Our Favorite EDC Gear from Outdoor Retailer Summer 2023

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I spent the past week out in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Outdoor Retailer Summer 2023 trade show for a chance to get some hands-on experience with the latest and greatest gear from your favorite outdoor brands. 

And with summer officially underway, now is the perfect time to rethink your everyday carry setup. Warm weather, spending time outdoors, and summer break travel plans are all reasons to switch up your EDC.

So to help give you some ideas of what new gear to look out for this summer, I’ve rounded up my favorites from the show in this quick recap.

Best EDC Knife: Spyderco Native 5 Salt in Magnacut

Spyderco needs no introduction in the EDC knife world, with decades of history and dozens of popular knives beloved for their unique design, excellent ergonomics, and everyday performance.

The standout at the Spyderco booth for me was this Spyderco Native 5 Salt not for its eye-catching yellow handle, but for the tiny text printed on the back of the blade: CPM Magnacut. 

That’s right, a classic Spyderco design in the Native 5 gets the latest and greatest anti-corrosion technology from its blade to the hardware, all befitting a knife in the Salt series purpose-built for the sea.

In terms of specs, the Native 5 is an excellent platform for EDC with its signature 2.95” Spyderco leaf shaped blade with thumb hole, back lock mechanism, and lightweight ergonomic FRN handle with pocket clip. The Native 5 Salt Magnacut comes in plain edge, full-serrated, and partially serrated options to choose from.

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Best EDC Flashlight: Wuben X3

The best flashlight at the show designed for EDC was one I’m already familiar with as I’ve tested a prototype in the past. But at the show I finally got to see the production versions of the upcoming Wuben X3.

This thing impressed me with its innovative design and feature set that makes it useful for outdoor activities and EDC alike. Some of the main highlights include its rotating 90 degree head, built-in body lights, high CRI emitter option, auxiliary red LED for emergency use, wireless charging, and its all-in-one diffuser, charging bank, and holster accessory.

You can read more about the Wuben X3 in our previous post here.

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Best EDC Watch: G-SHOCK DWH5600

While there were some outdoor-oriented smart watches and no-frills outdoor field watches on exhibit at the show, my pick for the best new watch for EDC combines both of them in an exciting way in the form of the G-SHOCK DWH5600.

G-SHOCKs are incredibly popular choices for EDC watches that can go anywhere and do anything while standing up to the rigors of everyday use and abuse. My favorite and perhaps most iconic everyday G-SHOCK design, though, is the beloved 5600 square. This new watch takes that same silhouette and tricks it out with smart health and fitness features, as well as some quality of life changes for legibility.

It’s a great solution for someone like me who loves watches but wants a better way to track fitness and health goals. I’ll sometimes wear my EDC watch on my left wrist and a smartwatch on the other to accomplish that, but the new DWH5600 does it all (and in style, I might add).

I want to point out a few details that stood out to me in the metal (or resin, in this case): the band is a softer and more comfortable on the wrist, which is great for a fitness watch. Also, the sensors on the caseback do protrude, but do a good job of sinking into the wrist to make something with a lot of wrist presence like a G-SHOCK square well comfortably enough for active workouts.

The DWH5600 comes in its flagship black colorway which I think many of you EDCers will appreciate thanks to its subdued look that goes with anything, but my personal favorite has to be the Dolphin Blue variant. That muted blue with hits of orange on the dial looks so good.

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Best EDC Survival Gear: MyMedic Everyday Carry FAK

In the context of outdoor gear it’s easy to dismiss some survival products as being too niche for EDC. But the folks at MyMedic do a great job of packaging first aid essentials into something you’d want to carry anyway with their personal first aid kits.

They have a new pro-level first aid kit, aptly named the Everyday Carry, designed with trauma-specific gear like a tourniquet and QuikClot dressing.

As I like to say, EDC is not only about what you carry, but how you carry – and the MyMedic Everyday Carry kit is a great example of that with its lightweight, water-resistant pouch that consolidates the kit. It’s got laser-cut Hypalon webbing on the front for MOLLE-compatible modularity, a bit of loop field for patch customization, an easy-access bi-fold zippered design, internal organization, and classic military-inspired exterior colors to fit in with the rest of your carry.

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Best EDC Apparel: Nomatic Outset Collection

I noticed a challenging binary in the type of clothing on display at the show: on one hand you’d have the obvious, hyper-technical performance outerwear that you’d bring on tough outdoor excursions. On the other, outdoor-inspired lifestyle clothes where functionality aren’t center plate. While I’d personally have no issue wearing a full-on techwear, gorpcore outfit in a casual setting, my pick for Best EDC Apparel strikes a balance of style and functionality that I think would be interesting to more people who enjoy EDC.

Nomatic, first known for their minimalist wallet on Kickstarter and later for their growing line of travel and photography bags and luggage, threw their hat in the ring with their new Outset Apparel Collection. I checked out some early versions of the clothes over at their booth and thought the line really showed some promise.

The Outset Apparel line seems to take inspiration successful Vancouver brands like Lululemon and Arc’teryx with its use of clean lines, movement-focused detailing and performant fabrics. But Nomatic’s carry and travel-based roots show in the minimalist aesthetic and clever pocket layouts throughout the line. The lightly insulated jacket and joggers on display had discreet zippered pockets, some with internal organization, and overall looked like something you could wear on a flight, around town, or at the gym. It’s a small but versatile collection and could be something to keep on your radar if you’re looking for new wardrobe essentials that synergize with your everyday essentials.

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Best EDC Accessory: Bertucci Watch Straps

If you already consider a watch an accessory, then this pick is more like an accessory to an accessory. Over at the Bertucci booth, who you might recognize for their value-packed field watches, this unusual watch strap caught my eye. It’s the finishing touch on an almost entirely glow in the dark watch – a fun exploration of low-light legibility in itself. The band itself has this pale green tone to it in direct light, which only grows brighter in the dark.

Even if you don’t care for the unique and subjectively cool-looking luminescent strap, Bertucci’s straps are not one-trick ponies. The straps come in the classic ZULU or NATO military styles, in all sorts of interesting colors, from your usual milspec greens and tans to more interesting combos like a reflective silver in a safety orange. Bertucci straps also showcase excellent materials in construction, with bands done up in Horween Shell Cordovan leather, for example.

There are all sorts of little details (some are even patented) that either show innovation in functionality or close attention to detail in honoring historical styles. For example, a pair of horizontal stitching at the furthest end of the strap double as a grippy tactile touchpoint when grabbing the strap, but also as a keeper for the stainless steel hardware when folding over any excess. It’s a much appreciated feature for someone with smaller wrists like me, lending to a cleaner look on the wrist.

Unfortunately these straps are designed to fit Bertucci’s most popular watch models, which sport unconventionally large lug widths on their springbar-less, unibody cases. In the future I’d love to see some more universal straps in the 20mm, but for now your options are limited to mainly 22mm.

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Best EDC Water Bottle: LARQ Purification and Filtration Bottles

If you’re like me and you’ve already invested in some outdoor gear, chances are you use a water bottle designed for the outdoors too. There was no shortage of those types of bottles on the floor, but unfortunately few of those stand out in any memorable way. My pick for the best EDC water bottle definitely made an impression both in terms of industrial design and technological innovation.

LARQ bottles made a name for themselves with their stylish water bottles that had built-in UV purifying bottle caps. Here at the show they’re showcasing their more affordable general purpose bottles that would fit into an everyday urban setting, as well as an outdoor setting, thanks to their filtration and purification systems. The integrated carabiners on the bottle caps are also a welcome feature for the EDC-minded water enjoyer. 

They teased a new bottle that’s soon to be released that serves as a great platform for this modular approach to treated hydration, but they asked me to keep that under wraps until it’s ready (we’ll cover those when they formally launch, so stay tuned).

In a sea of stainless steel cylinders, LARQ’s award-winning elegant designs and color offerings are like a breath of fresh air (or a sip of clean water).

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Best EDC Tech: Klarus CL2 Lantern

The show had no shortage of gadgets, but many of them had unsurprisingly niche outdoor use cases: think off-grid solar power, GPS, personal fans, etc. My pick for the best tech of the show has more overlap into everyday applications: the Klarus CL2 Lantern.

It’s primarily an outdoor lantern for a cozier campsite, but it pulls double duty as a 10400mAh charging bank too. Its unique folding leaf arm design makes it stand out from the more traditional single bulb lanterns not only visually but functionally too. The articulating panels let you control the direction of the light, which can be useful in avoiding unwanted shadows in your workspace if you were using this as a task light, for example.

The CL2 Lantern caught my eye from afar as it could also output red light to help preserve night vision outdoors. When suspended from a wire with its arms folded out emitting red light, it looked more like a futuristic drone than a humble camp lantern.

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Did any of the gear on this list jump to the top of your wishlist? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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