You are, no doubt, already familiar with the mini power plants known as camp stoves. The ReadySet is a different kind of mobile energy source that generates and stores electrical power generated by the sun or pedal power. While it wasn't originally designed for outdoor recreation, it might find a happy home in your excursion kit.
The ReadySet is the work of Fenix International, a San Francisco-based company that got its start by creating renewable energy solutions for economic development and emissions reductions in off-grid communities in the developing world. Visiting small villages in Africa, Fenix International CEO Mike Lin discovered that entrepreneurs were scavenging old car batteries and using them to power up cell phones and other small electrical devices. Despite their lack of electrical grid access, more than 600 million people in the developing world are using cell phones. So the need for a reliable, clean and mobile power source was obvious.
In May of 1972, MOMA put on a five-month show highlighting some of the world's best new mobile environments. It was called "ITALY: THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE" and featured a dozen transportable homes for modern living. One of these 12 designs popped up again on Monday when Adrian Grenier and Peter Glatzer's SHFT website posted a picture of it on their Facebook page. It's a lightweight aluminum house by the Italian designer Alberto Rosselli. The house extends out in four directions via telescoping runners, hinged floors, and accordion walls. It has resurfaced in art exhibitions over the years, most famously in a traveling exhibition about mobility called Living in Motion that stopped in Boston in 2006. Still, it's a wonder that a camper close to Roselli's "Expandable Living Container" hasn't been turned out for Americans seeking to move around the country, especially when you see the inside.
San Francisco views at Angel Island State Park. Photo: John Trippe/FecalFace.com
If you're all about eating locally-produced food and being active in your community, consider staking claim to some nearby dirt or sand, too. Here's a quick (and coastal-centric) list of camping options. Pack your gear, grab your Metro card/cab fare/bike, and hit the wilder(ish)ness.
D.C. If you think you have to escape the Beltway to pitch a tent, you're wrong. Greenbelt Park is about 12 miles from the National Mall and offers much less trampled grass. There are around 175 campsites. You read that correctly. Don't expect seclusion in the summer, but if the noise gets to you there's always a three-mile hike out to the College Park Metro station. Then, try again in the fall or even winter. The $16/night campground is open year-round.
Los Angeles Area L.A., beast of a city that it is, offers a multitude of sea-side camping options, both north and south. They're not nearly as close to the city center as the others on this list, but they're accessible and, at the very least, outside the fray. SoCal is filled with great state parks, and they need your patronage now more than ever. Near Malibu, Leo Carillo State Park comes recommended and has a good network of trails should you tire of the water. Sandwiched between Long Beach and Huntington Beach sits Bolsa Chica State Park. Off the water, check out Topanga Canyon State Park.
It’s easy to find an outdoor adventure in the Rockies. What’s not as simple is finding an adventure base camp for the whole family. For mountain biking, there may be no better place than Boggy Draw.
This camping and biking Mecca, located in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan National Forest, outside of Dolores, Colorado, is the perfect spot for a multi-age group to play. With singletrack rides for all abilities, lakes for wading in and catching fish, and fields for little ones to ride and run around in, Boggy Draw is a great three-season road-trip destination.
"Fishing" at Boggy Draw. Photo: Emily Brendler Shoff
Therm-a-Rest made the first self inflating mattress in 1971. Sleeping in the backcountry suddenly became way more comfortable and pleasurable for most campers.
Next spring, the brand, which is part of Cascade Designs, claims it will radically improve your sleep again with a new collection of sleeping bags that the company says will be among the lightest, warmest and most compressible in the industry.
Therm-a-Rest's new bags have thermal-mapped, zoned insulation, which means its designers figured out where you are coldest and put more insulation there. They're specially designed to be used with a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir sleeping pad or other 25-inch-wide sleeping pad. And they’re built with extra torso room to let your shoulders, elbows, and hips move freely. The hood and footbox are cut narrow so that your body has less space to lose heat.