Mountain climbing in Maine: New out of doors merchandise price including to your pack

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Carey Kish tested field-tested gear from a variety of retailers this year. Clockwise from top right: Naturehike, Hiker Hunger Outfitters, BlendJet, KUIU, Natural Urges, Phunkshun, Kahtoola, and Voited.

Over the course of a busy year of day hikes, backpacking, and RV camping on the long and winding road to cobblering together the next edition of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, this hiker had the opportunity to test-drive a variety of cool new in-the-field outdoor products.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the items I’ve found useful and recommend for the trail and campground. They could be a good choice for your own equipment closet, and nice Christmas gifts for outdoor friends and families. Check it out:

The Kahtoola RENAgaiters feature a durable instep strap, specially protected connection points and side zippers. Carey Kish photo

Kahtoola RENAgaiters. Kahtoola’s reputation for quality and performance (think MICROspikes and crampons) continues with the RENAgaiters, which help keep moisture and dirt off your hiking boots, but with several new twists. The durable and replaceable instep strap is guaranteed for 1,000 miles and its connection points are specially protected against wear. Side zips make it easy to put on and take off, and the stretchy nylon fabric is lightweight and water-resistant. $60 mid-high, $50 low-high.

Phunkshun Versa headband. Phunkshun helps you tackle the heat/trail endeavors in style with its Versa Headband, which comes in a range of fun and funky colors and styles (think flamingos, avocados, pineapples and many more). Look cool and stay cool while doing good with these eco-friendly headbands made from recycled material (plastic bottles) and special moisture-wicking yarn. $17.

KUIU Kenai Packable Gloves. With a name like Kenai (Alaska), you have to imagine these gloves will keep your fingers warm in the chilly Maine winter weather. And you would be right. The stretchy outer shell is windproof and water-repellent, and the palm has a grippy silicone print to keep your trekking or ski poles firmly in hand, but it’s the high-loft Primaloft insulation that really sets this warm and comfortable glove apart. Super light at 3 ounces, they compress into a small mesh storage bag. $79.

Naturehike Cloud UP 2 Ultralight Camping Tent. Naturehike have been producing quality outdoor gear at reasonable prices for over a decade and the new Cloud UP 2 Ultralight Camping Tent is a great addition to their range. The unique counter-rotating cross hooks make connecting the tent body to the poles a breeze. The tent material is lightweight, durable and weatherproof, as is the matching clip-on footprint, which provides additional moisture protection while protecting the tent floor. At just under 3 pounds, the Cloud is ready for the wilderness $225.

Trail-ready at just under 3 pounds, the Naturehike Cloud UP 2 Ultralight Camping Tent is lightweight, durable and weatherproof Carey Kish photo

Voited Packable Rain Poncho. This bombproof poncho is generously sized to fit both over you and your pack, keeping your gear dry while enjoying added breathability in inclement weather. Made from recycled polyester fibers (plastic bottles) and treated with an eco-friendly coating, it features a storm visor, molded hood, batwing sleeves and two zip pockets. The poncho weighs just under 9 ounces and packs into its own self-contained pouch. $89.

Go Soap hand wash sheets. This Natural Urges of Bath product will help you get proper hygiene done right on the trail. Each small, thin pack contains 50 sheets of natural hand soap made from plant extracts. Remove a leaf, add water and rub in your hands to lather, then rinse and dry. Voila! Clean hands, plain and simple. And since the sheets are unraveling, there’s nothing to dispose of. $5.

BlendJet. Dubbed “the original portable blender,” the BlendJet 2 isn’t made for the trail, it’s made for the trailhead, or better yet, your drive-in campsite, where you end up making cocktails, smoothies, shakes and more Ability to prepare refreshing drinks of a fun day outdoors. One hour of charging is enough for 15 or more mixed drinks. The BlendJet is a fun addition to any car camping outfit. $50.

Hiker Hunger Outfitters Summit Hoodie. This moisture-wicking, quick-drying hoodie has everything you need for year-round use as a base layer or mid-layer. The microgrid fleece offers reliable protection against cold and wet while offering good breathability during heavy exertion. The sleeves feature thumbholes and mittens to keep your hands warm, while the fitted hood helps retain heat in your noggin. Just under 13 ounces. $65.

Mount Desert Island’s Carey Kish is an award-winning member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. His latest book, Beer Hiking New England, will be out in March. Follow more of Carey’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram @careykish

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