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The Most Successful Outdoor Kickstarter Projects of All Time

Some are from brands you know, and others probably never should’ve made past the drawing board.

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Peak Design

“Industry-disrupting.” “First ever.” “Category-bending.” These are some of the phrases you might find attached to a Kickstarter project, and they might be used to describe anything from an at-home 3D printer to a new graphic novel. Since its founding in April 2009, Kickstarter has acted as a successful funding platform for more than 152,000 projects that collectively earned roughly $3.5 billion at the time of this writing. It’s leveraged by artists in need of funding, entrepreneurs building new brands and even already-established businesses that are announcing new products.

But regardless of these numbers, Kickstarter is still the wild west of product development. Not all projects make it off their feet (more than 265,000 have failed), and some that do still fail to go into production, like the notorious iBackPack, which took more than $700,000 in funding and then promptly disappeared, leaving its backers in the lurch. That’s an extremely rare case though; the grand majority of funded projects deliver.

Perhaps more interesting than the statistics are the types of projects that find incredible success on the platform. Board games and video games are common winners, but luggage, headphones and a strange automatic toothbrush also find themselves in the upper echelon of things that have earned millions.

Outdoor products are up there too. Kickstarter doesn’t designate a category for outdoor gear, so we combed through its project archive manually to find the ones that earned the most. We classified these items based on an explicitly-stated purpose for use in the outdoors, but also looked for things that might generally be used for travel and adventure and are optimized with traits like weatherproof materials or technical components. Our findings were, in a word, unexpected.

Coolest Cooler

Goal Amount: $50,000
Total Earned: $13,285,226

The most-funded outdoor Kickstarter project — and the second most-funded project overall — won by more than two times the next-highest earner on this list. It’s a cooler, and it isn’t a Yeti either. The Coolest Cooler won the hearts of backers with built-in USB chargers, internal storage for plates, a Bluetooth speaker and an attached blender for making frozen margs on the go.

Kickstarter Campaign Buy Now: $400+

Peak Design Everyday Backpack, Tote and Sling

Goal Amount: $500,000
Total Earned: $6,565,782

Peak Design was already an established camera accessory brand with a devout following of photographers when it launched its first collection of bags. Premium weatherproof materials and a full range of smart features like side access points and magnetic closures helped these bags win big.

Kickstarter Campaign Buy Now: Here

Peak Design Travel Line

Goal Amount: $500,000
Total Earned: $5,206,611

Peak Design broadened the scope of its products beyond adventure-seeking photographers with the Travel Line, which included packing cubes and a Dopp kit as well as the cornerstone Travel Backpack.

Kickstarter Campaign Buy Now: Here

Peak Design Everyday Messenger

Goal Amount: $100,000
Total Earned: $4,869,472

Well, no surprise here. Peak Design gets another top spot with its photographer-focused (but everyday-oriented) messenger bag.

Kickstarter Campaign Buy Now: $250

Baubax Travel Jacket

Goal Amount: $50,000
Total Earned: $3,948,547

Apparently, people want their jacket to do everything. Like house a built-in inflatable neck pillow, a mini blanket and even a footrest. This one is riddled with gimmicks, but it also raked in nearly $4 million.

Kickstarter Campaign Buy Now: Here

BioLite FirePit

Goal Amount: $100,000
Total Earned: $2,534,017

BioLite is another well-established brand that’s well-known for its techy camp stoves and lanterns. The FirePit is a self-contained fire pit that can be used in backyards and tailgate parties as well as out in the wilderness, and it even comes with a rack for grilling.

Kickstarter Campaign Buy Now: $200

Tropic Ultimate Travel Shoe

Goal Amount: ~$14,330
Total Earned: ~$2,453,719

Tropic, which rebranded to Tropicfeel after its successful funding, created a go-everywhere sneaker to wear in water, on hiking trails and in city streets. It’s lightweight and minimal, and you don’t even have to tie its laces.

Kickstarter Campaign Buy Now: Here

North Aware Smart Parka

Goal Amount: ~$22,920
Total Earned: ~$2,488,879

Yep, another coat with lots of stuff built into it. This one is designed specifically for winter, with built-in gloves and a scarf. Other than that, it isn’t much different than lots of other parkas.

Kickstarter Campaign Buy Now: $399

iKamper Skycamp

Goal Amount: $100,000
Total Earned: $2,370,611

Rooftop tents weren’t new when iKamper launched the Skaycamp in 2017, but it stands out with a range of add-ons including an awning, shoe rack and annex room that extends down to the ground to create a shelter as big as some New York City apartments.

Kickstarter Campaign Buy Now: Here

SpeedX Leopard Aero Bike

Goal Amount: $50,000
Total Earned: $2,319,876

When SpeedX announced the Leopard, we called it “the Tesla of road bikes.” That’s because it proposed serious tech integration into a high-end road frame, with sensors to measure stats like cadence, time, distance, speed and altitude. Reviews that have come out since aren’t exactly glowing, but SpeedX has since forged ahead with more improvements and freshly-spec’d bikes.

Kickstarter Campaign Buy Now: Here

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