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Adventure Magazine

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Gear Guide
Packing in the Ritz
Seven essentials for camping decadence: Bring them all.

   • Martin Backpacker: The Stripped-Down Six String
   • Sierra Designs Nomad 4: Under the Big Tent
   • Zodi Hot Camp Shower: Hours of Showers
   • Coleman Xpedition: (Flame)2
   • UCO Duo: The Right Light
   • GSI Lexan JavaPress: Coffee for Four
   • Mountain Hardwear Backcountry 72 Chair Pad: Sitting—and Sleeping—Pretty

A puritanical ultralightism has overtaken backpacking recently, complete with true believers using beltless backpacks, uncooked food, and tents without floors—fine innovations if you're hiking 35 miles (56 kilometers) a day and comfort is far down the priority list. But if you're strolling just a couple of miles to a weekend idyll at the lake, the new minimalism seems a bit absurd. Repeat this mantra: Comfort is good.

Go ahead and pack the roomy tent, the double-burning stove … even the propane-fired hot-shower device. They're not just for car camping—everything here can be shoved into a (big) backpack for a short hike. The payoff? A significant boost in campsite cushiness.

All prices in U.S. dollars

• Martin Backpacker: Stripped-Down Six String
Price: $274
Weight: 2.5 pounds (0.9 kilogram)
Dimensions: 35 inches (89 centimeters) long, 8 inches (20 centimeters) wide
Telephone: 800 247 6931 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.martinguitar.com

The Martin Backpacker is welcome acoustic company for any trip. It's only 35 inches (89 centimeters) long and 8 inches (20 centimeters) wide and weighs just two and a half pounds (0.9 kilogram) (including its padded bag). The solid spruce top helps the guitar achieve a depth of tone that belies its slight dimensions.

Click to Enlarge.
Sierra Designs Nomad 4

• Sierra Designs Nomad 4: Under the Big Tent
Price: $349
Weight: 14 pounds (5.2 kilograms)
Dimensions: 66-inch (1.7-meter) peak height, 56 square feet (5.2 square meters) of floor space, 22-square-foot (2-square-meter) vestibule
Telephone: 800 635 0461 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.sierradesigns.com

Minimalist backpacking tents work fine during slumber but can leave you fighting claustrophobia during waking hours. Not so with the Sierra Designs Nomad 4, a four-person shelter with a generous peak height and 56 square feet (5.2 square meters) of floor space. A 22-square-foot (2-square-meter) vestibule and copious gear pockets mean you won't be sharing precious real estate with soggy gear or your hiking partner's footwear.

At 14 pounds (5.2 kilograms), the Nomad 4 is reasonably lightweight, considering its size.

Click to Enlarge.
Zodi Hot Camp Shower

• Zodi Hot Camp Shower
Price: $139
Weight: 8 pounds (3 kilograms), plus 16-ounce (498-gram) propane-fuel canister (not included)
Telephone: 800 589 2849 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.zodi.com

Want to see a backpacking ascetic cringe? Fire up the Zodi Hot Camp Shower when you reach your campsite. At 8 pounds (3 kilograms), the shower is a hefty luxury item; you'd be wise to induce your hiking buddy to carry the separate, 16-ounce (498-gram) propane-fuel canister (not included). Then combine them for three hours' worth of steamy hot water.

Click to Enlarge.
Coleman Xpedition

• Coleman Xpedition: (Flame)2
Price: $90
Weight: 26 ounces (809 grams)
Telephone: 800 835 3278 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.coleman.com

With two independently adjustable, 10,000-BTU burners, the Coleman Xpedition banishes forever one-pot surprises and long waits for burner space. Both burners are fed by a single, thread-on fuel cartridge. Unlike the bulky green camp stoves Coleman is famous for, the 26-ounce (809-gram) Xpedition folds flat for easy portability.

Click to Enlarge.

• UCO Duo: The Right Light
Price: $29
Telephone: +1 425 883 6600
Web: www.ucocorp.com

After the sun goes down, the UCO Duo offers the cozy glow of a candle in a portable, wind-resistant design. Unfortunately, mood lighting doesn't always cut it. Enter the Duo's bright, half-ounce (16 gram) LED light. Leave it attached to the candle lantern's base, or wear it separately as a headlamp.

Click to Enlarge.
GSI Lexan JavaPress

• GSI Lexan JavaPress
Price: $20
Weight: 11 ounces (342 grams)
Telephone: 800 704 4474 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.gsioutdoors.com

Cowboy coffee has its place, grounds and all, but an alternative is to use the GSI Lexan JavaPress, a nearly unbreakable device that brews 33 ounces (about 1 liter) of coffee. GSI has versions that make 10 and 50 ounces (0.3 and 1.5 liters)—and also offers such superfluous items as backcountry champagne flutes and cocktail shakers.

Click to Enlarge.
Mountain Hardwear Backcountry 72 Chair Pad

• Mountain Hardwear Backcountry 72 Chair Pad
Price: $69
Weight: 3 pounds, 4 ounces (about 1 kilogram)
Dimensions: 6 feet long (1.8 meters long), 1.5 inches thick (4 centimeters thick)
Telephone: 800 953 8375 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.mountainhardwear.com

The Mountain Hardwear Backcountry 72 Chair Pad provides packable comfort, day and night. Insert a pair of aluminum stays into their guide slots, then clip together two buckles to transform the Backcountry 72 from mattress to chaise. Elapsed time? About a dozen seconds.

—Ben Hewitt

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Photographs by Spencer Jones

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May 2002:
In the Magazine | Excerpts | Park Guides | Yellowstone Photos | Yellowstone Map | Forum: National Parks | Gear Guide: Sunglasses | Travel Calendar

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