The typically massive outdoor industry trade show looked and felt different than ever before. But that didn’t deter a few brands from hitting it big with standout Best in Show gear.
Three levels scaled down to just one. Aisles went from shoulder-to-shoulder, to generously spaced. And the gangway of household outdoor bigwigs gave way to unfamiliar upstarts hawking everything from sterilizing wipes to pool toys.
Perhaps most notably, the sheer number of retailers, brands, and media went from the tens of thousands down to — at least by looks alone — just a few thousand, if that. Despite outward appearances, the show still packed some seriously cool gear.
And what’s more, Outdoor Retailer went from a hectic melee of bustling meetings and appointments to a more relaxed, grateful reunion among colleagues — at least, those who opted to travel and visit the show.
And the limited number of brands meant a lot of productivity for those who attended. In fact, longtime GearJunkie editor in chief (and Colorado’s “Resident Badass“) Sean McCoy called it “among the best ORs I’ve been to,” citing focused work in a smaller, more intimate tradeshow.
Whether you were impressed or disappointed, there was gear to be seen. And after two full days combing the truncated aisles, we found what we think was the best collection of innovative outdoor gear on display. Enjoy!
Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Best in Show
Dometic ‘Go Collection’ Hydration Jug+Water Faucet
Part jug, part faucet, Dometic’s two-piece HYD-WF (short for “hydration water faucet”) stole the show in terms of innovation. Though both pieces are sold separately and can operate independently, they’re designed to work in tandem.
The HYD-J11 11L jug can squeeze in just about 12 L and has two openings: one large 4-inch orifice for quick filling and dispensing, and a smaller 63mm opening — the industry standard “Nalgene” size. This means you can seamlessly connect many common water filtration devices directly from the source to the jug without the worry of cross-contamination.
The jug also has a molded hand grip on the bottom to aid pouring and a CPC quick-connect port (more on that below). What’s more, two of these jugs can fit into a standard 20L jerrycan holder on overland vehicles, so you could actually carry 22-24 L.
But the faucet (HYD-WF) is where things get really interesting. You can connect the faucet with an included magnetic base that has a sticky side to adhere to a camp table, RV countertop, or the jug itself.
Connect the faucet directly to the jug with included tube via the quick-connect port — then simply tap the top of the faucet (no button to depress) to begin dispensing water.
The faucet has a flow rate of 1 L per minute, and it will automatically stop dispensing after 1 L. Plus, the faucet has a built-in LED light that illuminates while water is running, so you can see your hands, toothbrush, or dirty dishes in the dark.
The Dometic HYD-J11 jug will retail for $70, and the faucet (HYD-WF) will sell for $100. Both items in the Go Collection launch in February 2022.
FireCan for a fire ban — some of them, anyway. Ignik came up with the right product at the right time; the FireCan offers a propane-powered solution to increasingly fire-restricted camp areas.
Unlike traditional campfires — fire pits, fire rings, etc. — the FireCan burns liquid fuel, so you can shut it off. Because it’s elevated off the ground and there are no embers or hot ash, which may spark an unrestricted fire, it’s permissible under certain fire restrictions.
The FireCan sports a badass “ammo can” design and comes with a hose and regulator. Plus, it’s compatible with 5-pound or 20-pound propane tanks. Read more about our deep dive on the Ignik FireCan, which launches this fall for $200.
Little Kamper Refillable Camp Propane Tanks
The outdoor industry talks a big game about environmental stewardship, but there are some areas that can — and need to — do a lot better. Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than with our camp fuel.
While proper recycling options for the ubiquitous 1-pound propane tanks many campers use exist, it is a costly and intensive process that often results in tanks simply diverting to the landfill. What’s worse, many times this can happen with usable fuel still inside.
Little Kamper offers an alternative: Exchange and refill those used tanks instead. It works just like typical big 20-pound tanks like Blue Rhino.
Simply buy a Little Kamper for $20 at a participating retailer. When your fuel is spent, exchange it for a new tank for $10. It’s a little more expensive than disposable tanks, but Little Kamper says it’s a lot easier on the environment.
While not new this year, Little Kamper made its debut at the Outdoor Retailer stage this show and made a big splash. The brand needs more retailers to sign on to help make tank exchange easy for everyone.
Küat Piston Pro X Hitch Bike Rack
One-handed operation and a slick built-in taillight system are the key selling points of Küat’s eye-catching Piston Pro X Hitch Bike Rack. Picture this: You spent $8,000 — maybe $10,000 or more — on a ripping-hot bike.
But as you prepare to load up and head home from the trailhead, you lean over your expensive rig to fiddle with ratchets and buttons on either side of your hitch rack. You’re begging for trouble!
Küat answers with piston power — hold the bike with one hand, push a single button with the other, and the pistons take care of the rest. Now you can set your bike in the tray and secure either side without ever letting go of your ride.
Plus, Küat integrated an attractive red light bar, so you won’t have to buy an aftermarket taillight kit. There’s a lot more to love, so be sure to read our full review.
The Piston Pro X launched at the show and will start shipping in March 2022. A full spec’d rack will run nearly $1,400, though the brand said there will be lower-tier options available, too.
Uncharted Supply Company Wolf Pack
Never forget your dog’s first-aid kit by strapping it on their collar. That’s the idea behind the Uncharted Supply Company Wolf Pack, a first-aid kit loaded into a small waterproof pack on a heavy-duty dog collar.
While the idea seems so simple, we did some research and couldn’t find another dog collar first aid kit anywhere online. And it took a serious accident to spark the idea for Uncharted’s founder, Christian Schauf.
While skiing in the backcountry with his dog Barron, a snowboarder hit the dog after going over a steep drop. The edge of the board cut the dog badly, resulting in near-life-threatening blood loss.
Thankfully, they had a first aid kit and were able to stem the flow of blood. And that incident sparked an idea of putting the first aid kit on the dog.
The kit seems like a great addition to your pup’s outdoors kit. Beyond the burly 1.5-inch nylon collar with a Fidlock closure, the waterproof pouch contains gauze, a Mylar emergency blanket, alcohol wipes, a releasable zip tie useable as a tourniquet, nitrile gloves, saline solution, metal tweezers, five waste bags, cohesive wrap, and a ziplock watertight bag for all contents.
For those who take dogs into remote areas — like hunters, hikers, and yes, skiers — the $89 kit contains everything needed to stabilize an injured dog in the outdoors. It will hit the market in fall 2021.