Essentials for the modern rambler.
—Sam Moulton and Grayson Schaffer
Grayl Water Filtration cup
Sketchy tap water in India or a questionable mountain creek in Colorado? Doesn’t matter. Fill up the 16-ounce Grayl ($70), push the charcoal filter down French-press style, and drink up. It’s a bit heavy but as user-friendly as it gets. You can seal the lid tight and throw the whole thing in your pack, or take it off entirely and chug. Each filter is good for 40 gallons.
Primus Eta Spider stove
Most integrated cook systems are exclusive—they’re efficient but don’t play well with other pots or pans. Which is why we like the Spider ($120). It comes with a windscreen, one-liter pot, lid, and bowl, but the stove’s low center and wide base mate with just about any cookware. Brilliant touch: magnets on the windscreen make for fumble-free repositioning.
Spot Gen3 Satellite GPS messenger
The third iteration of Spot’s personal locator device ($150 plus one-year data plan) sips battery life half as fast as its predecessor, lasting up to 12 days. It now also allows you to transmit your location as often as every 2.5 minutes—great for endurance races. Just remember, if you press the SOS button, a lot of very skilled people are coming to get you.
Brunton Heavy Metal 5500 power supply
If you’re like us, you usually have at least one USB-powered gadget with you when you go off-grid. This appropriately named unit ($90)—it’s the size of a BlackBerry but weighs twice as much—will fully charge your iPhone about five times. It takes about one to two hours per charge. Also compatible with micro-USB devices.
Garmin GPSMAP 64
GPS technology is ubiquitous nowadays, but a dedicated unit like this one ($300) is still the best way to go for serious backcountry navigation. By using both American and Russian Glonass satellites, the new 64 homes in on your location faster than ever. The 2.6-inch screen is readable even in bright sunlight, and the unit is sealed against downpours. Maps are available by microSD card.
Helinox Passport Tension Lock Adjustable trekking poles
These ultralight, packable sticks ($150) are made with aluminum from DAC, whose tent poles are the toughest on the market. Said one tester: “If Apple designed trekking poles, this is how they’d look and function.” We agree. The locking and adjustment mechanisms are as quick and easy to use as they are sturdy and simple.
Leupold BX-3 Mojave 8x32
BEST FOR: Versatility
The fully multicoated lens system offers exceptional color fidelity and contrast, even at dusk. The rubber-coated eyecups are comfortable while viewing at length. And a close-focus distance of seven feet makes the Mojave great for naturalists who like to get up close and personal with their subjects ($440).
Nikon Monarch 5 8x42
BEST FOR: Low Light
In low light, there’s no better binocs for the money than the revamped Monarch ($300). Like past iterations, it’s also extremely durable—fogproof, waterproof, and rubber armored. Plus, for a full-size model, it weighs in at a surprisingly svelte 21 ounces.
Swarovski CL Pocket 8x25
BEST FOR: Minimalists
Unlike most compact binoculars, these foldable glasses ($888) feel comfortable in your hand, thanks to a grippy, rubber-armored coating. The eyecups have an extended relief (17 millimeters) and are uncharacteristically wide for such a small package. They’re slightly heavier than some compacts, but you’re also getting Swarovski’s unmatched optics, with fully multi-coated lenses and a nitrogen-filled housing.