SOC Pack Mule with their Three Day Elite Pack

SHOW Show 2016 Day 3

Today is the final day of SHOT Show 2016. We’ve covered at least a double marathon on foot to bring you what we though were some of the most interesting and most unique things on the expo floor and we hope you have enjoyed the coverage.

Here is our parting shot ….

Petzl has been doing some interesting things with headlamps for quite a while. This year, they’re bringing the infrared, distance-sensing technology, available in their STRIX IR military line of lamps, to the sport market. According to the rep at their booth, the TIKKA XP will soon have the ability to adjust lighting intensity based on distance sensed by an IR beam.

Petzl TIKKA XP
Petzl TIKKA XP

Another company known for their headlamps, Brunton, is branching out into soft goods. (We’re seeing a theme with traditional hard goods companies branching out into soft goods.) Brunton has launched a line of battery-powered head and hand gear extending their line of battery-powered products.

Brunton Heatsync Glove Liner
Brunton Heatsync Glove Liner

While we like the idea of battery-powered glove liners for those really cold days in the field, the battery, stored in the cuff, seemed large and unwieldy. We hope to get a pair or two to test in the next couple months.

Speaking of companies branching out, Cammenga surprised us with AR-15 magazines and loaders.

Cammenga EasyMag
Cammenga EasyMag

The Cammenga EasyMag is a heat-treated steel magazine with a stainless spring and steel, non-tilt follower. The unique thing about this magazine is that the front portion slides downward making loading easier (in theory). Since it’s made of steel, the EasyMag is heavy and likely prone to rust. We’ve asked for a couple test subjects.

In addition to their EasyMag, Cammenga also now has an Easyloader. The Easyloader quickly loads up to twenty rounds in an AR-15 (5.56 or .223) or AK-47 (7.62) magazine. Interestingly, when I asked Cammenga’s booth rep to compare and contrast the Easyloader to Maglula’s product line, he confessed that he was unaware of Maglula.

Cammenga Easyloader
Cammenga Easyloader

Meanwhile, not far away, Maglula offers a variety of magazine loaders in a rainbow of colors.

Malula's Color Choices
Malula’s Color Choices

After seeing Cammenga’s innovations in magazine loading and Maglula’s wide array of colors, we searched out new packs and pack innovations. On Day 1, we reported that SOG had expanded their offerings with some relatively high-featured packs. We also found some new(er) releases by traditional pack makers and an innovation or two that intrigued us.

Eberlestock has released a range bag called the Bang Bang, a messenger bag called the Combat Office and a three gun competitor’s bag called the Up Ranger. The Bang Bang also appeared that it might make for a good photographer’s bag as it had a padded internal divider system (pictured below).

Eberlestock Bang Bang Bag
Eberlestock Bang Bang Bag

Eberlestock also now offers a line of tents and sleep systems.

Eberlestock Sleep System
Eberlestock Sleep System

Under Armour also appears to have expanded their backpack line into the bushcraft/tactical arena. The display pack was filled with a variety of field craft items and appeared to be a slick-sided version of their Storm pack.

Under Armour Field Pack
Under Armour Field Pack

Sandpiper of California (SOC) showed us a fairly unique design in pack frames. Their Pack Mule frame has a section that folds out to create a seat. If you’re one of those that carries a portable seat with you on camping or hiking trips, the Pack Mule might be worth a look. The entire frame is only 4.5 lbs. SOC had a pack loaded up with 30 lbs of weight. I carried it around for a couple minutes and felt absolutely no discomfort. The frame is a good frame, regardless of the fold-out seat.

SOC Pack Mule with their Three Day Elite Pack
SOC Pack Mule with their Three Day Elite Pack

We also visited the Hill People Gear booth to take a look at their latest pack, the Connor. The Connor started out as a pocket that could be strapped onto the back of another pack and has morphed into a full-fledged pack in its own right.

Hill People Gear Connor Pack
Hill People Gear Connor Pack

Similar to most of HPG’s packs, the Connor has a simple main compartment that allows the contents to be placed in compression sacks. In addition, the front of the main compartment is lined with a MOLLE panel made from loop material allowing attachment of MOLLE compatible gear or hook and loop gear. The pack also has side wings with MOLLE attachment points and twin mesh pockets on the back of the pack. The mesh pockets can be used to hold water bottles or … as Evan, of HPG, uses them … to air out wet socks.

Next to the HPG guys, we ran into Bart Combs, President of SOLKOA. If you aren’t familiar with SOLKOA, it’s probably because they’ve been running under the radar for their company’s entire history providing service to some of our country’s elite units. As federal training and equipment budgets have shrunk, Bart has had to branch out into the civilian market.

One of SOLKOA’s unique offerings is a line of first aid/survival kit modules. Most vendors in this arena either offer full kits or individual components – sometimes both. Bart has assembled modules, like the fire module pictured below, that allow the buyer to augment their existing kit without having to purchase individual components one at a time.

SOLKOA S3 Fire Module
SOLKOA S3 Fire Module

We also had some really good discussions with Bart about an ultra-light kit for trail runners and ultra-light hikers.

We didn’t see a lot that jumped out at us at any of the knife vendors’ booths but ESEE’s had a couple new offerings. They have slightly re-designed their standards, the ESEE 3 and 4, and released a laser-etched version of the Izula. Reportedly, the ESEE CR (Cody Rowen) 2.5 knife was available for pre-order by dealers as well.

Modifications to the ESEE 3
Modifications to the ESEE 4

The new ESEE 4 has thicker, more rounded scales and no finger guard. The ESEE 3 has been similarly modified.

ESEE CR 2.5
ESEE CR 2.5

The CR 2.5 looks like a handy little knife for small tasks around the campsite.  You can see the size of its blade as compared to the ESEE 4 above.

All the New ESEE's Together
All the New ESEE’s Together

That’s it for 2016. Stay tuned for deeper, longer-term reviews of many of these items over the course of the year.