5 Ultimate 5-Star Products

You might be asking yourself, what exactly is an ‘Ultimate 5-Star Product?’ Well, in my world it is a product given that title by a group my climbing friends whilst on a hiking adventure over the summer up Bear Creek Spire. The night before our climb at our base camp, our group had a very intense and animated discussion over Annie’s Mac and Cheese with Spam about the best and most timeless outdoor products. I’m not sure if it was the elevation, the altitude-sickness, or just the rambunctious group of people we were with, but this was a very long and heated discussion.

First, what exactly constitutes an Ultimate 5-Star Product? We decided that these are products that everyone is in agreement on that they are truly 5-stars and need not ever be modified because they are PERFECT. These items do exactly what they are designed for, they don’t need to be altered in any way, and they are considered a timeless outdoor adventuring staple. Getting a group of seven of us to agree on these items below was no small feat and tens of other products were thrown out that didn’t quite make the cut.

Z-LiteThis Therm-a-rest gem is such a simple product, which is part of its perfection. Things that I have personally used it for: sitting, sleeping, and as a flat(ish) surface for cooking prep. It is extremely lightweight weighing in at a measly 10 or 14 ounces depending on the version you get. On backpacking excursions, simply strap it to the front, side, or bottom of your pack. This item is multi-functional, basic, and durable. It is by no means one of those fancy $200 air mattresses that one would go ‘glamping’ with. It is for those times when you are being space and weight conscious and want a no-frills sleeping cushion.

Metal All-In-One SporkWho needs to bring cooking utensils? Or rather, who has room for that? Well, sometimes it is nice to eat with something other than your hands. That is why there has been a whole wave of travel-friendly silverware. However, don’t just go buying any travel cooking utensils, especially not the plastic kind! I know, they come in fun colors. But, they also melt and bend. An all-in-one metal spork like the one linked above is an absolute dream when traveling light. It won’t melt in your hot bubbling pot of camp pasta, it won’t bend or become disfigured in that jar of peanut butter, it is your fork-spoon-knife all at the same time, and you don’t have to eat with your hands! Perfection.

Nalgene Water BottleScreen Shot 2014-11-13 at 11.07.43 AMNow that we are past the BPA plastic water bottle contamination fiasco, we can really take the time to appreciate this genius product. The design of this water bottle is really timeless and continues to be a popular water-carrying vehicle of choice. It still has not gone out of style since its creation circa 1970 despite its many competitors and knock-off versions. It comes in varying sizes, colors, and lid types. It is quite durable—have you ever gone on a YouTube journey to find videos of people trying to break these? Do it!

Camping PillowWe did not have a particular brand in mind for this necessarily. No matter what pillow you go with, it will literally save you. It will save your neck, your posture, your mood the next day. Having a camping pillow of some sort is extremely necessary to your well-being and happiness. Many times I myself have made the mistake of camping sans pillow; maybe using my hands as a headrest, finding the most comfy rock underneath the tent to rest my head on. Then in the morning I am hating life with my neck completely thrown out of whack and in a sour mood. It does not matter if you bring a gigantic, plush Disney princess pillow or an inflatable (much more practical) made-for-camping pillow. It will save you unnecessary agony.

Chaco SandalPeople dream of one day having those coveted Chaco tan lines. The ones that those perfectly positioned sandal straps make on your well-traveled feet. These tan lines are hard earned over a nice long summer season of outdoor adventuring and awesomeness. Everyone in our group was instantly in agreement on this one—we had lifetime Chaco wearers to recent converts. It is a perfectly built, comfortable sandal that is suitable for many activities (including hiking!). Although you may not want to scale a jagged peak in these, you can definitely get away with some light scrambling. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy going sockless? Get thee to an outdoor store immediately to try on a pair of these.

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