Hard-core outdoors enthusiasts still prefer to rough it, but modern campers look for comfort first when they head for the hills. Wherever you're bound for this summer, look for high-tech tents and other slick gear to keep the rain away and bugs at bay. Here are some of the cool new tools to pack (and all are easily available online).
This lightweight Orikaso dinnerware travels flat to save space and folds into cups, bowls and plates
When it's time to answer nature's call in the dark of night, mini-lights come in handy. Guyot Designs' Firefly, $22, converts a water bottle into a flashlight whose brightness can be adjusted for use as a night-light or reading lamp.
Don't Bug Me
Insect repellents can be sticky or stinky. How about a shirt that keeps pesky pests away? Ex Officio's Buzz Off shirts, $22 and up, are made with permethrin, the same insecticide used in long-lasting antimalaria bed nets.
Sales of big car-camping tents are up 117% over the past three years. The new three-person, two-door Mutha Hubba, $380 from Mountain Safety Research, is both spacious (3.7 sq m of floor space) and lightweight (around 3 kilos).
REI's Kindercone, $59, is designed for kids, with pockets for toys and a flashlight as well as extra clothes which then make a cozy pillow. The insulated bag can be unzipped and opened flat so you can also use it as a quilt.
Soft as your sleeping bag may be, truly cushy camping calls for an extra layer of cushioning underneath to support your back. The Therm-a-Rest Women's Trail Comfort mattress, $70, is designed specifically for those whose feet get cold at night: it has extra insulation at the lower end.
For nippy nights by the campfire, the Xirtam jacket is lightweight, waterproof and windproof. At $200, it's not for bargain hunters, but it's adaptable enough to serve through spring, summer and fall, not just on chilly weekends in July.