It’s hard to miss the big brands at Outdoor Retailer. They have booths the size of houses and splashy marketing materials plastered everywhere. But we’re always on the lookout for the small guys, too. These brands are hustling the hardest and often have the best ideas. Here are the five I’m most excited about from last month’s show.
Started by Ken Voeller and Trevor Cobb (pictured above) just over a year ago, Bramble is out to reinvent the camp towel. The founders had seen the drab offerings at outdoor stores and decided to add some flair. Currently, the Oakland, California, company makes six different beautifully designed, quick-drying synthetic towels. Five percent of its profits goes to conservation efforts in Canyonlands, one of the places that inspired the graphics. Down the road, the company will make other items like backpacks and pouches.
Francois Carrete started Natti Bar on a surf trip to Baja, Mexico. He was snacking on bananas but wanted a better way to transport the easily squishable fruit. His solution: dry and package them like a bar. Today, Natti sells those ultrasimple dried banana bars plus two other offerings—a bar that combines bananas with cacao nibs and one that’s bananas with dark chocolate. All three are absolutely delicious.
Full Windsor, which is based in the United Kingdom and run by Mark and Helen Windsor, makes a line of bike multitools. Its newest enterprise: a reinvention of the spork. Dubbed the Muncher, it’s made from aerospace titanium and comes with a fork and spoon combo, but also features things like a knife, bottle opener, cord cutter, screwdriver, and fire starter (when matched with the included farrow rod).
If you ever get lost or stranded, you’ll want a Vssl product in your backpack. The Vancouver, British Columbia, company makes a line of LED flashlights whose tubes are stuffed with any number of survival products, like a compass, a candle, fishing gear, and water-purification tablets. (Exact items vary, depending on the size of the flashlight you purchase). Everything is assembled in British Columbia.
Based in Santiago, Chile, and started by David Hormazába, Rokum makes smart car-camping gear. Our favorite piece is the two-person tent that comes with a zip-in air mattress that covers the entire floor. The company also make sleeping bags with built-in air cushioning. This was Rokum’s first Outdoor Retailer, but Hormazába plans to move to Orange County, California, later this year, so I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of this brand sometime soon.