Despite it being one of the buggiest and wettest summer seasons I can remember in my region, I still managed to sleep in a tent 52 nights so far…with lots more to come.

That meant I was able to really test some cool gear for the long haul—not just some quick overnight review.

Here’s my short-list of my best gear choices for the season so far:

Outdoor Research Realm Jacket

OROutdoor Research

I got this jacket last fall and have been wearing it exclusively ever since. It’s an incredibly lightweight waterproof-breathable shell that hasn’t failed me yet. I’ve gotta admit though, I was hesitant to wear it on any of my extreme trips at first. This jacket is just too light to believe it’s totally waterproof. But after dealing with some insane downpours, and still keeping dry, it has been the one-and-only rain jacket stored in my pack. The bonus—it’s a tight fit but has enough elasticity that you can really move around in and the jacket stuffs into its own pocket to the size of a Nerf football. 

KEEN Aphlex Waterproof Boot

KEENKEEN

I’m a big fan of KEEN. I love how their boots fit wide and cozy. It’s like wearing a pair of soft moccasins on the trail—but having massive ankle support and rugged treading. This new design I picked up in the spring has been on my feet ever since—and I love them. They’re incredibly lightweight, breathable and totally waterproof.

Hydro Flask

Hydro FlaskHydro Flask

This water container was my ultimate purchase this year. It does exactly what the company’s promotional material states: keeps cold liquid cold and hot liquid hot. After an intensely hot day, the water inside would still be refreshingly cold. Or my hot tea poured in the morning was still hot by late afternoon. Incredible! It’s also extremely durable, the plastic cap seals well and the taste of the liquid stored doesn’t have that metallic flavour like some other stainless steel water bottles.

Fenix HL50 Headlamp/Stand Alone Flashlight

FenixFenix

This headlamp is amazing. It takes a single AA (alkaline/NiMh/lithium) battery or one CR123 (lithium) battery—which makes it perfect for colder conditions. It features the IPX-8 waterproofing and has a maximum output of 365 lumens. Not the brightest of lights out there, but all you really need. The HL50 is also removable from the headlamp cradle, to be used on its own as a hand held flashlight. That’s a real bonus. It also has a fast, convenient all-in-one button switch.

EOG V3P Pocket Bellows

EOGEOG

It seems that every time I get this device out to help get the campfire embers going, I have someone belittle it, saying that they could easily make something similar and save some money. It’s a valid point. I guess. It looks similar to an old car antenna. But ultimately each and every camper around me is asking to borrow it by mid-trip. So, either go to a junk car dealer and purchase an old antenna or just buy this thing. It works magic on a smouldering campfire.

Ben’s & AfterBite

Ben's/AfterBiteBen's/AfterBite

It had to be one of the buggiest seasons I can remember. Ticks were really bad, black flies latest way too long in the season, mosquitoes are still buzzing the campfire at dusk and the deer flies drove me crazy. Two products I used back to back all season: Ben’s bug repellant and AfterBite. Bens is my favourite. It’s also water-based, not alcohol-based, which eliminates that bug spray smell on your skin. And the darn stuff works at repelling biting insects. To get rid of the itch at the end of the day, I literally lathered AfterBite on my ankles, knuckles and anywhere else the blood sucking vampires got to me.

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