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A tent shot with a long exposure. Flickr user Richard

Ridiculous and imaginary camping gear inventions that we want to take into the backcountry

Walk into any camping supply store or browse online and you will find cleverly designed and sleek camping accessories to make life easier. Some gear is simple is simple but brilliant in design—like the humble spork—while others are wavering on ridiculous, like a solar-powered vaporizer or collapsible whisk.

At its very core, spending time in the wilderness is about simplicity. Nice gear is great, but you don’t need anything too complicated to enjoy yourself outside. That being said, dreaming up outlandish and totally excessive gear inventions is seriously fun. Here are five Canoeroots thinks should go into production, ASAP.

1. Solar powered silent shoe driers

Nothing ruins the gentle morning routine of waking up, starting a fire and drinking coffee like slipping into a pair of soggy shoes. Image a shoe drier shaped like an insole that you could slip inside your shoes before bed. It would quietly dry your shoes and ensure they were toasty warm when you put them on again in the morning. Once you were ready to hit the water, the shoe driers could hang out on top of packs in the canoe to charge with the sun. Bingo bango.

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2. A self-cleaning barrel

Have you ever been on a multi-week canoe trip during a July heat wave? If not, let me paint an olfactic picture. Inhale and imagine you are smelling the sweet combination of beef jerky, old cheddar, everything bagels, green peppers, onions and apples all cooked on moderate heat together for days on end in a plastic oven. Now imagine that once you get to site, you simply unpack your food and the barrel’s eco-friendly self-cleaning mechanism washes and dries the interior and leaves it smelling like pine needles.

3. A dragon fly hat

Have you ever been on a camping trip in the spring where you get such bad bug bites your eyes swell up, your temples become convex and your back is more bitten than unbitten? We have (see below). That’s why we want a super cool hat with live dragon flies attached to it with fishing line. These dragon fly friends will eat the mosquitos, and during down time when the bugs aren’t too bad, will also whisper compliments in our ears (i.e. “Your J-stroke is stellar and your pancakes this morning were perfectly shaped, no matter what anyone says.”)

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4. A camping stove that brews coffee and then wakes you up

Similar to those counter top drip coffee machines that work as an alarm clock and make your java, this would be a camping stove that works on a timer. You would plug in your ideal wake up time, set up a mini stove top espresso machine on top of it with ground beans and water already inside, and then hop into your tent. In the morning the stove would fire up on its own, brew the coffee and then once it was ready—and only then–would the alarm go off. But it wouldn’t be your standard clanging or piercing alarm tone. It would be the sounds of whales, crickets and gentle thunderstorms. You ideally would place this near enough to your tent that you could smell the coffee and hear these lovely sounds from your cocoon.

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5. A portage stand

There comes a point on the portage trail when you want a break. Sometimes you are lucky enough to have a pack-toting friend nearby on the trail who you can ask to prop up the bow of the canoe while you step out from underneath and catch your breath. Other times you may be alone and are able to spot an appropriate branch or tree to rest the canoe on. If neither of those was an option, it would be really awesome to have a button you could press from inside the canoe. Placed on the inner hull within arm’s reach while you are portaging, the button would activate the release of a collapsible carbon pole. The pole would extend from the tip of the bow down towards the ground, providing a stand to take much of the weight of the canoe off your shoulders. Once you were ready to keep on trudging, you would press the button again and it would snap back up into the bow.

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