Best in Show: Award-Winning Gear From Outdoor Retailer Summer 2023

Gear Junkie Best in Show Outdoor Retailer Summer 2023

The Salt Palace Convention Center was bustling this week with brands, reps, outdoor organizations, retail buyers, and journalists. No doubt, the 2023 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market was smaller than in years past. But the gear on display didn’t disappoint.

There were smokeless stoves, wool-down insulated sleeping bags, camping grills, glamping tents, heavy metal bike racks, futuristic travel trailers, inflatable globe lights, stoves, batteries, solar panels, watches, knives, and everything in between. Many of the big-name heavy hitters whose extravagant booths used to dominate the OR floor were not present. There was no sign of Patagonia, The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Marmot, or REI.

So, smaller brands got a lot more attention from retail buyers and media alike.

As per usual, the GearJunkie team stormed the floor, zigzagging our way through aisle after aisle, booth after booth, taking careful notes on interesting new outdoor items along the way. There was a lot to take in. After 2 full days on the tradeshow floor, we’ve narrowed down our list, distilling it to contain only the coolest, most exciting products we came across.

So, without further ado, here it is — GearJunkie’s Best in Show from the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2023.

Lightship L1 Electric Travel Trailer


Lightship’s futuristic-looking travel trailer is fully electric-powered, minimalist, aerodynamic, collapsable, and downright sexy. The battery Lightship built into the trailer is the same size as that of a Tesla. It powers a drive assist on the axle that propels the trailer as you drive — extending your range whether you’re towing it with an electric or a standard vehicle.

It’s also more aerodynamic than any other RV currently on the market. Its shape is sleek, with a tapered rear, and telescoping hard-sided walls that compress the trailer to almost half its standing height when you’re on the road. Lightship says that makes its trailer three times more aerodynamic than standard models. This dramatically reduces the energy (whether it’s gas- or battery-powered) required to move it around.

Of course, the Lightship also has solar panels. And they aren’t just bolted on, either. These solar panels are cleanly integrated across the entire roof of the Lightship and even on its awnings. Ditch the loud gas generator and enjoy the sounds of nature while your trailer provides up to 3kW of solar power, storing up to 80kWh of energy onboard.

Inside, the Lightship is every bit as sleek and modern as its outside. The designers removed a lot of the clutter you find in standard trailers — cabinets, shelves, etc. Instead, it added more panoramic windows, smart appliances, flexible storage and sleeping areas, and a “spa bathroom,” all of which are built using sustainable materials.

There’s a lot to the Lightship. It’s a work of outdoor lifestyle art and a leap forward in trailer and RV tech. It clearly stuck out as a GearJunkie Best in Show winner. Production is expected to start in late 2024 at a brand-new facility in Colorado. Models start at $125,000. See the Lightship website for preorder options.

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Yoshino Solid-State Batteries


Most rechargeable lithium-ion batteries use liquid electrolytes that are flammable and prone to combusting if they overheat or are damaged. They’re heavy. They’re bulky. And they never seem to last as long as you need them to. Yoshino aims to change all of that with its proprietary solid-state battery technology.

Yoshino’s batteries use a solid electrolyte, which makes them more efficient than their liquid-state alternatives. Because they’re higher density, Yoshino can pack more power into a smaller, lighter package — about half the weight of most traditional rechargeable batteries. Solid-state batteries also provide twice the power per pound, according to the brand. That could be a big deal with large, high-volume batteries.

Yoshino sells power stations and batteries in different sizes to power your campsite, RV, car, or home. Currently, the brand offers four models of power stations that range in size and output. It hopes that this innovation in battery tech will kick off a new era in power storage and portability, much like liquid lithium-ion batteries did when they hit the scene.

By all accounts, that goal is well within reach. Yoshino’s batteries are a big step forward. Check out its website to peruse its lineup of solid-state batteries.

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Skotti Grill

Foldable camp grills have been a thing for a while now. Some burn wood, some burn charcoal, and some are even gas-powered. But we hadn’t seen one that was designed to use all three — until we came across the Skotti Grill.

The grill itself is only a handful of pieces and weighs just 6.6 pounds. It packs easily into an included bag and sets up in less than a minute (if you know what you’re doing). It’s made with high-quality and durable stainless steel that’s dishwasher-friendly. And Skotti offers a host of accessories you can buy separately, like a lid that turns it into an oven, small and large “boks” for food storage or stovetop-style cooking, and more.

According to Skotti, this is the most widely sold outdoor camp grill in the EU. And we can see why. It allows you to cook anything, anywhere, with almost any fuel you have on hand.

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RadGnaRack E-Bike Hitch Rack


E-bikes are heavy. That not only makes them difficult to load onto a bike rack but also somewhat dangerous. Many mountain bike racks aren’t engineered to hold that kind of weight. And if you hit a bump hard enough, going fast enough, you might lose your rack and everything attached to it.

Enter RadGnarRack. This hitch-mounted bike rack is made with heavy-duty steel and materials used in construction. One side of the rack lowers, creating a ramp to roll your bike onto it. The bike crank slides into a lock, which holds the bike in place. It’s slick and super easy to load, even with heavy bikes. No more lifting heavy bikes to lock them onto your car, and no more anxiety about your bike being too heavy for its rack.

There are a lot of bike racks out there that can carry e-bikes, and even some that offer solutions for lifting heavy bikes. But the RadGnaRack is both simple and — apparently — burly.

On the RadGnaRack website, you can order one of the brand’s standard racks or have one custom-built to your specifications.

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Nikwax PFAS-Free Direct.Dry

Nikwax Direct.Dry; (photo/Nikwax)

PFAS is being phased out by many brands as states like California and New York implement laws to eliminate it from consumer goods. Rightly so — the chemical used in Durable Water Repellent (DWR) is toxic to humans at extremely low levels. It’s also among a class of chemicals known as “forever chemicals” because, unfortunately, they last forever.

Nikwax has come up with an alternative solution, though. The brand’s new Direct.Dry is an industrial PFAS-free DWR coating for synthetic outdoor fabrics. It has the highest achievable spray rating test score and high wash durability, meaning you can wash Nikwax Direct.Dry garments many times before they start to lose their waterproofing.

Nikwax has been making PFAS-free waterproof coatings for decades, but Direct.Dry is the brand’s first factory-applied PFAS-free DWR coating. The hope is that this innovation will enable more brands to easily shift away from toxic PFAS DWR coatings, and toward a more sustainable, equally effective, waterproofing option.

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Grand Trunk Compass 360° UC (Ultra Compact) Stool

(Photo/Grand Trunk)

The Grand Trunk Compass 360° Ultra Compact Stool packs down to just 7.5 inches and weighs a mere 1.2 pounds. It sets up in the blink of an eye and allows for 360 degrees of maximum swiveling mobility. The uses for this stool are endless — from campfire hangouts to mountaintop picnics, and field-dressing animals.

While we do love a good camp chair, a stool like this allows you to sit while working on projects like tending fires, cooking, or hunting in a blind. And yes, there are lots of stools out there. But the design of the Compass 360° Ultra Compact Stool won us over, especially for its exceptional packability.

It’s a high-utility piece of gear that comes in a tiny (and notably lightweight) package. Currently, Grand Trunk offers a Compass 360° Stool, but this ultra-compact version will be available in spring 2024. 

Shop Grand Trunk

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