One of the best opportunities to see a bunch of adventure-ready innovation in one place is Outdoor Retailer. Even with the industry's most wide-ranging trade show scaling back as it returns to action for the first time since early 2020, that statement remains true.
Yes, you witness your fair share of new paint jobs and other surface tweaks that are hardly worth a second look. But amongst this sort of filler, you inevitably encounter items with real thought behind them — and equally crafty execution to boot. Often, they make their point of difference felt after just a moment in your hand, on your face or around your waist.
Cruising the show floor, playing with products and prowling after-hours events, we got stoked about the following five.
Costa Untangled Collection
Working with its partner Bureo — whose mission we've documented — Costa has been making top-notch, sustainable sunglass frames out of discarded fishing nets since 2018, and its latest Untangled Collection does it better than ever before. The nine new frames — including the Antille shown here — are built from a tougher NetPlus material composed of 97 percent recycled nets and just three percent performance additive. The fishing-focused shades offer maximum protection — and superlative style to boot.
Thule Paramount Commuter Backpack 18L
With the bike boom brought on by the pandemic comes an increased desire for excellent accessories. Helping to fulfill that need is Thule's ultra-comfortable, weather-resistant and pocket-rich new pack, which accommodates laptops up to 16 inches and just about anything else a bike commuter wishes to tote. The standout feature? Side panels you can unzip to expand the capacity by 50 percent (for a total of 27 liters of storage), instantly transforming the Paramount from a sleek performance bag to a bona fide cargo hauler.
Dometic HYD-WF Hydration Water Faucet
One of the top overlanding brands reasserts its dominance with a product that turns any water container into an outdoor kitchen faucet, eliminating waste. Two magnetic bases with double-sided tape let you place it just where you need it and rotate it 360 degrees, while a built-in light eases nighttime use (think brushing your teeth, for example). The HYD-WF dispenses one liter per minute, is good for 150 liters per charge and will be available in February of next year for $99.99.
Uncharted Park Pack
We took Uncharted's tough, water-resistant offering for a lap around the show floor, and it's converting us from hip pack skeptics into believers. The magic's in a "flop-free" structure and an EVA-molded panel that wraps away from the user's back, doing away with uncomfortable bouncing and chafing. Detachable water bottles evade swinging arms, the included Triage Kit addresses first aid and gear repair, and modular attachments enable you to upgrade it for a variety of activities. The Park Pack will be available for $159 this fall.
GCI ComPack Rocker
Coming next spring, this clever camp chair presents a compelling combo of portability and comfort. Patent-pending Torsion Rocking Technology keeps it swinging smoothly, a fun feature complemented by a breathable mesh backrest, padded seat and headrest. It unfurls and folds up easily into a small pouch thanks to shock cord retention, making it easy to throw in a car or backpack and take anywhere. The ComPack Rocker will be available next spring for $110.