If you're headed out into the great outdoors anytime soon – whether it's for camping or just to hang out with family and friends – you'll want to check out these items.
SOLO Steel (Quik Shade)
These six portable, instant shade canopies are lightweight, easy to carry, can be set up (and put away) by one person, are pinch free, and allow you to adjust their height as the sun moves or if the ground is uneven. They also have 99 percent UV sun protection woven in to protect you and yours from the sun's harmful rays. These canopies are built to last, with Rip-Stop polyester camping tent fabric that has water-resistant coating and features the Aluminex back lining to keep you and your stuff dry. Choose from five colors and a variety of sizes, ranging from 50 to 170 square feet of shade. $119.99 to $249.99. https://www.quikshade.com
You can solar charge this very cool lantern in about eight hours or via USB in about three and you won't have to worry about batteries or propane. The GoGo is waterproof – not merely water resistant – meaning you can actually submerge it and it'll still work. Its light weight makes it quite portable, it folds up/collapses easily when you're not using or charging it, and it's magnetized, which is pretty darn handy. It's also one of the brightest camping lights we've ever seen. Right now, they're crowdfunding, so you can get yours for $39 and up at https://www.indiegogo.com/project/preview/294dad3a#
Blocker Dry Bags (Seal Line)
If you're headed out into the water, there's a good chance that something is going to get wet. But with these dry bags, everything will stay blissfully dry, even if the bag itself ends up in the water. The rectangular shape makes stacking easy and eliminates all that space that's typically lost when you use round or cylindrical bags. The welded seams are 50 percent stronger than sewn seams and ensure dryness, and according to the company, their PVC construction makes them more environmentally friendly than vinyls and nylons but still tough and durable. Blockers come in a variety of colors and sizes, starting at around $15. https://www.seallinegear.com/dry-sacks
Your stuff may be dry, but you're going to get wet, so bring a long a few towels. We like the Nano, which is tiny yet mighty, absorbing twice its weight in water. Toss it in your pocket, clip it to your waistband or backpack (or wherever you'd like – Carabiner clip and mesh storage pouch are included), or wear it as a headband. Use it to wipe off your ski goggles, your Go Pro, your face, or anything else, and keep moving. You've got stuff to do, right? Then wring it out, and it's nearly dry. These towels are more useful than you might think, so give 'em a go, you won't be sorry. The Nano is $10; larger sizes have higher price points. https://www.packtowl.com
GravityWorks 4.0L Water Filter System (Platypus)
On the go and way out there? This high-capacity, pump-free filtration system is perfect for basecamp and delivers four liters of filtered water in under three minutes. Just dip it into your water source, fill it, hang it, and wait. The filter can be easily cleaned in the field as well, for continuous use. This system meets all EPA and NSF guidelines and keeps the eeewww out of your water by removing 99.9999 percent of bacteria and 99.9 percent of protozoa. The system's eight-liter total capacity provides enough clean water for drinking, cooking, and clean-up. About $120 at https://www.platy.com/gravityworks-4-0l-filter
(Armin and Samantha are the authors of the popular parenting blogs: http://www.mrdad.com and http://www.havesippywilltravel.com.
For more reviews of toys and games, visit http://www.parentsatplay.com/)