Sun-baked lizards scurry under rocks as footsteps approach. Jackrabbits thump from juniper to juniper as cactus blossoms glow. It’s springtime in the Southwest, temperatures aren’t yet sweltering and there’s no better time to escape into the desert. Active Junky has you covered with gear essentials for your Southwest shenanigans with these six top picks.
Avoid firewood-seeking missions that trample the desert’s delicate cryptobiotic soil crust and cook over the ultimate reliable stove. Forgot white gas at home? No problem. Enhanced fuel compatibility lets you fire up Whisperlite with the gas you pump into your car (though it may burn dirtier).
Best For: Desert-respecters, Whisperlite die-hards and reliability-seekers
Look up from your book and the rechargeable Tikka RXP becomes a spotlight, illuminating the magnificent canyon walls around you. Tilt down and RXP reflects the change; it dims to conserve power without button pushing. Reactive Lighting Technology senses other light so you don’t fry your friends’ retinas as they approach down the trail – even if they don’t pay you the same courtesy.
Best For: The tech lover inside all of us, trail runners and weekend trippers
It’s a strange feeling at first. You spy petroglyphs on the wall of a canyon cave only to put your sunglasses on to take a better look. Smith’s ChromaPop lenses are simply that effective. Back outside, watch as glare and mirages evaporate. Warning: once in place, you might never take them off.
Best For: Those with crisp style, craving sharper vision
Merino’s prime for cold weather, but few realize it’s ideal for the heat as well. This light layer keeps the sun off, staying cooler (and far less aromatic) than synthetics. Smooth enough to satiate the baby-skinned, the Silkweight is burly enough to avoid rips as you trudge through narrow trails sandwiched by thick desert brush.
Best For: Trail to watering hole without requiring a wardrobe change
Props to Stio for a simple jacket that’s as practical in the company’s birthplace (Jackson, Wyoming) as in the Southwest’s deserts. A refreshing rainstorm energizes the desert and the ultralight Modis comes to life during downpours. However, even Modis can’t guard against flash floods, so take the time to get educated about this real – and lethal – element of desert travel.
Best For: Staying fly and dry
At an inconsequential 2oz, LifeStraw’s an ideal back up to more conventional water purifiers. While you may need to prefilter big chunks – and deal with unpleasant odors emanating from the water source - you can drop and sip nearly anywhere. Clean often and hydrate wisely.
Best For: Saving your life when options are running out