Greetings from Salt Lake City! Today’s activities at Outdoor Retailer did not disappoint, revealing even more great gear suitable for adult Scouting leaders and Scouts themselves.
Today’s selection offers cutting-edge creature comforts for those who spend lots of time in the outdoors — whether it’s with your troop or simply exercising to stay fit. Click through to view five of my favorite discoveries from Day Two at Outdoor Retailer.
GoTenna: This brand-new company launched GoTenna just weeks before Outdoor Retailer. The technology lets you use your phone to communicate even when you’re out of cell-tower range. For a troop or crew, you can purchase the devices in pairs, enable them when hiking and they form a network among your group. Pairing with an app on each person’s smartphone, the hikers can text information to others in the network — even including a GPS pin, if someone becomes lost. This piece of technology isn’t just a great choice for troops in the backcountry, but also for groups attending large events like a camporee, where cell phone towers can often become overwhelmed. $150 for one pair. (While the price is certainly steep, I can see this being used among Scout leaders to help communicate in areas without cell service — particularly in case of emergency.)
JetBoil MiniMo: The newest stove in JetBoil’s lineup (to come this spring), the MiniMo serves more purpose than previous JetBoil options (like the Flash), which are typically used to simply boil water. The MiniMo lets campers really cook due to its size and temperature range. The pot is shorter and wider than the Flash, but still fits 1L of liquid. And the gas is easy to dial to a very low simmer. This means previous slow-cook meals (like chili) can be heated within the pot and simmered until ready. The wide mouth, insulation and handles also make it easy to eat right from the pot — unlike previous JetBoil models. Find the MiniMo ($129) starting September 1 exclusively in REI stores; the stove will be available at other outdoor-gear retailers Jan. 1, 2015.
GoalZero Switch 10: Think of this as a pocketknife of technology, suitable for camping, hiking or even day-to-day use. The base (shown in forefront) connects to one of four devices: a fan, 110-lumen flashlight, micro USB charging cable and a flip-out USB charging tip. It’s solar-friendly, too; the Switch 10 is sold with the Nomad solar panel, and (with a full charge) can refresh your phone twice on one charge. It’s compact body makes it easy to throw into a pack (or even your purse) for a back-up charge when needed. Coming spring 2015; $129.
Sierra Designs’ Tensegrity: I’ve heard plenty of Scouters complain — err, I mean, mention — that a typical two-man tent can sometimes feel cramped even for one person. Here’s a novel concept for ya: ditch the dome. The new Tensegrity tent offerings (in one- and two-man editions) from Sierra Designs offers a roomy interior thanks to its boxy structure. And the design doesn’t compromise its weight or the ease in which you can quickly assemble the tent. This super lightweight shelter (weighing less than 2 pounds) uses your trekking poles and guy lines for support and omits the stuffy vestibule, opting for an awning instead. I’d say it’s worth checking out for those who can use a little more headroom. Available this spring; pricing info to come.
Mio Alpha: If you have a permanent scab from a heartrate monitor, raise your hand. (Am I the only one with my hand in the air? Hope not …) As a runner, I like to use heartrate training to help keep my effort in check, but the chest strap can be a real pain. The MIO Alpha uses patented technology to monitor your heart rate from the watch’s contact point on your wrist. Sayonara, chest strap. While the watch itself doesn’t offer GPS technology, it does connect with smartphone apps like Map My Run and Strava to help you keep track of not just effort but distance, as well. $199; available now. (See much better photos here.)
Last, but not least, don’t forget to vote for your favorite Outdoor Retailer Pinewood Derby car design by midnight. Your votes choose the People’s Choice award!