Tried & tested: 8 cool products for your next outdoors adventure

If you love adventure, then you'll go wild for these practical and ingenious products, tried and tested by Rachel Jacqueline

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 October, 2015, 5:30am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2017, 2:47pm

Things have changed since George Mallory attempted Everest and naturalist Muir took a walk in the woods. Back then, adventurers wore nothing more than silk, wool and leather; their gear clunky bits of steel and canvas. Today they would be using Gore-Tex, GPS and more.

More than 12 billion outings a year in the US alone fuel innovation in a retail sector worth more than US$120.7 billion (HK$939 billion).

For outdoors lovers, the future is bright. Products are more sustainable than ever with years of field experience built into their designs.

As Hong Kong heads into its outdoor season and the city's hiking trails become increasingly busy, we've identified eight interesting gear trends. Some are available now, some are only available overseas and others - well, you'll just have to wait for the future to arrive.

1. Defying logic: UCO Gear stormproof matches

UCO Gear's stormproof matches promise to light in driving rain and heavy winds - take them to the top of Tai Mo Shan during a Typhoon 10 and they'd still ignite. What's more, they won't burn out for 15 seconds. These matches are so powerful they burn even when plunged into sandy water.

2. Clever lighting: LuminAID solar inflatable light

When the sun goes down, fun outdoors shouldn't have to stop. But why waste time with batteries when you have a big one in the sky? LuminAID's LED light harnesses the energy of the sun by day to light your night. The small rectangular pouch, complete with a carabiner, hangs off your bag during the day and unfolds in seconds to provide all your nighttime outdoor needs. If you've had a good dose of sun during the day (seven to 10 hours) the LuminAID PackLite16 gives off 65 lumens of light - perfect for cooking or simply hanging out under the stars - and lasts for 30 hours. The PackLite12 gives off 30 lumens, which would light a tent. It also has an emergency flash mode which lasts for 32 hours - the perfect addition to an emergency kit. Bonus: LuminAIDs are also waterproof and float.

3. Chef-quality camp cooking: Jetboil Genesis Basecamp 2 Burner System

Camp stoves are renowned for being bulky or too small to be powerful. Not this one. It's a sleek, compact, two-burner system that will have you churning out Jamie Oliver-quality camp food in a jiffy. It features two stoves, a ceramic-coated frying pan, a five-litre pot and lid which neatly packs into itself. Once unfolded, the two burners lie flat and are each capable of putting out an impressive 10,000 British thermal units (BTUs) - enough to boil one litre of water in three minutes.

4. The future of outerwear: The North Face Summit Series

Outdoor clothing has long been made the same way: bits of fabric cut up, stitched together and sealed. The North Face launched a game-changer in fabric technology earlier this year called FuseForm: jackets are cut from a single piece of cloth made up of different materials woven and "fused" together, making them lighter, stronger and more durable. Next year they're stepping it up a notch by rolling out a range of clothing called "The Other Way" for mountain adventures, developed over three years in collaboration with The North Face-sponsored athletes. Futuristic and monochromatic, the range consists of only six pieces numbered L1 to L6. It starts with the base layer essential L1 and concludes with summit- and expedition-ready L6 outer shell belay down-filled jacket. The other "Ls" include three mid-layer jackets for different pursuits in different conditions, and a shell jacket and trousers.

5. Keep your cool: PackIt Everyday Bag

With the cooling system built into the design, the PackIt cooler bag keeps food and drinks cool consistently for up to 10 hours. It's available in different sizes - to fit baby bottles, a sandwich or even a wine bottle - including one for the outdoors (the Everyday Bag, HK$235) that can carry a picnic for four. Before use, the bag has to be folded up and kept in the freezer for at least 12 hours. Take it out, load up your food, and you're set for your adventure.

6. Closest thing to sleeping in your own bed: Kelty Tru.Comfort sleeping bag

Sick of being constricted in a mummy sleeping bag, but don't want to sacrifice warmth? This sleeping bag gives you the best of both worlds. Keep it zipped up for greater warmth, unzip just your feet to cool down or open up the zip to unflap one of two layers. There are models specifically for men, women and children and in two warmth ratings: minus six degrees Celsius (US$119) or two degrees (HK$109).

7. Sustainable sunnies: Zeal Optics eyewear

Zeal Optics claim to have the most sustainable sunglasses on the planet. All its products are plant-based and biodegradable. Clear and hard like glass or polycarbonate, the lens material is created from castor seeds. The frames are made from cotton. Zeal combines its ecological vision with the latest in technology: its HD2 Camera Goggle wirelessly connects and transfers videos and photos directly to your phone, giving you easy access to everything you shoot.

8. Powered by the sun: Solar Paper

Solar Paper is the world's thinnest and lightest solar charger. It can reliably charge a smartphone on 2½ hours of sunlight a day. It's water-resistant, durable enough for the outdoors, and each section is connected by embedded magnets so you can expand it to charge bigger items. Its crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter earlier this year received 6,297 backers who pledged US$1,021,583 to help bring the project to life.