Kit for a king: The 10 best buys for extreme adventures
Saturday 25 July 2009
This women's 10-litre day-sack is ideal for light hiking and biking. It weighs a modest 340g, but includes handy features such as two-way zippered pockets, padded straps (one of which has a mobile-phone pocket) and a cool foam/mesh back panel. Inside are more zippers and a pouch that can hold a smallish laptop. The inner liners are made from recycled polyester and the aluminium components from old soft-drink cans.
GoLite McKenzie Reflexion 4-layer Hardshell
The McKenzie uses SympaTex's new aluminium-based Reflexion material to reflect up to 75 per cent of body heat, backed by an ultra-thin, breathable, waterproof membrane. That means you stay warm and dry without having to bundle up in layers, even when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Build quality is first-class, with bonded and fully taped seams, articulated wrist cuffs and a pocket for your favourite music player. The jacket will be in stores from August.
Amazonas Moskito Traveller
You don't have to be exploring the deepest, darkest rainforest to appreciate this camping hammock – although you will need a couple of stout trees. Sleeping in mid-air means no more hunting for a level camp site and no need for air mattresses, plus the Moskito Traveller weighs a feather-light 600g. Strong "microropes" hold you safely aloft and the zippered mosquito net will keep (most) bugs at bay, although you might also consider a Jungle Tent canopy (£35, 1kg) to protect you from rain. One word of advice: to avoid being unceremoniously dumped out in the middle of the night – lie diagonally.
Lifeventure EX3 Silk Travel Sleeper
The Ray Mears-types among you may be happy fashioning a bed from pine cones and moss, but anyone who enjoys a good night's sleep might prefer something more luxurious. Not only does this double-stitched, 100 per cent silk liner add two degrees of warmth to your sleeping bag, its EX3 coating repels mosquitoes, minimises odour and reduces the chance of bed bugs. If you're camping in warmer climes, you can even leave your sleeping bag at home altogether. The Travel Sleeper weighs just 120g and is available to fit either mummy or rectangular bags.
Inov-8 Roclite 288 GTX
Whether you're fording streams or braving unseasonal showers, the world's lightest waterproof boot, set to launch next month, is an ideal holiday companion. The 288g boot, from the UK company Inov-8, has high ankle protection for hiking but is light and fast enough for mountain running. The highly cushioned sole uses a "sticky rubber" compound that increases grip in wet weather, although it also wears out quicker than normal rubber. A Gore-Tex membrane and a mesh tongue help to keep your feet bone dry.
Timex Expedition WS4
According to Timex, the WS4 isn't a watch but a "wrist-top adventure instrument". That translates into a fiendishly complex set of features, ranging from a digital thermometer and compass to an altimeter and weather forecasts. A virtual needle always points north (with adjustable declination depending on your location) and a tiny graph plots your rate of ascent, sounding an alarm when you reach your target altitude (or you could just stop when you reach the top). The WS4 is fully waterproof and comes in five macho colours: we suggest "emergency orange" for maximum search-and-rescue visibility.
Digital cameras are finally getting tough enough to go (almost) anywhere you can. Like many sturdy snappers, this Panasonic can venture 3 metres underwater, can survive falls from a height of 1.5m, and repels dust, sand and snow. Unlike most rivals though, the FT1 has a generous zoom range from spacious wide-angle to telephoto, and can shoot high-definition movies. Images become somewhat smeary in low light.
Timberland All Mountain Inferno
There comes a point in any trek where you want to engage four-wheel drive. These new Timberland men's shoes can't flatten slopes but a compound sole using recycled tyre rubber ensures excellent traction and soaks up shocks. And while many manufacturers are releasing increasingly specialised footwear, the Infernos are refreshingly flexible, as happy scrambling up a mountain as they are biking down it. A Gore-Tex layer means they're light and breathable, while a padded tongue and collar add comfort. Good, supportive all-rounders. £90 timberlandonline.co.uk
From October, the EU is banning the use of iodine tablets to purify drinking water. It's about time. For years, there have been safer and more effective ways of cleaning dirty water. SteriPEN's newest, lightweight (128g) gadget uses ultraviolet light to destroy viruses, bacteria and protozoa in a flash, purifying a litre of water in just 90 seconds. It's a great eco-friendly alternative to drinking bottled water, although you will need a filter (£12) to remove particulates from rivers and streams. Pack spare batteries on longer trips, too, as the JourneyLCD runs through a set of rechargeables every 25 litres.
Imagine being able to leave all your various chargers, plugs and adaptors at home. The PowerMonkey is a practical, waterproof battery that has tiny attachments to recharge most mobiles, sat navs and games machines, plus some cameras. It holds enough juice for days of standby time on your phone or 40 hours of iPod music, and can be recharged using either mains sockets (worldwide) or its tough, fold-out solar panel.
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