The Summer OR Show 2016
The Summer Outdoor Retailer Show (OR Show) is THE place for the outdoor industry to show off the latest and greatest gear available for all your outdoor adventures. This year there was a lot more car camping and glamping style products on the show floor than ever before, and many companies working hard to add lifestyle pieces to their lines of core outdoor products. With about 1,600 vendors this year there was lots of ground to cover, people to meet and gear to check out!
The awesome new products featured below, and a few others I just couldn’t fit in this post, are the exception to the plethora of “same same” at the OR Show this year. The volume of knockoffs and companies chasing the same niche markets and trends always dumbfounds me. How many of the “new” inflatable lounge chair things can the market tolerate? This year the market was completely saturated with; small folding camp chairs, camp stools, camp blankets, action cameras, dry backpacks, water filters, energy bars, coolers, waterbottles, waterproof portable speakers, flashlights, titanium camp cookware and hammocks. Many of these trending products have been saturated markets for many years now, but I’ve never seen so many hammocks, titanium cookwear options or dry backpacks in my life!!! A few companies have made these segments hot again, and now everyone is racing to Asia to source knockoffs and budget options to offer the market. While there are always a few companies truly innovating in these spaces, it is mostly just rebranded stuff out of the same few Asian factories. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it makes for a VERY competitive marketplace and sometimes pushes innovation, but before buying these types of products I suggest looking into the companies just a little, and checking out what type of quality you are really purchasing.
Now to look at all the awesome spotted at the Summer OR Show 2016. The following are the new gear items and show happenings that truly stood out from the crowd. You can expect to see more than a few of these products in future gear reviews here on Exploring Elements.
Winnebago is testing the waters and seeing if they can appeal to the outdoor and vanlife crowds. They showed off a new Mercedes Sprinter 2500 4×4 diesel with the full Winnebago RV treatment. The build featured a 30 gal fresh water tank, propane heater, 2,000 w inverter, lithium-ion house batteries, adjustable height bed with rear “garage” storage and a full bathroom. They are trying to build these for about $100K retail. While there were some things they needed to change, to truly hit the off-road and vanlife crowd, mostly in terms of a few materials and layout, the overall build is a great beginning to a worthy new adventuremobile option.
OUTDOOR TO OVERLAND AWARD
The SkyRise RTT is Yakima’s first foray into the car camping/overland markets. It is built to be extremely lightweight, breathable and low profile, so as to work on nearly any vehicle and be super easy to put on and off. It will come in two sizes, weight 90 lbs and cost $1,349 in the medium size, be available in early 2017, offer some great skylights and feature locking tool free clamps. The SlimShady awning is a design and look that many in the overland community will be familiar with, as it is VERY similar to the ARB awning. It will also be available in early 2017, cost $259, be 6’6”x6’6” when deployed and also include quality locking tool free clamps.
LOOK GOOD ON THE GO AWARD
ExOfficio continues to impress with new travel clothing that combines the best materials technology and more and more style. The Toteno shirt will be available in early 2017, features a hidden chest zip pocket along the buttons, will retail for $100 and is made of Serona, a natural corn based fabric that offers UPF 30, as well as being wrinkle and stain resist. The Dylan Jean is ExOfficio’s first foray into the travel jean segment, will be available early 2017, retail for $98 and features a stretch material as well as two zippered pockets, including one unique one mid thigh.
ELECTRIFY EVERYTHING AWARD
EnerPlex continues to bring innovative electronic charging solutions to the backcountry. The new Kickr solar panels are being touted as the best power to weight ratio available, and for being able to produce the most power from dawn to dusk than anything else on the market. The price point is reasonable, $129.99 & $99.99, they are crazy lightweight, 189 g & 145 g, pack small, are flexible, durable and will charge through a USB connector, so as to work with most battery banks and devices.
MONEY SHOT AWARD
The Slick is a 3 axis GoPro stabilized gimbal that is waterproof, motorized, programmable and only retails for $299 ($229 preorder price). The big advantage with this little rig is that it can be attached to action camera mounts and used for a huge variety of stabilized angles. The units ship in January 2017. Only drawback is that it currently only works with a GoPro, and not other action cameras, unless they are exact GoPro knockoffs that are the same form factor.
You probably know Klecker Knives for the KLAX hatchet tool. They have now developed a whole line of tiny tools that can be carried in a variety of ways, called the Stowaway Tools. You can carry 4 tools in Klecker’s custom phone cases ($20-$30), or a variety with their special carabiner. They also work great with a key organizer like the Keybar or KeySmart systems. The tools run from $6-$12 and will be available in September.
HAPPY FEET AWARD
Astral Footwear has now come up with quite possibly the ultimate do everything shoe. The new TR1 series is light weight, offers good cushion, quality protection from rough terrain, extremely grippy rubber, fun styles and is designed to work just as well on a trail run as kicking around town. Might this be the ultimate travel shoe? The TR1 series comes in three styles, Trek, Junction and Mesh, and range from $120-$130. They are available in Spring 2017.
CAMP COMFORT AWARD
The new ENO Lounger DL might just be the most comfortable ground based camp chair out there. It has a nice sway to it, offers up 2 height settings, a cup holder and a pocket on each side. At $125, 74 oz and available in early 2017 I’m pretty sure this camp “chair” is going to be a winner.
OFF GRID GOURMET AWARD
The new CampChef Moiuntaineer Stove is going to be a vehicle based camp system favorite. It has an all aluminum construction, receded knobs, built in ignition, comes with a bulk tank adaptor and offers up 20,000 BTU, per burner. Available in early 2017 for $229 this stove is going to take tailgate gourmet to the next level.
PS: I posted this on social media, during my live show coverage, and got a lot of comments about it being a Partner Stove knockoff. NO, this is not a Partner Stove knockoff. Look at the design and specs, very different stoves. I cannot yet speak to the quality comparison, as this is a prototype of a stove coming out next year that I haven’t tried yet.
LIGHT MY FIRE AWARD
The Camp Maid One Piece Collapsible Portable Charcoal Chimney is going to be a hit with the Dutch oven cooking crowd. It is only $30, packs crazy small, is the perfect size for starting enough coals for a single Dutch oven and has an optional butane charcoal lighter system that is super efficient and convenient.
PS: The unit does not have a name yet, so the designer said to make up a name. My friend Nick and I came up with “Origami Hot Box.” Thoughts?
CAR CAMPING DONE RIGHT AWARD
Dometic’s new CFX-95DZUS is 95 Liters of fridge/freeze awesome that is perfect for your next adventuremobile build. It is HUGE, offers two climate zones and an app to control the settings and monitor the unit. It retails for $1,019, which is a good value in this class of portable fridges. It was also really cool to see a dedicated vehicle based accessory company, which normally services the RV and overland communities, have a presence at the OR Show.
BACKCOUNTRY TRAVEL AWARD
An update on the original king of backpacking packs, the Granite Gear Crown. The Crown 2 offers tons of new features, more space and still only comes in at 2.2 lbs! The removable lid, removable back sheet and adjustable waist belt are all features that elevate this bag above the competition. It can also be stripped down and only weigh in at 1 lb 11 oz, without lid, frame sheet and backpanel, for those that like to go super light.
SLEEP ANYWHERE AWARD
The Matador packable puffy blanket is yet another camp blanket, but at only $99 and utilizing a super comfortable face fabric and ‘Sorona by DuPont,’ a clustered synthetic down like material, as the insulation, it should be a hit when it’s released in October. I was also impressed with the company’s people, style and attitude. Keep an eye out for these guys to make some innovative stuff.
GET YOUR GEAR THERE AWARD
The all new Sea To Summit Nomad Duffel comes in 4 sizes and is ready for any adventure you can throw at it, on it, in it or otherwise. It features a multi function handle that works as a shoulder sling, backpack or hand-carry system, and has a unique magnet system to hold the straps together. Other features include a double zipper that offers durability, strength and theft resistance and a padded lid which allows for easy and fast access to your gear. I also like that for such a burly bag it packs up into a relatively small package, for storage. The 90L duffle is pictured, and costs $159.95, available in March 2017.
ON WATER FUN AWARD
The Stellar S16S surfski is a fast, forgiving and really well built surfski. In the new Kevlar “multi-sport” layup it only weights in at 39.7 lbs and costs $3,095. The boat has impressive primary stability, especially for its speed and agility.
TAKING THE PADDLE OUT OF PADDLING AWARD
Put a pool noodle on a paint mixer and you basically have the Drill Paddle. This attachment fits on your battery operated drill, 18v recommended, and will set you back $59.95. It will last about 30-45 min at full power, if you cycle it so the drill doesn’t overheat. Supposedly the pool noodle on the prop shaft will keep the whole deal afloat if you drop it overboard, and many drills work when underwater, even though nearly none are “waterproof.” If you are looking for yet another way to go kayaking without using a paddle, this is for you.
FUN, BUT REALLY!?!? AWARD
The new Rungu Juggernaut 3 Wheel Fat Tire E-Bike makes you smile from ear to ear when you ride it. Then reality sets in and your ask yourself why, a lot. It is a 2,000 watts, 90 lb, e-bike that costs $4,300. It is marketed as a green alternative to an ATV. I can tell you first hand that it isn’t as stable, user friendly, fast or capable as any ATV I’ve ridden. I can also say that it is a good time to blast around on, and will turn a lot of heads.
BOOTH AMAZING AWARD
The brand new three story high Mountain Hardware booth was impressive on all levels. Every corner of the booth was designed with integrated logo components, and they even decided to have a slackline setup over the reception area. An untethered pro slackliner walked the line throughout the day, wonder the liability insurance required for that one! They even welcomed retail buyers with ice cream and other treats.
MY LOGO IS BIGGER THAN YOURS AWARD
By far the best branding exercise at the OR Show this year was the event Keen put on across the street from the convention center, called Keenfest. It had slacklining, log rolling, a pool chill zone, Ferris Wheel, conservation organizations, free shoes, quality food carts and more. I’m also pretty sure the Keen logo on the side of the building was the largest company logo at the show.
HONORABLE MENTION AWARDS:
(Disclaimer: Exploring Elements was not paid to talk about any product in this report, and does not have any financial relationship with any of the companies talked about in this report, at the time it was published.)