Gear Guy


What’s the Best Summer Road-Trip Gear?

With Memorial Day unofficially ushering in summer, it’s time to break out the grill and car-camping gear and hit the road

What’s the Best Summer Road-Trip Gear?

It's always better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it. And let's be honest, you'll use these all the time. Photo: Photolyric/iStock


Presenting six totally unessential, very cool tools you can’t afford not to throw in the back of your truck, which, if you’re like me, serves as your weekend base camp and mobile party space. Think of it as an insurance policy for the next time a sunset and a great beer call your name.

Stanley Adventure Combo Stainless-Steel Shot Glass Set

  Photo: Stanley

These four lightweight stainless-steel shot glasses ($20) in a retro hammered-steel case are—I almost hate to say it—among my favorite pieces of gear. They seemed so impractical for camping, but the two-ounce glasses eventually won me over. Why? I can’t find a good reason not to bring them on a rafting trip because they always add to the party.

Yeti Rambler Tumbler

  Photo: Yeti

Even since I brought a 20-ounce Rambler Tumbler ($30) on an 18-day trip down the Grand Canyon, it’s been an essential part of my road-trip kit. The double-walled insulated exterior has kept ice clinking inside for more than an hour on triple-digit days. 

Miir Growler

  Photo: Miir

Sure, lots of companies are making vacuum-insulated growlers, and many claim to help people in poor or underdeveloped countries. But after testing this growler ($59) and getting to know Miir over the years, I can confidently say that both its product and its charity are among the best out there. The lid closes with a reassuring snap, thanks to a clamp system that, coupled with a rubber gasket, keeps beer carbonated and cold for up to 24 hours. Each purchase also guarantees access to clean water for a year to someone who needs it.

Vigo Protective Wine Carrier 

  Photo: Vigo

Don’t bring glass wine bottles camping. If you can’t avoid it, opt for something like the malleable Vigo Protective Wine Carrier ($79), which is made from XRD Impact Foam and will prevent the bottle from breaking no matter what you throw at it. (Watch this YouTube video of a woman dropping a bowling ball on a bottle inside the carrier. Spoiler alert: No glass breaks.) 

REI Camp Roll Table 

  Photo: REI

If you aren’t sharing a communal space while drinking, it isn’t a party. Roll-up tables, like this one ($65) from REI, are portable ways to create this area. This sturdy aluminum table is the perfect setup for a bar, snacks, or card game. 

Howler Brothers Old Skool Kool Kans 

  Photo: Howler Brothers

There is currently debate among Outside editors as to whether a koozie’s main purpose is to keep the hand warm or the beer cold. While I plan to tackle this important question in an upcoming Gear Guy post, the fact remains that beer is tastier when ensconced in a koozie. We like a simple, durable vinyl option like this one ($15 for two) from Howler Brothers. It has excellent hand feel, thanks to its sturdy closed-cell foam, which also causes it to float.

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