Luxe Camping Gear

Sounds like an oxymoron, but there is such a thing as luxury gear for backpacking, from high-tech pillows to whimsical lighting. Why not?

My two sons and I just spent a superb three days backpacking in Colorado’s Indian Peaks. Our campground had a lake view and a perfect sawed-off stump for cooking. (Counter space!) And while “luxury” and “backpacking” aren’t two words that are often used in the same sentence, the trip gave me the chance to test out a few new pieces of luxe camp gear.

Luminoodle Color Light Rope

The Luminoodle is whimsical fun that’s also darn practical.

The Luminoodle is an outdoor accessory that would appear frivolous at first blush. It’s a portable LED light rope that you can hang in a tent or camper. The series of lights along the rubber strip can be set to strobe (for a Studio 54 vibe) or fade from color to color (for a more groovy lava lamp atmosphere) or just solid light. Though the name and concept are certainly whimsical, the Luminoodle is pretty darn practical. It throws between 180 to 3000 lumens of light, depending on the mode. It comes in varying lengths (5 to 20 feet) and in white or multicolor.

We had a full-on deluge of rain the first night in camp when we tested out the Luminoodle Color Light Rope ($30; $40 with rechargeable lithium battery). When we had it set on full brightness and solid white light, the rope lit up the tent enough that we could easily play cards and read, then turn it down for some pre-bed mood lighting (choose from 15 colors). Of course, we were backpacking, and I’m sure the ultralight set would cringe at the added ounces in my pack—including a tiny remote control!—but the kids loved it.


The Luminoodle comes with remote control and loads of straps for attaching it to anything.

In addition to stringing up the Luminoodle in the tent or on your car (a series of magnets and straps affix it to metal), you can also roll it up into its carry sack and use it as a lantern.

The only downside (and this may have been my bad) was that it conked out on us after just an hour. I neglected to fully charge the Luminoodle’s 3400 mAh lithium battery before we left. Buzz kill. Next time, I’ll be sure to charge it up and test it out before I tote it into the backcountry.

Klymit Luxe Pillow

I love backpacking, but I’ve never been a fan of wadding up my fleece shirts and stuffing them into a stuff sack for a pillow. I have an old backpacking pillow, but it takes up a considerable amount of space in my pack yet it’s not really big enough to cradle my cranium in full feathery comfort.

On this last trip, we tested out the Klymit Luxe Pillow ($40). Klymit makes inflatable sleeping pads (and if you’re a gear wonk, you may remember the company’s futuristic inflatable vest, which used argon gas as insulation).

This pillow inflates for a comfy night’s sleep in the backcountry.

The Luxe Pillow blows up (with just a few breaths) from a packed size of 3” by 7” to a respectable 22” x 12.5” x 5.5”. It has a slightly padded, soft polyester pillow case. At first, my boys and I agreed the pillow was too hard, but I realized I’d overinflated it. Once I backed off the air pressure, the pillow offered great support under the neck and it stayed put all night long. In fact, when my son lost his backpacking pillow in the nest of sleeping bags, he stole the Luxe Pillow right out from under my head. He soon insisted he couldn’t sleep without it.

If you’re watching every ounce, you’d leave any and all pillows at home. But at only 6.2. ounces, the Klymit Luxe Pillow is coming along on my next backpacking adventure.

Kammok Sunda Tent Hammock

I love stringing up a hammock at the campsite. It’s the ultimate way to stretch out and totally relax out in the woods. I haven’t tested this one yet, but the Kammok Sunda Tent Hammock ($399), takes the hammock idea one step further. It’s a hammock and tent in one, eliminating the worry of bedding down on a hillside or on rocky uneven ground. Funded by KickStarter, the Sunda hit the market this past June.

The Kammok Sunda is a tent and a hammock in one.

The two-person Sunda can be used as a traditional tent on the ground, as a traditional hammock, or as sheltered hammock (aka elevated tent). In addition to the novelty of sleeping aloft, other cool features include Lumos fabric, which is designed to amplify light from headlamps and eliminate dark spots in the tent while reflecting sunlight to keep the interior cool.


  1. Luminoodle Color Light Rope now available?

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