Summer is here. The next few months will be full of long days, hot nights, and all the outdoor activities we can squeeze in. We are lucky to live in a time where exploring the outdoors is just a way of life, and we have the gear and tech to make it accessible and enjoyable time and time again.
That’s why we made The Inertia’s Summer Gear Guide 2023, to highlight some of our favorite gear for getting out there and enjoying the great outdoors. Whether you’re looking to treat yourself, or in search of a gift for Father’s Day, a birthday, graduation, or summer wedding, look no further than our Summer Gear Guide. We have explored deep within the outdoor industry to share with you our favorite picks for the latest and greatest gear to help you and those you care about have the best summer ever.
Dragon Alliance H2O Floatable Sunglasses
Drawing on 30 years of innovation, Southern California-based Dragon Alliance has been a staple of the surf, skate, and snowboard scene since they began. And here’s one trick in their toolbox that anyone who enjoys being on or near the water will appreciate: sunglasses that actually float.
Dragon’s H2O line gives people a range of frame styles, all with Lumalens color-optimization and polarized UV protection. They look and perform great, with the added bonus of staying on the surface should they end up overboard or submerged. With a whole spectrum of styles and colors, you can find a model that suits everyone’s individual style.See the Full Line on Dragon
Pelican Micro Cases ($35-$50)
You may have heard of Pelican’s products and their reputation for virtually indestructible hard cases. With a lifetime warranty and over 40 years of innovation, their line of products is trusted by professionals in healthcare, the military, and the film industry. While their large cases are nothing to ignore, we found their line of micro cases to be the perfect gift for someone whose gear could use some extra protection from the elements, or some organization. Recently updated, these new cases offer improvements such as dual latches and a removable rubber bottom to keep things from shuffling around too much and three different color options for easy color-coding and organizing. I find them useful for housing two-way radios and spare chargers/cables to keep them safe and out of the elements.
These cases are waterproof, dustproof, and can be locked for extra security when leaving items unattended. It’s perfect for keeping valuables safe at the beach, on a boat, or at the bottom of a backpack.
Slowtide Shine On Beach Towel ($35)
If you plan on spending your summer at the beach, pool, or lake, then you’ll want a solid towel. Slowtide makes some of the best in the game and the Shine On Beach Towel is one of our favorites (see our other top picks for beach towels here). Made from 100% sustainably sourced cotton, the Shine On towel is soft, absorbent, and has style points to boot with a bright, fun print. If that’s not your style, check out these other towels from Slowtide.
Bluefin Cruise Carbon 12′ ($999)
Inflatable paddle boards are taking the watersports world by storm currently, and the Bluefin Cruise iSUP represents the pinnacle of inflatable board technology. This board earned the honor of Best Overall in our guide to The Best Inflatable Paddle Boards due to its stiffness, ease of paddling, and high-quality accessories. With carbon fiber layers along the side rails and dual inflation chambers, this 12′ board will hold its own out in the open water. The package is full of extras such as a seat and extra blade to convert to a kayak, as well as a dual-chamber pump for speedy inflation.
Those looking for a more affordable (by $300) option should also consider the regular Bluefin Cruise 12′. It has the same shape but without the carbon rail inserts, dual inflation chambers, and dual-chamber pump. And if you’re looking for a true budget option, you can’t go wrong with the ROC Kahuna, our pick for the Best Budget inflatable paddle board.
Roark Canyon Romper ($99)
Outdoor fashion has its own style that doesn’t always equate to city life. But adventure-outfitter Roark has created a multipurpose jumper that works well either wet or dry, in the mountains or beach, wilderness or city. With the latest design and materials, the sky is the limit for where to take the Roark Canyon Romper. It’s lightweight, amphibious, and built to last. It’s a winner in our books.
GoalZero Crush Light Lantern ($20)
Summer days are great, but as the classic song in the movie Grease goes: “But oh, those summer nights.” Many a good summer evening turns into night amongst good company and times that you don’t want to stop. With that in mind, some portable light, especially one that’s not always running out of batteries is a good call. The Crush Light Lantern from GoalZero fits easily into a bag and charges during the day to provide illumination throughout the night. It’s perfect for camping, beach-going, or any other reason you’re out after sunset more often than not.
Patagonia Capilene Cool Shirts ($49-79)
Innovation in something as simple as a t-shirt doesn’t exactly come around every day. But Patagonia went ahead and innovated as they do, giving us a lightweight, quick-drying, antimicrobial shirt that also looks great. The Capilene Cool shirts are made from either recycled polyester or merino and are all fair trade certified. When it comes to long days in the sun, what you put on your back matters, and Patagonia has shown that they understand this fact. Whatever model you choose, it’ll have Patagonia’s lifetime guarantee to repair it and ensure it’s an article of clothing that will be well loved well into the future.
Icemule Jaunt 15L ($82)
A good cooler is an essential part of summer. But lugging said cooler can often be a massive chore, or the more portable options often aren’t as insulating or waterproof. The Icemule Jaunt answers those concerns with a waterproof, floatable backpack cooler that can pack up small when not in use. The unassuming bag can store up to 15 cans or 4 wine bottles, with ice, or you can simply use it as a waterproof dry bag to keep things safe at the beach or out on the water. With over 24 hours of ice retention in such a small package, it was one of the best coolers we tested in this year’s review of The Best Beach Coolers.
No Reception Club Getaway Bag ($235)
Having a kid is perhaps one of the biggest game changers in life. People say it all the time but it never truly sinks in until it actually happens to them. For those who are used to travelling light and moving fast, a little one magnifies that change even more. Chances are new parents won’t want to sit still for long, so why not make their lives a bit easier? Enter No Reception Club’s new Getaway BagGetaway Bag. This is like a multitool for parenting with design features such as a space for soiled diapers, shelving to keep the toys and snacks separated, and even a spot for Mom and Dad’s laptop and personal items, this bag will save time and stress while on the go.
Learn More at No Reception Club
Biolite FirePit+ ($225 on sale)
Nothing says summer better than bonfire nights. The Biolite FirePit+ is a portable wood and charcoal burning fire pit that allows you to experience the joys of a campfire anywhere you go. The patented air-flow technology delivers all the benefits of a campfire but without all the smoke. The FirePit+ comes complete with a grill grate, so you can easily alternate between fire pit and grill, all while controlling the size of the flames manually or with the Bluetooth app.
Buell Stealth Mode Wetsuit ($190)
This wetsuit won our “Best Overall” Pick in our review of The Best Kid’s Wetsuits this year. Buell’s Stealth Mode Wetsuit checks all the boxes one would need for a kid to be happy in the water: warmth, comfort, and responsiveness. Not everyone gets to live next to warm water, so to help kids in higher latitudes enjoy the water, this might be the right tool for the job. It also has leg zippers to help with entry; something that anyone who has ever tried to force their kid into a tight wetsuit will undoubtedly appreciate. There is also an extra layer of padding around the back zip for extra water protection, and does its job for performing as it should. You can’t go wrong with this wetsuit to help your grom learn to love water in all forms and temperatures.
Insta360 X3 ($450)
There’s a new player in the world of action cameras and it’s all about the 360-degree view. The X3 from Insta360 is one of the easiest action cameras to use on the market today, with dual lenses and a nifty app that can control the camera, track shots and edit.
Among the competition, the X3 stands out for several reasons. First of all, the aforementioned ease of use with single, simple-to-understand buttons that lead you through the creating process as well as the X3’s huge touchscreen. Wrap that up with 4k capabilities in single-lens mode, endless options for still shots, and waterproofing up to 35 feet and you have a fantastic option for summer footage.
When you add the aftermarket products, the possibilities are truly limitless – all your vids will look like they’re coming from a drone or your own personal filmer. Start with the brand’s Invisible Selfie Stick, then add a chest strap or back mount and it’s like having a drone following you everywhere. With gimbals, tripods, and other options, there’s even more reasons to add this to the camera quiver.
REI Co-Op Screen House ($209)
Outdoor celebrations are one of the greatest parts of summer. But along with outdoor events comes the threat of the hot sun or insects that can make some of the group a bit on the cranky side. While you can’t guarantee an attitude adjustment from your grandma, you can help keep some of the aforementioned hazards at bay with REI’s Screen House. Designed without a floor to fit over a picnic table, this screen house can go up in no time and help keep insects off food, or simply serve as a communal space with some added sun protection. There are as many different uses for this as there are reasons to get together outside. For everything from big family get-togethers to company picnics, a screen house is a solid investment.
If you need something a bit more rugged, made to withstand wind and rain, we fell in love with Kodiak’s Screen House ($650) that is built to withstand the elements far better than any other screen house model we’ve seen. It’s made from waterproof duck canvas, so it can be a great refuge during a tropical storm, or simply some shade for when it’s beating down. With both sides able to zip completely down, it gives an indoor/outdoor feel that you didn’t get in other models. It’s a bit of a learning curve to set up, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to see the value of a rugged screen house. It’s pricey, but built to last.
Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.