It’s the summer and time to head outdoors and do all kinds of adventurous things… or at least have a look at the cool stuff available to help you. Last week I had a wonderful trip to Pack and Paddle, a local outdoor equipment store and was blown away. If you live in Lafayette, LA a visit should be compulsory, if you don’t go and find your local outdoor store, they will be pleased to see you (even if you are a city girl/guy like me) and you never know what you’ll learn. I was shown around by John (who owns the store with his wife Becky) and loved it. I have included links to each item if you must buy online, but there is something about being outdoors that makes you appreciate where you are, so if you can buy local please do.

1. The first thing to catch my eye was GO GIRL – a device that (and there is no easy way to say this) let’s women urinate standing up. It’s small (it fits in a cool little package) and re-usable, and seems to answer a market-need. No more worrying about non-existent bathrooms. I can see this being used at festivals too, and other places where the facilities are less than hygienic. And you have to love their tagline “Go Girl – don’t take life sitting down”

2. Yes, we’ve all seen flasks before but these are different. They keep stuff hot or cold for 24 hours (YES really), and they don’t do that sweaty wet thing you get sometimes. I’m thinking of getting one of these for my car – I’m tired of accidentally taking gulps of sun-warmed water. Hydro Flask.

3. Hobie Mirage Kayaks. A kayak with a difference, as well as (or instead of paddling) you can pedal. The kayak has underwater fins (kind of like a penguin swimming) and allows you to be hands free (while you fish or take photos), go faster and further, and get a good workout. Pack and Paddle offer demos of kayaks, so you have no excuse not to go and try this out. Hobie Mirage.

4. Yes it’s a tshirt. Yes it’s a tshirt that has built in insect blocker so you don’t have to spray yourself with scary chemicals. Columbia make a whole range of clothes (women, men and children’s) as well as bandanas, socks and hats. I didn’t test these myself, but I hear they work well.

5. A water bottle that can purify your water for you (using pretty cool UV technology). Great if you are traveling, great if you just want to be safe. You can safely fill your water bottle from taps, streams, spigots, and other dodgy places. It looks just like a normal, fancy water bottle. All Clear from Camelbak.

6. PacSafe make a range of travel bags / wallets / backpacks with additional safety features like hidden wire mesh (to prevent slashing) or hidden wallets. These are great if you are trekking Borneo or just walking around a big city. They even have some fairly good looking women’s bags.

My visit to Pack and Paddle certainly awakened my outdoor gene and I will be back. They have a great event space, where they show films, have meetings and seminars and all sorts of interesting stuff, they organize trips of all kinds, and even have a cool section of women’s clothes that I will be buying piece by piece. If you do nothing else today, go and like them on facebook and keep an eye on what they are doing. I have set myself the challenge of learning Stand Up Paddleboarding, with them, later this summer, what are you going to do outdoors?

(location images by Jason Cohen)