Spending the day outside with friends and family is a great way to relax, but you have to be prepared. Snacks and water are the bare minimum requirements, but then you have to be ready for the unexpected, like bugs or a dying phone battery.
We tested out some devices that will take your outdoor gathering to the next level, from a high-tech cooler packed with everything you’d ever need to a solar-powered stove and phone charger.
These 5 gadgets will make your next picnic, tailgate, beach trip, or camping adventure a whole lot easier and way more fun.
First, you need some tunes. A tiny portable Bluetooth speaker gets the job done, but if you want more bass for your buck, the JBL Xtreme is my favorite.
Other Bluetooth speakers are better for indoor sound, but this bass-heavy speaker is perfect for providing the soundtrack to an outdoor event.
It’s also pretty rugged. The $250 Xtreme comes with a shoulder strap, which makes it easier to lug around, and it can even withstand a little water if you want to listen at the beach or near the pool.
Now that you have your tunes on, it’s time to relax with a couple of cold beverages. The Coolest Cooler might look like it simply keeps your drinks chilled, but there’s more than meets the eye.
If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can even create your own cocktails with this cooler. That’s right, it has a built-in blender.
Oh, and if you forgot your JBL Xtreme at home, no worries—this thing has two Bluetooth speakers, and they’re surprisingly powerful.
This cooler is pricy at $450, but it’s chock full of features: the blender, speakers, LED lighting, cutting board, paring knife, and corkscrew, on top of its job keeping ice icy and beverages cold.
It’s definitely heavier than your average cooler at 39 pounds. Once you load it up with ice, drinks, and food, lifting this thing is a two-person job.
But even though it’s expensive and heavy, the Coolest Cooler is a head-turner that really can do it all.
The one thing the cooler can’t do is make a meal. I don’t own a grill, and by the time I get to a park, all the available ones have already been claimed. But the GoSun Sport stove is a handy way to cook on the go, no fuel required.
The $280 solar powered stove is portable and super simple to use. You can cook just about anything in this stove, as long as it fits in the stainless steel cooking tray. From fully cooked sausages and frozen meatballs to fish fillets and veggies, the GoSun Sport is all you need to whip up a solid spread for an outdoor party in about 20 minutes.
It also folds up into a pretty compact and lightweight package, which makes it easier to cart around than even the smallest grill.
When I’m outside, I often forget about bugs. But bugs, specifically mosquitos, don’t forget about me. Even if I spray myself down with repellant, I still come home with multiple bites.
But Thermacell’s mosquito-repelling lanterns are miracle workers. They provide LED lighting for nighttime events, but more importantly, they create a 15 foot by 15 foot mosquito-repelling barrier that lasts for several hours with a repeller mat and butane cartridge you can’t even smell.
Maybe you don’t care about a few bug bites, but any extra protection I can get against the Zika virus is a good thing.
When I’m outside having a good time, the first thing to go is my iPhone battery. Goal Zero’s Nomad 20 is a solar panel that directly charges USB devices like cellphones, GPS devices, and iPods for those times when all you have is a charger and no place to plug it in.
You can charge multiple devices at once if your friends need a boost, too, although that’ll take a lot longer. If you link up four of these solar panels, then you’ll really be in business, but they are a little pricy at $200 a pop.
Do you need all of these devices to have a great outdoor adventure? No. But if you want to kick your next outing into overdrive, these are the high-tech gadgets I recommend for camping, cookouts, or a day at the park.