While serious skiers rejoice on the spring corn snow and celebrate with parking lot apres by the tailgate, we’re ready for river days and Chacos — maybe even days warm enough to put the drysuit back in the garage for a while. But the first trip of the spring is always a bit of a shit-show. The excitement of finally getting out blinds us to all of the little details that help us make the most of that time — not to mention what we need to stay safe out there.
Do future-you a favor and get ahead of that sunshine-induced brain fog with these new gear gadgets for spring. You’ll barely notice these packable items in your drybag, but they’ll make all the difference when the opportunity arrises.
First Aid kits almost seem to ward away danger. When you don’t have one, you’re bound to get hurt and wish you did. When you do, those accidents seem to happen a lot less frequently… but at least you’re prepared if they do. This compact little kit is waterproof, fits in pretty much any nook and cranny, and keeps everything organized so you can reach for exactly what you need to take care of yourself or your crew in the moment.
VSSL Essentials (Launching 4/15)
Cover all the bases with these mini gear kits for everything from making necessary repairs, catching and cooking up a good meal, and surviving in the worst case scenarios. The Fix Kit, Catch & Cook Kit, and Ready Kit include all of the little things that will take you from SOL to finding silver linings in no time. The Fix Kit includes sewing tools, a whistle, first aid and fabric tape, zip ties, gear twists, and carabiner. The Catch & Cook Kit features a fish tackle tin, fire striker kit, wire saw, and compass. The Ready Kit makes sure you’re prepared for disaster with a razor blade, wire saw, paracord, rope, and compass.
The Fix Kit MSRP $70
The Catch & Cook Kit MSRP $85
The Ready Kit MSRP $80
Put your most basic gear right where you want it within arm’s reach, but without getting in the way: right on your hips. That’s right – fanny packs are back. 2 liters of ultralight space wrapped in highly waterproof material means that you can hold all the snacks, maps, and tech you need for the day, and even one or two of those VSSL mini kits too, just in case.
You’ll never have to say no to a little riverside dip when you know you’ve got this micro towel in your back pocket. Full size when unpacked but fun size when rolled up tight, it’s ready when you need it and barely there when you don’t. The thin fabric is worth more than its tiny size in gold, absorbing more than twice its weight and drying out in minutes. Pack it and forget it thanks to its waterproof silicone carry case with included carabiner. Also available in hand-towel size or in an Ultralight version.
Spring days are warm, but the nights still get surprisingly cold as soon as the sun goes down. Rely on Big Agnes sleeping bags and pads to conjure up enough coziness to get through the night without shivering yourself awake. New 3N1 sleeping backs from Big Agnes – the Lost Ranger UL 3N1, Lost Ranger 3N1, and W’s Roxy Ann 3N1 – combine an outer and removable inner bag to match your ideal level of warmth all night long. Use either on their own for warm nights by the campfire or on the couch, or put them together to bathe yourself in heat. The Big Agnes Rapide SL Pad offers big comfort in a small package, weighing in at only 19 ounces but boasting a 4.2 R value. It’s just the right size to go fast-and-light without skipping a beat, but you’ll probably reach for it on even the most luxury glamping trips too.
Pads MSRP $149.95
Bags MSRP $329.95+
Shoulders and arms sore from those first few days out paddling? Give them a break and relieve some stress with a relaxing massage, even at camp, with this new Portable Cordless Massage Gun from iLive Electornics. Its hand-held, ergonomic design lets you reach those hard-to-rub sore spots, with four intensity levels and four interchangeable massage heads (ball, 2-point, bullet, flat) to customize your massage. All this leads to quicker recovery and less time to get back on the water. It comes with a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery and USB cable (so you can charge it at camp), with a charge time of 3-4 hours. Hint: We found the ball head especially awesome for those winter-shriveled arms. The only drawback: your boating buddies won’t want to give it back. MSRP: $69.99,
While time on the water is best spent away from your phone, it’s a good idea to at least have it on you in case of emergency – or a good photo op. Make sure you don’t lose it to the elements with this 5-layer case from UAG, made from Kevlar (think the classic bulletproof vest) and good for up to 20 feet of drop protection.