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Outdoor Retailer ‘Best in Show’ Summer Gear 2020

Tents, knives, sleeping bags, running shoes, and more: Brands congregated to launch products at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2019, held this week in Denver. Our team evaluated hundreds of products over 3 days to find the best to-be-released gear for 2019-20.

Best in Show Summer 2019
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Tents, knives, sleeping bags, running shoes, and more: Brands congregated to launch products at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2019, held this week in Denver. Our team evaluated hundreds of products over 3 days to find the best to-be-released gear for 2019-20.

Vargo Sobata 398 Sintered Titanium-Alloy Knife

The Vargo Sobata 398 is unlike any other knife we’ve seen. It uses a new type of titanium-ceramic alloy to create a blade with some wild properties. According to the brand, while the material is very soft (around HRC 40), it holds an edge five times longer than steel (HRC 63). How this works we have no idea, but, according to Vargo, third-party testing verified this assertion. We can’t wait to put this one to the test to verify this claim of remarkable performance ourselves.

Rivian R1T

Our staff all agreed: This is the most technologically advanced product to ever grace the floors of Outdoor Retailer. And while the Rivian electric pickup truck was announced a few months ago, this was our first chance to see it in person. The Rivian R1T aims to disrupt the pickup truck market with a burly payload, impressive range, and incredible design elements like pass-through storage and a front trunk. Oh, and 0-60 mph in 3 seconds certainly doesn’t hurt!

Primus Fire Stick

primus stove

Primus rethinks the lightweight canister stove for 2020 with its Fire Stick. The folding cylindrical design will fit in your pocket. Although it’s small and light, the design will still both block wind and hold pots. A regulated valve yields high fuel efficiency and controlled fuel consumption at low levels. The steel option weighs 3.7 ounces and costs $90, and the titanium version weighs 3.1 ounces and costs $120.

Oru Lake

Oru built a brand on ocean- and river-capable folding kayaks. But its newest model, the Lake, steps it down to a consumer-friendly model for flat water. It sets up in about 90 seconds. This model is so new that the name is not yet finalized (it may be the “Lake” or “Inlet” once final), but we had a chance to try it out and were impressed. And, at a price of around $800, this is also Oru’s least expensive kayak to date.

Hilleberg Anaris

hilleberg anaris 2p tent

Hilleberg builds some of the nicest (and priciest) tents in the world. The Anaris brings a retro A-frame design made for backpacking into the modern era. It’s relatively light at 3 pounds 1 ounce, but there’s a caveat: The tent requires trekking poles in lieu of tent poles for setup. Though still an investment at $595, this is inexpensive for a Hilleberg, which makes tents that can last for decades. We were impressed with its versatility: The two-person model is spacious, with large vestibules and the ability to transition from an airy “screen porch” mode to a buttoned-down bunker. With Hilleberg’s durable Kerlon 1000 fabric and 70-denier floor, this is a minimalist’s tent built to last.

Rab Mythic Ultra Sleeping Bag

Rab just made one of the most advanced sleeping bags we’ve seen. While heat-reflective technology is not new, Rab did it in a different way — the bag’s material is made in a room filled only with inert argon gas. Thin fibers are coated with titanium, and when woven into the fabric, the bag reflects body heat back to the sleeper. The result is a higher warmth-to-weight ratio, with the Mythic Ultra 180, a 32-degree bag, weighing 400 g. The Mythic Ultra 360 20-degree weighs 606 g. Next year, they will cost $550 and $650, respectively.

Peak Design Travel Tripod

peak design travel tripod

Peak Design fixed one major flaw of tripods — wasted space — with its newest product. The Travel Tripod packs down small while still offering full-size tripod performance. And while it’s not exactly light (just under 3 pounds), this solid tripod will fit in your kit better than any other we’ve tested. Check out our complete review here.

Black Diamond Z4 Camalot

Black Diamond gives us one of the most versatile pieces of climbing protection with the Z4 Camalot. The Z4 has a flexible stem, but when you squeeze the cam to retract the lobes, the stem stiffens for accurate placement. When released, the flexible stem is less prone to walk than rigid cams. It’s a great design that we loved in testing.

Yakima DoubleHaul

While there are a lot of nice fishing rod carriers from small brands on the market, rooftop juggernaut Yakima brings unique designs to this growing segment. The DoubleHaul carries up to four fly rods, or two fly rods and two spey rods. But two design elements set it apart. First, the DoubleHaul carries rods on their sides, cradling reels so they don’t pressure the rod, line guides, and ferrules. Second, the DoubleHaul telescopes from 6 to 10 feet, so you can carry long rods or shorten it for daily driving. It will sell for a premium price of $699.

Altra Provision

Altra brings an entirely new (and patent-pending) approach to a stability shoe with the Provision. While Altra calls it a “guidance” shoe, the goal is to help runners reduce pronation. But instead of using midsole posting or hefty arch supports, the Provision has a system that activates arch support only when the foot pronates. The laces attach to tabs that wrap under the foot with fabric struts inside the shoe. If the ankle rotates inward, the system snugs up below the arch, guiding the runner toward better form. The $130 Altra Provision will release in spring 2020.

Leatherman FREE

Could the Leatherman FREE be the best multitool yet? We think it’s likely. The FREE was announced at SHOT Show in January, and while it’s the only product on this list you can buy now, we found it worthy for inclusion because the brand showed it at OR for the first time this summer. The FREE uses magnetic closures to allow one-hand operation. And the improvements go much deeper. Check out our full review of the Leatherman FREE series for all the details.

Patagonia High Endurance Kit

Tackle “drastic elevation and temperature changes” on rapid ascents with Patagonia’s purpose-built High Endurance Kit. Sold as individual pieces, the kit includes Endless Run Shorts, Strider Pro Pants, and an Airshed Pullover, but it’s highlighted by an all-new Slope Runner Vest and Storm Racer Jacket. The jacket has dual front zippers that fold down the front panel for easy access to the vest’s hydration bottles and allows the wearer to rapidly dump heat. Everything in the kit is designed to be soft and breathable. Plus, all pieces pack down and fit into the vest for maximum lightweight portability.

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