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Weekend Camping Gear

From GPS for dogs to sound-activated lanterns, six picks to improve any weekend backpacking trip

by Graham Hiemstra in Travel on 05 July 2011

When you're ready for a real escape, leave the car behind and hit a trail to really immerse yourself in nature—and learn how to enjoy freeze-dried beans. This second part of our three-part camping series rounds up our top picks for improving any weekend backpacking trip into the wild. (Check out part one for car camping tips.)

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A faithful pup makes a worthy companion for bushwhacking, and Garmin's new Astro 320 GPS dog tracking system lets old Fido run and explore with confidence. Every five seconds your dog's collar transmits its position so you'll know his exact location at all times. Plus the waterproof handheld set saves locations, downloads maps and even uses birds-eye satellite imagery. Look for this nifty device next Fall when it will sell for $650. Although it may seem a bit pricey, we see it as a small price to pay for the constant assurance of your best friend's whereabouts.

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Adapted from the traditional Chinese paper lantern, the new Hozuki Lantern by Snow Peak is both more durable and functional than its inspiration. Although all three brightness settings of the little light are great, we are especially intrigued by the candle mode. When initiated the LED light responds to sound and wind by flickering—pretty clever. Use either a few batteries or attach a mini USB cord to power the 100-lumen light. Small, lightweight and powerful, invest in one for your next excursion for $90 through Snow Peak online.

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For nearly 100 years Stanley has been keeping coffee hot with products as rugged as the outdoorsmen who chose them. Their Camp Cook Set comes with two insulated cups that fit inside a single, stainless steel cooking pot. Compact and efficient, it will cook up more powdered mashed potatoes than you'd ever want. Selling through Stanley's online shop for $17, this product will be with you through many trips on the trail—they are "Built for Life" after all.

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The ingenious aluminum suspension system on Osprey's Exos packs allow for air circulation between pack and back to keep you free of sweat. It's just the right size for a weekend trek while remaining extremely lightweight, even after you attach your tent or sleeping bag using bottom straps. While you're at it, toss in the new shape stable Hydraform Reservoir water bladder to avoid uncomfortable bulges when filled, or sagging when empty. They both sell online for $150 and $30, respectively.

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The new NeoAir Trekker from Therm-a-rest packs down small and blows up big. Over 100 internal cells inflate to mimic the support of real mattresses. The American-made sleeping pad is durable and packable, plain and simple. Expect to pay between $100-150, depending on size, at dealers near you.

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Weighing in at only four and a half pounds and condensing down to 6" x 18", Poler's The One Man Tent is just the right size for one person, with a bit of room to spare for some gear or a furry friend. The size and price make this tough tent a sensible addition to any trip on the trail. New to the market and the industry in general, Poler is also offering a free sleeping pad and shipping to sweeten the deal. Check out Poler's web shop to grab one for your next mission for only $150. You can also score the Two Man Tent there for $50 more.

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