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Product review: Tree tents and other outdoor gear for the summer
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Tentsile Tree Tents allow you to sleep suspended above the ground. - photo by Grant Olsen
Here is a diverse lineup of outdoor products that might be a good fit for your next adventure.

Tentsile Tents

GRADE: A-

Tentsile Tree Tents allow you to sleep suspended above the ground. Why would that be nice? For starters, it gives you a comfortable sleeping base, free from the hard and rocky ground. Also, if the weather gets nasty, youll be off the wet ground. Its like combining the benefits of sleeping on a trampoline with the comfort of sleeping in a hammock.

The unique design of these tents is based on an adjustable network of 2.5-ton webbing straps, a micro-insect mesh roof and a waterproof and UV-resistant polyester fabric fly. After anchoring the three straps to stable objects such as trees, boulders or a vehicle, you ratchet them tight until the internal floor is level and has the proper tension.

In situations where anchors are unavailable or the ground in the campsite is soft and level, you can always pitch a Tentsile tent on the ground like any other. However, the ability to get a tree house experience is what makes these tents so amazing.

Many adventurers use these tents as base camps to store their gear. The only limitations are finding a place with three mounting anchors and having the time to set up the tent (as you mightve guessed, it takes a bit longer than a standard tent.)

There are a handful of Tentsile options, including the Connect and the Stingray. The Connect is a lightweight, two-person tent. Its ideal for short trips and can be installed in smaller spaces than the other versions. The Stingray is larger and can accommodate three people. Even with multiple people in the tent, if the tents set up properly it will maintain tension and wont sag in the middle.

All Tentsile tents are versatile and can be enhanced by adding hammocks and additional components. And while its true that they may not be a good fit for large families or novice campers, these one-of-a-kind tents are an awesome way to enjoy the great outdoors.

Burley Solo Bike Trailer

GRADE: A

Burleys commitment to quality is legendary and the Solo definitely lives up to the Burley name. Its one of the lightest and smoothest trailers youll ever try, thanks to the natural flex in the tires and the adjustable suspension system.

Basically, the Solo is the one-seater version of Burleys DLite double trailer. Its impressively roomy and can hold up to 75 pounds. The first thing youll notice is how easy it is to assemble.

Right out of the box, all you have to do is snap the push-button wheels into place, attach the tow arm and hitch, and then pop the trailer open with one simple motion. Its so intuitive that you can do it in less than 3 minutes, even without reading the instructions (though its obviously recommended that you use the instructions.)

The cool thing about the Solo is that despite the simplicity of its intuitive design, its loaded with sophisticated features. As mentioned earlier, the suspension system is top-notch. Theres also a hub-engaged parking brake, robust cover with waterproof zippers and a height-adjustable handlebar that serves as a roll bar when not in use.

As for the occupants of the trailer, theyre well taken care of in the Solo. The slightly bowled design creates extra space inside and the seat is padded and reclines. For easy cleaning, the five-point harness has removable pads, as does the seat pad. There are even tinted side windows.

For the times when you dont have a passenger, you can make the seat lie flat to make it easier to fill the trailer with cargo.

Camp Chef Redwood Fire Pit

GRADE: B

Camp Chef is a company obsessed with providing top-notch cooking products. While stoves have been their bread and butter, they also offer a wide range of other camping items, including the Redwood Fire Pit.

If youre wondering when you would use a propane fire pit, just think about the fire bans that have become commonplace in the West in recent years. This fire pit is allowed in most fire ban zones, so you can still enjoy a flame for cooking and warmth, without breaking the law.

Because its portable, the Redwood is also good for roasting marshmallows in the backyard. In fact, it comes with four roasting sticks. The adjustable flame ensures that you can keep it just right for whatever the conditions. Features include matchless ignition, safety shutoff valve, a 5-inch hose and a support stand for your propane tank.

Costa Del Mar Luke Sunglasses

GRADE: A-

Costa Del Mar has carved out a place for itself in the crowded sunglasses market by making truly seaworthy products. Their sunglasses are functional to the core, rather than being preoccupied with aesthetics. The Lukes are still impressively sleek and stylish, but more importantly, theyre built for performance.

One of the best gauges for the value of sunglasses is if you can comfortably wear them all day. Too many shades out there eventually start to irritate you or give you a headache. They simply arent made for extended use.

The Lukes are designed to fall squarely into the comfy camp. They give you a full-wrap frame so your eyes are shielded from nearly all angles. With optical spring hinges, the TR-90 nylon frames have just the right amount of flex. You can choose between plastic or glass lenses, making them customizable for your needs. The lenses offer 100 percent UV light blockage and 100 percent polarization, which neutralizes reflected glare and reduces eye strain.

One thing to note is that these sunglasses have a medium fit. So if you typically require larger sunglasses, they may not be a good match for your needs.

Astral Mary Jay

GRADE: A-

Dont be deceived by their cuteness and low profile the Mary Jay from Astral is a legit outdoor shoe. They stay snug on your feet and are rugged enough to handle a day on the river. Sure, you wont want to go hiking in these shoes because they dont offer the kind of support and protection needed for intense terrain, but for water-based activities, the Mary Jay is a great option.

They have a 1000 Denier Cordura nylon upper with a 210D printed nylon liner. While this is a fairly breathable material, the secret to the Mary Jays amphibious qualities is the drainage port found at both the heel and toe. It keeps water and grit moving through, rather than irritating your feet.

For the outsole, Astral uses G.15 high-friction rubber (3.5 mm thick) with siping to give you impressive flexibility and traction. Because of its low durometer, the rubber conforms to the ground for comfort and grip.

As stated above, the Mary Jay isnt an all-purpose shoe. Its not trying to be a trail runner or a hiking boot. Rather, its an amphibious shoe that keeps your feet in fine shape when youre playing in the water. Theyve been engineered to perform beautifully even when theyre soaking wet and invaded by silt.

Spy Angler Sunglasses

GRADE: B+

Sunglasses that are intended for outdoor sports need to be robust. Even the most careful person is going subject them to abuse now and then. So you need to ask yourself the crucial question if I accidently drop these sunglasses, will they survive the fall?

The Spy Angler is obviously intended for fishing enthusiasts and they have the substantial feel of high-quality shades. If they fall off your head, theyll most likely take the hit without complaint.

This durability starts with the Grilamid frames. Its a tough material that has just the right amount of flex. The polycarbonate Toric lenses are a nice complement to the frames, as theyre also resilient enough to take a beating. The lenses are Spys award-winning Happy technology, which filter out harsh light and let in the good. The result is less eye strain and enhanced color and contrast.

One complaint that anglers and boaters often have with inferior sunglasses is that they wont stay on in wet conditions. To remedy this problem, Spy uses Hyrtel rubber nose pads and temple tips. This design definitely does the trick and the Angler has just the right amount of tackiness.

For sizing reference, the Angler has a frame measurement of 59-17-130.

L.L. Bean Silver Ghost Fly Rod Outfit

GRADE: A-

Choosing the right fly rod and reel can be a daunting prospect, especially for a novice trying to get into the sport. The Silver Ghost combo from L.L. Bean is a great option due to its versatility and ease of use.

The rod is 9 inches and comes in either a 4, 5 or 6-weight. It's constructed from premium, lightweight graphite that gives it fast action to really power the line. The range on this rod is excellent. The cork handle has a nice feel to it and overall the rod feels great in your hand.

You can buy just the rod if thats all you need, but if you also need a reel, youll save money by buying the combo. The reel has more than a dozen layers of carbon and steel, giving it a robust drag. Its engineered to deliver fast line speed, corresponding perfectly with the rods responsive tip-flex design.

The reel has a large arbor design, a sealed drag system and easy exchange from right-to-left-hand retrieve. The reel also comes loaded with fly line, backing and leader.

This combo is a nice option for anglers of all experience levels. Its easy to use, while also delivering some advanced features.

ZEMGear TerraTECH Round

GRADE: A-

ZEMGear shoes are an interesting hybrid of barefoot shoes and Aqua Socks. They offer a solid amount of protection and support, while still weighing less than a hamburger. The TerraTECH, which is one of ZEMGears top styles, is unisex and comes in a wide range of sizes.

Although they look similar to a classic Aqua Sock, the TerraTECH actually gives you enough support to be used as a light trail runner. This impressive amount of support is made possible with a lateral stability cradle, high-tension nylon quarter panels and a tech-toggle closure system.

Of course, comfort is just as important as support and these shoes deliver. They have removable cushioning insoles and a high quality last. On the bottom, theyve got a recycled dual-density outsole. The traction is quite impressive and gives you confidence even in wet conditions.

Bogs Tumalo Waterproof Hiking Boot

GRADE: A

Bogs is famous for its waterproof footwear and these boots build on that reputation. The leather is 100 percent waterproof and the rest of the design is such that these boots protect your feet incredibly well. Theyre lined with EverDry to absorb moisture and help your sweat evaporate, ensuring that the protection extends inside and out.

The Tumalo are solid from the moment you put them on your feet. Theyre the kind of boots that feel substantial, giving you confidence on any terrain. Constructed out of nubuck leather, theyre durable enough to give you many years of top performance.

The Tumalo excels in other areas as well. This is a boot you can comfortably wear on long hikes. The lugged outsole really bites into the ground to give you stability and traction. And because the soles also have rebound technology, theres less foot fatigue. All these benefits combine to ensure these boots keep you dry and comfortable on all sorts of treks.

Numinous 55L Rucksack

GRADE: A-

Whether youre camping in the Boulder Mountains or traveling abroad, its important to keep your belongings safe and secure. Numinous specializes in making backpacks that keep thieves (and sharp-toothed rodents searching for food) at bay. Its like wearing a miniature vault on your back.

The 55L rucksack has many layers of defense. The anti-puncture zip and lock keeps out unwanted guests and is rugged enough to take years of heavy use. The entire pack utilizes anti-slash technology, keeping your belongings safe.

Other features include a locking system that allows you to secure your pack to a tree or other fixed object, a padded inner compartment, compression straps, padded lumbar support and airflow system, mesh side pockets and side carry handles. As with other high quality packs, it also has a height adjust system so you can customize it to your body type.

There are lots of adventure packs out there, but Numinous rucksacks are some of the toughest on the planet.

Vasque Pendulum II

GRADE: A-

Sleek and lightweight, the Pendulum II is surprisingly rugged. These trail runners employ aggressive lug geometry and a low overall lug height to provide superior traction on loose terrain. And on top of all the performance, theyre really easy on the eyes. It can sometimes be difficult to find a shoe with gorgeous design that also offers this much utility.

The secret to the level of comfort with the Pendulum II is the one-piece mesh upper (no stitching to irritate your feet.) It delivers excellent breathability so you can wear these shoes while running in the middle of summer.

The Pendulum II has a 3 millimeter Flux Foam footbed that is intended to adapt to your feet. The idea is that the footbed will mold to the contours of your feet after youve worn them for a while, though it still has enough compression resistance to prevent it from getting too squishy.

Smith Optics Overtake Helmet

GRADE: A

If youre looking for a lightweight helmet that delivers best-in-class protection, youll probably want to check out the Overtake. Smith has really upped their game in recent years, producing streamlined helmets with impressive features.

The Overtake started with the simple idea of making helmets more comfortable. Mission accomplished, because many riders report that they actually forget theyre wearing the Overtake. This is largely due to using lightweight materials that also give you lots of ventilation (thanks to the AEROCORE construction.)

Additional protection comes from the Koroyd material used on the interior. Given the amount of airflow produced, this is really impressive stuff.

The Overtake comes with an adjustable fit system thatll ensure it remains snug on your head for the entire ride. It also has sunglass integration, but be aware that not all brands and models are perfectly compatible.

BlackRapid Double Camera Strap

GRADE: B

BlackRapid products are gaining a lot of fans in the photography world. Theyre intended for serious photographers who want to safeguard the cameras theyve invested so much in. While their single straps can be a good option for even casual shooters, the Double (for two cameras) is most relevant to those with a bit more experience.

The Double is designed to be a heavy-duty cargo hauler, though its still ergonomic and sleek. You can detach one side to make it a single R-Strap or keep it together for maximum effect. It comes with two FastenR-3 connectors, which attach to the standard -inch 20 tripod socket on the camera body or lens, giving you top-tier compatibility.

BlackRapid straps are known for their smooth gliding action. Bringing your camera up into position has never been easier. The Double has a length adjuster to ensure that each photographer can get a custom fit. The strap has a polyester base bolstered by a 1.4cm-thick PU foam padding.

Wearing two cameras all day is always going to take a toll on you, but with the Double, its going to be as effortless and painless as possible.

Selkbag Patagon

GRADE: B+

Although theyre still considered a novelty by some people, Selkbags have seriously stepped up their game in recent years. The Patagon represents the highpoint of this new technology.

First of all, the Patagon has much stronger and lighter shell material. This is significant because many people assume a wearable sleeping bag will snag and tear during normal use. The Patagons shell is rip-stop nylon with a water-resistant finish. Its not impervious to damage, but it gives you a lot more confidence than earlier models.

Another big update is in the insulation. The Patagon uses synthetic Krekran, which is known for its thermal efficiency. In conjunction with the improved fill, the Patagon keeps you warm with features like snugger fit to reduce air space, baffled construction, a thermal collar around the head and neck and enhanced draft tubes to stop heat loss around zippers. Of course, if all that heat-hugging technology becomes too much, there are vents for convenient cooling.

The Patagon comes in three sizes and fits most people. The medium weighs 4 pounds, the large weighs 4.3 pounds and the extra-large weighs 4.7 pounds.

Wenzel Backyard 30-Degree Sleeping Bag

GRADE: A-

Wenzels Backyard mummy bags come in two colors and are perfect for kids who want to have their very own bag. As their name suggests, these bags are rated at 30 degrees. They have quilt through construction for comfort and warmth, plus a drawstring hood for extra chilly nights. And at less than $30, theyre a great bargain.

The Backyard bag is 66 inches long and 26 inches wide, giving children plenty of room. It has a 190T Polyester outer that is fairly rugged. For the fill, Wenzel uses Insul-Therm, which is good for retaining heat. The main zipper is a two-way, giving you venting options for warm night, and on the warmest summer nights, the bag fully unzips to become a blanket.

These bags also come with a stuff sack for storage and transport. With their versatile fill, they compress down to about 15 inches by 10 inches.

Camp Chef Mesa Aluminum Camp Table

GRADE: A

Since the early 90s, Camp Chef has been making high quality outdoor cooking products. This rugged, versatile table is a great addition to their lineup. With its adjustable legs, it can be adapted for just about any terrain. The legs go from 27 inches to nearly 40 inches. This means you can set up the table on a rocky, uneven hillside and still get a flat surface.

The table is also quite portable. Camp Chef uses aluminum for the construction, which gives it decent strength and keeps the weight in check (though I wish it were a bit lighter than 22 pounds.) When not in use, the table collapses down and fits into a carry bag.

Built to withstand the elements, this table really fits many uses. Its great for a quick picnic in the backyard or can be hauled to campsites further in the mountains. Its dimensions are a spacious 48 inches by 27 inches. And because it has a middle support crossbeam, you can trust that the table will remain solid and stable.

Astral Greenjacket

GRADE: A-

Astrals aquatic products have a reputation for being top quality. They simply thrive in water. The Greenjacket is no different. As far as rescue vests go, this is one of the most comfortable on the market. It offers extra features like reinforced back protection and foam tectonic front panel that allows for good movement.

While the Greenjacket can be used as an everyday life jacket, it excels when it comes to rescue situations. It has an extended clamshell front pocket with multiple compartments for storage, a rope storage system, Web-Toe storage in side pocket, quick release rescuer's harness tack stitched into vest, enhanced back and rib protection, a knife tab and Spectra safety loop for emergency extractions.

The Greenjacket may be built for battle, but its comfortable as well. It has torso length adjustment and can be customized to fit just about anyone. Its designed to be unisex and comes in three different sizes.