Summer, we hardly knew ye. With Labour Day weekend signalling the spiritual end of the Dog Days, we’re looking back at the best of the past couple months and milking September for all it’s worth. There have been some good days.
And good days need great gear. These five outdoor essentials, hand-picked by explore editor David Webb, made all the dog days really, really good.
Hoka One One Trail Code GTX
Hoka’s new hikers are unlike any I’ve worn. For starters, an exaggerated rocker and “Hubble Heel” (a heel extension that enhances stability) create a dynamic fit that seems to actually propel you from one step to another. A Vibram sole with five millimetre lugs offers all-day comfort and trail-gripping power, even on muddy and crumbly mountain trails—like those on Vancouver's North Shore mountains. They have a sporty six-millimetre drop and weigh about 450 grams apiece—in short, the Trail Code GTX feels as nimble a trail runner, but tie-in mid-height hiker stability and bring it home with Gore-Tex weather protection. Plus, there’s a host of recycled materials and they come in five stylish colours. (I like the Duffel Bag/Avocado shades, pictured.)
Yeti Roadie 24
Why spend $350 on a 33-can hard-case cooler? Well, if you don’t need to keep ice for days—don’t bother. If you don’t require a cooler that can take real abuse and still perform—you won’t want to. If you’re OK with sending your cooler to the landfill rather than handing it down to your kids, save your money. For me, YETI always has been worth the dough. For car-camping trips with the family, or even just long days out, my Rescue Red Road 24 does the job right. It has an ergonomic carry handle, the toughest clips I’ve seen on a hard-cooler, fits wine bottles upright and, best of all, keeps the cold stuff cold for longer than I’ve ever needed it to.
Helly Hansen Resistor Backpack Recco
Helly Hansen’s Resistor Backpack with Recco has quickly become not only my staple for quick overnights but the most-used pack in my quiver. At 45 litres, it’s large enough to carry backpacking gear—but thanks to its plethora of adjustments and snug-fitting 3D internal frame, I’m even taking it day hiking. (After all, it only weighs 1.5 kilograms.) The Sprindrift collar overs nice vertical expansion for loading-it-up and exterior stash pockets are well-filled with water bottles, poop bags and bear spray. Plus, the addition of a RECCO reflector means should I ever need a rescue—particularly in the dense coastal rainforests I often hike—I’ve just made it much easier on my local SAR.
Mustang Survival Essentialist Belt Pack
I always wear a PFD while boating and paddling—but something about stand-up paddleboarding has me yearning for more freedom than a traditional PFD can offer. That’s why when it’s time to SUP, I strap on the Essentialist Belt Pack from Mustang Survival. Svelte as a fanny pack, it allows totally unencumbered paddling, particularly useful while adapting to the micro stability-movements required for stand-up paddling. Should I get in trouble, I can activate 18.9 pounds of buoyancy with a quick pull of a cord. It even has a couple of pockets and a mesh loop to store keys and other valuables. At less than 400 grams, I barely know it’s there.
Drip Drop Dehydration Relief
With the summer sun beating down, hydration is always front of mind. But even the thirstiest of us can find ourselves under the gun—and that’s when dehydration sets in. Fatigue. Muscle cramps. Headaches. Nausea. And sometimes even worse. Rehydrating is a lot tougher than staying hydrated—but Drip Drop Dehydration Relief makes it just a little easier. Developed by a doctor on a mission to help reduce dehydration injuries and deaths worldwide, Drip Drop is an ORS (oral rehydration solution) with a key difference. It has three times the electrolytes as a traditional sports drink, zinc for immune support and its patented formula works so quickly it’s almost like getting an IV. I can attest to using this product well after the effects of dehydration kicked in to great result. But the real Drip Drop difference? Unlike most ORS, it tastes good—which means you’ll actually want to slam it post-hike.