The pampered camper
As the weather gets warmer, the outdoor adventurer in most of us gets drawn farther afield until theres only one thing left to do: camp! Camping season is upon us, and whether that means backpacking to remote wildernesses or just finding a scenic spot to grill burgers and drink beer with your best friends, gear is key. Each season, outfitters introduce new items to make camping easier, more fun or just plain interesting. Forthwith, heres a preview to whet the appetites of gear gurus and neophytes alike.Kelty Binto Bar, $120Keeping beverages cool outside can be a chore; you either have to lug around the gigantor plastic cooler that weighs a ton or hope you can nab a spot by the creek and hope the rushing water doesnt sweep away your hastily tied-off sixer. Keltys new Binto Bar is a lightweight solution that could practically double as a sushi bar. It features multiple storage areas, a food-prep surface, a windscreen and utensil pockets, all made of compressible polyester ripstop fabric. Its large enough to hold family-size meals and light enough that the smallest member of the family can carry it with ease (sorry, Tiny Tim).If youre traveling with family and kids, its the best way to store and refrigerate everything youll need, said Tim Harmon of Ptarmigan Sports in Edwards.GoLite Sun Dragontrail-running shoes, $95GoLites answer for trail running comes in an ultralight (of course), hyper-customizable shoe thats light enough to feel like a sock but burly enough to withstand the rocks and rigors of the trail. Its designed to maximize stability and control through a patented Isomorphic Suspension, and a PreciseFit system ensures youll have a comfortable ride. National Geographic Adventure magazine gave it a Best Adventure Gear of 2007 award.Kelty CarportDeluxe, $250For you car campers out there, theres always that swift intake of breath you take when you have to rush out of the safety of your ride to set up camp in terrible weather. The Kelty Carport Deluxe enables you to avoid that and set up camp while sheltered by a durable, weatherproof carport that mounts directly on your vehicle. Retractable walls enable you to protect yourself during harsh wind and rain, but they fold up to allow you to have an ideal canopy for a tailgate party. The shelter covers 113 square feet almost enough for a dance floor.Therm-a-Rest Dream Time sleeping pad, $189The 3-inch-thick Dream Time sleeping pad might be the most comfortable sleep youve ever had outside your own bed or perhaps in it.Its more comfortable than my bed, for sure, Harmon said. The fat Dream Time pad comes loaded with a super-soft foam-pillow top and a stretch-fleece lining on top. Multiple Dream Times connect to form one giant mattress to enable the most comfortable slumber party ever.Marmot Mountaineer coffee press, $25Beginning campers always think camping has to be completely no frills and that you have to forego any luxury, said Ptarmigans Olivia Benes. But for me, the one luxury I have to have is coffee, and Marmots espresso maker is great for that. The stainless-steel press is durable, relatively light and guaranteed to supply quality java wherever you go. Marmot also offers a tea press ($15) and a Nalgene flask/shot glass combo ($12) for those who prefer warm drinks of a more spirited variety.Jackson Fun Series kayak, $995While a kayak is not a pure camping item, running a river and camping along the way might be one of the most enjoyable adventures to be had in and around Colorados famous whitewater. The 2007 Fun Series kayaks are perfect for beginners but advanced enough to last you into your gray years as a whitewater junkie. These kayaks have better armor, are more comfortable and feature an ergonomic shape that makes it easier to roll, paddle and stay stable on flat water, through waves or while playboating in the park.If Im taking someone out for the first time, this is what Id want them to boat in, said Nate Love, a kayaking instructor at Alpine Quest Sports. But Im also buying one for myself.Trinacrina multi-utensil, $25 for a six-packOne-upping the spork, the Trinacrina utensil is shaped like a boomerang, but on each blade is a spoon, fork and knife. Its an easy way to pack all your utensil needs in one handy-dandy tool, and its made of a Lexan-like, super-tough plastic.Sea to Summit pocket shower, $25This tiny 3×6 pouch expands to hold 10 of water; hang it from a tree branch, release the valve and youve got an automatic backcountry shower that compresses back down to nothing in your pack. The twist spout adjusts the flow of water so you can determine the amount of pressure you like, almost like at home (well, probably not, but better than nothing). The black bladder is designed to absorb as much heat as possible from the sun, so you can fill it up with water, hike all day and come back to a warm shower well, warmer than the ice-cold creek, at least.Freeloader Solarcharger, $60If youve just got to take that damn cellphone into the backcountry (even though you wont have service) or want to charge your GPS without worrying about extra batteries, the Freeloader is an inexpensive and lightweight solar panel system that can charge nearly any handheld device. Freeloader takes power from its solar panels or via a supplied charge cable that plugs into a computers USB port. Once charged, Freeloaders internal battery can power an iPod for 18hours, a mobile phone for 44 hours, a PSP for 2.5 hours or a PDA for 22 hours. Enjoy that solitude!Banana Bunker banana case, $5This one is just for kicks: I always though bananas came prepackaged, but now you can one-up their natural protection buy adding this plastic hard case for your…banana. For real. Its true that bananas take a beating out on the trail, and they sometimes come out like brown mush, but I guess you wont have to worry about that anymore. As long as you can get over the slightly scandalous packaging. Dont let your mom find it empty.Arts & Entertainment Writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or email@example.com.