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Inflatable Roof Tent, Campfire Griddle, and More Emerging Gear

Mar 22, 2023

From next-gen tech to ingenious innovation, our weekly peek at emerging products examines the sometimes cutting-edge, sometimes quirky world of gear design.

The Yamaha cooperation is like the merchant from Aladdin — if you want it, they’ve got it. From grand pianos to ATVS to outboard motors, the wide-reaching brand has its tendrils all over the market.

Now, with the release of the Special Edition YDX Moro 07, Yamaha celebrates 30 years in the e-bike game. There weren't many commercially available electric bikes back in 1993, and Yamahas may have been the first. The YDX Moro represents 3 decades of lessons learned and new technologies developed.

According to the brand, this full-suspension bike offers "impressive range efficiency, higher torque, and the smoothest delivery of assist felt on a power assist bicycle to date."

New shoe brand Vimazi notes that it took 5 years to develop and produce its "pace-tuned shoes." That novel product theme — making a shoe for a particular pace speed — is one of the company's main callouts. The Z40 ($175) was built for anyone running at a 6:15 to 7:45 minutes-per-mile pace. The speed-appropriate design has a lot to do with cushion and foam. Explains Vimazi, "At 7 minutes per mile, your flight distance is quite long, which means you generate a lot of force on impact. To account for that specific impact force, we tune the reaction density of the heel and midfoot to optimize cushioning you get."

In our testing, it proved a lithe and speedy shoe, with 5 mm of drop and cushioning that promoted an efficient stride. The upper is pristine, with intricate colors and lines and a molded, ribbed heel. The shoe ran well in our first road tests, making us believers that a "pace-tuned" design is worth a look.

During the summer of 2022, I personally tested dozens of pieces of sun protection apparel. After many hours of hiking and rock climbing under blazing UV rays, the KUIU Gila emerged as my #1 favorite long-sleeve hoody.

Now, a new version of the Gila arrives, just in time for the longest and hottest days of the year. It's made from the same material as the original, but it sports a variety of extra sun-shielding features.

When it's too hot to wear the visor-brimmed hood, the Gila PRO ($99) has a built-in gaiter that fully covers the front, sides, and back of the neck — plus the ever-sensitive ears. A chest zipper and mesh armpit vents round out the shirt's immense utility.

The TRT 140 Air is Dometic's latest gift to the car camping zeitgeist. At the intersection of bouncy castle technology and Dometic's proven product design, this inflatable shelter weighs just over 100 pounds and sleeps two adults.

With its single inflation point, setting up the 140 Air should be a quick and low-effort process. Simply pull off the included cover, hook up the extension hose, and pump away. Like any rooftop tent worth its salt, the 140 comes with a moisture-reducing condensation mat and a sturdy telescoping ladder.

Flint Hills is an annual 120-mile cycling race in Kansas — the heartland of the American gravel riding scene. Inspired by the rigorous athletic demands and glorious pastel sunsets of Flint Hills, Shimano's new RX6 and RX8 "deliver all-day comfort for tackling any ride."

One of our editors recently acquired the RX8, and though he initially thought they were too pretty to expose to the dusty gravel roads near his home, he appreciates their stiff and efficient platform and Shimano's consistently comfortable fit.

The Arc'teryx "System_A" collection exists in the Venn diagram overlap between urban style and outdoor recreation. While I’m generally weary of practical apparel that looks like it belongs on the runways of Paris, Arc'teryx has earned the benefit of the doubt.

The fifth and current System_A collection comes with a "hike to climb" theme. The Chexa Hybrid Hoody ($300, pictured) aims to become a "go-to mid-layer" — think Patagonia's R1 TechFace Hoody or Helly Hansen's LifaLoft Insulator Hybrid. A dash of synthetic insulation adds utility for cold-weather bouldering and winter walks to the gym.

Unlike most technical mid-layers, the Chexa has a high fashion sensibility and a price tag to prove it. Though understated, the Chexa has a color-blocked mod aesthetic — especially when paired with matching pants. It's available in men's and women's sizes.

This handsome griddle — along with its stand and cover — can turn a backyard bonfire into a comprehensive cooking station. The sleek "half and half" design offers porous cooking space for meats and veggies and a smooth zone for eggs and flapjacks.

Outdoor cooking is always a good time, and this griddle appears to be a high-quality product. It's manufactured in Sweden from preseasoned carbon steel. In the winter months, it’ll be equally handy on the indoor stovetop. A solid Father's Day pick.

High quality at "half the price." That is one callout from Quince, a company that sells clothing and travel gear. We tested the Carry-On Hard Shell Suitcase ($129) this month on multiple trips. At $129, the polycarbonate carry-on looks and functions like comparable suitcases that cost more.

Quince includes interior compression panels for organized packing and a removable laundry bag for dirty clothes. The case has a TSA-approved lock and YKK zippers. A telescopic handle and 360-degree wheels let the clamshell case glide through a concourse as you run to catch a flight.

Hordes of retirees and the founders of Valley Rays share a mutual motivation: Arizona is a very sunny place. Phoenix-based Valley Rays is a new sunglasses brand that's just getting started, but its lofty claims and intriguing products quickly piqued our interest.

According to the founders, the brand's frames are made from "cutting-edge bio-resin based nylon." The "bio" in "bio-resin" is castor bean oil, which is allegedly stronger and lighter than conventional structural materials — and more easily biodegradable to boot. Currently, only one model — the pictured Phoenix — is available to purchase. For $80, it looks to be a solid value.

Isbjörn of Sweden was founded with a theme of letting kids enjoy outdoor activities "in all weather conditions." That includes sun, and this spring a new line of made-for-kids clothing is rated for SPF50+ protection.

The line, including clothing and hats, is made of sustainable nylon fabric. A standout product, the Dolphin Sun Jumpsuit, gives one-piece protection at $60. The Otter Sun Hat ($40) has a cape to keep rays off the neck. We tested the line on our kids and were happy with the fit, function, and sun-averting properties Isbjörn of Sweden promotes.

Yamaha YDX Moro 07 E-Bike the merchant from Aladdin the Special Edition YDX Moro 07 Vimazi Z40 Running Shoe pace-tuned shoes Z40 KUIU Gila PRO LS Sun Hoodie my #1 favorite long-sleeve hoody Gila PRO Dometic TRT 140 Air Inflatable Rooftop Tent TRT 140 Air Shimano Flint Hills Gravel Shoes Flint Hills RX6 RX8 Arc'teryx Chexa Hybrid Hoody Chexa Hybrid Hoody matching pants men's women's ‘Made In’ Half and Half Griddle This handsome griddle stand cover Quince Hard Shell Luggage Carry-On Hard Shell Suitcase Valley Rays Phoenix Sunglasses the pictured Phoenix Isbjörn Sunwear for Kids Dolphin Sun Jumpsuit The Otter Sun Hat