Gear Shed

Q:

What Are the Coolest Kickstarter Projects?

These packs were successfully funded through Kickstarter.    

A:Earlier this week, Kickstarter announced that it's raised more than $1 billion—money that’s funded everything from failed expeditions to Zach Braff's new movie. While the range of projects varies widely, there is one unifying theme when it comes to the crowdfunding website—hope. 

Kickstarter enables you to fund your dreams, even if all you have to start with is a vision, a camera, and some basic editing skills. This opportunity lends itself to scrappy outdoor upstarts who have turned their crazy ideas into viable products. Here are seven of our favorites.  

Oru Kayak

Funded: December 19, 2012

Backers: 730

Goal: $80,000

Reached: $443,806

Anton Willis built more than 13 prototypes of this kayak before it went to market. The boat is made from a single piece of corrugated plastic—the material used in mail carrying boxes—that folds like curved-line origami. The Oru weighs 26 pounds and can fit easily into a sedan. I’ve been testing one for four months, and I’m amazed at how sturdy this super lightweight rec kayak is. It’s also very easy to assemble—the whole process usually takes less than 10 minutes.

Bootlegger Modular Pack System

Funded: May 8, 2013

Backers: 961

Goal: $10,000

Reached: $145,667

The Bootlegger Modular accommodates all your pack needs with a single suspension system. San Francisco-based Boreas Gear created a $200 package that includes an 18-liter ultralight pack, a 28-liter day pack, and a 30-liter dry bag, each of which fit on a single suspension system. This technology works thanks to an adjustable hip belt and a strap that lets you fine-tune the suspension.

PowerPot

Funded: May 4, 2012

Backers: 1,047

Goal: $50,000

Reached: $126,204

This 12-ounce titanium backpacking pot—developed by two former University of Utah students—can charge an iPhone as you cook your meal. The PowerPot uses a thermoelectric generator to convert heat into electrical power that you harness through a USB port.

Kammok Thylacine

Funded: February 4, 2014

Backers: 555

Goal: $60,000

Reached: $118,545

The Kammok Thylacine can be adapted for almost any temperature on the planet. You choose how many synthetic or down-synthetic baffles you want to stuff into the sleeping bag’s seven chambers. Really cold out? Add a few extra layers around your body or feet. Not only can you customize the warmth of the bag, you can also ditch your other sleeping bags. 

Fortified Bike Lights

Funded: October 24, 2014

Backers: 1,419

Goal: $24,000

Reached $177,266

The designers of the Aviator headlight and Afterburner rear light claim their products are invincible and nearly impossible to steal. The lights are built with strong, lightweight aluminum and they come with proprietary handle bar and seat post locking systems. The company will actually replace the lights if they are stolen or damaged. The Aviator and Afterburner both produce 150 lumens and run on a lithium ion battery that should run for several months.   

Windcatcher

Funded: June 13, 2013

Backers 1,472

Goal: $50,000

Reached: $149,405

Even though you can't pledge money to the Windcatcher any more, take a minute to watch this video—the feces-next-to-mouth-valve shot at eight seconds is one of my favorite moments on Kickstarter. Portland-based Ryan Frayne created a revolutionary way to blow up an air mattress that looks like, well, magic. The pad can fully inflate in a few seconds without a valve or a pump. 

Alpha Heart Rate Monitor

Funded: August 8, 2012

Backers: 1,366

Goal: $100,000

Reached: $321,314

The Mio Alpha Heart Rate Monitor continuously tracks your heart rate—without a chest strap. It uses light beams and an electro-optical cell to determine your heart rate depending on how much blood is in your wrist. 

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