Photo credit

The Best Gear from the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2015

Last week I attended the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market show, a giant collection gear manufacturers showing off their wares for the upcoming years. Although I didn’t get to talk to everyone at the show, I did stop by a bunch of booths to check out what they have coming up.

Here are a few of my favorites, just based on my handling at the show – I haven’t field tested any of these, yet.

Don’t see your product in this roundup? Get in touch with me and let’s fix that. 

BD Ultralight CamalotBlack Diamond Ultralight Camalot

What it is:

From BD press release: “For years Black Diamond Equipment has been working to improve its Camalot design, the standard for camming devices worldwide. Building on this time-tested foundation, Spring ’16’s new Camalot Ultralights are the next step in this evolution. Camalot Ultralights incorporate sculpted lobes and a patent-pending continuously looped Dyneema® core to replace the cable stem, which helps contribute to more than 25% weight savings, making them among the lightest camming units on the market.”


They’re light, but seem well built. I’m wondering how they stand up to a couple seasons of abuse and falls.

Black Diamond’s Spring 2016 Collection Forged for Climbers From Gym to Crag


hqdefaultPower Traveler Wind Turbine

What it is:
A compact, rugged power generator that uses the power of the wind to turn blades connected to a turbine. The turbine assembly is connected to one of Power Traveler’s batteries, and is compatible with their range of gear.

A compact wind turbine seems like an excellent compliment to a field power kit where constant power in any weather is required. I could have used this while shooting photos during my recent sailing expedition in Baja, when the ability to charge day and night would have been great, and my sailboat, when anchored at night, always faces into the wind. This would also be great while visiting tropical regions where nasty weather is a daily ordeal, and the wind from storms can help keep systems online.
Power Traveler


79486_h1_fGSI does Coffee

What it is:
GSI this year had a huge range of coffee contraptions. Maybe they’re not all new, but I was impressed by the scope of their offerings. Java presses, grinders, indulated mugs and cups.

I was particularly impressed by the pass-through Java Mill, which is great for coffee snobs like me who like their coffee ground precisely and evenly. The insulated pint glass was about on par with the offerings from Hydro Flask, and others, but we’ll have to see who actually performs better at keeping a frosty pint cold. Finally, their Commuter Java Press seemed like a perfect combo for coffee snobs on the go.

GSI Java Mill


Big-Agnes-Tent-1024x682Big Agnes mtnGLO

What it is: 
From Big Agnes: “Introducing the Big Agnes mtnGLO™ Collection, a series of tents and accessories designed to light up your camp and backcountry experience. Illuminated with patent-pending mtnGLO™ Tent Light Technology featuring LED lights integrated into the tent body, this collection is a source of not only convenient ambient light at the click of a button, but all the comfort and security that comes along with it. The LEDs are bright enough for you to sort gear, play cards, change clothes, or simply get up in the middle of the night without blinding your tent mate with a bright beam of light.”

mtnGLO is certainly novel, and makes for a cool demo of the fusion of new electronics with tents. However, I’m skeptical on how genuinely useful this will be in the field, and whether it’s worth the extra weight to have a bit of ambient light, which can be accomplished just as easily by pointing my headlamp at the ceiling. I’m also wondering how the electronics will handle years of packing and unpacking, being packed up on damp mornings, frozen in alpine night time conditions, etc. Seems like a great integration, but is it worth it?

Big Agnes mtnGLO


100-22_1_hiresSea to Summit X-Pot

What it is:
From Sea to Summit”Our X-Pot is a fully featured cooking pot that combines the heat-distribution of aluminum with the flexibility of silicone. The hard anodized aluminum base offers a fast boil time and the stainless steel ring embedded in the rim lends a rigidity to the silicone walls for easy lifting and stirring. ”

Super cool idea – make the heating surface strong enough to be heated, but make the rest of the pot soft and compact. But will the fusion of the titanium flame surface and silicon collapsable wall surface really be able to stay bonded, and hold up to seasons of use? Will consumers be able to control the flame of their stoves enough to prevent the melting of the silicon by open flame? Will the interface of the silicon and titanium slowly wear out after repeated heating and cooling cycles? Is it worth it to have the weight of silicon for a collapsable pot, or would I rather go with an all-titanium pot, its volume stuffed with other gear I needed to pack anyway? These are what bother me.

Sea to Summit X-Pot


v15-1Voltaic Systems V72 Laptop Battery

What it is:
From Voltaic “This 20,000 mAh / 72 Watt Hour battery will power most laptops, tablets, smartphones and digital cameras. Features two output ports: a hi-Voltage port for laptops and a USB port for phones and iPads. The V72 charges from included AC charger or optional 18 Volt solar panel. ”

Yep, it’s awesome to have a laptop battery with enough juice to recharge a laptop, and with power output ports that are adaptable to converters for actually charging laptops. But this is old tech. We’re now in the new era of USB-C, the 100watt universal charging/connecting/transferring/syncing connector and protocol standard that was recently rolled out by Apple in the new MacBook, and by Google in the new Chromebook Pixel. A USB-C port on this battery could allow for power input from solar panels, and power output to all usb devices, INCLUDING new USB-C laptops. Since the USB-C power spec can support up to 100W, it’s the only connector you need for the entire range of gadgets. Sure, you can still charge a USB-C macbook from the old-school USB-A connectors on this existing pack, but that’s slow. Let’s start seeing some USB-C power packs and solar panels.

On another note, I am thoroughly impressed with the Voltaic V15 power pack that was given to me at the show. It’s got enough power to keep me juiced all day, its battery life indicators are perfect, it supports pass-through charging, and you can even switch it from an auto-off mode to a constant-on mode. Great to have that flexibility for unmonitored solar charging installations, etc. Love it!

Voltaic Systems V72 Laptop Battery

Voltaic Systems V15 USB Battery


16tp_old_everest_blue_1Hydroflask True Pint

What it is:
A vacuum-insulated pint glass. Simple, effective.

Despite having a small-ish booth at OR, Hydroflash seemed to be all the rage this year. Their booth was constantly packed, their margarita happy hour sold out and had lines down the isle, and people were proud of their limited edition lime green true pint. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my hands on one. But from the looks of it, a vacuum insulated pint glass seems like a great idea for both cold stuff, and hot stuff. I’m personally in love with my 4 year old 40oz hydroflask!

Hydroflash True Pint


Scrubba_bag_green_hand_deep_etched__03711.1425419625.1280.1280Scrubba Wash Bag

What it is:
From Scrubba: “The Scrubba™ wash bag works on the same principle as an old-fashion washboard. Clothing is cleaned by rubbing them against the washboard. As opposed to an old-fashion washboard, the Scrubba™ wash bag is lightweight, compact and self-contained (you no longer need a bucket or basin). Furthermore, the Scrubba™ wash bag can mimimise exposure of the user to cleaning materials. ”

It’s so simple, it’s brilliant. A drybag is something I’m usually going to travel with anyway, so add some washing texture to the inside, and a little window, and turn it into a portable washing machine. Love it! Washing clothes by hand in hostel sinks sucks – clothes are never really clean, water goes everywhere, people look at you funny. So this bag fixes all of those issues right there. How it holds up in the real world, I’m not sure yet..

Scubba Wash Bag


leap-wirelessYurbuds Leap Wireless Headphones

What it is:
From JBL “Enjoy the freedom to move on your terms. yurbuds® LEAP™ Wireless in-the-ear earphones have no wires to get in your way, offering the signature sweat-proof, comfortable fit of all yurbuds sport earphones. Featuring exceptional sound performance, a microphone with easy one-touch audio control and 6+ hours of music and call time with audible and visible low-battery alerts, these earphones will go with you everywhere. Bluetooth connectivity and a secure fit complete the package so you can challenge every limit.”

Everyone makes bluetooth headphones nowadays. So what makes these special? JBL’s backing and engineering, I think. I usually regard JBL gear fairly highly in the accessibly-priced consumer audio segment, so I’ll be looking forward to solid build and sound from these bluetooth buds. I typically destroy headphones, so hopefully these will hang on.

Yurbuds Leap Wireless Headphones

Don’t see your product in this roundup? Get in touch with me and let’s fix that. 


One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.