When we have adventures, the hardest part can be packing up and packing down, or stowing things away after the adventures are done. And sometimes lumping cumbersome gear around can be a real drainer. So we thought, as we’re breaking into summer, and we’re all so desperate to get out there, we’d track down some of the very best foldable, compact, and portable adventure gear to help you have some great adventures.
On our checklist they had to be:
- Fun – It has to bring a smile to your face when using it.
- Portable / Foldable / Compact – You should be able to bring this with you easily if you have to travel to greener pastures.
- Quick – Particularly when it comes to set up – Let’s be quick and get adventuring sooner!
So without further ado, let’s dig into the best packable, foldable and portable adventure gear!
The Lightest, Cleanest, Quickest Folding Bike – Austin Cycles ATTO Foldable Carbon Fibre Bike
Folding bikes aren’t new, and they’ve become ubiquitous within the urban landscape over the past couple of decades. However, the traditional folding bike has two crippling flaws – they are heavy and dirty. Portable is great, but not if you turn up to your work meeting or social event covered in oil and grease, and sweating from carrying your bike.
Well, those concerns are behind you thanks to a small company creating magical bikes in the UK. Austin Cycles are pushing the envelope with their carbon fiber, lightweight, grease-free folding bike – the ATTO. Taking a mere 10 seconds to set up (fold handlebars up, extend frame to full width, pop pedals down), you can go from car/garage/train to riding extremely quickly. The ease of setup makes this a natural choice for anyone who is go-go-go. No bolts or ratchets after your initial setup – just fold out and ride!
Not only is it quick to set up – it’s not strenuous either! I was stunned when the big white box arrived on my doorstep – and I prepared to bend at the knees and lift with all my might. You can imagine my wife’s displeasure as I almost threw the box through our ceiling – this fully featured bike weighs in at a featherweight 9.8kg/21lbs!
This isn’t just useful for transportation, it makes a noticeable difference when riding the ATTO. It is nimble and playful, besides when climbing hills, any weight savings help! Every part of the bike is easy to adjust, from the handlebar angles to the seat height; the most you’ll need is an Allen key. The carbon belt drive is the perfect choice for a folding bike. It is silent, produces no grease, and can last for up to 60,000 miles! It’s an incredibly smooth and satisfying ride too. It’s worth noting that the carbon belt is essentially maintenance-free when compared to a standard chain bicycle.
Every feature on the ATTO is there not just because it’s lightweight, but also because it is the best of the best. Like the Shimano Hydraulic Disk Brakes or the Carbon Monocoque Frame (with internal cable routing) – it’s all employed to make your experience with the ATTO the best experience you’ve had with a bike in years. I feel like they’ve achieved that. In my six weeks with the ATTO I’ve had an absolute blast. I’ve taken it on 15-mile trail rides (the 20″ continental tires took it all in stride), I’ve zipped into town to collect mail, I’ve even taken it to some of the state parks near me. Thanks to its size, weight, and rideability it is a bike you want to use!
The 11-speed Shimano Aldine hub gear makes a big difference if you want to use this bike for more than paved cruising. With the 11 speed, it felt powerful while climbing hills and fast when churning out the miles. While this was originally conceived with the idea of urban commuting (which this excels at) I was pleasantly surprised at how agile this is, how easy it is to transport, and how well it handles trail riding. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to replace your downhill specialist mountain bike, or have you setting time trial records with your local road cycling club. Everything in between? The ATTO will attack with an exuberant smile and can-do attitude.
While the days are definitely longer during these summer months, you can never be too careful! Particularly if you’re an early riser or a late finisher. These small, smart, solar-powered bike lights from MPOWERD are perfect for all of your escapades. Firstly, they charge from the sun – no need to worry about cables here (although one is included just on the off chance of cloudy days). The magnetic connection to charge both front and rear lights is ingenious and makes life a lot easier. They also have multiple brightness/display settings depending on your preference. Easily attached and adjusted to any bike, these are a winner!
Look after your noggin! The Atto is a speedy beast, and as such, you’ve got to look after yourself on the off chance you take a corner too fast or a rogue driver comes your way. This MIPS reinforced helmet from the stylish folk at Thousand is a great blend of fashion and function. This helmet also comes with a 30-lumen magnetic safety light that sits on the back of your helmet and lets everyone know you’re there. Ventilated and easy to customize (visors), you can ride in comfort knowing your head is safe!
USWE (Kickass in Swedish!) are an adventure-seeking group who specialize in comfortable, bounce-free sport packs. The Vertical 10L Hydration Vest has kept me hydrated and almost completely sweat-free thanks to their ingenious design. Their proprietary NDMTM (No Dancing Monkey) harness is reminiscent of a parachute, but boy is it comfortable. This thing sticks to you like glue, the mesh shoulder straps keep you cool, and it is easily adjustable for any body type thanks to the Velcro attachment points. The Vertical 10L comes with a 2L hydration bladder and the slim profile of the pack (including extra water bottle pockets, light loop, and cinch webbing) gives you all the space and storage that you might need for a short adventure. I’ve fallen in love with this pack, and it comes with me for longer walks and short hikes too!
Zip Around Town – Onewheel Pint
Where do I start with this? I’ve thought about all the adjectives that I can use to describe this motorized bundle of joy. But I keep coming back to one: Fun. Fun. Fun. The Onewheel Pint is a 27-inch long motorized dream that makes your days better. And to quote Onewheel, it “destroys boredom”. It’s best to think of the Onewheel as a harmonious love child of a skateboard and snowboard. I’ve put over 100 miles on mine during testing, and I can’t get enough.
First things first, watch their tutorials on ‘How to ride’. If you spend a couple of hours practicing the best ways to mount, dismount, and turn, it’ll make your riding experience smoother, easier, and ultimately more enjoyable. I spent a bunch of time in my garden practicing all the safe ways to start/stop and dismount. It’s worth saying, you don’t have to be a snowboarder (I am) or a skateboarder (I am not) to get the hang of this. It is surprisingly easy to pick up, and once you do, you won’t want to get off. After going through all the setup (including an incredibly intelligent app that allows you to track rides, top speeds, routes, and adjust the responsiveness of your OW), lean forward and off you go. It really is that simple.
The Onewheel is such a fun way to cruise around. It’s a great way to run quick errands rather than taking the car. And you can even take this off-road and make your own adventure! The Pint is perfect size-wise too. It easily slides under a cafe table if you ride to lunch, it can sit by your desk after your commute, and it takes little space in the trunk if you’re bringing it away with you. The MagSafe handle that folds into the wheel well means you don’t have to worry about getting dirty. This is a thoughtfully designed product and it shows every time you use it.
In use, well, I’m not sure I’ve had as much fun or felt as free since I did my first black run on a snowboard. There is something really invigorating about zipping around with the wind in your face! Stats-wise, the Hypercore brushless motor gives you a top speed of 16mph, with a range of 6-8 miles which is more than enough for bouncing around town, and it feels fast too! If you need more, there is the bigger sibling the XR which goes to 19mph and also has a longer range.
Regarding range, I found that there are ways to extend this. Firstly, it’s worth noting that your range will be affected by a few things – rider weight, tire pressure, and riding conditions (wind, hills, etc.). I’ve managed 11 miles on one charge – my tire was fully pumped, it was all on road, and it was mainly flat. So while not advertised at that range, it is worth noting that depending on your route, you can get a lot out of this! Aside from that, the charger is small, around the size of a large mobile phone, and can easily fit into a bag or sling for charging while you have your lunch before riding home.
I mainly had fun with this on paved roads, but I did also take it out on a few trail rides and had a blast! I found it a lot more responsive on the trail if you reduced your tire pressure a little, just like on a mountain bike. But be aware that it will eat into your range. But what about hills, you say? No problem. I managed 12% gradient hills without issue; obviously it is slower than your cruising speed, but it is also great to not feel restricted! Also, on the return leg, thanks to OW’s regen technology, going down hills also helps recharge the battery!
The safety features on this are great and give you wonderful peace of mind. My favorite, personally, is the pushback feature. Simply the nose of the board tips back towards you when it’s working its hardest – essentially it’s saying “Woah, Nelly!” in the moments where you get overzealous! The Simplestop feature is also great, just requiring you to lean back and dismount easily.
With runner lights on both the front and rear of the board, you are visible for all to see. The Pint (and XR for that matter) are highly customizable. You can replace the control pads with wooden versions, you can replace the side rails and bumpers with a multitude of different colors to suit your taste or if you scuff them up too much. You can even put a fender on to protect your legs from debris.
From a riding perspective, this was enjoyable every time I stepped on, and I gained confidence with each ride. You don’t have to blitz around at 16mph either; it’s just as nice to cruise slowly and take in your surroundings. The movements and control are a lot more subtle than I’m used to on a snowboard, but it didn’t take me long to adjust at all. I’ve also had so many wonderful conversations with people as I’ve zipped around on this – from grandparents asking where they can get one for their grandkids, to three-year-olds asking, “Mummy – is that a hoverboard?” This has brought so much joy to my days, for less cost than a high-end smartphone. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Besides, you can also pretend you are Marty from Back to the Future on his hoverboard!
I love wearing sunglasses all the time. But particularly when I’m cycling/riding as it helps make all the lumps and bumps a little clearer. Even better when they are as thoughtful as Zeal’s. The Divide are made from their proprietary See Grass which is a blend of recycled plastic bottles and grass fiber. They feel a little rubbery, very robust, and flexible. The slightly oversized frame gives you excellent peripheral coverage. And the polarized lenses make everything in your line of sight crystal clear! The rubberized frame keeps them stuck to your head no matter what you’re doing. They come with a great firm soft case that makes them easy to toss in a bag without worrying. I’m trying to be more conscious about my product choices, and it’s great to see environmentally-friendly manufacturing making its way into the sunglasses space!
Thousand are stylish folks, and the Heritage helmet is no different. Coming in a vast choice of tasteful colors, there is a helmet for everyone. With a dial fit system, vegan leather straps, clean ventilation, and a magnetic buckle (easy one-handed operation), you’ll have no trouble popping this on and off. It’s stylish, effective, and allows you to wear a helmet without looking like you’re on a stage of the Tour De France!
Hit the Waterways – Oru Inlet Foldable Kayak
I’m a self-confessed water baby. It’s one of my mother’s favorite stories to tell people how I learned to swim underwater before I got to swimming on the surface! (Perhaps my greatest accomplishment to date!?) Whenever I’m near a body of water, I’m interested in it, whether it’s swimming, sailing, kayaking, body-boarding, you name it. I’ve kayaked a lot over my spring and summers on earth, and I find it to be one of the most peaceful and enjoyable ways to see a new place. However, there is one big drawback to any water-based activities – space. Or more accurately, storage.
Surfboards, boats, and kayaks take up a lot of space in both storage and transportation. I feel as though this limitation has always hindered my full commitment to water sports. My wife and I have discussed kayaks on multiple occasions. But we always end up deciding against it, because we’d have to create good storage space and rig our cars up. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that. But as someone who has multiple interests, I know I won’t be kayaking every day. So, usually, when we want to, we go and rent, and invariably sit in a mix of other people’s suntan lotion and stagnant water, which, call me old-fashioned, kills the magic somewhat.
Well, with the Oru Inlet, kayaking is immediately accessible. This foldable kayak folds to the size of a small carry-on suitcase, weighs 20lbs, and can hold up to 275lbs! Not only that, it takes about 3 minutes to set up once you’ve got the system down. I was impressed by how quick this was to set up. I watched the setup video a few times, and it was as easy as they make it look! Not only is it quick to set up, the lightweight nature makes it easy to transport from car to launch and vice versa. It’s an intelligent design, and surprisingly customizable in terms of “fit” (seat height, footbar, etc.).
Once on the water, this is nimble! I found it to be perfectly stable, with a nice wide base and an open cockpit that allows you to float along stress-free. Additionally, I found that due to the lightweight nature of the 5mm double-layered polypropylene, it had a really nice position and height in the water that I enjoyed while paddling along. I had no concerns about durability (it is rated to over 10,000 folds – if you went kayaking once a day it’d last over 13 years!) as I bounced over logs and rocks in our local waterways. It’s also UV-treated for around 10 years, so this will take you on many waterborne adventures. I think that ORU have hit a sweet spot with their folding kayaks. At 20lbs, if you purchase a carrying case, you could hike anywhere with this and kayak your evenings away.
The Inlet is their beginner model, but they do have more advanced kayaks for ocean adventures and tandem models too. The best thing about the ORU without a doubt is that it makes it easy to get on the water. From leaving my house to being on the water took under 10 minutes, including parking and setting up. Anything that lowers the barrier to entry or eliminates the excuses we sometimes make is a good thing in my eyes!
This goes without saying, if you get a little overzealous and lean too far to reach a branch or see a fish, a PFD will save your life, or at least keep your hat above water.
We’ve all been there – a wonderful day out on the water – apart from your poor, poor knees. Why do I always forget to put sunscreen on my knees!? Well, thankfully the Simms Tumunu pant is meant for life on the water. Super lightweight, UPF50 protection and water repellant, it keeps you cool, dry, and protected. If you insist on shorts, their Skiff shorts are quick-drying, UPF protected, and have plenty of zippered pockets for valuables. Both the shorts and the pants are very comfortable, lightweight, and stretchy. Add these to your adventure kit! These will be my go-to for days on the water.
You can’t go out on the water without sunglasses, that’s just crazy. But, you can also lose sunglasses easily, particularly if your neck strap gives up on you – I lost two pairs of prescription glasses last summer, RIP. The folks at Dragon have created an elegant solution with their H2O range. The lightweight TPX material means that your glasses will float if they/you fall in! It’s great to see them rise to the surface when you think they’re gone forever! (Can you tell I haven’t gotten over losing my sunglasses from last summer?). Once you combine this floatable feature with their polarized Lumalens, you’ve got the perfect pair of sunglasses for water adventures!
Bandanas are underrated in my opinion. They are so versatile, particularly when on the water. You can cover your forehead, cover your neck, or perhaps your mouth if you’re in bug central. They even work as a makeshift microfibre if your sunglasses or phone get splashed. Once you add in an awesome design from artist Ty Williams and Bandits Bandanas that supports the waterways, how can you say no to one!?
This sandal was designed for exploration. From HOKA One One’s sky collection, this provides supreme comfort, great traction, and endless possibilities. Not only is this capable of getting you to the best launch spots due to its hiking DNA, it’s just as at home on the water thanks to the neoprene collar and cutouts designed for water drainage. You can cinch as you need to thanks to the quick lace system. And the variety of sticky broad lugs means you can tackle whatever is in front of you. These are the ultimate water shoe.
Swing in the Summer Sun – Kammok Roo Hammock and Portable Swiftlet Stand
I’m yet to meet someone who doesn’t like spending an afternoon in a hammock. They’re relaxing, fun, social, and solitary all at the same time. Hammocks don’t have to be made from heavyweight knitted cotton with teak arms, hanging between two palm trees to be luxurious though! Relaxation is the name of the game at Kammok, and with the Swiftlet and Roo Double, it’s easier than ever to take a hammock and relax wherever you want.
The Swiftlet stand weighs in at just 15lbs. With its solid base, carry case, and adjustable length, this is a worthy addition to anyone’s backyard, lounge, or camping kit. Super fast and easy to set up, you can adjust this hammock stand to your desired tension, length, and height. My wife and I have taken this to the beach, the park, and the back garden, and felt just as relaxed whatever the location. There is something about swinging back and forth in the breeze that makes life a little better, don’t you think?
When paired with the mini but mighty Roo Double it just gets better. The Roo Double tips the scales at a minuscule 17oz, but it can hold 500lbs of weight! The diamond ripstop with DWR waterproofing makes it quick-drying, while the Dyneema slings and Kanga Claws can withstand up to 5000lbs of force. You’ll have a hard time breaking this!
The Roo also packs down into its own stuff sack and is about half the size of a Nalgene. This makes it a perfect camping companion, and if you aren’t in the market for the stand, you can buy their tree-friendly Python 10 straps which allow you to set up anywhere you can find two trees! I’ve had one of the original Kammok Roos for about 5 years, and I can attest to its strength and ease of use. Now with the upgraded Roo Double, I’m ending many of my days rocking back and forth – you should too!
To elevate your hammock experience, you have to have a good blanket. Blanket masters Rumpl have released a new 100% recycled high pile Sherpa fleece that my cats are obsessed with. With antistatic, DWR, and antimicrobial treatment, this blanket is a cozy companion for chillier evenings. If you do happen to get it too dirty, no worries! Toss it in the washing machine and you’re good to go again! At 50″ x 70″ it’s a wonderful size that keeps the chill away but doesn’t drown you. The cape clip allows hands-free (beverage or book – your choice!) use and makes your hammock a little sanctuary of bliss in a busy world.
The 40-Second Tent – Heimplanet Backdoor Inflatable Tent
Engineering is often associated with Germany, and rightly so! As a country, they have a strong tradition of innovation and designing products that are functional and efficient. Well, if you’ve had the pleasure of using any of Heimplanet’s products, you will know that they live up to that tradition. From their bags to their tents, Heimplanet strip back the essence of products and rebuild them in a style that is unmistakably theirs.
None of their product line exemplifies this design language better than their inflatable tents. Their original tents are expedition-worthy, coming in two-man, three-man, and ten-man configurations, and were designed with serious expeditions in mind. However, their newest tent, the Backdoor, is more focused on family adventures. This four-man tent is packed with ingenious features, from its speedy setup to temperature regulating panels. The inflatable design of their tents’ geodesic exoskeleton – known as the inflatable diamond grid (IDG) – isn’t a gimmick. It is a well-thought-out solution to an age-old problem: tent poles. After your initial 15-minute setup and after a quick burst of pumping (they have both a large standing pump and a smaller hand pump), the tent raises from the ground within 40 seconds.
The structure not only helps you assemble home quickly, but I’ve found it also aids the performance of the tent. Firstly, due to the rigidity, wind isn’t a problem in the slightest. We actually have had some pretty fierce storms over the past few weeks, and the Backdoor has barely flinched! While also increasing the strength, it also appears to me that it helps with its weather resistance – possibly due to the multiple attachment points on the inflatable frame – creating a taut surface for water to run to the ground quicker without any pooling. You can also “lock” the valves that run between the inflatable chambers. So if there is any damage/punctures you can still maintain structural integrity. Although the recycled material used for the airframe is robust, and I think that you’d have to have an accident to damage it!
While the airframe is the eye-catching part of this tent, the innovation does not stop there. Heimplanet have taken every frustration that I’ve ever had with tents and eliminated them. The traditional guy ropes are replaced with a simple ground-level stake system that attaches to the frame and adds to the already impressive stability. The tent comes with traditional guy ropes too should you want to employ extra reinforcements. There are technically two layers to this tent – a highly water-resistant polyester out layer and then an inner tent made from 40D 240T ripstop nylon and breathable mesh all around. This can be attached to the frame on its own in warm climates.
The inner also has features that make using the tent a pleasure. Two large “doors” are easily zipped open for entrance and exit, along with a large “window” at the rear of the tent, which is also easy to open for access to items in your tent. There are multiple pockets that allow you to store whatever is a necessity for you when camping. I like how there is a variety of pocket sizes to accommodate different items, so your belongings aren’t just floating around in oversized pockets like in some tents that I’ve used. The gear loft is by far the most useful feature internally. Attached at the four corners, this gear loft is the ideal spot for quick-to-grab items. My lantern lived there, along with a speaker and book.
The other notable feature is two small half-moon zipped openings towards the base of the tent that either act as ventilation when using just the inner or access to the outer tent’s “AC” system. When the two layers are used together, you get a few bonus benefits. You gain extra storage areas in both the front of the tent and the rear. A healthy vestibule in the front with room for both shoes and bags supported by a slightly smaller storage area at the back of the tent.
You also have the inbuilt AC system I mentioned earlier. This is easily activated by a simple pull strap that lifts the side of the outer layer by up to three inches, which increases ventilation in the tent. If you need ultimate ventilation, you can raise both sides, and pull back the main doors (attached to the frame by an elastic hook) to let the air flow freely while still keeping the bugs out.
It is a feature-rich tent that I’ve enjoyed exploring in, but most importantly it’s comfortable. Fundamentally, that is what I need from my tent – a respite from whatever activities I’ve been undertaking. With a height of 60 inches (49 inches internally) and a 97sq ft floorplan, this is a luxurious way to camp. The four-person designation is accurate, and wouldn’t be a stretch at all, particularly when considering the flexibility the storage vestibules provide. You can purchase an extra groundsheet for increased protection if you feel so inclined. But I’ve not found the need for it, even in some pretty tempestuous weather conditions. The storage bag is a rolltop dry sack that’ll keep the Backdoor pristine when not in use. It comes in two colors – a rich burgundy that I tested, and their famous Cairo Camo pattern.
At 13lbs, this isn’t a tent for the backcountry trekkers. But it is the choice for a family tent that is easy to set up, weather-resistant, and a real conversation starter to boot. After excelling with their expedition tents, it’s great to see Heimplanet bring that expertise into the family market!
You can’t camp without good lighting! It can quickly sour your mood when you can’t find what you need as the sun goes down. BioLite are purveyors of a whole range of portable goodness – and their newest creations continue in that vein. Starting with all your power needs, the Charge 80 is a 20,000 mAh rechargeable battery. It has an 18W USB-C power delivery port along with two USB-A quick charge 3.0 ports. This was more than enough for two nights away. It charged our phones multiple times as well as lighting the tent! The durable design meant I had no concerns throwing it into the bottom of a bag or the tent. It also comes in smaller 20 (6,000 mAh) and 40 (10,000 mAh) versions.
When it comes to lighting your tent it’s hard to beat the thoughtful design of the SiteLight lantern. This collapsible fabric lantern weighs in at 3.25oz, but illuminates beautifully with a whopping 300-lumen output from its LEDs. USB powered, and with 15ft of cord, you can place this anywhere at your campsite. You can even daisy chain with other compatible lights from BioLite to create a whole camp setup. Easily collapsed with a simple twist, it stores quickly in the included stuff sack. This light elevated our camping experience and has been recommended to many friends since!
Sleeping in the great outdoors can be an arduous experience at times. Comfort all starts with the right sleeping bag. Particularly if you are a side sleeper. Traditional mummy bags are great, particularly if you sleep like a pharaoh. However, for those of us who like to sleep on our sides, mummy bags can be problematic. Unless you’re happy to unzip or develop “dead spots” in your bag where your body weight damages insulation in high-pressure areas. The folks at Big Agnes have heard our cries and created the award-winning Sidewinder SL sleeping bags.
Available in 20º and 35º configurations with a combination of 650 fill DownTek® water repellent down and FireLine ECO synthetic insulation (made from 100% post-consumer recycled polyester), this bag will keep you warm and snug, however you toss and turn. With ambidextrous zippers, a jacket-style hood, and a pillow barn to keep your pillow in place, this is an exceptionally comfortable and well-performing sleeping bag. In use, the construction includes body-mapped insulation around the hip and foot box (traditional pressure points for side sleepers). This allows you to turn from one side to the other without that dreaded “I’m stuck” moment halfway. This bag made me excited to get back to sleep!
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed testing these portable adventure gear products and perhaps more pertinent, focusing on creating my own adventures. If the last eighteen months have proved anything, it is to enjoy all that the world has to offer, and find joy in the simple moments. I personally find combining exercise, nature, and carry as a foolproof formula for adventure! Long may it continue.