Best gear from the Summer 2017 Outdoor Retailer show

At this year’s Outdoor Retailer Show I was a rookie, so most of the time I said things like, “wow’ or “look at that”, and “I need that.” I felt like the proverbial kid walking through the aisles of a giganctic candy store. I love gear, gadgets and the outdoors and this was a perfect culmination of the three because I almost came home with an axe despite living in apartment with no fireplace and no need for firewood. You just need an axe sometimes for things—nevermind. These are just some of the thoughts you may have at the convention. Some of these products are available for purchase, some of them will be out later this year or by the beginning of next year. Let us know if you want to purchase these products, or if you feel like we missed a product worth mentioning; reach out on Twitter @upventur1 and tell us your thoughts.    



  • Hydra Light lamp—It’s hard to believe how much we have advanced as a civilization, but a lamp that charges on water is an indication of our growth. Hydra Light offers several models of their patent-pending technology, and aside from the lanterns and flashlights they have, they also have a power pack that charges other devices. Their biggest light ships with two USB ports to charge phones or other electronics while on the go or in the outdoors. The hydra light power cell is dipped in water for 10 seconds and converts the water into 100 hours of electricity. We have come a long way folks, just think of how many alkaline batteries will not end up in landfills because of this.


  • Last Bottle Clothing—Another revolutionary product trying to save the world one plastic bottle at a time. Co-founder Stuart Wood ran me through the manufacturing process at the show, and the shirts they had on display were some of the softest I have ever touched, with Wood saying, “it feels like the underbelly of a cat.” Thirteen 500ml plastic bottles are melted into pellets and turned to fabric to create just one shirt, and they use 500 times less water to produce. The shirt is dry-fit, breathable and eco-friendly. They also look good.


  • Cotopaxi bag and fanny—This was probably my favorite brand at the show, to be honest. I found them over at Pavilion 2, and I immediately wanted to buy one of their colorful water-resistant backpacks, but they told me to visit their flagship store just down the block. I left the store later that day with a backpack, a belt and an insulated water bottle in my favorite color. My girlfriend got herself the 3-liter fanny pack, and she loves that thing. Their bags are made in the Philippines, and all of them come in one-of-a-kind colors, so the one I bought is unique, and I dig that.


  • Acton Electric Longboards—I found these guys outside the venue, and since I longboard they caught my attention. The board is hefty because of its power pack underneath, and it is controlled via a wireless remote with a dial that goes up and down for lower speed and higher speed respectively. It feels a little sketchy at first because first instinct is to push off like a regular board, but after a while, it becomes fun to ride. They have models varying in price, from $299 to $1,699, with varying ranges and speeds as well. Their most affordable model, the Blink Lite, travels at 10 mph and has a range of 5 miles, but their new Blink Qu4tro zooms by at 22 mph and has the range of up to 23 miles with an incline rate of 30%. Whether cruising on campus or taking a long stroll through your local park, Acton has you pretty much covered.


  • Burnie grill—These guys sell a hollowed-out log filled with charcoal briquets, and it comes with built-in air vents for maximum burn. The middle of the log comes packed with Firestarter material and after it’s lit the fire spreads until the charcoal and wood turn to ash. The guy demonstrated in front of me and told me it takes 20 minutes for peak burn, pop one of these bad boys in your grill for hassle-free grilling, or just cook food on top of it. Hell, you can even put a cast iron pan on top of it and whip-up an excellent camp omelet.


  • Copper Cow Coffee—It is known that I love coffee, and Vietnamese coffee holds a special place in my heart. A single serving comes with a packet of coffee that fits over a mug, and a packet of milk for that creamy All you need is hot water to begin the process and enjoy one of the finest Vietnamese coffees I have tasted. The coffee itself is sourced from sustainable Vietnamese coffee growers, and it’s also all-natural with their condensed milk coming from California cows. My one complaint, however, is that this isn’t available to purchase everywhere, but trust me, this stuff is good. Their website does have it for sale if you’d like a taste.


  • Goal Zero—In the kind of world we live in, we need electricity for everything especially our phones. Goal Zero peddles the finest rechargeable batteries, external batteries, generators, lamps, flashlights and yes, solar panels to charge all of those previously named devices. Not only are their products reducing our carbon footprint, but their design is functional, and their colors are already iconic.


  • Gear Aid Buri Knife- I want to start this off by saying that they wouldn’t let me buy this knife no matter how many times I went over there and begged—it was three times if you’re wondering. The knife handle comes in orange, which is rad, with half of the blade being serrated and the other smooth and sharp. The handle comes with a spike to break windows in emergency situations and a smaller hooked blade for cutting rope or a seatbelt. This is not a groundbreaking knife, as many other manufacturers have similar products, but its design is striking, and it’s components minimal but effective. The knife comes with a black sheath, which can be used to carry it concealed, but it also comes with a removable clip. It’s $35, which is my budget for sharp things at this point in my life. The knife isn’t available at this moment but it’s slated for release early September. (Pictures is of a different buy similar knife)


  • Oru Kayak—The first time you see this being unfolded into a full functioning kayak, you won’t believe it. As I stated before, however, anything is possible in this age of wonders. Oru offers three models for beach, coast and bay kayaking. It’s gotten several accolades including Outside Magazine’s gear of the show for the Outdoor Retailer show; this kayak is sick. When completely folded it looks like an enormous tote bag, but it fits in your trunk no problem, and you no longer need to place it on top of your car.


  • Rest tube—This little product goes around your waist, and like the most important things in life, you never know how much you’ll need it until it’s not with you—like a bottle opener or an ID when going out to bars. The rest tube is activated by pulling its cord when in danger—one tug and you are floating upwards to safety. Once you surface you can rest on the tube—as the name says—and coast to safety. This product will save your life, and I say this because I don’t know how to swim, but with this product I won’t feel as helpless near the water.


  • Ruffwear—They had real dogs at this booth waiting to be adopted… I mean, how do you beat that? Ruffwear makes everything from toys and food bowls to dog vests and leashes. All their products reminded me of why I need a dog, and that is to put ridiculous outfits on it. On a serious note, their products make it so your dog can be your perfect travel companion. They sell little booties for their feet, hydration packs and little coats to keep their bodies warm. Upventur’s OR show summer 2017 most adorable booth award.


  • Munkees- Their booth must have had at least 50 different key chains, and all of them were a joy to behold. They had flashlights, bottle openers, multitools, knives, and anything else you can think of putting on a keychain. The little key chains might look like trinkets you place in a stocking stuffer, but they are little practical gadgets that deserve real estate in your pocket or your pack. My favorites were the multitool, small enough to forget about, but useful enough to drive a screw or pop open a cold one after being on the trail.


  • Cirque Mountain- Like many other products at the OR show, Cirque Mountain is not out to create something new but to put a spin on something old. Beanies have been around forever, and they are good for two things, keeping your noggin warm and making you look cool, and Cirque excels at doing both. Their designs are fashionable, and you will be the envy of the resort with one of these on, but the part that caught my eye was the customization options. Cirque can provide branded beanies for your company or team and can deliver without having to place an order for 500 units.


  • Popticals—If you’re anything like me then you probably forget to bring your shades when you need them the most. I always wear glasses so when I step out, I sometimes forget my shades because I don’t want to tote around the bulky case or dangle them from my shirt neckline—that just looks weird. Popticals has patented technology that collapses your shades on top of each other for hassle and bulk free carriage. Their shades look good, and their idea is definitely bound to change the eye-wear industry. They made such an impression that a few people at our company bought some.


  • Smartwool socks—First off I have to say that I got this pair for free at the OIA Ball the night before the show started—long story. Second, I am wearing these socks right now, and they are comfortable, to say the least. Smartwool sources its wool from merino sheep in the southern hemisphere, and the socks are made right here in America. Apart from being comfy on your feet, they are also breathable, and they keep your feet dry, at least in my experience and a few other company employees who got these free socks. Per pair, these socks might be a bit on the pricier side, but you can’t put a price on comfort can you?


  • Hero Clip—At first glance, this product is just another carabiner but take a closer look at the joint and you will find out that a hook covers the carabiner. Undo the hook and place on a tree branch, and now you have a convenient way to hide your food away from forest creatures. The hook can hoist up to 50 pounds, and the tip is made from rubber to hold on to your stuff on almost any surface. Let your imagination run wild and hang stuff from anywhere.


  • GnarBox—Any photographer who takes their camera outdoors deserves one of these for a variety of reasons. Gone are the days where a laptop, external drive, and hotspot were necessary to upload gnarly content to the web. Gnarbox delivers a powerful external computer that processes pictures and videos straight from a camera’s memory card. It works like this: shoot video or photos on a camera, remove SD card and place into Gnarbox, connect to phone and edit the content through their app. Now you’re ready to post content from the backwoods of any state or country like a professional, and it’s weatherproof.


  • Mountain House—Fellow interns Radu and Taylor had already been to this booth twice before they decided they should bring me along. We sat around a table and taste-tested their delicious freeze-dried products while answering questions on an iPad. We tried their teriyaki offering, but because of a mushroom intolerance, I was unable to However, I can confirm that their potato hash was indeed tasty. It may not be the answer to eating more often at home, but on the trail, this will come in clutch, and it lasts for 30 years—that’s older than me by 6 years!


  • Pulaski Axe from Barebones Living—Our very own Travis went over to this booth and chopped some wood with the Pulaski Axe, and he said it was so balanced and well-made he could chop wood effortlessly with just one hand. Pretty high praise especially since this was his pick for the coolest thing he saw at the show. Do check it out because it is a beautiful looking axe.
Alejandro Medellin