Camping gear that takes the ‘rough’ out of roughing it

Sleep out in a little Escapod Topo, one of the smallest, waterproof shelters on two wheels.

Deep in the outback, “roughing it” isn’t as rough as it used to be. As you gaze at the Big Dipper in the heavens above, get serenaded by crickets and marvel at the solitude, a new breed of practical, durable gear provides you with a cushy bed, ice for a week, an instant flame for cooking and other comforts of home, way off the grid.

1. The Cadillac of coolers

Yeti Tundra cooler
The Yeti Tundra cooler is bear-proof and super-insulated. Yeti

Yeti Tundra Haul: large, heavy-duty cooler with wheels and a handle that can hold 45 cans of beer (about 21 liters)

Why we like it: Built to last, this pricey cooler is certified bear-proof, so you can leave it out at night. It claims to keep ice from melting for a week, built with roto-molded plastic inner and outer walls that sandwich 2- to 3-inch thick vacuum-injected polyurethane foam insulation. The burly aluminum handle and 8-inch wheels let you pull heavy loads easily without clipping your heels.

Info: $399.99,

2. Super-duper trailer

Escapod Topo: a teardrop-shaped trailer with sleeping quarters and built-in outdoor kitchen

Why we like it: Everything you need in a 5-by-8-foot, two-door, waterproof, insulated aluminum pod: rooftop luggage cross bars, an awning, and an open-air kitchen with LED lighting, two drawers and rear cabinets, lots of counter space for food prep, storage area for a Yeti Tundra 65 cooler (included) and locking slide-out drawers. The interior has a 9-by-41-inch stargazer window, 5-inch memory foam mattress, four cabinets, two cubbies, and a closed compartment behind the bed featuring recessed warm LED lighting and two dual USB chargers.

Numerous options include a roof-top tent, water heater and shower, and more.

Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map
A cushy foam sleeping pad from Therm-a-Rest. Therm-a-Rest

Info: $16,500,, (435) 513-6665

3. Magnificent mattress

Why we like it: Comfort and convenience. Its 3-inch height, “pressure mapping” internal design made of urethane foam, and a soft, stretch-knit fabric top provide an even, supportive sleeping surface. Inflates in seconds with no pump or manual blowing required.

Price and contact: $99.99.

4. Let there be (lots of) light

Goal Zero Torch 250: flashlight, lantern and USB charger with integrated solar panel

Goal Zero Torch 250 flashlight
Goal Zero Torch 250 flashlight runs on solar power. Goal Zero

Why we like it: A super-practical, all-in-one gear item hangs anywhere, recharges in the sun, has a hand crank if its lithium battery runs out at night, includes a built-in USB charging cable and port for your phone, and even has a red light for emergencies.

Info: $79.95,

5. Peace of mind off the grid

Bivystick: a two-way satellite communication device that lets you send or receive a text message anywhere, especially when your cellphone service isn’t available

If you have open sky, Bivystick can use a satellite with your cellphone to share a location, track a path, send an SOS message or access weather forecasts.

Also, it integrates with the Bivy app and its database of more than 490,000 trails, climbing routes and waterways.

Bivystick two-way satellite communication device. Bivy

Why we like it: You can always let loved ones know where you are and track your movements on the device’s topo maps.

If you get in trouble, it can put out an SOS to local emergency services using GEOS operating system with 24/7 monitoring. And there’s no contract or annual fee.

Info: $349,

6. Instant fire pit

Campfire Defender Protect Preserve: Portable pop-up fire pit with heat shield.

Campfire Defender
The 8-pound portable fire pit. Campfire Defender

Why we like it: The 8-pound device packs down as small as a camp chair but opens up to a 2-by-2-foot elevated fire pit without tools in 60 seconds. It can hold more than 100 pounds of wood and claims to burn with 80% less smoke due to the unrestricted airflow through its stainless steel mesh. It is legal, meeting federal Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service fire-pan regulations.

Info: $99.99,