The basics of setting up a comfortable camp have altered little over the course of human history: A good shelter, a cozy cooking fire, a comfortable place to rest and relax, and some tasty food and beverages.
A basic camp, though, isn’t necessarily a comfortable camp. Today, campers can tailor their backcountry homes to match their preferences and needs. With that in mind, we found some great new gear that’s well suited to the needs of the active river runner, whether they are white-water thrill seekers or trout-chasing anglers.
REI Kingdom 4 Tent (2019 edition)
When it comes to shelter, a river-side camp calls for a spacious tent – with the load-hauling capabilities of modern rafts and drift boats, there’s no need to skimp on space and comfort when it comes to your home away from . The 2019 edition of the Kingdom 4 offers 75 inches of peak headroom, meaning even tall boatmen can stand up inside. The expansive floor space – 8-feet, 4 inches by 8-feet, 4-inches – will hold four campers, but is ideally sized for two, with room to sit comfortably. The set-up is quick and easily accomplished by one person, and the broad walls of mesh inside, and tight full-cover fly outside make it a remarkably versatile shelter. Roll back the rainfly to expose the mesh walls during warm summer days when the biggest need it protection from pesky mosquitoes. Lock down that rainfly, though, and the Kingdom 4 proved stable and weather-tight even in a fierce spring snow storm and rain squalls. The Kingdom 4 weighs 18 lbs, 8 oz and packs into a slim duffle (25” x 8.5” x 15”). $399. Buy now.
Cascade Mountain Tech High-Back Chair
After a hard day fighting rushing water, one of the end-of-day joys is simply resting comfortably in camp. The High-Back Chair from Cascade Mountain Tech proved perfected suited to making that happen for boats of all stature. Our 6’2” lead tester found the High-Back Chair comfortably supportive for his large frame, but so did the 5’5” female paddler. Both praised the mesh back panel that allows good ventilation without loss of support, and both appreciated the adjustable headrest – enough adjustment to work wonderfully for both those campers. The High-Back chair packs into a compact 19”x5”x5” zippered pouch for transport and storage but opens up with a 16” wide seat resting 16 inches off the ground for good leg comfort. The supportive back rises nearly 40” off the ground. $50. But now.
Yeti Rambler 1-Gallon Jug w/ boat mount
One of the scourges of river adventures is trash along the river banks. And one of the most common types of trash found along the water’s edge is single-use water bottles! The Yeti Ramble 1-gallon jug makes it easy to forego the use of those disposal waterbottles while still staying fully hydrated during river adventures. The insulated stainless-steel jug keeps water cold even during the hottest summer days. The wide main opening makes it easy to add ice, as well as to clean the jug after adventures. The small pour spout features a screw-on cap that, when unscrewed, stays secure on the main lid via a novel magnetic docking system. The Rambler can be held securely in a driftboat or ramble by using the optional Rambler Mount ($40). This rigid bracket cradles the Rambler (either the one-gallon or the half-gallon version) securely while keeping the jug easily accessible. $130. Buy Now
Anglers and boaters who want fast, easy access to clean, purified water can literally dip up the water flowing around them and drink it directly from a Grayl Geopress bottle. The Geopress removes viruses, bacteria, and protozoan cysts, as well as filtering out chemicals and heavy metals. This two-part bottle is easy to use: Simply slip off the outer container and dip it full of river water. Insert the inner filter sleeve and press down into the outer sleeve. This forces the contained water up through the filter. Once fully depressed, uncap and drink away. With the Geopress bottle, a full 24-ounces of water can be filtered and ready to drink in less than 10 seconds. $90. Buy now
GSI Santoku Knife Set
The Santoku Knife Set from GSI includes all the food-prep cutlery. The slim stainless blades hold a good edge through extensive use, and clean-up easily. The 4-inch paring knife is ideal for bone and fine prep work, while the 6-inch Santoku chef’s knife is perfect for general work. The 6-inch serrated blade works well as a bread knife and all-purpose slicer. The set includes stiff nylon blade sheathes, a unique folding cutting board, and a zippered case to hold it all securely while traveling between camps. $35. Buy now.
Cascade Mountain Tech Super Cooler, 45-quart
The popularity of rotomolded coolers is easy to understand: The superb performance of the design keeps foods cold and fresh for days, and even weeks, at a time. During rigorous testing, Cascade Mountain Tech’s Super Cooler proved to be as good in performance as most other rotomolded coolers we tested, but at a fraction of the cost. The 45-quarter version kept 5 days of food and beverages cold throughout the duration of the rafting trip. The stout Super Cooler doubled as a boat seat during the day on the water, and as a kitchen counter/prep station while in camp. $175. Buy now
GSI Boulder Flask
A jigger of fine Scotch served neat, is frequently just the thing need to cap off a long day working the oars. The 10-ounce Boulder Flask from GSI provides enough volume to give boaters a shot of good sipping whisky every night for a long weekend trip. The afford flask withstands any abuse during rugged trips, thanks to a nearly indestructible body made from copolyester resin. The screw-cap stays with the flask even when open, thanks to a tough hinged attachment and a silicone band around the perimeter of the flask keeps it secure in hand even when wet. Finally, the see-through body allows you to check volume and ration your potent potables as needed. $15. Buy now.