For every Outdoor Retailer trade show where brands are introducing new gear to help us make the best of our outdoor experiences, we sift through to find those items that really stand out. Granted, these are not going to be the most amazing thing to help everybody who adventures—they can be as diverse as our adventures themselves. Over the next year or two, depending on when these products become available, we’ll dig into testing them in the field to see if they truly stood up to our expectations. Are you aware of any amazing products we should consider? Post them in the comments below and we’ll try to get our hands on them to see how they do.
Traeger Grills Ranger & Scout
Grilling at camp just got an upgrade. In addition to the tried and true methods of grilling over wood coals or charcoal briquets (which require a certain amount of setup and fire tending) grill maker master Traeger announced their portable wood pellet grilling technology in a truly portable package. Available in two versions, they both offer 184 square inches of cooking surface (about six burger patties worth). The main difference between the Scout for $299 and the Ranger for $399, is the Ranger’s eight-pound pellet hopper is twice the size of the Scout’s. This allows for extended cook periods for larger pieces of meat. Traeger offers nine types of hardwood pellets (hickory, mesquite, apple, etc.) to best compliment the kind of meat or flavor profile you’re going for. The down side? It needs to be plugged into a 110v power source to run the pellet feeder and ignitor.
Black Diamond Camalot C4 – Trigger Keeper
While the Camalot C4 series is great in and of themselves, and the fact that BD has managed to get them ten percent lighter this season while claiming they are just as durable and such, the real win to this new generation is the Trigger Keeper. It’s one of those “why didn’t we think of that before” scenarios. Nevertheless, now is when it was thought of and BD is who thought of it. Instead of having to have these large cam lobes compete so heavily for hanging space on your harness or sling, the Trigger Keeper let’s you lock the lobes back until you need them. On or off of your rack, pulling the trigger a little tighter releases the keeper lock and the lobes are freed and ready to be placed in the rock.
Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading boot – Aluminum Bar
Two legendary brands have paired up to blend their extensive experiences into one amazing product. Our Fishing Editor and wading boot tester Dan Nelson says: “With these boots, we finally see wading boots built to hiking boot standards, by hiking boot designers. That has long been a complaint of mine—wading boots that lacked the structural design found in quality hiking boots to provide solid foot/ankle support with compromising fit and comfort. By partnering with Danner, Patagonia has committed to making sure anglers have the in-water traction they need (the aluminum bar soles are exceptional in grip on slick riverbeds) with solid foot and ankle support, without excess weight and bulk.” Stay tuned to when Dan gets a chance to test our a pair to see if they live up to our expectations.
Capturing adventures on video is nothing new and now it’s a far cry from the slide shows many of us (mostly Gen X and older) have sat through. But even in the new era of action cameras flooding the market and the outdoors, they were mostly very uncomfortable to watch because the video could be so shaky. Be it from walking, biking or even rafting and kayaking, the our eyes and brains could only take mere moments of watching. Then cameras started introducing anti-shake technologies, but that only smoothed things out so far, it never totally stabilized it. Now, with the introduction of 360-degree cameras camera makers have a much better means of bringing stabilization to the frame and so far the one to do it the best is Rylo. They also managed to do it in a nice size form factor making it smaller than the 360-degree camera released by the company that got the world whipped up in the action camera frenzy in the first place nearly a decade ago.
Sea to Summit Pack Racks
Much to the chagrin of the big rack names like Thule, Yakima and Rhino, not everybody needs racks on their vehicles all of the time. We’ve seen this in the capacity of foam blocks and even blankets draped over the tops of cars and trucks to make short term roof racks to get something that won’t fit in the car and Sea to Summit has developed just the product for folks who want to graduate from the foam blocks but don’t need to invest in a full rack system. Because they’re inflatable, they’ll store away nicely in the vehicle until needed
Jetboil Summit Skillet
Everything tastes better out in the wilderness. That is, unless it’s burned or mangled beyond recognition because it stuck to the frypan and had to be chiseled off to land on your plate. Jetboil brings the technology already familiar to home cooking fry pans and adds a layer of PFOA-free ceramic non-stick coating to a varying wall thickness aluminum pan for even heat distribution. For an 8-inch pan at 10.6 ounces (300g), which includes a flipper/spatula, it’s not ultralight by most standards. But we all have to make choices between comfort on the trail and comfort in camp and this item has the huge potential to provide a lot of comfort in camp that could be well worth the weight on the back.
Outdoor Research X-Gaiter
There are a few reasons why this is a brilliant new product. First, while many of us have invested in gear to handle the cold, we find ourselves looking at the next bigger and colder expedition but we don’t want to invest in bigger and more expensive footwear when we can make something we already have warmer. Or, as winters get colder in the places where we’ve been playing for years, the very cold days at our favorite ski resort or ice climbing spot may have kept us away in the past but being able to use our existing trusted and true boots could change that.
Hammock tents are great until there aren’t any trees, so the hammock tent that can also be used right on the ground came along. Taking that concept one step further, granted, more in the recreational and entertainment direction than a necessity of being able to set up a place to sleep is the Tentsile Universe that works suspended from trees, right on the ground and out on the water. We’re guessing they’re not recommending sleeping adrift, but it can make for a good platform to relax and enjoy the hot summer weather, then that evening on the shore suspend it from the trees or pitch it for a good night’s rest.
Morakniv Floating Serrated Knife
We’ve thought of tying floaties to all kinds of things we use on or in or near the water: sunglasses, hats and cameras, for instance, but probably because knives on the water are usually reserved for emergency situations we don’t give it much thought, until it slips out of our hand and into the drink right when we need it. Chalk this one up to the why haven’t we thought of this before category (like the BD cams above). Morakniv made this orange, cork handled, blunt-tip knife to float blade down and ideal for any kind of boating, including rafting where sharp points can accidentally puncture your ride.
Klymit Sky Bivy
The Klymit Sky Bivy snuck under the radar until I had a chance to check it out in person at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Denver this summer. I met with Luke, the designer and we geeked out on hammock camping and the aspects of that experience he was working to improve with his design of the Lay Flat Hammock. He described his process of taking the best of the common camping hammock, with gathered ends which tends to envelop the user and the yard hammock with a spreader bar at the head and foot, which is incredibly comfortable but also dangerously unstable. His solution was a spreader bar at the head and two straps coming off the feet. And while it’s not like laying on a mattress on the ground his design does provide a much flatter sleeping area that rivals the diagonal sleep method of the common camping hammock. The other half of the Sky Bivy system is the Sky Shelter which is a tarp with a spreader bar which clips right into the same anchor supports as the Lay Flat Hammock. The Sky Shelter is also very stable even with out being staked down. But when the storm does start to rage, it can be guyed out to hunker down. It’s not specifically designed to work on the ground in the instance there are no trees or other anchors to suspend it from but Luke says he’s included a few extra guy-out points and savvy users should be able to made it work. The bug net isn’t out yet, but Luke gave me some off-the-record insight and it sounds like it’s going to be pretty sweet.