10 Backpacking Gadgets You Never Knew You Needed
For some, fall means pumpkin spice and warm, fuzzy sweaters. For others, it means hiking through some of the country’s breathtaking, foliage-filled trails. (Or both!) Whether you’re heading to a national park or just a nearby forest this season, you’ll want to come prepared — and we’re not just talking about your standard water bottle and protein bars. There are lots of high-tech gadgets and accessories that make hitting the trail that much easier, so you can simply enjoy your workout and and take in the views without any worries.
1. goTenna Mesh ($179): No service? No problem. This tool allows hikers to send texts and utilize GPS regardless of your cell signal. There is one catch: The person you’re communicating with needs to have a goTenna too. Although this device won’t help you gab with your gal pals back home, it sure will be useful in case of an emergency.
2. LifeStraw Steel Personal Water Filter ($55): Oftentimes, water is the heaviest thing a hiker will carry with them. So make use of those babbling brooks and rushing rivers along your trail; just be sure to run the water through this filter before consumption. This compact steel tube does a whole lotta cleaning in a short amount of time. It gets rid of bacteria, protozoa, odor, bad taste, chlorine, and organic chemical matter so you can stay hydrated without hassle.
3. Thetford Aqua-Soft Toilet Tissue 4-Pack ($8): Just because you’re in nature doesn’t mean nature stops calling. Although this pack of four will take up considerable space in your backpack (consider bringing just one roll), you’ll definitely appreciate the comfort it provides when the time comes. No worries — it’s two-ply, but it’s also biodegradable and dissolves rapidly for an easy, eco-conscious cleanup.
4. Garmin Fenix 5 GPS Watch ($700): Leave the Apple watch at home; you’ll want to grab this Garmin alternative before you go. It might not be a fashion statement, though it does come in a variety of colors, but it will make a statement with all its capabilities. On your wrist, you can carry a three-axis compass, barometer, altimeter, GPS, and more. Sounds good (and space-saving) to us!
5. Thermacell MR150 Portable Mosquito Repeller ($25): Half the comfort during backpacking comes from durable shoes and weather-appropriate clothing; the other half comes from not having to constantly scratch at itchy bug bites. That’s where this handy no-spray, portable mosquito repeller comes in. This product creates a 15-foot radius around you to ward off pests for up to 12 hours — you might even want to use this at home!
6. Boulder Denim Women’s Skinny Fit Jeans ($148): We don’t even like to watch TV in jeans, much less head to the mountains in them — until now. These pants are made from ultra stretch denim to allow for more movement, plus they have a super flattering cut, reinforced stitching, and trap pockets. They are currently offered in waist sizes 24 through 34, but note that they run a size big.
7. FKANT Waterproof Solar Charger ($26): As much as we’d like to think we’re going off the grid, most of the time that’s just not feasible — or safe. This solar charger eliminates the stress of finding a place to charge your devices. It is handheld and waterproof, charges your phone to full battery in an hour, and has two USB ports. Just add sun!
8. Mystery Ranch In and Out Backpack ($79): For those day trips when you need something lightweight to carry your essentials, this backpack will do the trick. It’s made from a tear-resistant material, has contoured shoulder straps, and is surprisingly sturdy. Best of all, it packs up small (into its own front pocket), so it will take up minimal space among the rest of your gear.
9. Stanley Mountain Vacuum Coffee System ($49): You don’t give up your daily dose of caffeine just because you’re on a mountain. This kit from Stanley, which has been making durable outdoor gear for over 70 years, has an integrated pot and French press to let you make fresh, hot coffee wherever your adventures take you. The leak-proof, double insulated bottle will then keep your brew warm for up to 15 hours. The lid also separates into two cups, so you can share with your hiking buddy.
10. Sony DEV-5 Digital Recording Binoculars ($4,759): Yes, memories are priceless, and these high-tech binoculars are more than $4,000, but their features are well worth the once-in-a-lifetime splurge. Sony’s binoculars are the first of their kind and offer HD video recording, 3D viewing, and 20x zoom power. So next time you encounter a bear, bison, or bird of prey (from 200 or so yards away, of course) in the wild, whip out these binoculars to capture it for posterity long after your adventure is over.
What are your hiking must-haves? Let us know @BritandCo!
Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.