THE BEST OF: Summer OR Show 2017

What a crazy Outdoor Retailer! This is the last time the annual outdoor industry trade show will be held in Salt Lake City, as it will move to Denver next year. The main reason for the move is the horrible public land policies that Utah continues to push, which exploit public lands for natural resources while ignoring environmental impact and recreational economic benefit. The good people, quality food and amazing natural beauty of the surrounding mountains will be greatly missed, but I’m excited to see how the show evolves in Denver.

Public lands were a hot topic at this year’s OR.

I’ve been coming to this industry only show since 2004, and seen it from nearly every angle; distributor, pro athlete, athlete manager, someone looking to get hired, manufacturer, buyer and media. This year I was there covering the show for a number of media outlets in the outdoor and overland industries, but always strive to bring you the latest and greatest gear for your life of adventure right here on Exploring Elements. Below are the Exploring Elements top pic awards for 2017.

Adventuremobile Award

Sportsmobile Sprinter 4×4

What’s not to like about a luxury home on wheels that gets great gas mileage and can handle much more terrain and weather than a typical RV? Sure they aren’t inexpensive, can’t tackle difficult off road obstacles and there is a wait list to get your hands on one, but honestly they are probably the right adventuremobile for a large cross section of the overland marketplace.

Go Prepared Award

Gear Aid Akua Knife

This classic river rescue knife has been traditionally sold under the McNett brand, and has always been a solid product, but tended to release from its sheath and sink to the bottom of the river when used on a rescue vest for whitewater kayaking. This new iteration, still at the impressively inexpensive $29.95 price point, has a ½” longer handle, an integrated bottle opener and a MUCH better locking sheath. For even further security the sheath can be screwed shut once on a PFD lash tab. Available in the fall, this knife is sure to be a winner.

Light My Fire Award

UCO Stormproof Sweetfire

Never worry about getting a soggy pile of firewood in the backcountry turned into a campfire again. The UCO Stormproof Sweetfire fire starters will be available this Fall for $5-$10 per package, and are sure to light your fire!

Get Your Gear There Award

Yeti Panga Submersible Duffel

The travel duffel has been taken to new heights! The new Panga Submersible Duffel series from Yeti, available in 3 sizes 50L $299/75L $349/100L $399, will be available soon. They feature a fully waterproof/dustproof design that offers up interior pockets, an inner helper buckle to assist the waterproof zipper, a durable EVA bottom plate and even proprietary tooled buckles for added strength and durability.

Fun, but really?!?! Award

Bripe Coffee Brew Pipe

The Bripe Coffee Brew Pipe is a novel way to brew a small shot of coffee or tea, allowing you to get your caffeine fix anywhere. The entire system comes in at only 337 grams, comes with everything you need in a nice carrying pouch, and costs $84.95. Novel yes, cool maybe, but for sure not necessary.

Happy Feet Award

Lowa Approach Pro

The men’s Lowa Approach Pro is available now, with a women’s version coming in early 2018. This is an expensive shoe, at $230, but it is an insanely feature rich piece of technical gear. It features a GoreTex upper, Vibram sole, dual zone lacing system and a midsole that stops before the toes, which provides good feel when on the rocks. This is a true alpine approach shoe that is ready to tackle whatever adventure you can put in front of them.

Be Adventure Ready Award

Trigger Point Grid Vibe

The Trigger Point Grid Vibe was just released, and is sure to be a great addition to life on the road. The vibrating foam roller (12″x3.5″) fits within the larger Grid foam roller, costs just $99 and lasts for up to 2hrs of good vibrations. The original Grid (reviewed here) is a staple on my travels, helping keep me mobile and my back happy after long days of travel and adventure.

Money Shot Award


The Gnarbox has only been on the market for 2 months and is already getting rave reviews. This little 128g, waterproof, shockproof, SSD hard-drive makes backing up, editing and sharing your digital content in the field that much easier and secure. The device connects via its own wifi to your mobile device and offers up simple and effective photo and video editing tools, allowing you to quickly polish and upload drone, video camera and still photography content to social media and the like. Available now for $299, with a double capacity version expected this Fall. Back that money shot up ASAP and get it online faster than ever before.

Electrify Everything Award

PowerAll XL3

The PowerAll XL3 is what all big diesel engine overland vehicle owners have been waiting for. This just released 1000 amp/16,000 mAh lithium jump starter/power bank was just released for $249. It weighs in at only 28.8oz and is impressively small for it’s power and capacity, at 7.5″x3.55″X1.8″. A jump starter pack like this should be in every solo overland vehicle traveler’s tool kit.

Backcountry Travel Award

Osprey Levity & Lumina Backpacks

If light and fast is your thing, the soon to be released, Jan. 18th of 2018, Osprey Levity and Lumina packs are for you. Both versions are being offered in 45 and 60L versions ($250 & $270). They are crazy light and relatively durable, while also being comfortable, through the use of a full suspension harness. The 60L pack weighs only 1.95 lbs and can handle up to a 30 lb load, but are best used in the 15-20 lb load range. They are backed by Osprey’s free repair and returns AMG warranty, which is a crazy good deal on a technical hard wearing piece of gear such as this.

Off Grid Gourmet Award

GSI Santoku Knife Set

Elevate your camp kitchen setup with the soon to be released, in time for the holidays, GSI Santoku Knife Set. While you can purchase these knives separately, the best deal is the 3 knife set, which includes a carrying case, cutting board, wash cloth, soap container and only costs $29.99.

Sleep Anywhere Award

Thermarest Parsec 20 Degree Bag

The all new Thermarest Parsec 20 degree sleeping bag is the next evolution in adventure sleep systems. This $399 bag will be available in January of 2018, weigh in at only 1lb 15oz, packs down to a really small size and utilizes 800 fill Nikwax hydrophobic goose down.

Look Good On the Go Award

NRS Guide Shirt

The new NRS Guide Shirt is a do everything casual looking garment that is actually highly technical and specifically designed for paddling. It utilizes silk weight stretch panels for venting and comfort that are designed to work well while wearing a PFD. The shirt offers up a 35 UPF rating, comes in men’s and women’s style and costs $69.99 for the long-sleeve version and $59.99 short-sleeve.

McGyver Award

Full Windsor The Muncher

Sure you don’t need a Titanium Multi Utensil, but it is pretty damn cool! Available in September for $50 The Muncher is a 22g Multi utensil, 44g with sheath and accessories, that is sure to start a few conversations around the campfire.

Booth Amazing Award

Popticals UTV

Fully custom UTV with matching kayak and bike, yes please! The fun that could be had in this thing!!!

Honorable Mentions


The Restube is an inflatable safety device for all water sports. It is designed to be used as added floatation for rescue situations, be great for signaling and great for helping others in need out on the water. The device has been around in Europe for about 5yrs, but is just now hitting North American shores. Probably the top use for this product is for kiteboarders, as they normally don’t wear a PFD and they can find themselves in tough open water situations without much floatation. Another great application is for open water swimmers. Priced from $74-$109.

Petzel Bindi Headlamp

Designed with the trail runner in mind the new Petzl Bindi Headlamp is sure to make a wide range of headlamp users happy. This waterproof, crazy light, only 35g, extremely bright, 200 lumen max output, rechargeable headlamp is impressive on all levels. It can run for up to 50 hrs at its lowest setting, putting out 5-10 lumens, which is perfect for emergency situations and night time trail running/hiking. It will be available in early 2018 for $60.

Gerber Sharkbelly

This stainless steel american made knife is lightweight, easy to sharpen, offers a firm comfortable grip and is ready for the abuses of an everyday carry. Great offering from Gerber at only $39.

Coast FX200 Knife

The Coast FX200 is a perfect lightweight everyday carry knife. Somehow it only costs $14.99 AND comes with a lifetime warranty! It was just released and features a frame lock, bottle opener, stainless steel frame and nylon handle.

Yakima BackSwing

The Yakima BackSwing is a hitch mounted swing out accessory, allowing you to swing nearly any hitch accessory out of the way of your rear hatch or tailgate. This versatile gear hauler accessory will be available in the Spring for about $300.

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  • Awesome list you guys! Thanks for putting this together. Wish we could’ve made it. That GSI Santoku Knife Set looks badass.