Twice a year the outdoor industry convenes on Salt Lake City, Utah to show off the latest and greatest in outdoor products. This year proved once again that the wheels of innovation never stop, and the overall acceptance of overlanding is growing by leaps and bounds. Within the sprawling halls of the event were a number of products ideally suited to our style of travel. Below are just a few such examples.
MSR Guardian Purifier
MSR is no stranger to water treatment and their latest product will likely help them maintain a position as the industry leader in this category for years to come. This was, in our opinion, the single most impressive product of the show. Capable of filtering out all the regular pathogens, it also removes viruses and not by chemical means. That alone is an incredible advancement. It also cleans itself during use and is claimed to be able of producing up to 10,000 liters of water without any maintenance. This is what the future of water purification looks like. www.msrgear.com
GoSun Solar Grill
The GoSun Solar Grill is admittedly––unusual. It is also light, durable, efficient and beautifully designed and constructed. So what is it? At the core of the grill is a double-walled glass tube. Within that tube is a retractable cooking tray. Two reflector panels force light onto the cooking tube and generate enough heat to cook your potatoes and brats in as little as 45 minutes with no fuel other than good old sunshine. The entire system fits into a nicely made nylon bag for easy transport and cleanup is a snap. I like it when I’m impressed by things I would otherwise think are ridiculous and this fits into that category. Look for a full review in the weeks to come. www.gosunstoves.com
Klecker Klax Lumberjack
The Klax Lumberjack impressed us the minute we saw it. The idea is, users carry just the axe head and when they need to use it, they simply craft a handle out of any available wood nearby to complete the axe. The head clamps onto a split stick in a McGyver meets Paul Bunyan super tool. They also sell a complete tool with a nicely sculpted wood handle. Available in titanium for the ultimate gear geek, this is a tool for the guy who thought he had everything. www.kleckerknives.com
Generac iQ 2000 Generator
I won’t go so far as to say the era of the solar panel is over, but many people who wanted to adopt solar for travel have been forced to abandon the sun for more efficient energy production. Generators are making a comeback as they become more fuel efficient, quieter, smaller, and easier to use. Enter the Generac iQ2000. Designed to dethrone Honda’s compact generator as the king of the crop, the Generac is vastly superior in nearly every possible way. Strangely quiet, it is the most user friendly generator I have ever seen with a comprehensive array of controls and readouts. For some applications, this might be a superior alternative to a dual battery system. Look for a full review in the weeks to come.
Nemo Equipment Moonwalk Sleeping Bag and Escape Pod 1P Bivy
If you missed the memo, bikepacking is the hot new trend. Not everyone needs a Land Cruiser to access points distant, but bicycle travel does require highly specialized gear, particularly where weight and size are considered. Nemo’s new Moonwalk bag is one of the most innovative setups we’ve ever seen. The sleeping bag is paired to a waterproof bottom which houses an inflatable sleeping pad. This reduces weight and the need for a ground sheet. The bug bivy employs an inflatable pole to hold a mesh shroud off of the sleeper’s face. Providing additional shelter is the third component in the system, the Apollo tarp shelter (not pictured). If bikepacking wasn’t well known to the world before, it is now.
Thermarest Camper SV
Thermarest has long been a leader in sleeping pads, but fierce competition has demanded they step up their efforts to stay ahead. Their latest base camp inspired pad is sure to retain their slot at the top. The key feature is the roll top air valve. Not only does it allow the pad to expel air instantly for a fast pack-up. Air can be blown into that opening to inflate the pad in as little as five casual breaths. If I hadn’t seen it done in person, I never would have believed it. This was just one of many new pads and products from Thermarest.
Outdoor Tech Big Turtle Wireless Speaker
I admit, I like having my jams at camp. Bluetooth speakers can be found everywhere, but few are worth the asking price. Outdoor Tech produces many of my favorite speaker systems for outdoor use, the Big Turtle being my favorite. With excellent sound, long battery life, and the ability to charge small devices, it is a handy and fun product to have in camp. It pairs easily to any enabled device and has a robust construction worthy of the great outdoors. http://www.outdoortechnology.com
Coast Polysteel 600 Flashlight
You can count me amongst the many who find some flashlight prices offensive. So, when Kevin at Coast handed me a 620 Lumen flashlight and told me it retailed for under $50, I had to ask, “What’s the catch?” There is no catch. I assumed it was because the lamp was made of cheap plastic, which it is. To be more accurate, it’s made of durable, yet inexpensive, plastic wrapped around a heavy duty stainless steel body. The result is a light flashlight with impressive durability for a low asking price. They’re entire Polysteel line is worth looking into, even if you think you don’t need a new light. You do. You need this one. www.coastportland.com
There were obviously more products on display at the show; millions of them to be exact. We will be featuring many of those products in more in-depth reviews over the coming weeks.