Best Gear
Credit: Kevin Callan

Well, the prime camping season seems to be over.

It was quick but eventful. I added up 52 nights sleeping in a tent. In a few weeks, however, I’ll be putting away my summer gear and unpacking my wool pants and warm sleeping bag.

I find this time of the year is a good opportunity to reflect on the summer season. What trips went as planned; what were the best experimental camp recipes; and what was the favourite piece of new camp gear. Here are the top 2014 camp gadget choices according to my wife, Alana, my daughter, Kyla, and myself.

Alana’s Top Choice: Helly Hansen Nimbus Trail Runner Shoes

It’s no surprise that my wife’s favourite gear choice happens to be shoes. Her footwear collection is legendary. Alana also differs from me on what she likes to wear during a trip. I like solid hiking boots. She prefers lightweight running shoes. I can’t say much about her choice since she carries more weight on the portage than me, and is always first to reach the other end. This year she packed along the new Helly Hansen Nimbus Trail Runners. They’re definitely light, weighing 219 grams. This makes them a perfect shoe to wear around camp if you still want to wear boots on trail. They’re also incredibly breathable, something quite critical when your days to wash socks on trip become limited. What impressed her the most, however, was that the Nimbus feature a 5mm heel rise, giving excellent grip and foothold while scrambling across the hiking trail or portage. Alana is a marathon runner and knows more about footwear than I do. So, if she likes the fit of these lightweight runners while out in the woods, compared to all the other choices she has stored in her closet back home, then I’d have to say the Nimbus is one good shoe. 

Kyla’s Top Choice: Outdoor Research Sun Runner Hat

My daughter’s choice of hat for this year made me giggle a little. The shape of the Outdoor Research Sun Runner is similar to what the soldiers wore in those old French Foreign Legion films. She absolutely loved it, though. By the end of the season the teasing stopped and I figured out why this is one awesome hat. A skirt dangles down the back to protect your neck, ears and cheeks from the sun. But that’s not all it does. It also protected her from those nasty deer flies and anything else buzzing around overhead. The skirt also flaps in the wind, so it never feels hot to wear. On extremely windy days, the Velcro strap around the inside brim did an OK job of securing the hat on her head—- but she also made good use of the snap system on the front of the skirt. Never once did I have to paddle the canoe back to get a hat before it sank below the surface. It dries quickly, too. More importantly, Kyla would wear it backwards while taking a quick snooze in the canoe — rain or shine. Seriously, it’s the perfect hat. No wonder the Legionnaires wore it.

Kevin’s Top Choice: Kelly Kettle Hobo Stove

I was quite excited when Kelly Kettle announced it was coming out with a hobo stove this year. I own many stick stoves, but this one had some major advantages over the others. It can be combined with the Kelly Kettle BaseCamp and Scout (a smaller Trekker design is now in the works). After doing a quick boil for tea, I’d simply replace the chimney section with the hobo stove and continue cooking a full breakfast or dinner. The entire process for me became my relaxation time; gathering small wood debris from around the campsite, lighting the mini fire, then cooking up a meal. For extended trips this year, I left the chimney portion at home. The Basecamp or Scout is a little too bulky for canoeing or backpacking. I’d just pack the hobo stove and kettle base. If dry sticks became an issue, I used a Trangia alcohol stove as backup. It fit perfectly in the kettle base. The entire system was lightweight, compact and had no parts that could break or malfunction while on trip. 

Join Kevin Callan on a guided canoe trip this winter — in the Florida Everglades! Find out more HERE.