This Year's Hot Gear And Gadgets

Rifles, pistols, ammunition and shotguns tend to make all the headlines at the 2015 SHOT Show. But look a little deeper and you’ll find lots of great gear and gadgets that are sure to bring your customers smiles.
This Year's Hot Gear And Gadgets

The Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show is the place to conduct business for 65,000 retail buyers and a couple thousand media folks like myself. New products are demonstrated, business is conducted, and orders are placed for the coming year. If you’re looking for hot new products that will excite your customers and sell quickly, SHOT Show is the place to find them.

I spent days doing nothing but scouting new guns, ammo, accessories and gear looking for potential hot sellers in the retail market. I wasn’t disappointed. Advancements in technology combined with innovative ideas resulted in new and established companies alike bringing new products to market.

Embarking on a near-impossible task, I whittled down the list of thousands of products to just a handful of those that I believe will be fast movers in retail stores. Here’s the list.

SEEK Thermal IR Camera

Moore’s law is an old computer axiom that states computing power technology per dollar doubles every 18 months. It’s an example of exponential growth. And this rule of thumb seems to apply to optical devices like thermal cameras, too.

Just months ago, entry-level infrared cameras cost many thousands of dollars. Now, you can get an effective thermal camera for hundreds of dollars. Sure, like anything, the price range is broad, but the barrier to entry has certainly been lowered for consumers.

SEEK Thermal launched its new iPhone and Android cameras at SHOT 2015. About the size of a thumb, and probably lighter, the new cameras offer 32,000 thermal pixels. Like computer phones and televisions, the more pixels, the better the picture.

Priced at just $299, the new SEEK Thermal Camera offers a surprisingly clear picture. Range is good too — I could make out clear human forms at the next shooting bay more than 50 yards away.

Geigerrig Hydrapack Hydration Engine

Walking down one of the many SHOT Show exhibit aisles, I saw a man standing and bouncing on a hydration bladder full of water. The slightly nervous crowd was waiting to get soaked. However, all stayed dry as my new favorite product demo guy continued to bounce on the bag of water.

That demonstration got my attention, but the product pitch got my interest. The Geigerrig Hydrapack is obviously strong, and it’s got built-in pressurization. Think about that. You place the bladder inside a pack, surround it with other gear, then pump air into it with an included pressure bulb. With this setup, rather than having to suck water from a tube, it will stream on-demand, allowing the user to share water with others, fill a cup or camp coffee pot, or wash something. But that’s not even the best part. Since the bladder is pressurized, an inline filter can be added to catch bacteria and viruses. Scoop the bladder into the nearest water source and clean, filtered water comes out. It’s a brilliant idea.

MSRP is about $49 depending on bladder size.

Kestrel’s Sportsman Is More Accessible To Recreational Shooters And Hunters

Known for high-end weather meters for serious shooters, Kestrel recently announced the Sportsman model at a more affordable price.

The Sportsman still includes sophisticated ballistics tools. The internal Applied Ballistics G1/G7 ballistics solver software delivers highly accurate elevation and windage solutions for shot distances within 800 yards. The Sportsman is positioned as the product to use within supersonic range distances — it’s not intended to provide solutions for the subsonic transitional stage. The Sportsman includes meters for temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, wind speed, crosswind and wind direction.

The Kestrel Sportsman stores up to 16 personalized gun/bullet combinations. The user can enter these through the device itself or with a connection to the Kestrel Companion app. MSRP is $429.

SOG SwitchPlier 2.0 And BladeLight Folder Mini

SOG has a ton of new gear for 2015, but two items jumped out as potential hot sellers. First, the Switchplier 2.0 offers true one-handed operation. Press a button on the grip and the pliers and opposing handle pop open. The plier grips house additional tools.

The BladeLight Mini Folder offers 45 lumens of total light. The neat thing about this one is that there are two LED lights on each side of the blade, so light is balanced across your work without a blade shadow. Better yet, the lights operate with the 3-inch blade closed, so the BladeLight doubles as a pocket flashlight.

New Galco Carry Options

Galco holsters has four new products for 2015. The KingTuk 2 enhances the existing KingTuk leather-Kydex hybrid inside-the-waistband holster by adding an integrated magazine pouch for certain gun models. The Kydex magazine carrier is attached to the steer-hide back panel with a Velcro pad and is adjustable for position and angle.

The KingTuk 2’s suggested retail price is $89.95.

A brand new design is the Galco Corvus. Made from Kydex, it’s a convertible that can be changed from traditional belt holster to an inside-the-waistband design. It’s got an open top for fast and snag-free draw, and the user can adjust both ride height and cant. The outside-the-waistband configuration handles 1.5-inch and 1.75-inch belt widths, while the inside-the-waistband straps have 1.75-inch belt loops. MSRP is $79.95.

Galco’s popular Instructor’s Belt has been upgraded to the Cobra Tactical model. It’s made from Type 13 nylon webbing and includes a quick-release buckle.

Released in 2014, the CarrySafe system allows users to configure bags, briefcases and packs as safe carry options. For 2015, Galco adds an accessory carrier option that can be used for spare magazines, speed loaders, speed strips, flashlight, pepper spray and other accessories. MSRP of the Accessory Carrier is $19.95.

Blackhawk Diversion Wax Canvas Carry Bag And Satchel

In the stylish and functional category are the new wax canvas bags from Blackhawk!. The product line includes a small satchel and medium-sized rucksack, but the product I liked best is the Diversion Wax Canvas Messenger Bag.

Like other products in the Diversion product line, the Messenger Bag looks like an ordinary computer briefcase, although more attractive than most. Also like other Blackhawk! Diversion products, it’s got a concealed compartment to carry a gun or hidden gear. The concealment pocket has openings on the left and right for ambidextrous access. Double zippers allow either up or down opening depending on user preference.

The bag is made from 10.10 -ounce Army Duck Martexin Original Wax Canvas and features two strap options to allow for secure cross-body or courier-style shoulder carry. The main compartment is accessible via a fold-over lid with a quick-access pass-through zipper. A smaller front pocket offers small dividers for things like lights, knives, magazines or office equipment.

One of the neatest features is the Fidlock Buckle technology. Sliding the main buckles upward and to the side opens them. But to close, just raise the lower buckle vertically and interior magnets snap it into place. One-handed operation is a breeze. MSRP of the messenger bag is $235.45.

The Griplight

You might know Roy Huntington as a shooting publication editor and all-around swell guy. As it turns out, he’s also an inventor. With all the people buying J-frame revolvers for self-defense, Roy figured that they ought to have a weapon light option, as most self-defense incidents happen in low-light conditions.

Manufactured and distributed by Hyskore, the Griplight offers a 100 lumen LED beam. It’s designed to replace the standard grips on round-butt revolvers.

The light is activated by push button on the forward-facing grip surface. When the pistol is gripped, the light goes on — operation couldn’t be simpler. There is a positive on-off switch on the bottom of the grip that allows daytime use and practice without draining the battery.

The Griplight runs on standard CR2 lithium batteries, and one is even included in the box. Made from aluminum with tactile grip inserts, it’s tough enough for .357 Magnum use. MSRP is $129.95.

Vanquest IBEX Backpack

I’ve used two different Vanquest packs for quite some time — the VSlinger Javelin 2.0 and Trident-20 backpack. Given the handiness of the first two, I was anxious to check out the new, larger Vanquest IBEX-30.

As the name implies, it’s a 30-liter capacity pack. The unique feature of the IBEX-30 is the easy access to the main compartment. The pack “filets open” for 270-degree access to the interior. The spacious interior can be used as a single large cavity, or smaller dividers and pouches can be attached to hook-and-loop panels on the inside to create subcompartments.

Like all Vanquest products, IBEX is made with ultra-durable 1000-D Cordura nylon and treated with water-repellent DuPont Teflon. Thick shoulder straps and an adjustable waist belt make the IBEX comfortable with heavy loads. It’s hydration system-ready with pockets and hose routing channels, too.

The best part is that the IBEX shares the “sling” feature with other Vanquest products. Simply unclip one shoulder strap and the back can be rotated to the front for access without removing the whole pack. MSRP is $179.99 but varies a bit with color choice.

Garmin fenix 3 GPS Watch

Who says a GPS unit can’t be stylish? Including far too many features to describe here, think of the fenix 3 watch as a platform that can add apps and widgets to perform functions above and beyond satellite navigation and exercise tracking.

Built-in GPS features include track recording, trackback, barometric altimeter and electronic compass. The watch will store 1,000 locations and allow the user to set and follow tracks. The GPS functions will run about 16 hours on a single charge. Without use of GPS, the rechargeable watch runs about a week.

The fenix 3 also includes exercise tracking features that track steps, pace, detailed running metrics and even swimming strokes. As it’s a “platform,” the watch will interface with other devices such as heart rate monitors.

What struck me was the stunning design. It can easily serve as your everyday watch, and since it’s digital, users can choose custom watch faces in digital or analog styles. One more thing — it even tells time! The basic model retails for $499.99, and the ultra-spiffy fenix 3 Sapphire model sells for $599.99.

Plano Tactical Range Bags

While many know Plano for its long-term presence in the fishing tackle box space, the company has also applied its knowledge of durable and weather-resistant storage and organization boxes to the shooting market.

The new Plano Tactical Range Bag line combines the flexibility of ballistic nylon with the durability of hard plastic. Initially available in three sizes, all models include at least one plastic ammo box in a custom fitted compartment in the canvas bag. The largest in the family features an ammo box with a tray and a smaller plastic box for storage of one scoped, or two standard, handguns. The smallest range bag offers a single ammo box and soft pistol storage compartment.

Retail prices range from $39.99 to $59.99.

YETI Hopper 20 “Soft Sided Cooler

Yeti builds its standard coolers like 1950s bomb shelters — nearly indestructible. Now the company has figured out how to apply that type of durability to “soft” sided cooler with its new Hopper 20 size. This one holds 20 pounds of ice and 12 canned drinks, assuming a 2:1 ice to beverage ratio.

Yeti has also figured out how to make a soft cooler waterproof from the inside and outside with its Hydrolock zipper. You can fill this cooler with water, turn it upside down, and shake. It won’t leak.

The sides are constructed from a material similar to what’s used on Zodiac inflatable boats. The material feels rubbery. You can flex it, but it offers enough rigidity to stand on its own. MSRP is $299.99.

Time will tell, but all these accessories appear to be winners. Most, if not all, of these items will be available for sale by the time you read this, so be sure to check them out!


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