With so many great natural spots within an hour or two of driving, the Bay Area is a camper's paradise. But even as we pack our organic local edibles, throw on our Timbuk2 backpacks, and cover up with a locally-designed raincoat, the gear we take with us is pretty much the same as the rest of the country's: blandly designed, more functional than fun. That's why we were excited to see the new spring product line from Alite, a Mission-based manufacturer of outdoor gear. Founded by three Stanford grads, the company's manufacturing life began with colorful butterfly chairs, which roll up to the size of a burrito (SF-style, of course) and fit easily into a bag. Now they're extending their empire to the overnight aspect of the great outdoors, with fun yet hardy equipment like their In-Law Outlaw tent, designed to mimic the look of a vintage RV.
Those who retreat to the outdoors to spice up their relationships may want to consider investing in the Sexy Hotness sleeping bag. This brightly colored sleeper doubles as a bodysuit, allowing campers to basically wear their bedding around the campfire, like a high-tech Snuggie. When you and your partner are ready for bed, the bags zip easily into each other and feature adjustable middle flaps-- perfect for a little action under the stars.
Even if your idea of the outdoors is an afternoon of beers at Dolores Park, Alite has some great products for an urban day out, like a camera stand that doubles as a cupholder, and a dog leash with a built-in baggie dispenser for cleaning up after Fido.
Best of all, Alite's offerings won't break the bank. Prices range from $30 for the baggie-dispensing leash to $270 for the tent-- not much higher than comparable plain-Jane products, and supporting a local business to boot. You can view the complete spring line (launching March 15) at their website. Alite products are available at REI, Eastern Mountain Sports, and Cole Hardware, as well as from their online store.