Playing Around

Oct 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

Climbing at Joshua Tree, windsurfing the Gorge, fly-fishing the Yellowstone—you know what you're there to do. But let's face it, when the crag's wet, the wind ain't blowin', and you can't set a hook to save your life, the great outdoors can be duller than C-SPAN on mute. Fortunately the solution is simple: Next time you're sitting around camp crushing beer cans against your forehead to pass the time, try whipping out one of these lightweight and compact backpackable toys. They might not be as much fun as recreational hallucinogens, but they're a lot easier to sneak past the rangers. —Tim Neville

Boomerang l $20 l Boomerangs aren't just for thwacking baby 'roos anymore. With the flick of a wrist, this high-performance "rang" from Colorado Boomerangs (800-357-2647;, dubbed the Rainier, circles back at your noggin in a 35-yard arc. Handcrafted from Finnish birch, the 1.8-ounce Rainier includes instructions on how to wing the thing safely (the Labrador at the next tent is not a proper visual), and features a fuchsia-and-canary-yellow paint job that makes it easy to spot as it's whirling toward your trachea.

Travel Bocce l $15 l Suggest a game of traditional bocce to anyone five decades shy of incontinence, and they'll label you a pasty wanker. That's because there's an improved version of the Italian lawn-bowling game called, you guessed it, extreme bocce. The old game is played with 4-inch balls on meticulously groomed lawns, but the extreme approach relies on rocks, ruts, and dips in backcountry turf to make the game more challenging. This travel set from (925-855-9185; weighs 12 ounces and includes nine 1.5-inch solid-pine balls and a waterproof sack that fits easily in a trunk, pack, or boat for playtime anywhere. Now that's Italian!

Max Flight Frisbee l $10 l Don't let friends whip this baby around the campground unless you're prepared for the consequences of dancing over the top of somebody's tent to make the catch. The long-distance Max Flight Frisbee (877-469-4266; uses some of the go-far design tricks behind the user-unfriendly, hard-edged golf discs (Spot catches disc; Spot loses teeth). But the nine-inch-diameter Max Flight is easier to catch thanks to a rubber grip and thicker profile. Granted it's not one of those distance-defying Aerobies that get caught in trees, but you can expect throws up to 350 feet.

SandMaster Footbag l $12 l Welcome to Stoner Fitness 101, Introduction to the Hack. Filled with sand instead of plastic beads, the 2.5-inch-diameter SandMaster, distributed by the World Footbag Association (800-878-8797;, has a more forgiving feel than most bags. Add to it a 14-panel quilt of durable synthetic suede that gives it a rounder shape and reduces klutzy shanks, and the plum-size SandMaster becomes the bag of choice. Just don't ever, ever apologize for a bad kick. It's poor style, bro.

Sand and Foam, by Kahlil Gibran l $14 l Conversational lulls, begone! The early-20th-century Lebanese writer Kahlil Gibran inspires endless banter in Sand and Foamfrom A. A. Knopf (212-572-2600; 82 pages of outdoor koans in a book the size of a few slices of Spam. "So Bob, what do you think he means by, 'Frogs may bellow louder than bulls, but they cannot drag the plough in the field nor turn the wheel of the winepress, and of their skins you cannot make shoes'?"

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