HomeTactical & SurvivalEditors’ Top Gear Picks From Outdoor Retailer 2024

Editors’ Top Gear Picks From Outdoor Retailer 2024

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Don’t be fooled by the pared-down look of Outdoor Retailer. What was once a mighty, bustling trade show has, in recent years, made quixotic efforts to hide a continuous decline in exhibitor attendance. For a time, many in the industry saw it as a grim harbinger of the inevitable death of big trade shows in the post-pandemic (read, infinite Zoom meeting) world.

But no one is happier than I to take a big old bite of humble pie. Though this summer’s show in Salt Lake City again had to deal with empty floor space and attendance numbers that paled compared to those of the twenty-teens, the vibe was undeniably positive!

And that owed to a wealth of eager, scrappy, hustling small and mid-size brands. Some of these brands said they’d been turned away from, or priced out of the old OR in favor of glitzier, wealthier outdoor companies. But those big names were the first to cancel their tickets when things took a turn, and that left a vacuum for opportunistic upstarts to fill.

And boy, did they! GearJunkie had two editors in attendance — myself and camp editor Will Brendza — and we managed to lap the entire floor a few times over. Even still, we couldn’t quite see absolutely everything there was to see. But of the dozens of products we did get our hands on, many showed ingenuity, innovation, and heart in equal measure.

Here’s a recap of the most eye-catching new gear we saw at the Summer Market show.

Top Gear From Summer Outdoor Retailer 2024

Pingora ‘Outro’ Pack

While the biggest single product launch from this new brand was the Outro backpacking pack, the brand itself may be most noteworthy. Spearheaded by industry veterans Mike May and CJ Whittaker (co-founder of Cotopaxi), Pingora takes a novel approach to “accessible” gear.

“We have to start giving some [bleeping] credit!” Whittaker told me in a phone interview. He and May see an opportunity to make technical, legitimate gear for the new crop of outdoor enthusiasts. That doesn’t just mean newcomers. It’s also the generation of upcoming recreationists and athletes that will leave their own mark on the industry.

This means building on existing sustainability trends — like utilizing as much dead stock as possible for raw materials. It also means creating new solutions to match the varied interests of modern users. The Pingora pack aims to change the way backpackers think about their pack.

For starters, the pack is semi-customizable when you order it — brain or no brain? Hip belt size? What’s more, according to Pingora, the Outro’s torso length adjustment system maintains the best load transfer geometry while maintaining a high level of stability. It accomplishes this by moving the adjustment to the bottom of the yoke so it doesn’t affect the load lifter angle.

The Outro will also offer novel options for accessing the pack on the trail and organizing and separating gear in the main compartment. It will come in 40L and 55L options and launch in spring 2025.

Outdoor Element ‘Flicker Feather’

An old friend, Outdoor Element once took part in GearJunkie’s “The Pitch” competition held annually at our Denver headquarters.

The tenacious purveyor of thoughtful, multipurpose solutions to survival and bushcraft scenarios has been hustling in the intervening years! Outdoor Element now has an array of products and even retails in REI. While there was no shortage of gear to look at in the booth, the show-stopper was the upcoming Flicker Feather.

This multipurpose fixed-blade knife carries a true chisel grind, an unbroken 90-degree spine for throwing sparks, and VG10 stainless steel. G10 scales wrap the full-tang construction. And the handle carries a hex socket that perfectly mates to the included ferro rod. This helps free the rod from its home in the sheath. The sheath also has an integrated diamond sharpening plate and an emergency whistle.

The Flicker Feather launched this spring and is currently live on Indiegogo, with discounts on the $50 MSRP.

ØNWRD Supply ‘Seat Organizers’

Utilizing the space on your seatback for added storage is nothing new. Just look at the ratty, sticky, inconvenient pocket aboard every godforsaken airplane.

But ØNWRD aims to class it up a bit. The brand’s new Ø1 Bench Seat Organizer ($600), and Ø2 ($400) and Ø3 ($350) Single Seat Organizers utilize molle and Velcro loops that users can customize to their needs. The organizers are made of high-strength recycled 900D polyester. They include a hidden laptop sleeve and accommodate a host of ØNWRD extras.

Add patches, a water bottle holder, small cooler, stuff sack, collapsible tote, and tool roll (that’s just what’s included). You can also swap in extras, like a headrest pouch for storing small essentials. We saw the brand at Overland Expo and loved it — and it only looks to be getting better.

Zippo ‘Bit Safe’

It’s worth noting that for all the fancy, newfangled firestarting tools out there, the classic Zippo has offered up a trusty, durable, wind- and weather-proof flame for nearly 100 years.

Little did we know, the Pennsylvania company has been scheming to figure out what else a Zippo can do. The Bit Safe is a small driver with a set of swappable bits that perfectly fits into a Zippo lighter housing. Two magnets on the bottom lock the Bit Safe in place.

Now, your reliable Zippo lighter packs even more utility. The Bit Safe launched this summer for $15.

Impetro Gear

If you participate in multiple outdoor sports, you probably own a couple of different backpacks. Sometimes, you need a multinight pack for a backpacking trip. Other times, maybe you need a pack for biking or a ski mountaineering pack. Before you know it, you have more backpacks than you know what to do with.

Impetro aims to solve that problem.

The Austrian company designed a modular pack system that uses a shoulder harness “base unit.” That attaches to different sizes and layouts of backpacks via a large wraparound zipper. The brand calls it a “complete eco-system for mountain sports.” They sell hike, bike, ski, and mountain pack variations that all easily zip on or off the frame. We know, we tried it on the show floor.

The idea is for people to use the same pack across multiple sports while still having the flexibility to change the layout and size. The brand offers its pack in bundle options, so you can buy it with just one attachment or up to all four.

Not only could this system save people a lot of gear storage space, but it could also save a lot of money. The “solo bundle” starts at just $185, and the “complete bundle” is $500 (for what is essentially four different backpacks).

In fairness, it could be a bridge too far — do folks actually want to swap different pack compartments on the same harness? Time will tell, but it offers a unique solution to a gear overload problem we know all too well.

Terrestrial ‘Carbon Negative Camp Tools’

One of the scrappy upstart surprises that snagged our attention on the show was Terrestrial. The grandson of a NASA engineer, founder Brandon Kirk grew up following in his grandfather’s footsteps, designing composite solutions for modern life. But Kirk took it a step further, tackling the needs of the outdoors by using a material that helped resolve the climate crisis: industrial hemp, in the form of bio-composite.

With this as the backbone, Terrestrial was born. The brand designs and builds four products, all in the USA — seven if you count the four-in-one Terratool camp tool as separate implements. The Terratool is a packable shovel that folds to fit in the hydration compartment of a backpack. It weighs just 10 ounces and also sports a retractable saw blade, which hides an axe edge in the handle. It can even serve as a mallet.

The orbit table is a rigid backcountry table that boasts the “highest surface-area-to-weight ratio” of any rigid table on the market, according to Terrestrial. It weighs 11 ounces and has a center cutout to fit a common Jetboil stove and canister.

There’s also a 21-ounce folding Jump Seat, and the ADV hard-case backpack. This weighs under 3 pounds and, according to Kirk, can fit a full-size SLR with battery grip, mid-range zoom 100-400 telephoto lens, 13-inch tablet, DJI air or mini drone, RC2 controller accessories, and light clothing.

We haven’t tested out any of the products yet. But it’s a promising look from a company taking big swings at big problems in an industry we understand well. Head over to Terrestrial and see for yourself.

LIVSN ‘EcoTrek Overalls’

Here’s a nod to a GJ favorite — LIVSN has long been known as one of our favorite pants purveyors (check out our Best Hiking Pants for men). Last year, the brand pleasantly surprised me with a pair of rugged, functional Flex Canvas Overalls for rough-and-tumble pursuits.

At OR this summer, the Arkansas brand hit the Go Live button on its latest Kickstarter, a mashup of its award-winning EcoTrek multisport pants, and those outdoorsy overalls. Best of all, the EcoTrek Overalls took the design a step further. It partnered with Gnara to create an option that accommodates women peeing in the backcountry (all of us need to do it; now all of us can do it).

The EcoTrek Overalls offer all the utility of their Flex Canvas cousin, but with noticeably more stretch and breathability. Never tried mountain biking or climbing in overalls? Well, now’s your chance. The EcoTrek Overalls are live on Kickstarter now and will retail for $229 per pair.

GCI Outdoor ‘Adjustable Freestyle Rocker’

Sometimes, little changes to common products bring a smile to our faces. GCI Outdoor did just that by retooling its popular Rocker camp chair (which we already loved). Now, users can dial in the degree of stiffness (or squish) of the coil-over spring — kind of like a mountain bike.

While it might sound subtle, the feel — and look — are dramatic. Three settings adjust the action. On the lowest setting (stiffest), you’ll feel a pleasant, light rocking action.

But double-click it to the highest (squishiest) setting, and treat yourself to long, lazy rocks with plenty of tilt-back.

It’s not a backpacking solution, but campers might love this three-in-one camp chair. Look for it in spring 2025 for $80.

GSI Outdoors ‘Selkirk 270 Butane Stove’

GSI’s latest Selkirk 270 stove folds up to the size of a water bottle. This is the brand’s first compact, single-burner butane stove.

Open a side panel, and an arm with the burner swings outward. Attach one of GSI’s butane canisters, hit the piezo igniter, and you’re cooking.

Butane is an efficient fuel source for ultralight backpacking and cooking at altitude. GSI said it has had success selling its butane stoves in Europe, but is just breaking into the U.S. market with this new Selkirk 270.

It might not be the lightest camp stove GSI makes, but it represents a big step for the brand and a departure from standard propane stoves.

Stakk

With the surplus of camp kitchenware on the market these days, it’s always nice when a brand comes out with a single product that serves multiple purposes. The Stakk is a modular cook system that the brand claims functions as an air fryer, smoker, and oven — all in one.

It’s compact, uses durable materials, and can be used over any available fuel source, whether that’s the open campfire flame or a gas-burning stove. The Stakk requires no expensive add-ons or accessories.

Simply put food inside the Stakk, and place it over your heat source. The brand says the device will cook small pizzas, bake cakes, air fry snacks, or smoke meats. The cooking options Stakk offers are diverse and unlike most camp cooking gear.

Dark Energy ‘Spectre 18W & 8W Solar Panels’

We already tested and loved Dark Energy’s Spectre flexible solar panels. Now the brand offers it in a more robust, 18W option. The Spectre 18W adds a second port for extra peripheral charging (half output when both are used), and a kickstand to help facilitate proper charging at camp.

The Spectre 18W weighs an eyelash under 1 pound, is 2.2 mm thick, has USB-A and -C ports, and will retail for $230 when it launches this fall.

What’s more, the brand is bookending its Spectre 15W with a more diminutive 8W bi-fold version as well.



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