With consistently low gas prices and our wanderlust for the unexplored raging like a fever, the call of the open road is louder than ever this summer. So start mapping a route to visit all those far-flung breweries, parks, cities, and oddball roadside attractions, and be sure to take these seven clutch road-trippin’ gear must-have’s. Oh, and a good length of rope and a roll of 3M duct tape are also a given. Don’t ever forget the duct tape.
1. Dakine Party Bucket, $55; 2. Rumpl Puffy, Starting at $99; 3. Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp, $169; 4. Patagonia Black Hole Duffel, $129; 5. Yakima Showcase 15 Sky Box, $679; 6. Outdoor Tech Turtle Shell 3.0, $130; 7. Adventure Medical Kits Smart Travel, $50.
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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There are coolers that cost more than an international flight, and then there's this retro, simple solution from surf-and-snowboard aficionados Dakine. Score a five-gallon bucket from your local hardware store, drop in the Party Bucket, pour in the ice, and you're set. It has eight built-in Koozies, an insulated wine bottle holster, a zippered pocket in the lid, and a built-in bottle opener. Taking the party to the picnic—or the beach, campsite, or concert parking lot—has never been easier.
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Upgrade that tired tarp or hand-me-down picnic sheet with this plush, ready-for-the-elements insulated blanket. It employs the same fabrics found in sleeping bags and puffy jackets, offering both protection and respite from the cold, hard ground—or a nice way to dress up the tired picnic table. DWR treatment means it'll repel moisture, 200D ripstop nylon means it'll stand up to serious abuse, and its funky quilting patterns means you'll probably use it on your bed after you return from the road. The twin size runs $99, but you can upgrade to a king-sized model for $199.
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When you just want a bit of shelter from the sun, tents are overkill. The Escapist Tarp Shelter, meanwhile, hits all the sweet spots. It's as versatile as a standard store tarp, only a lot lighter and more weather-resistant. Made of waterproof 156-denier silicone/poly-coated "nano" fabric, it comes with eight tie-out points that attaches to hiking poles to allow for a variety of pitch options, from the traditional A-frame to…whatever conditions demand.
Sea to Summit
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This voluminous pack will easily swallow everything you need to haul from your home to your car—and then to the hotel, cabin, beach bungalow, or campsite—with room to spare. It boasts 60 liters of storage broken into a handful of internal compartments, all of it encaged in ripstop, DWR-treated waterproof/breathable fabric, with twin hand grabs and a removable shoulder strap.
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If you're serious about your travel gear, it won't all fit into even the most spacious trunk. The Showcase 15 offers 15 cubic feet of additional storage, making it a go-to mud room/storage facility, and a great way to keep passengers from elbowing your new bike helmet. The dual-sided opening makes it simple to get what you need, with a simple push-button latch and SKS locks. The high-gloss finish also compliments the modern aesthetic of most vehicles.
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This portable speaker just wrapped its funding on Kickstarter—but, as the earlier models have proven—the 3.0 Turtle Shell is no buyer-beware affair. The waterproof wireless speaker floats—and can be dunked underwater. It comes with a built-in power bank in case you phone needs some juice, it syncs to another 3.0 speaker, boasts clear, bass-heavy audio, and can double as a speaker phone, should you want to taunt your homebound friends with your good fortune. Rechargeable via USB port, fully charged within four hours.
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Road-tripping means you're probably within a few hours of a decent hospital, but that's no reason to ditch common sense first-aid resources. The Smart Travel kit comes with remedies for all the common ailments of the open road, with everything from blister treatment and medicines for stomach illnesses, inflammation, and common allergies as well as scissors, forceps, and a variety of bandages and medical tape. Better still, it comes with a comprehensive guide to wilderness medicine, all the better to stave off hypochondria.
Adventure Medical Kits