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Best Early Season Camping Hacks

May 09, 2016

  • by
  • Peter Reese

Three products turn the year’s first outings into successful forays, whether a state forest campground or primitive campsite is your destination.  Each brings immediate enjoyment and lasting value to woods, desert, beach or mountain top.

SOG Survival Hawk:  Any grain, all gain

SOG Survival Hawk

This brand continues to challenge testers to rethink outdoor tools.  Survival Hawk is no exception, mustering superior impact at under 20oz.  Truth be told, we went looking for scenarios to see what this 3” blade, non-wood shafted hawk could do – and whether it would send vibrations back into the user’s hand and arm.  No worries, as it cleaved cleanly and rarely bounced off even freshly cut logs.  Non-survivalists can use it at home and around camp thanks to a hammering head and gnarly nail puller (fencing tool); the multi-purpose blade cuts cleanly when properly sharpened. 

Tester Comments: Paracord wrapping on the handle is a nice touch and adds another survival element to Hawk.  The screw-in firestarter rod works better than most.  Give the hammering head a shot on tent pegs as well.  SOG’s sewn and riveted sheath fits well to add safe handling even inside a pack.

Best For: Campground, cabin and backcountry utility, group outings and extended paddling trips

CamelBak Chute .75L Bottle:  Drink it in

CamelBak Chute .75L Bottle

A right-sized opening, onboard cap storage and an easy pour angle made Chute a joy in recent travel to Baja, Mexico.  Small, useful volume markings on the bottle’s side aided mixing of electrolyte drinks and Emergen-C along with other portable potions.  Seeing fellow travelers with the identical bottle reinforced the belief this one is a high-mileage value.  Other CamelBak products on recent international, multi-sport trips performed at a similar standard to put hydration when and where needed. Free of BPA and BPS, this one’s dishwasher safe – and cleans up fast in a hotel sink.  

Tester Comments:  Bouncing around on a motorized launch or gulping down water on a windy sand dune, Chute is a superior system worth the 30 seconds needed to learn it.  Cap management is brilliant with a tether that can be released if needed.  Impact resistance proved exceptional and the wide range of colors keeps everyone’s bottle straight.

Best For: Everyday use, adventure travel, mixing and consuming sports drinks and supplements.

Evgrn Downtime Hammock:  Call it good

evrgrn Downtime Hammock

Life is what you make it.  The same holds true for relaxing, whether in camp or at home.  Evrgrn elevates the ancient art of chilling out with a hammock that floats its way into your outdoor lifestyle at under 7lbs.  With a 650lb capacity, the uses are more limited by your imagination than the durable fabric, secure set-up and wipe-off care.  Active Junky’s been animated by the suspended life for some years; Downtime is less survivalist and more realist than many we’ve tried.  Cramped apartment dwellers will love the freedom found in a couple of sturdy, well-placed trees with this easy-storing hammock extended between them.

Tester Comments: This one’s for sharing.  Puppies love it as much as people, with the side pockets capable of handling snacks, books and electronics if there’s no table nearby.  Even with warm days and snow on the ground, there’s reason to clip it and catch some early morning sunshine.

Best For: Home and basecamp use, festivals with suitable attachment points

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