: Summer Gear Guide, Fido Edition
We know how many of you love to take your pup out on summer adventures with you. It’s important to keep them safe, too – so we’ve included a bonus summer gear guide for dogs to make sure your beloved four-legged family member is as happy and safe as you are!
Sea to Summit DryLite Towel
Great for humans and canine alike, this quick-drying microfiber towel is a necessity for active summer days. Your pooch – and your clean car seats on the way home – will thank you. $11.95-19.95
Nite Ize SpotLit LED
Make sure you always know your pup’s whereabouts in every kind of lighting with this bright light that attaches right to their collar.
Port-A-Bowl Pet Bowl
Your furry friend needs to hydrate, just like you! Keep a super portable water bowl in your pack to provide the hydration they need for outdoor activity. $5-8
It’s helpful to have a copy of your dog’s shot records in the car in case of emergency that requires a trip to the ER. Extra food and water are great, and an antihistamine like Benadryl comes in handy in the event of a snake or animal bite.
Although we hate the thought of anything happening to our beloved pets, it’s best to take precautions and be prepared for any situation with the best gear possible.
So no matter where your adventurous soul leads you this summer, make sure you’re equipped with the best, most effective gear to ensure the greatest (and safest) time out there in the wonderful outdoors.