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GEAR & GADGETS

New Products Make 'Roughing It' a Little Softer

November 01, 1998|JUDI DASH

Roughing it doesn't have to mean doing without, thanks to these compact items that keep you comfy and well equipped on the trail or at the campsite. Products may be available in area stores. Prices do not include shipping and handling.

Oh, say can you see: A set of compact binoculars invariably earns its place amid hiking gear, but only if it's rugged enough for the bumps and won't wimp out in a heavy downpour. Bushnell's new Trophy waterproof/fogproof binoculars are among the smallest and toughest of the batch. Weighing just 10 ounces, with a magnification of 10 and a 25mm lens, the Trophy has a grooved rubber armoring that makes for a good grip even when wearing gloves. It comes with a neck strap, lens cloth and carrying case with belt loop.

Bushnell 10 x 25 Trophy Binoculars (23-1025) are $135. For an area store; telephone (800) 423-3537.

Sleep softly: If only I had had the DreamSack on my hiking trip through Turkey, where the sheets supplied at our village lodgings often were scratchy and of questionable cleanliness. This featherweight silk sack functions as a dual top/bottom sheet into which you crawl for cocoon-like comfort. Pillows can be slipped into a pouch at the head of the sheet. It works well as a sleeping bag liner or a sheet substitute in hotel rooms. For storage, the DreamSack folds into a pouch the size of a large wallet. It comes in a variety of sizes, from single to double widths, and weighs in at just 5.5 ounces to 13 ounces, depending on the size.

DreamSack, in a variety of colors, starts at $55 for a single version and $110 for double versions, from WestWind Trading Co.; tel. (800) 670-7661.

Multitalented parka: A good lightweight jacket for warding off chill and rain is essential on the trail, and I've found this to be one of the best. The CityLight jacket is a Supplex-nylon-coated hip-length jacket with a waterproof coating. Weighing just 18 ounces, it has four exterior pockets (two with zippers), two internal pockets and a detachable hood. For storage, the jacket stuffs into its own inside zippered pocket, making a tiny bundle. An optional quilted Thermolite liner snaps into the jacket. I took this duo on a hiking trip to France and found it rugged enough for the trail but stylish enough (almost) for Paris.

CityLight Jacket in men's sizes (7062) in navy or stone is $179; liner (7031) is $55. Women's sizes (5040) in black, red or taupe are $179; liner (5041) is $49, from TravelSmith; tel. (800) 950-1600.

Grill tools to go: A barbecue on the trail can be a real treat, but real grilling requires real tools, and who wants to schlep around those long, heavy forks, spatulas and tongs on a camping trip? Zelco, maker of compact travel products, has come up with an ingenious solution in its Extendible, Retractable Storable BBQtensils. Each implement in the compact set of stainless steel barbecue utensils--fork, tongs, fish spatula and meat spatula--extends from a plastic handle to a length of 17 inches, then retracts into the handles (12 inches) when not in use. The tools and handles can be separated completely for cleaning in a dishwasher. Also included are plastic salt and pepper shakers. The set comes packed in a lightweight plastic storage case with built-in handles.

Extendible, Retractable Storable BBQtensils (06010) are $70 per set. For a nearby store, call Zelco; tel. (800) 431-2486.

Cool tool: The SwissTool, from Victorinox, is not your average hiking knife. Just 4 1/2 inches by 1 1/2 inches when folded, it opens up to become an impressive 23-item multi-tool packed with most of what you'll need on the trail--and then some. You get sturdy pliers, several sizes of screwdrivers, a bottle opener, large and serrated blades, metal file, metal and wood saws, reamer/punch, Phillips screwdriver, chisel/scraper, crate opener, wire bender, cutter and strippers, can opener, 9-inch and 23-cm ruler and electrical crimper. Alas, no corkscrew (what were they thinking?). SwissTool is $79 at camping stores.

For a nearby store, call Victorinox; tel. (800) 442-2706.

Gear & Gadgets appears the first week of every month.

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