Camping is a rite of passage for many of us. Back in the day, we sweated it out in a hot box of a canvas tent from the Army surplus store. Dinner was usually a hot dog roasted to oblivion on a sharpened stick. However, those days are sooo Lucy and Ethel. Today, everything is aluminum, sleek and techno-savvy, and we found many items that could entice even the most ardent anti-campers into the great outdoors or at least the great back yard.
The Power Curve universal charger, powered by the sun, comes with several adapters and is compatible with the iPhone and iPods. It charges phones, cameras, MP3 players and hand-held gaming systems. The plus side is that Junior can keep playing Zelda to infinity. The down side is that Junior can keep playing Zelda to infinity. $34.99 at Academy Sports & Outdoors.
Walk this way
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Walking sticks help maintain balance on uneven terrain. This aluminum hiking staff telescopes to adjust to the user's height. We liked the compass embedded in the wooden knob and were impressed to find that it twists off to reveal a watertight compartment for matches and more. $49.99 at Cabela's.
For sticky situations
Duct tape is a campsite must. It's handy for repairs, holding up tent flaps, etc. Gorilla Tape takes it a few steps further. The extra-thick tape can be helpful in rainy weather and on rough, uneven surfaces. $8.99 at Academy Sports & Outdoors.
Send out a signal
The Spot Satellite GPS Messenger is a handy device to have in areas where cellphones fail. It allows the user to send messages home, enables family members to track your progress online and, most importantly, can summon rescue when needed. $149.99 at Cabela's.
A lightweight aluminum table that fits into a handy bag, this sturdy roll-top measures 28 inches by 28 inches. It has telescoping legs and will become a staple for outdoor activities. $49.99 on sale at Cabela's.
Boy meets grill
We liked the Coleman Grill Stove because of its portability and sleek design. But we really appreciated that it sported a burner for pots and pans and a grill surface for hamburgers and hot dogs. $87.99 on sale at Cabela's.
Glow in the dark
Glow sticks are the entertainment du jour when we camp out. Kids love them, and it allows them to play in the dark while the adults can keep an eye on where everyone is. This little number from Energizer, a glow stick/flashlight combo, runs on batteries and also includes a surprisingly strong LED flashlight. $4.99 at SuperTarget.
OK, these water bottles and marshmallow forks offer no great innovations, but when we found them in the dollar section at SuperTarget, we just had to have them! The forks extend out 28 inches, so little hands will stay away from the fire. $1 each at SuperTarget.