A Man's Guide To Spring Hiking And Camping (‘Cause Some Fresh Air Never Killed Anyone)

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We’ve almost survived another winter, guys. And, with a new season upon us, that means that spring camping season inches closer and closer, so get ready to trade in ear muffs and parkas for sunscreen and hiking shoes!

As the spring camping season progresses, the outdoor industry is always coming up with new gadgets and men’s camping gear to help get the most out of your outdoors experience. In fact, it's pretty difficult keeping up with the abundance of products that get released each new season, but it's important to stay on top of your game.


Whether you're hiking a trail or setting up your tent and fishing poles for a weekend getaway, here are a few of the top items, both new and some old, that you’ll need to emerge from hibernation and embrace spring camping. After all, you'll want to stay comfortable, warm, dry when you're out there.

Life Straw

Life Straw isn’t a new company, but they continue to produce new products to help the world produce clean drinking water and reduce plastic waste. They’re active in third world countries, too, providing filters to communities with compromised water supplies.

For hikers, they have several essential products. The classic, Personal Water Filter is essentially a straw with a two-stage filter inside that’s versatile enough to work on any water bottle and suck up water straight from a lake or stream. It filters up to 1000 liters of water for only $20. It’s perfect for minimalist backpackers or day-hikers who are looking for a small, lightweight water solution.

New products include the Universal, which is a straw filter with three different bottle caps to fit common water bottle mouths. Turn your favorite water bottle into a water filter and get that purified taste when you’re spring camping.

The Flex is another minimalist design of soft plastic with a filter inside. When empty, the bottle can be rolled up tightly and stuffed into a pocket. It's simple and easy.

These products are perfect for North America, where bacteria is an issue but water borne viruses are not. If you’re traveling abroad and need insurance, check out the Grayl Ultralight, a water bottle purifier that gets rid of bacteria and viruses.

Osprey Levity and Lumina Ultralight Backpacks

Osprey is a leader and major innovator in the world of backpacks. And, they’ve got a loyal following to prove it. The Levity (for men) and Lumina (for women) are the company’s first offering for serious ultralight hikers. Both come in 45- and 60-liter capacities. Their NanoFly fabric creates a wispy light, but rugged, pack, with all sizes clocking in under two pounds. While some ultralighters may scoff, these packs have suspension systems that are designed to stay comfy after 50 or 100 miles on the trail. You can have your homemade duct tape and para cord rucksack, because we’re taking this out during spring camping season.

Yeti Panga Bags

Everyone knows Yeti’s coolers by now. Literally bear proof and durable beyond comparison, they set the standard. Yeti is now upping the game in the gear/duffel bag department. The new Panga series are what you’d expect from Yeti; wallet wilting bags that look like they can survive nuclear winter.

The 50-, 75- and 100-liter offerings all feature an EVA molded bottom with laminated, high-density nylon construction that won’t split or snag. Fully waterproof T-zip assures easy access to your expensive DSLR camera, giving you piece-of-mind that it won’t get wet. Metal hardware and nylon straps round out, arguably, the toughest bag on the market.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed Duo 20

Zipping sleeping bags together sucks. Neither you, nor your partner, get a good night’s rest, leaving one of you either too hot or too cold, with an uncomfortable zipper seam underneath you both. That’s about to change.

Sierra Designs has taken their award-winning zipper-less bags and created a high performance bag for couples for this spring camping season. The [Backcountry Bed Duo]https://sierradesigns.com/backcountry-bed-duo-20-700-dridown/) features a wide mouth opening to crawl in and an integrated blanket to pull over the top of you. Extras like arm/hand pockets and a self-sealing foot vent keep things extra comfy. 700 fill Dri-down is water resistant and the Duo 20 is rated to 20-degrees to stay toasty during chilly spring nights, but still has enough room to roll over without giving your partner a black eye.

NEMO Stargaze Recliner

In general, camp chairs have been in need of serious design upgrades — and NEMO just set the new standard. Think lightweight and portable, swing and recliner combo, but designed for a spring camping night in either the mountains or on the beach, looking for shooting stars to waste the night away. These chairs automatically recline and swing while suspended from an aircraft grade aluminum base to allow you to find the ultimate lounging position. They're designed for uneven surfaces, and an adjustable headrest and stash pocket add versatility. Add in the no-spill cup holder and, well, you'll never have to worry about your beer spilling as you swing away.

Benzoin Tincture from NOLS

The best way to avoid blisters is to buy proper fitting shoes and breaking them in before you get out there during spring camping. Invariably, however, hot spots pop up and make life uncomfortable. The next best way to avoid blisters is to take care of those hot spots as soon as you feel something on your foot. Now, feet get sweaty and moleskin and tape tends to come off and slide around, which leads to more discomfort.

Benzoin tincture is the solution to all that pain, though. It’s an antiseptic and it’s sticky. When you feel a hotspot, remove your shoe and sock and apply a liberal coat of benzoin tincture over the area. Let it dry for a minute until tacky, then apply climbers/athletic tape tightly over the hotspot. Boom! Problem solved, so it’s time to get back on that trail.

Benzoin Tincture can be a bit hard to find. But one place to get it from is the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).

Big Agnes Mountain Glo

A few years back, Big Agnes introduced tents with built in lighting. Turns out, it’s awesome! Mountain Glo, as they dubbed it, continues to kill it and is a must for your spring camping — and all year, really. Mountain Glo is a string of tiny LED lights powered by a battery pack or USB. They're light and rugged and make any men's camping site the envy of others who still struggle with their Costco headlamp.

For any backpackers crying about weight, the Copper Spur HV UL2 weighs in at under three pounds, leaving plenty of room for extra patchouli oil. If you’re not in the market for a new tent, they sell the lights independently for a mere $30, so you can string them up around camp as you see fit.

La Sportiva Lycan

For those that want to go enjoy spring flowers on fast forward, check out the new La Sportiva Lycan mountain running shoe. From the ground up, these shoes begin with Sportiva’s  FriXion AT 2.0 with Impact Brake System for grinding up and down steep and rocky terrain. EVA foam midsoles cushion against rough trails, and the upper is super breathable, but durable, to ensure comfort and stability during those punishing runs.

Sportiva has a rep for slimmer and specialized fits, but these shoes feature a wider toe box and overall roomier construction. So, if you have a wider foot and are afraid of Euro shoes, your unicorn has arrived. Unfortunately, they’re not waterproof — so maybe not good for a wet spring camping trip — but, that problem can be solved with a light waterproof spray to help keep them dry.

These shoes are excellent for day hiking with small packs or, really, anyone who prefers to leave the car at the bottom of the mountain.

Best Made Straight-Hold Hatchet

If you don’t have a hatchet packed for a spring camping trip, you might as well not even pull out of the driveway. It’s going to be chilly at night and your crew will want a fire.

Don’t just pick up some hardware store hunk of metal and wood, get a Best Made. A quality hatchet is more durable, sharper and safer than a cheap one. The USA made, Straight-Hold sports a rock solid hickory handle and a head forged and ground of hardened 1060 alloy steel. That means that it stays sharper for longer. A leather blade guard is included to protect your edge. On your next men’s camping outing, split campfire wood like a pro — or at least look like one.

Lead image via Getty.

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