Seize every summer day with gadgets that help you play outside.
By Crispin Boyer
Parrot • $300
Piloting this “quadricopter” is the closest any civilian will get to flying one of Uncle Sam’s Predator aircraft. Especially suited for outdoor flight, this updated version of the four-rotor flying machine comes with an improved interface and a contoured hull that reduces wind resistance while increasing stability. The drone’s front-facing HD camera transmits a 1,280-by-720-resolution video feed to your smartphone/tablet display in real time, putting you in the virtual cockpit. Shaperecognition software turns the world into a battlefield for augmented-reality games and dogfights—at least that’s what you’ll tell your neighbors when they realize the drone is capable of recording backyard shenanigans from above.
Wavecave surfboard bag/tent
Wavecave • approximately $300 to $400, depending on board size
It’s a surfboard bag that transforms into beachfront property: The sturdy Wavecave combines a board carrier and a two-man tent in one package. Pitching the tent takes just a few minutes. Simply plop it down on a flat stretch of sand, remove the tent from its internal pocket, then zip the tent’s shell around the bag’s outside edge to erect it. It can be staked to the ground for windy nights, and its waterproof canvas is sturdy enough for regular campground use. And since the built-in board padding doubles as ground cushioning, the Wavecave will seem like posh accommodations to beach bums accustomed to roughing it.
Eco Terra boom box
Grace Digital Audio • $150
Neither rain nor snow nor sand nor surf will harm your smartphone or music player when it’s encased in the Eco Terra boom box, a shock-resistant, portable speaker system built for camping, boating, or high-altitude adventure. The waterproof internal compartment holds an iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android smartphone—any media player with a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack—and boasts storage space for cash, keys, and your driver’s license. It’s built to float if it falls from your boat, and even bobs speaker-side up so your tunes won’t miss a beat. Four C batteries are required to power the three-inch full-range speakers, or use the AC adapter while rocking out indoors.
Garmin • $450
Triathletes won’t find a better training buddy—or a more persistent rival—than this multisport watch that switches seamlessly among biking, swimming, and running modes at the push of a button. Each setting records reams of data, from speed and altitude for biking to stroke type and efficiency while swimming. Upload your training record wire lessly to Garmin’s website to analyze your per for mance. Better still, load your watch with performance data from previous ses sions or other users and compete in Virtual Racer mode.
Durango camera glasses
Pivothead • $349
If you don’t mind looking like a Borg that’s assimilated Bausch + Lomb, these camera equipped glasses offer the ultimate in first-person shooting. The gyroscopically stabilized camera lens that’s set right between the auto-tinting lenses captures 1,080p video at 30 frames per second, or eight-megapixel still images. Eight gigabytes of onboard memory store roughly two hours of HD video, which you upload to your computer via a micro-USB cable. The frames are weatherproof and shockproof, so they’ll survive extreme-sports mishaps, although the on/off switch near the left temple could be tricky to work with thick gloves. Despite their clunky design, the glasses are more streamlined than helmet-mounted outdoor cameras. Framing shots is easier, too. After all, what you see is what you’ll get.
nanoSTRIKER fire starter
Exotac • $27
Rubbing sticks together is so last-century. Up-to-date outdoorsmen light their fires by grinding metal on metal. This tool—which will be familiar to anyone who’s watched survivalist shows—comes with a toothpick-size rod of ferrocerium and magnesium that erupts into sparks when you scratch it with the included tungsten carbide bar. Set fire to any suitable tinder—from dried grass to belly-button lint—up to 1,000 times. When not in use, it collapses into a keychain-friendly dongle. Whip out this party-starter during your next camping trip and impress the ladies with your Bear Grylls–style skills.
Party Hub grill-fryer
Blacktop 360 • $250
Turn your campsite or the stadium parking lot into a gourmet tailgating kitchen with this versatile portable grill that’s fueled by a standard propane canister. The Party Hub offers three cooking zones—an infrared grill for searing burgers and hot dogs, a griddle for pancakes and bacon, and a deep fryer for fries and onion rings—plus a warming plate and lid to keep dishes from drying out. Drain the oil from the fryer and it doubles as a cooking pot for chili or stir-fry. The entire hibachi-size contraption fits into a shoulder-slung carrying bag that protects your clothes or car from getting greasy (although the ceramic surface cleans easily with a wet paper towel).