Explore the rebirth of New Orleans.
JIM LO SCALZO FOR USN&WR
Keen Footwear Humboldt shoes
Posted Sunday, June 25, 2006
Kids love tents. That's the problem, says Dave MacTavish of suburban Boston. His boys, ages 3 and 5, want to help set up the tent when they go camping. Sure, it sounds cute. "It's really kind of a pain," says MacTavish. "It takes forever when they're helping."
He solved the problem by plunking down $70 for the 2-Second Tent(decathlontent.com), as did Penny Hewitt of Vermont, whose two boys are 20 months and 4 years old. "You open it up, toss it like a Frisbee, and there's a tent," she says. "My 4-year-old can do it."
Problem solved, with the help of modern technology. The two-second promise is the fastest-yet version of the pop-up tent, developed for the car camper who wants quick, fuss-free shelter. After its opening whoosh, the tent seems made of better materials than some of its predecessors, even if it's not meant for adventurous, high-mountain camping. And its advances illustrate a steady trend for outdoor gear--which, like electronics, benefits from design and technology that make it easier to use, cheaper, and lighter.
Consider the rain jacket, once stuffy and heavy, now reduced to a half-pound of packable, breathable waterproofing in the Outdoor Research Zealot coat ($200, orgear.com). This is a spartan Gore-tex sheath--only one pocket, a hood adjuster, a waistline draw-cord, and simple elastic on the cuffs. It's designed for minimum heft--despite a slightly balky zipper--and is easy to tote along for a long trek.
As hikers increasingly take off running, their shoe choices are multiplying. The Keen Footwear Humboldt shoe ($100, keenfootwear.com) looks like a hybrid hiking boot and running shoe, which it is. These shoes come with leatherlike ribbing that sheds water and shield mesh that keeps out the sticks and stones that want to break your bones (or at least make for an uncomfortable jog).
The Trek-Tech TrekPod II walking stick ($110, trek-tech.com) can help steady your stride, as well as your camera. The sturdy, lightweight staff adjusts for height and opens in seconds to a fully functional tripod. The included MagMount is a slick system for instantly slipping cameras on and off the top using magnets (safe around film and digital memory) with a safety clip as backup.
And how about a barbecue grill in your back pocket? The Grilliput ($30, candlelantern.com) is a stainless-steel grill that assembles in minutes and stores in one small tube, about 11 inches long. The partner FireBowl ($13, out later this summer) can pack the charcoal when cold, and keep it contained when hot. At the same website, check out the Light My Fire outdoor meal set ($22), which puts an end to boring, aluminum mess kits with colorful, durable plastic dinnerware. Added bonus: The set floats!
After dinner, lie back in the Comfort-Lite lounger ($100, brookstone.com). The colorful chair folds up for easy toting, at only 7 pounds, and has a convenient carrying strap.
When the fire dies down, you can slip into the warmth of the Marmot Atom sleeping bag ($250, marmot.com). The Atom is one of the lightest bags out there--1 pound of down and nylon. But it'll keep you warm in temperatures as chilly as 40 degrees (the chili-red color must help a little). For a final touch, plop your tender head on a soft Contour Travel Pillow ($50, cocoonusa.com). It stuffs into a small traveling bag, but its memory foam bounces back to a comfy curve. Sleep well, for in the morning comes breaking camp--and the 30-second task of folding away that two-second tent. That is, if you've studied the instructions and watched the film on the website. Or maybe your kids can figure it out.
Explore the rebirth of New Orleans.