Last updated April, 2018: We’ve added new gear picks for 2018 and updated all links and prices.
Versatility is quickly becoming the most coveted attribute of outdoor gear and apparel. If your backpack can’t transition from the office to the mountains, and your running shirt is too sporty to blend in at the local bar, you’re screwed. That’s what all the taglines and marketing lingo would have you think, that is.
The problem is, that same flexibility too often comes at a detriment to technical specialization. Those sidewalk-friendly hiking boots probably aren’t suited to an eight-day thru-hike. That sleek, pared-down backpack has a laptop sleeve, but do you really need a laptop when you’re out in the forests and mountains? These things are great, and they do fill a category, but the fact of the matter is, if a product is great for the city and the trail, it’s probably not perfect for either.
Luckily, most outdoor gear is already multifunctional. If an item is optimized to be rugged, deal with harsh weather conditions, or be lightweight and packable, that probably means it’ll make life around town easier in the same way it would improve backcountry travel — or time spent at basecamp. Getting your fancy camping gear to transcend the boundary of urban and wilderness utility just takes a little thinking outside the box — or, in this case, the product description.
Camp Chair: Chair Zero by Helinox $120
A great, stowable extra seat for crowding everyone into the living room. Also doubles as a comfy perch when you’re waiting in line to score concert tickets.
Technical Blanket: Puffin Luxury by NEMO Equipment Inc. $100
Your standard blanket is susceptible to stains from dirt and grass while also being a sand sponge. The extra-large outdoor blanket is built for those things and it’s cozy enough for the sofa or bed.
Water Bottle: V7 22oz by Mizu $38
City exploration consumes more energy than one might think and public water fountains are few and far between — bring your own water, and always be hydrated.
Fire Pit: Kamoto Openfire Pit by Primus $130+
A portable campfire that lets you grill sausages and roast marshmallows at the park, on the beach or in your backyard, if you’re lucky enough to have one.
Camping Tarp: Deep Creek Tarp by Big Agnes $200+
A lightweight, portable shelter from the sun — and the prying eyes of the hundreds of other people that have the same idea as you on a beautiful day.
Lantern: Lighthouse Mini by Goal Zero $40
It lasts up to 500 hours, dims for subtle mood lighting, and can charge any of your USB devices. Perfect for the next catastrophic city-wide blackout.
Hammock: Roo Double Hammock by Kammok $99
String it up in the park — or between two chimneys on your roof — for some gentle afternoon swaying.
Area Lights: SiteLight Mini by BioLite $20
Christmas lights are fine, but something more portable and versatile is ideal for both indoor and outdoor spaces.
Rugged Cooler: Hopper Two 30 Cooler by YETI $300
Trips to the park or beach and weekends out of town are best complimented with a beverage, and those should always be cold.
Camp Cutlery: Titanium Fork and Spoon Set by Snow Peak $26
Stash these in your everday bag and you’ll never be without a utensil again — and you’ll cut down on single-use plastics too.