Gear Review: Outdoor fun
Fall might be right around the corner, but there’s plenty of time to still get out in the warm weather. Here are a few products for your outdoor adventures, whether that’s camping, paddleboarding, rafting, or just wandering.
Turtlebox Gen 2 Portable Speaker
Warmer weather calls for outdoor parties and music, and this Turtlebox speaker is perfect for delivering the tunes. It produces crystal-clear sound — even when it’s cranked to the max. Capable of delivering 120 decibels — and, just to put that in perspective, rock concerts typically range from 120-140 decibels — it still generates the highest-quality sound. We’ve taken it on rafting trips since it’s completely waterproof, which is just an added bonus. Granted, we remained good neighbors and kept the volume very low because I cannot understand people who ski, snowboard, hike, or otherwise hang out in nature and loudly and incessantly share their music with the world. That said, it’s a nice little accompaniment at evening campfires — again, on low (Do I sound like a public service announcement yet?).
Its incredible durability makes it great to take to an outdoor party. The grill’s brick pattern increases strength, and the rubber handle is bomb-proof and comfortable on the hand. A stainless steel tie-down allows you to secure it to a boat or ATV, and the battery level LED indicator acts much like a fuel gauge, with five steps. Aside from the premium sound, what really stands out about this speaker is its 20-plus hours of playtime. The speaker weighs in at about 10 pounds and comes in all kinds of fun — and neutral — colors, along with a plethora of handle colors. Once you synch your phone with its Bluetooth, the Turtlebox remembers your phone, which is handy. You can pair two Turtleboxes for true stereo sonics, but honestly, one delivers amazing sound. $399, turtleaudiobox.com.
Isle Gateway Dry Bag 20 liter
I’ve been watching the steam rise off the water in the early mornings, but there’s still time to get out there and paddleboard — one of my favorite summer pastimes — (or raft). When I’m out on a bigger body of water for half a day, a drybag is essential to carry my phone, keys, jacket, hat, water bottle, sunscreen, and snacks. What I especially appreciate about Isle’s Gateway Dry Bag is the external pocket. There are plenty of times I’m on my board, and the light, mountains, water, or my dog capture my awe so fully, I need a picture. During these moments, the last thing I want to do is rifle through a deep dry bag, balancing on my board, and trying not to lose any items as I look for a heavy phone that likely dropped to the very bottom. Isle’s bag features an outside pocket, which my Otterbox-wrapped phone fits into very nicely. The zipper is easy to open and close, yet keeps water out. Weighing 1 ½ pounds empty, it’s easy to carry down to the water, strapped over the shoulder, and its external loops allow you to secure it onto your board or boat. At 22 inches long and 15 inches wide flat and empty, it rolls down to whatever size best suits your equipment. Hint: Trapping air inside before you roll allows it to float, in case it goes overboard. And, speaking of dropping it in the water, this bag performs solidly — no water seeps into the outer pocket or within the bag. And, its durable, 600D waterproof nylon holds up to rugged use. $50, islesurfandsup.com
Deuter Wash Center Lite II Toiletry Bag
While I’ve been known to swipe ski jackets and hats from my husband, he’s not the type to swipe things from me. But as soon as this Deuter Wash Center Lite II bag came, he immediately said, “Thanks! This is exactly what I need.” Hmmm. I got it for camping and traveling to hold my toiletries. Granted, I suppose I could use an even larger version of this excellent bag — maybe 4 or 5 liters, as opposed to the 3-liter size, but this is the largest they’ve made so far. That said, when I’m camping, it’s the perfect size because it makes me pack just a bit more compactly. Its two, upper zippered mesh pockets are great for holding makeup, razors, conditioner, etc. when traveling, while the larger, open pocket offers a large expandable mesh pocket, along with three compartmental pockets in the back.
Its lightweight (80 grams), compact dimensions (18x24x7 inches high, wide, and deep) also make it great for backpacking. The hanger at the top is especially handy; I can hang it from my tent for easy access when cleaning up outdoors. The outer, U-shaped zipper allows me to zip everything up nice and tidy when I’m finished. The toiletry bag comes in black and two shades of blue, and its Wash Center Lite I version is half the size for light travelers.
In addition, one of the things I love about this company is that it promises to repair any pack free of charge, no matter its generation or the reason for damage or defect. I hate when companies don’t back their products — last season, my favorite ski jacket’s zipper busted, and the company, renowned in the ski industry, refused to do anything. I stand by companies that back up their products with no-strings-attached-no-warranty-expiration guarantees. $32, deuter.com
Third Eye Headlamp
Paddleboarding or finishing a hike past dusk, setting up a tent in the dark, taking care of business in the middle of the night: These things happen, and that’s where the Third Eye Headlamp becomes essential. This powerful headlamp provides four white and two red light options. The high setting, with 168 lumens, illuminates up to 360 feet (I haven’t measured it, but it definitely brightens the area), the medium illuminates about 213 feet and the low setting provides up to 29.5 feet visibility.
Running on just three AAA batteries, at high, the battery life lasts 30 hours, and on low, it lasts 120 hours, providing enough power for a very long trip. Its SOS setting offers another level of safety, while the red light preserves night vision and is great for reading. I suppose the flashing, red-and-white strobe light could be used at an outdoor rave or to signal a wild dancer.
Its lightweight design, at 1.76 ounces without batteries, and adjustable band make it comfortable to wear. The adjustable angle tilt lens means you can point the light in the direction you want without moving your head all over. The battery compartment features a rubber o-ring closure and has a waterproof rating of IPX6, meaning it remains lit in heavy rainstorms.
Third Eye believes this is the only headlamp you’ll ever need, so if it ever malfunctions or if you’re not satisfied, they’ll replace it or issue a refund, no questions asked after you activate its lifetime warranty. The company builds its headlamps out of 100% recyclable, non-toxic plastic and is a member of the 1% for the planet. Headlamps come in various colors, and the headbands come in all kinds of solid and fun patterned colors — and the $12 price tag for bands means you can change your look on a whim. $49.99, thirdeyeheadlamps.com
Rumpl Everywhere Mat
This durable, washable, and stain-resistant mat is aptly named; it has a plethora of uses. I keep it in the back of my vehicle to protect my carpet from all the mud my dog and I get into, from spring skiing to summer hiking to sandy paddleboard excursions. It’s extremely easy to clean, and the hardy ripstop polyester and laminate bottom holds up very well to washing machines. Its waterproof bottom prevents excess water from my dog or board from soaking into the floor of my car, and it comes in a variety of interesting, and more subtle, designs.
I’ve pulled it out for concerts and picnics, and it has protected us from wet grass and ground. Its polyester microsuede material is comfortable, and its DWR finish does resist stains; muddy paw prints wipe or wash off. Hidden corner pockets with zippers secure phones and keys, which comes in handy when you’re at a concert, particularly when you don’t want to carry a purse. The full size measures 52×75 inches, so it easily accommodates a few people (and/or dogs). It packs down to an easily carriable, 1.2-pound weight mat, making it extremely portable. $80, rumpl.com