I loved testing $250 custom-moldable hiking boots and ultra-slick $200 cooler packs at the Outdoor Retailer show last week. But I also know that’s a ton of cash, and most people aren’t going to drop that much on shoes and beer haulers. That’s why I walked the floor to find more affordable and forward-thinking products: handy gadgets that you’ll come to love but won’t break the bank. Here’s what I found.
Jetboil JetGauge ($15)
There’s lots to like about fuel canister stoves like the Jetboil MinoMo or MightyMo. They’re compact and efficient, and, unlike liquid fuel stoves, there’s no chance of a fuel spill. But there is one big problem: It’s nearly impossible to tell how much fuel is left in the canister. If you’re like me, you probably have at least half a dozen partially filled canisters that you don’t want to throw away but don’t totally trust to cook your dinner out on the trail. That problem is solved by the JetGauge, a wallet-sized hanging scale that weighs all types of canisters and tells you how much fuel is left. On Jetboil’s new canisters, you’ll also find a chart showing how many pots of water you can boil with that leftover fuel.
The Heroclip is a carabiner with a swing-out hook that’s designed to hang and organize gear (up to 50 pounds). One use: Hang the hook section on the back of a chair, then clip a backpack to the carabiner to keep it off the ground at a coffee shop. Another use: Throw the carabiner around a branch, then use the hook to dry your clothes at camp. Is it totally necessary? No. But can I think of a dozen or more uses for it now that I have one? Yes.
Darn Tough Topless Socks ($14)
Thru-hikers love Darn Tough socks because they live up to the name. Many people put a thousand miles on a pair before they wear out. And when holes appear, Darn Tough replaces all its socks for free, no questions asked. Now Darn Tough is bringing that durability to topless or no-show socks that go great with your Vans.
HydraPak 1L Stow ($14)
Flexible water bottles that roll up when empty are nothing new. That said, I was still excited about HydraPak’s new one-liter Stow, because it’s shaped like a flask instead of a cylinder. That means I can shove it in my jacket or ski pants, and it won’t protrude unnecessarily when full of water. The flat design means I can also throw it on top of an SUP and not worry about it rolling off.
Cotopaxi 3L Bataan Fanny Pack ($25)
If you’re going to wear a fanny pack, which in 2017 is part utility and part fashion statement, you should go with the Bataan, featuring Cotopaxi’s loud-as-hell colorblocking. It’s just the right carry size (three liters) and sits comfortably around your waist.