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June 16, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Camp comforts: Give your camping gear a boost with new items for the great outdoors


By Sara Kennedy / Sunday Market

After years (or a lifetime) of living in the Northwest, you finally have your camping kit set. A comfy pad, a cozy sleeping bag, a tent that keeps out the rain: check, check, check.

But you’ve probably also realized that your desire to keep updating your gear is never fully satisfied. Here are some products worth adding to your kit for extra comfort, extra style or extra fun.

Back to basics

Add serious comfort without a lot of bulk with REI’s Big Air Chair ($110). The chair inflates in less than 50 pumps to create a cushy seat. The steel frame provides support, and it all packs down into a stuff sack.

Through June 29, Nordstrom’s Let’s Go pop-up shop features gear for the chicest summer getaway ever. Those who love to camp should check out the Best Made Co. Seamless & Steadfast Enamelware Cups, Bowls & Plates ($98 for two of each), a long-lasting tableware set with classic outdoor style.

While you’re there, look for Poler’s The Nap Sack Convertible Sleeping Bag ($130), perhaps the new must-have fireside accessory. It has zippers at the shoulders and a drawstring bottom so you can let out your arms and legs and wear it like a cozy, comfy full-body blanket.

Little extras

While sitting around the fire, try Hog Wild’s Reel Roaster ($22 at, a hand-crank marshmallow and hot dog roaster. The fishing-reel-type handle rotates the skewer to ensure there are no more half-gooey, half-solid marshmallows in your s’mores.

If you can’t be without your tunes, check out Goal Zero’s Rock Out 2 Solar Portable Speaker ($130 at REI). It has 20 hours of run time, and recharges in about eight hours with its solar charger or two hours via USB. It also has a rugged, waterproof shell to go wherever you go. A version without the solar charger is $60.

Hikers will want to check out Trimble Outdoors’ TopoCharger ($149 at, an iPhone case with build-in topography maps, due out this month. The rugged case for iPhone 5/5S has a chip loaded with full-color state maps in 18 zoom levels. It also has an extra power pack that doubles the phone’s battery life. You pick the state you want included with the case; other states can be bought separately.

Been rolling the dice with a few Band-Aids at the bottom of your ditty bag? It’s time to invest in a full first-aid kit, such as the Best Made Co. Small Metal First Aid Kit ($48 at Nordstrom). It includes the necessities — adhesive bandages, gauze pads, gloves, burn cream, antiseptic towelettes and more — all clearly packaged with a fact sheet to help you help others.

Not much feels better in the middle of a long camping trip than a shower. But a cold dribble from a standard camping shower doesn’t quite do the trick. The Nemo Helio Pressure Shower ($100 at REI) has a foot pump that provides up to seven minutes of steady water pressure.

Get impressive

Camping near a lake? Pack in a kayak. Really. The Oru Kayak ($1,195 at unfolds from a box into a boat in minutes, using origami folding principles. Opt for the Mosey Package ($1,495) to get a paddle and carrying bag along with the 26-pound boat.

Yes, you have a perfectly good sleeping bag. But you may still want to check out the ingenious Sierra Designs Zipperless Backcountry Bed ($250–$420 at REI).

It ditches the zipper, instead using a down comforter to close its large oval opening. It’s great for those who toss and turn or feel claustrophobic all zipped in. Another cool feature is a vent at the bottom for those who like to stick a foot out of the covers to cool down in the middle of the night.

Never get whacked in the face with a tree branch again when you have a Kershaw Funxion Outdoor knife ($24 at It includes a saw blade for cutting back said branches, as well as a general-use blade and a built-in carabiner clip so it’s always handy.

Don’t forget to outfit your bod, too. Ladies will look lovely in the new Kavu Daisy Dress ($65 at Kavu, Ballard), with colorblock panels and an asymmetrical hem. Guys will look mountain-man cool in Filson’s Alaskan Guide Shirt ($110–$120 at Filson, Sodo), in a classic red-and-black plaid.

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