Sunday, June 09, 2013

Giving camping gear a Kickstart

Photo: Windcatcher on Kickstarter

A little while ago, I received an email from the makers of the Windcatcher inflatable mattress, asking me to feature the product here on my blog. If you've had a browse through the blog, you'll see that I do talk about products here and there. Whatever has caught my eye, or something new in my own gear collection. I made a decision early on not to commercialize my blog, so I don't promote products in exchange for money, nor do I ask around for free gear to review.

Having said all that, these guys told me they are using Kickstarter to fund their new mattress design, and I went to the listing to check it out. I couldn't decide whether this is a groundreaking design or not - since I have never seen or tried one in person. It looks a wee bit bulky for backpacking, so I guess it's a matter of whether paddlers or car campers would find it more convenient to not carry a pump around to blow up their thicker mattresses. I'd like to try it for myself, just to see if it's as easy as they say. Clearly they have a lot of people convinced, as they have already raised over $125,000 and exceeded their funding goal. You can check out the listing here if you want to get in on it: or go to their website

Then I got curious. What other kinds of innovative camping products are getting the Kickstarter treatment? The answer turned out to be fewer than I expected. Although an awful lot of people seem to be trying to get strangers to fund their through-hike of the Appalachian Trail (and sure-to-be-riveting documentary about their walk). Seriously folks, I'm not going to pay you to take 5 months off and go hiking. Save up for it yourself!

I did find a couple of actual gear projects. The first is a camping hammock called KAMMOK. I'm not sure that it looks significantly different in design from other camping hammoks on the market, but they far surpassed their fundraising goals. Initially trying to raise $15,000 in 2011, they eventually racked up more than $200,000. You can now find their products on
Photo: Kammok on Kickstarter

The last product I found was the SnowXu - a folding snowshoe design. This seems like a reasonably good idea if you're going on a multiday trip that will involve snowshoeing only some of the time. Again, I haven't seen the product in person or tried it, so I can't vouch for it - but in theory I can see a purpose for it. So could a lot of other people. They surpassed their $7,000 goal by over $1,400. Their fundraising on Kickstarter is wrapped up, but you can find info on their products on