At Outdoor Retailer Summer 2023, gear expert Cameron Martindell cruised the show floor and found gear that he wanted to highlight – the “hidden gems,” as he called them.
He then brought those products on stage and walked the audience through their features, demonstrating why they were innovative and interesting.
For future shows, brands can submit their products to be reviewed in the print version of The Daily and/or featured on stage during Martindell’s Gear Guide presentation.
The goal is to highlight cutting-edge products that might interest retailers in the audience who are on the hunt for something new.
Here are some of Martindell’s picks.
Oru Kayak – Oru Camp
Oru Camp is a set of foldable outdoor furniture that includes a table, a chair, and a combination stool and storage cube.
Martindell demonstrated how the SwitchTable folded out to coffee table height, then could be raised for use as a standing cooking surface.
He pointed out that the table is made from plastic, so the user needs to be conscious of heat.
“I have a midsize SUV, a family of four, two little kids,” Martindell said. “Fitting all of our camping gear into that is a challenge.”
When they’re dispersed camping, there often isn’t a picnic table, so this would solve that problem.
Retails for $179.
Baird Built – 6 Series Compact Smokeless Fire Pit
This stove offers a solution for campers who want a campfire away from a designated campsite.
There are several other brands out there doing something similar, however, their products are “rigid in their form,” Martindell said.
But this firepit comes apart, folds down flat, and “packs very nicely,” according to Martindell.
Again, in his midsize SUV, Martindell can “almost never” take a rigidly constructed firepit with him.
“I’d rather have my tent,” he said. “My tent wins over the firepit.”
Another big plus – the firepit is smokeless.
Retails for $499.
Danner Boots – Mountain 600 Leaf GTX
Resoling boots is nothing new. But being able to peel off the midsection, sole, and midsole of a boot with packed down foam is “a second iteration” in boot design, according to Martindell.
“Instead of having to buy a whole new boot you get to keep it,” he said, applauding Danner for allowing the consumer to minimize how much of the used boot ends up in the waste stream.
The Mountain 600 Leaf GTX is made with 100% waterproof GORE-TEX liners and Vibram outsoles.
“In many cases, footwear is a consumable because you burn through a pair of boots then toss them out,” Martindell said. “Danner is doing a great job of moving forward in trying to minimize the waste that goes into the landfill.”
Retails for $220.
All Better Co. – Don’t Scratch That
All Better Co.’s salves and patches help minimize the sting of bug bites.
Martindell’s children are six and nine years old. “I want them to love the outdoors, and we want to find a way to take all the little pesky things that exist in the ‘Great Outdoors’ and help find a way to soothe that so they’re not immediately turned off by the prospect of going outside,” he said.
He highlighted the Don’t Scratch That Pen, which offers plant-based relief for a bug bite via java-seed oil.
The Don’t Scratch That Patches help to protect the bite from little fingernails that want to scratch where it itches.
Martindell liked that the patch was clear.
Pen retails for $15, patches for $17.
WoolAid – Wool-based Bandages
WoolAid, a New Zealand based start-up, won an Innovation Award at Outdoor Retailer 2022 for its merino wool adhesive bandages.
Martindell pointed to these as an alternative to plastic bandages, which end up in the waste stream and in the environment.
“I’m a big advocate of anything that we can do to minimize microplastics,” he said.
At OR, WoolAid was demonstrating how its bandages could be buried in soil next to a plastic bandage, and after two or three months dug back up.
The plastic bandage will still be exactly as it was, and WoolAid’s will have biodegraded.
According to Martindell, WoolAid has made improvements to its adhesive. At first, the bandages stuck well to skin but not to the bandage itself. WoolAid has fixed that.
Package of five retails for $5.95.
While this e-bike brand is more focused on the hunting side of the outdoor industry, Martindell also pointed out there is a “huge interest” in off-road, trail-capable e-bikes.
The bikes are designed with several motors that have different gear systems, ranging from nylon gears to heavier metal gears.
“There are those nuances depending on your use-case scenario, your geography, and the terrain you’re in,” Martindell said. “There’s always pros and cons between cost, weight, and functionality.”
The different bike models also come with varied battery capacity and functionality.
“I’ve seen some great bike-packing and camping opportunities with e-bikes,” Martindell added. “Another neat opportunity to get a little farther in, if you have kids with little legs.”
Bakcou Scout retails for $6,199.
Garmin – Instinct 2X Solar
The USB-C plug in on the Garmin watch was a key feature Martindell wanted to highlight. He demonstrated how the charging cord clicked in and stayed connected despite mildly swinging it around.
The watch also doesn’t have to be plugged in if the wearer is outside.
The glass on the watch face absorbs solar energy and will charge the battery in three hours of sunlight.
“Super impressed with the Instinct Solar,” Martindell said. “Designed for that outdoor lifestyle where you don’t have to deal with remembering to charge the watch.”
Retails for $449.99.
Sawyer – Tap Water Filtration System
Sawyer’s tap filter can filter up to 500 gallons of clean drinking water per day.
Martindell said being able to attach the product to a faucet is useful when you’re traveling to a third-world country and not quite sure about the quality of the water.
He also emphasized how the filter would come in handy as part of an emergency preparedness kit.
“It’s a great thing to have in your home to be able to make sure that you and your family have clean water,” Martindell said.
The filter fits taps, hose bibs, and some faucet aerators.
Retails for $45.99.
Nite Ize – Rechargeable Headlamp
Nite Ize impressed Martindell with its sub-$50 headlamp primarily because it comes with a rechargeable battery
that is the same size as three AAA batteries.
“The problem with rechargeable headlamps is when it’s out, it’s out until you take time – hours, on occasion – to recharge it,” he said.
Other brands have similar battery features, but not at this lower price point.
The headlamps’ lumens range from 600-700.
They run up to 18.5 hours on low and recharge in three and a half hours via micro-USB cable.
Martindell would prefer a USB-C.
Radiant RH1TM PowerSwitchTM and Radiant RH2TM PowerSwitch Rechargeable Headlamps retail for $39.99 and $49.99.
Jack Wolfskin – Highest Peak Jacket
Martindell was impressed with Jack Wolfskin’s Highest Peak jacket, in particular its sustainability update.
The jacket’s technical membrane is now made from 100% recycled textile waste.
Instead of recycled PET bottles, this is made using off-cuts from other jackets, further reducing manufacturing waste.
“Jack Wolfskin is doing a really great job,” Martindell said.
“I was really impressed with this very lightweight jacket. This layer is something that would roll up really nicely. If you get caught in an unexpected storm, you have more protection.”
Retails for $275-$297.
Bart Schaneman can be reached at email@example.com.