If you are planning any sort of desert-based adventure then you've come to the right place my friend. Here we have the top high-tech kit that will not only help you survive in the world's hottest seas of sand but truly conquer them. We've got the best backpacks, sunglasses, smartphones, boots, lanterns and more to keep you cool and in control during the blistering heat of the day, as well as warm and secure during those long, cold desert nights. So mount up on your camel, wrap around your headscarf and let's venture forth.
- Not interested in desert adventures but are all over underwater ones? Then check out our curated selection of the best underwater gadgets and tech available right now instead
ZGPAX S9 Rugged Outdoor Android smartphone
If you’re going to be exploring the world’s deserts there’s one fact you should always take into account - most of the terrain around you will be very similar so it’s going to be very easy to get lost. Rather than relying on maps (or your instinctive sense of direction), you need a powerful GPS that will sound out your location even in the remotest of regions. That’s where the ZGPAX S9 comes in.
Combining an Android OS with all the modcons of a modern smartphone (including an eight megapixel camera) with rugged outdoor features (it’s shockproof, has a powerful long-life battery and emergency and emergency SOS utility) it’s a must for outdoor excursions in the desert.
Oakley RadarLock Path sunglasses
Okay, this one might seem obvious but if you’re heading out into a hot environment you’ll need a sturdy and ergonomic pair of sunnies to keep your vision intact. The big things to combat here are glare and sand getting swept into your eyes, so a wide design is critical. For T3, the RadarLock range from Oakley are a perfect choice. The wraparound the design uses large lenses that sit on the cheek, holding back grains of sand from your eye, while photochromic tech transforms each lens to adapt to changing luminosity.
These lenses are also interchangeable, so you can select from a range depending on the time of day or the region you happen to be trekking through. It also offers UV Protection filtering 100% of all UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light up to 400nm.
Camelbak Rubicon hydration and cargo pack
We could’ve shot for a hydration-only pack, but when you’re travelling through hot desert terrains you’ll need to carry all the gear that’s getting you from A to B. With that in mind, you’re going to need a pack that’s comfortable to wear for long periods, secure on your back and capable of carrying both cargo and a hydration reservoir.
The Rubicon or Skirmish from backpack and hydration pack experts Camelbak are an ideal choice since it ticks all these boxes and more. With a deep inner section for all the gear on this list (and plenty of internal compartments), the Rubicon also keeps the water reservoir around the bottom of the bag. By placing this additional weight around your hips, you get a more stable centre of gravity meaning you’re less likely to wobble while hiking.
Under Armour men's UA Infil Gore-Tex® boots
Talking of walking, you’re going to need the right footwear when you’re out and about in the desert. Since these hot terrains aren’t just dunes (expect rocky outcrops and hard, barren plains), you’re going to need footwear that’s comfortable, moderately lightweight, thick enough to protect from dangerous cacti and high enough to support the ankle. Enter the UA Infil Gore-Tex boots from Under Armour.
Now, some hikers might bemoan the use of a waterproof membrane (since many believe it makes the boot too heavy and causes moisture to well up in the boot leading to blistering), but we believe there’s no point in jettisoning that feature if you can keep the boot lightweight and porous. The UA Infil do just that, offering a rubber sole for extra durability, a high heel for support and of course, a range of funky colours.
Leatherman Tread multi tool
The multi tool is your personal, foldable lifesaver and has so many uses you’d be clinically mad to head out in the desert without one. From blades to prick blisters on your feet (they will happen, it’s better to be prepared) to can openers that… well, open cans… a multi tool is an essential bit of kit to have on your person when you’re braving dunes and hot plains alike.
You could opt for a regular, Swiss Army Knife-esque tool, but how about one that fits around your wrist? We love wearables here at T3, so much so the Leatherman Tread is already on our early Christmas list. Each of the links in its wristband are actually retractable tools and you can even get a proper analogue watch face and turn it into a proper watch!
Goalzero Lighthouse 250 32001 LED Lantern
Heading out into the desert doesn’t just mean dealing with high heats and incredible humidity, it also means braving the serious drop in temperature and total darkness when night falls. Since you’re going to be in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a clear sky for light you’re going to need an artificial source you can rely on wherever you are.
The Lighthouse 250 lantern from Goalzero is just the kind of gizmo you’ll need to banish those shadows, with 250 lumens of LED light and a dimming function to extend its light time. You can charge it via USB, external solar polar or with a useful hand crank that folds out of the top. Best of all it’s easy to carry around and can even serve as a small-scale power source for small devices via USB.
Solar Paper phone charger
On the subject of charging, if there’s one thing you can’t leave the house without it’s your smartphone and whether you’ve opted for your usual dog and bone or a smart GPS device like the one mentioned above, you’re going to need a means of charging it to full capacity. And, since you’re out under the sun-beaten desert, what better way to power your trusty phone than all that lovely solar power?
The Solar Paper phone charger is a crowdfunded little gizmo that’s the size of a regular smartphone, but folds out to form four solar charging panels. It can then connect to your device via Micro USB or Lightning and power it up in around two and a half hours. It’s also the world’s lightest and thinnest solar charger, so it won’t take up too much space in your rucksack.
MSR Carbon Reflex 2 ultralight tent
When you’re out in the desert you’re going to need a robust and spacious place to hide from the sun and a makeshift home to snooze in when night falls. You also need it to be lightweight enough to carry on your back during the day, so with all those considerations in mind, we’d go for the Carbon Reflex 2 from camping experts MSR.
Built for two (meaning you’ll have plenty of extra room if you you’re going solo), the carbon fibre poles and lightweight fabrics make it an ideal place to get a little shuteye, while the easy to attach tarp cover will add a little extra shade and protect you from the rare possibility of rain. It’s also fast and easy to put up, making his mobile home a perfect addition to your desert inventory.
Windcatcher Airpad 2+ mattress
Keeping things on the same theme, if you’re going to have a state-of-the-art place to rest and sleep, why not have one of the best blow-up mattresses on the market today, the Windcatcher Airpad 2? If you’re a seasoned camper or festival goer, you’ll know a robust mattress either needs a lot of puff or a decent pump to fill it to capacity. The Airpad 2+, despite its size, only needs a few burst of breath to get it fully inflated so you won’t have to waste much needed energy when the day draws to a close.
Not only is it comfortable and thick enough to provide actual comfort and support, it also has a series of in-built straps so you can turn it into a comfy seat should you want to sit down and rest during the day.
Fontus water reclamation bottle
Let’s be honest, if you’re going to head out into the desert there’s one thing you’ll need that will definitely be lacking in your immediate environment: water. Your Camelbak hydration pack can on hold so much water and you’re going to use it up eventually, so what are you going to do to replenish that vital source of hydration? You bring a bottle that turns the humid air all around you back into water, of course!
The Fontus uses the basic principle of condensation to draw moisture directly from the air and turn it into drinkable water. It’s solar powered too, so considering you’re out in the desert you’ll have both the sunlight and the humidity to keep this funky little gadget working overtime. A must for any traveller heading out onto the dunes for a trek.