Test Drive – Desert Edition

The Active Team has been patiently waiting for weeks to get out of the office and go camping in Joshua Tree National Park. We have only been to Palm Springs in the late spring/early summer, during Coachella, or to rent a houses with friends, so all of our previous experiences in this region, have been pretty pampered and HOT. This time around, the desert was cold, overcast and empty, with temperatures in the low 30s, so its safe to say that this would be a more realistic way to evaluate our “winter” camping skills.

Luckily, we got the opportunity to test out some new gear during this trip, all of which we were stoked on, not only from a performance perspective, but also from a design perspective. We chose items that were simple and straightforward, items that provided realistic solutions for a range of needs, and also items that had a minimal, retro undertone.One of our favorite brands, GSI Outdoors, built its entire business on no-frills enamelware, and has since become one of the most prominent manufactures of cook and tableware for the Outdoor community at large. So, we decided to go old school, and test out the 12-cup heavy-gauge steel percolator and 18 fl. oz mugs, with the speckled enamel finish in Cobalt blue. The percolator was spot on for our car-camping adventure, due partly to its high heat capacity, we were able to brew our morning coffee, boil water and cook soup (by removing the perc insert), all with a small stove or directly over the camp fire. The mugs were not only key when used as a “handwarmer” first thing in the morning, they also retained the cold, keeping our celebratory tequila frosty all night.

New kids on the Outdoor-block, Poler, sent over a 2 Man tent, as well as a sweet little LED headlamp to ensure mellow camp vibes. The fly of the tent is PU waterproof coated to 300mm, and the inner is a highly breathable lightweight mesh, which actually was the perfect combo for the dry-yet-chilly climate. We really love the eyeball-shaped window on the front of the fly, which added a functional, yet design-savvy element to the tent. The headlamp was an additinal bonus, retailing at $20 MSRP, we were able to switch back and forth between two and four LED’s, optimizing the battery life and saving a few bucks in AAA’s. The reusable canvas pouch that it came in, also became a makeshift camera case while hiking, so again, there is a that dual-value we are always looking for.

In other illumination news, we reached out to the good folks over at Industrial Revolution to test out some Original Candle and Candlelier® lanterns. When it comes to lighting, we are sucker for a moody setting, and there is just something magical about warming, natural candlelight. Each single candle can burn up to 9 hours, and we were able to choose between a beeswax (which burns up to 12+ hours and smells like honey) and a citronella formula. Not only were these little aluminum lanterns lightweight and compact, they also threw off just enough heat to warm up the tent before bed.

Lastly, and the most important…Footwear. For light hiking we went with the Eagle Origins boot from Merrell, a throwback style which takes cues from original Merrell silhouettes from the 70s. Although this boot is influenced by a retro aesthetic, it has been completely updated with innovative accents like an air cushion in the heel for absorbing shock as well as environmentally-friendly materials like a recycled mesh upper and a 15% recycled EVA dual-density footbed. Après hiking we slipped into our absolute favorite classic, the suede Boston Clog from Birkenstock in a denim colorway. We have been feeling the return of the clog for last few seasons, and this was the perfect opportunity to throw on some wool socks, and enjoy our cozy little desert campsite in style. – Jeanine Pesce

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