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Adventure / July 30, 2017

Here’s the stuff we bought at OR

Written by: Mitch Harris

At the moment of this writing, this humble gear reporter is awkwardly squeezed into an aisle seat on American Airlines flight 5968 from Salt Lake City to Dallas Fort Worth. Because the passenger in front of me has chosen to recline her “seat back,” I’m positioned with my laptop and my right knee sticking out into the aisle (putting it at constant risk of being bashed by a food or beverage cart).

Such are the joys of flying coach.

I’m on my way home from the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market: the annual trade show where shops like REI and EMS stock their shelves for the coming fiscal year. Like those retail behemoths, I was there to buy gear. But I wasn’t after the newest super-technical backpack or waterproof-yet-breathable hard/soft shell jacket.

At Shoulders of Giants, we only sell gear we use. So when I swiped our company credit card at OR, I didn’t buy anything I thought might come to sit on a closet shelf. I looked for durable, innovative products that I knew I would take out on every weekend adventure.

Most of the stuff is still in the mail, but look for these products (and more) to hit the Shoulders of Giants shop in the coming months:


Sea to Summit collapsible gear

We actually bought a bunch of stuff from Sea to Summit. The Boulder company has a proven reputation for making durable, functional camping gear at a price that even we non-Boulderites can afford.

But the Sea to Summit items I’m most excited about are the collapsible ones. The company’s water-resistant Ultra-SIL Daypack can carry up to 20 liters of gear, food, or water, but it packs down small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. The frameless pack isn’t meant for climbing or long-distance hiking, but its a great item to throw in an overnight bag or an emergency kit. They come in a few different colors and models, each of which costs around $30.

We also stocked some of the company’s collapsible cookware. With aluminum baseplates and silicon bodies, these pots can boil water about as fast as anything on the market. And they collapse down to something the size of a dinner plate—a feature appreciated by anyone who has ever struggled to organize their pack around a bulky camp kitchen. They come in three sizes and cost $50-80 apiece.

All of our Sea to Summit gear should be in stock by the end of August. We’ll send an email out when it gets here.


UCO Matches and Lights

We’re pretty late to the party on UCO’s stormproof matches. The phosphorous fire sticks have long been considered among the most reliable firestarters on the market. After watching them burn while submerged in water at the demo both, it’s easy for us to see why.

So we bought a bunch. They sell in packs of 25 for $8.

UCO has also branched out into the illumination market. The Seattle company now sells headlamps, table-mounted lanterns, hanging camp lanterns, and headlamps. All are designed with casual camping in mind and are priced accordingly (no $200 head-mounted floodlights here).

We expect to have all of our UCO gear in the shop in a couple of weeks. As with everything else mentioned in this piece, we’ll send an email when they come in.


HydraPak Bottles and Katadyn filters

We’ve wanted to stock a water purification system for a while now, but have struggled to find just the right one. Dozens of brands manufacture filters, pumps, pills, droplets, and UV lights claim they will cleanse drinking water of bacteria and parasites.

But here’s the thing—using the wrong water purification system can kill you. Or, at the very least, it can leave you with a gut-churning infection that will make you wish you were dead. So we opted to stock filters from an industry leader: the Switzerland-based Katadyn.

Katadyn’s BeFree water filters are fitted within the screw-on cap for a flexible one-liter pouch. Just fill the pouch with water from any source, and that water will be purified as it passes through the cap. For those hikers who want to carry more than one liter of water at a time, we’ve stocked some larger pouches from HydroPak. These pouches can also be fitted with Katadyn’s filters (we checked).

The Katadyn gear won’t be in our shop until late August, partly because Switzerland is far away.


The Big Agnes “Big Joe”

Duffel bags are generally considered sexy gear items. But they should be—a good duffel can mean the difference between a finely-tuned camp system and a wet pile of broken gear.

So when the folks at Big Agnes (best known for tents and sleeping bags) showed off the Big Joe at OR this year, it piqued or interest. The 70-liter bag is tough, waterproof, and has enough room to old every part of our car camping setup. It’s already earned a permanent spot in the Shoulders of Giants adventure mobile.

The Big Joe doesn’t hit the market until September, so we won’t have it until then. Keep an eye on our email newsletter for updates about it and other products in our shop.

Do you have questions or comments about this feature? Email them to [email protected]

about the author

Mitch Harris

Mitch Harris embraced the Every Day Carry trend long before it was cool. From the day he got his first pocket knife, Mitch has devoted himself to staying prepared for every eventuality. Through his position at Shoulders of Giants, he’s able to keep his kit stocked with the very newest and best EDC gear.

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