The CleverHiker team spent last week walking the halls of Outdoor Retailer in Denver, drooling over all the awesome new outdoor gear coming out in 2022/23. OR is one of the largest gear conferences in the world, and we were fortunate enough to meet up with some of our favorite companies to get a sneak peek at their upcoming innovations. We put together this article to share the inside scoop on the new products we’re most stoked to get out on a trail!
We’ve often wished for a lighter, more compact option from Jetboil that includes their efficient heating tech, and the Stash stove is exactly what we’ve been hoping for. Weighing in at only 2.4 oz. for the stove and 3.9 oz. for the pot and lid, this entire set is very lightweight. The .8 L pot is an excellent size for cooking a meal for one or boiling water to rehydrate meals for two. The Stash is on the expensive side compared to other stoves on our Best Backpacking Stoves list, but the quality, fuel efficiency, and wind performance is worth the cost if you’ll be using your stove a lot.
Osprey’s Exos and Eja have long been crowd favorites amongst thru hikers and lightweight backpackers – including us – until an update a couple years ago saw the hipbelt pockets removed. Well hipbelt pockets are back, baby! And the Exos and Eja are once again some of the best value lightweight backpacks on the market. For those who want the greatest balance of low weight and carrying comfort, the upcoming release of the Exos and Eja Pro will save you about a pound over the standard models for only $50 more.
It’s been on the market for a while now, but we finally got the chance to see and touch the Exped MegaMat Max for ourselves. It’s a whopping six inches thick, so it’s even cushier than our go-to luxurious car camping pad – the MegaMat 10. That means you can adjust the amount of air to make your mattress softer without bottoming out. This makes the MegaMat Max an especially great option for side sleepers, folks with larger bodies/wider hips, or anyone who likes their bed more soft than firm.
NEMO Dagger, Hornet, and Dragonfly OSMO
The Dagger, Hornet, and Dragonfly backpacking tents are transitioning to NEMO’s new OSMO fabric. The proprietary recycled fabric used to construct these tents relies on a weave of nylon and polyester for waterproofing instead of the more common polyurethane-coated silicon. Coatings break down much quicker than fabric, so you can count on these tents to stay waterproof for longer and sag less when wet than many other tents. We already got our hands on the new Dagger OSMO and wrote a full review.
Helinox Chair Zero Large / Chair Zero Highback
Helinox’s Chair Zero has always been one of our favorite chairs for camping and backpacking and we’re pumped that it’s now offered in a Highback model for extra comfort on frontcountry trips. Come 2023, the regular Chair Zero will also be available in a Large size which sits a bit higher and has a higher weight capacity.
Closed cell foam pads are awesome for their long term durability and low cost, and the Flexmat / Flexmat Plus are innovative new offerings in this category. We’re most interested in the standard Flexmat, which is more affordable and lighter than our previous favorite CCF pads from our Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads list (NEMO Switchback and Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Sol). If you want to up the comfort, the Flexmat Plus is a bit thicker and warmer. These pads are both offered in long/wide models which is pretty rare for CCF pads.
The updates on the CamelBak Octane Hydration Pack for Spring 2023 are looking very enticing! Like the original Octane, this pack combines the convenience of a pocketed harness (like a running vest) for quick access to small items with the gear and liquid capacity of a daypack for longer outings. The new model will have a little more structure in the back panel while still being super lightweight and comfortable. It will also include the 2L version of CamelBak’s latest premium Fusion Hydration Reservoir, which has a unique waterproof zipper and a backer plate for less bulge. We can’t wait to test the Octane 22L, which has great potential to become a top pick on our Best Hydration Packs list.
Vargo Mega Hex Portable Fire Pit
We’ve been fans of Vargo’s ultralight backpacking cookware for a long time, but what caught our attention at their booth the most this year was their Mega Hex Portable Fire Pit. This pit uses wood gasification for an almost smoke-free campfire – much like the Solo Stove Bonfire. But the Mega Hex folds completely flat, so you can easily pack and store it. Rumor has it that it’s hitting the market later this month.
The Cruiser line of travel bags come in several sizes, but we’re most excited for the 35L and 45L models. These reasonably priced bags have simple, yet effective organization that keeps them looking sleek while maximizing storage. Little details like the dual laptop/tablet sleeves and padded hipbelt make the Cruiser extra convenient, and it can also be converted from a backpack to a shoulder bag. Lastly, we like that the main compartment can only be accessed via a zipper that sits against your back, so it’s a bit more secure. You never know, the Cruiser just might find its way onto our list of the Best Travel Backpacks.
The Radical line of duffels comes with a lot of features we’ve wished for on some of our other favorite duffel bags. Most notably, in backpack mode it has a hipbelt. It can also be compressed to keep your items from all shifting to the bottom, and it looks stylish. We’re most interested in the 45 and 60L models but the range goes all the way from a lightweight 25L to a large 80L capacity.
Sawyer Permethrin for Dogs
Sawyer Permethrin is the most effective method we’ve found for dealing with ticks and mosquitos on trail. It’s a natural product derived from chrysanthemum flowers that kills ticks after they come in contact with it, so you’re protected from terrible issues like Lyme disease. You can use the original spray on dogs safely, but we think it’s excellent that Sawyer is making this more clear for dog owners by marketing a bottle labeled specifically for dogs. We think it’s really important to protect our pups when hiking, and we’re excited to see the popularity of this effective product grow.
NEMO’s Stargaze Luxury Recliner is one of the most comfortable options on our Best Camping Chairs list. It reclines, it swings, and it has full back support with a headrest. We also love that it folds down into a compact package so you can take it practically anywhere. This chair has become wildly popular over the past years and just keeps getting better. The next iteration will have a cushier neck pillow, covers on the auto-reclining hardware so there’s no chance of pinching your arms, and fewer pole sections to make the frame snap together even more quickly. Watch for the Stargaze Chair to hit the market in spring 2023 in several beautiful new colorways.
It’s surprisingly difficult to find the perfect camp shoe that strikes an awesome balance of low weight and comfort – you usually get one or the other unless you wanna shell out the big bucks. But the Camp Slipper is incredibly light (the LARGEST size weighs in at only 6 oz. for the pair), comfortable, and durable. And it’s priced very reasonably at $50 which is less than the majority of shoes on our Best Camp Shoes list.
Kijaro Dual Lock Camping Chairs
The Kijaro Dual Lock has been holding down the number one spot on our Best Camping Chairs list since it’s comfortable, high quality, and affordable. We loved meeting the designers and seeing how much they really listen to customer feedback and use it to continually improve their products. There is a whole fleet of variations on the Dual Lock Chair now – a Hard Arm model, one with a cooler pocket, the XXL with a higher (400 lbs.) weight capacity, the premium Elite model, and a rocker – the Rok-It. You can also expect a kids-size chair and the Atlas (600 lb. capacity) to become available in the months to come.
Garmin has always been a leader in the navigation technology realm, and one of our favorite products from their lineup – the Inreach Mini 2 – has received an exciting update. The newest iteration of the Inreach Mini features a faster and more intuitive user interface, almost triple the battery life, and Tracback which allows you to follow an onscreen breadcrumb trail back to where you started on a backcountry route.
Garmin’s whole line of GPS watches got an update, but the most exciting changes are on the flagship Fenix 7 line and the Forerunner 955. The Fenix 7 now comes in a solar model which significantly extends battery life for multi-day activity tracks and the line of watches now features a touch screen – a welcome change over the previous button only models. The biggest changes to the Forerunner 955 include longer battery life, a more accurate GPS chip, and some sweet new fitness features that can tell when your peak training times are and can estimate how long you’ll be able to sustain an activity level.
CamelBak ChillBak Pack 30
We have several backpack coolers on our Best Coolers list, but we haven’t seen anything quite like the CamelBak Chillbak Pack 30 that’s launching next month. What’s really unique about it is that it comes equipped with a large 6L Group Fusion Hydration Reservoir with a spigot to refill cups and reusable water bottles. There’s no doubt that this beast will be heavy to carry when full, but we think it’s a brilliant solution for toting ice-cold water on road trips or a large batch cocktail to the river for your crew. You can also get a Filter Kit that’s compatible with this setup, so you can filter water from natural sources for your group while camping in primitive sites.
Osprey Extended Fit
New for spring 2023, Osprey is launching their Extended Fit backpacks, which will accommodate hip sizes up to 70 in., have longer shoulder and sternum straps, and have repositioned hipbelt pockets that are easier to reach. Several of their most popular styles – including the Aether and Ariel 65 from our Best Backpacking Backpacks list and the Talon 22 and Tempest 20 from our Best Daypacks list – will be offered in extended sizes, and we think it’s rad that Osprey is showing leadership in the inclusivity space.
Hydrapak Flux Bottle Redesign / In-line Filter
You’ll rarely catch us on a multi-day backcountry trek without our trusty Hydrapak Flux from our Best Water Bottles list, and the upcoming iteration of this bottle has even more to love. Changes include a longer bail handle (which we love for scooping water from mountain streams without having to dip our fingers into ice cold water), a more rigid structure that stands on its own better, and some sweet new colorways There’s also a new In-Line filter coming out soon that’s compatible with the Flux Bottle as well as other water containers from Hydrapak.
NEMO’s Aurora Highrise tent came out in 2022, and after seeing it at the show, we can’t wait to get our hands on one to test against the rest of our favorite camping tents. It looks like a great quality tent for the value pricepoint, and we’re willing to bet it’s really easy to pitch. It also has a huge circular door – a feature we’ve come to love on some other tents. The Aurora comes in 4-Person and 6-Person capacities, and both have peak heights over six feet so you can stand up comfortably. With such a good balance of everything, we think the Aurora has a good chance of ranking on our Best Camping Tents list.
Helly Hansen Roam Windbreaker
Helly Hansen had a ton of cool new clothing items on display as well as some beautiful monochrome color stories, but the item we’re most excited about from their upcoming releases is the Roam Windbreaker. This ultralight jacket is made with breathable fabric, will be priced very reasonably (as is typical with Helly Hansen clothing), and – most exciting of all – it has hand pockets! Very few windbreakers from our Best Windbreakers list have hand pockets, so we’re stoked to give the Roam Jacket a test when it’s released.
NEMO has collaborated with LL Bean to create a carbon-neutral (and stylish) tent – the Impact. This tent has a spacious interior, but still packs down fairly small, so it makes for a nice compact option for car campers with limited room in the car to pack bulky gear. It’s a bit heavy for backpacking at 5 lb. 7 oz. for the 2-Person and 6 lb. 6 oz. for the 3-Person. But it’s well-priced, so it could be a nice happy medium for anyone who mostly camps in the frontcountry but occasionally takes their tent on the trail for shorter mileage trips.
Sea to Summit Big River Backpack
Sea to Summit’s Big River Dry Bag line is super popular with paddlers and overlanders, and this crowd is gonna love the upcoming Big River Backpack. This stylish dry backpack is fully waterproof, durable, and comfortable to carry. It includes a strap hip belt to keep the load in place and padded shoulder straps for comfort during heavier hauls.
ALPS Mountaineering makes some really great budget tents, and their new Helix 1P and 2P are looking very competitive. We’re most excited about the 2P model which weighs in at 3 lbs. 12 oz. and costs a mere $279 (we’ve found it on sale for much less) – that’s pretty impressive for the amount of headroom it offers, the small packed size, and its generous floor area.
Camelbak Leakproof Tumblers & Cocktail Shakers
We were immediately drawn into the Camelbak booth by the rows of enticing color stories on their water bottle walls, and we were even more intrigued once we got the full scoop on their soon-to-be-released drinkware lines. Highlights include a leakproof insulated tumbler for commuting with hot coffee or keeping a fresh juice cold, and the leakproof cocktail shaker for making perfect mixed drinks while you’re out and about at the beach or a park gathering with friends.
We’re always on the hunt for good new drink mixes to spice up hydration for our active lifestyles, and we’re big fans of Camelbak’s new Performance Hydration Sustain powders. With mixes for before, during, and after activity, the whole line will have you covered with nutrients your body needs to perform at its peak. We particularly enjoyed the strawberry kiwi Electrolyte Mix.
Sea to Summit Ikos TR 2 / 3
Sea to Summit is launching their new Ikos TR 2 & 3 in the spring of 2023. They use the same innovative pole architecture as the Alto & Telos from our Best Backpacking Tents list, but they’re a bit more affordable and geared towards campers who backpack occasionally. Just like the Telos, the Ikos can be setup in Hangout Mode for use as a shade shelter.
Sea to Summit Stuff Sack Updates
Sea to Summit makes some of our favorite stuff sacks, and the whole lineup is getting a big update next year. The eVAC Dry Sacks will be made with Cordura Fabric for added durability – and though we’ve always found these bags to be plenty tough, it’s a welcome update. Their Ultra-Sil Stuff Sack lineup will be made with a more of an oval shape that’s easier to pack than the previous round design.
The ALPS Mountaineering King Kong Chair has been on our Best Camping Chairs list for several years now. It’s incredibly durable and has a super high weight capacity of 800 lbs. It also has a nice high seat so it’s more comfortable for big and tall campers. We were pleased to find out that the King Kong is going to be offered in a bunch of new colors this year, and it will have a decreased price.
We’re super stoked for the new innovations in backpacking gear hitting the market in 2022 and 2023 and hope you are too! If you found this helpful, please share on social media and click the little heart button below to give us a digital high five!
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