Four Small Brands You Should Know About

Cool companies and their gear


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Our gear editors scoured the floor of Summer Outdoor Retailer 2018 for the most interesting small brands. Here’s what they found.


(Emily Reed)

I’m a sucker for a good-looking, slim wallet, and San Diego–based Mule makes one of the best. Its leather Trek is built with a cash pocket, a mini-pen slot, and two side-by-side pockets that hold five cards each. The exterior is made of premium vegetable-tanned leather, and the interior is lined with durable, water-resistant nylon.

—Ben Fox, affiliate reviews director


This amazing company makes lip balm, muscle rubs, anti-chafe sticks, and sunscreen, then donates a portion of the proceeds to domestic-abuse victims. The name is part of the company’s effort to reclaim the word “bitch” and turn it into a vehicle of empowerment, rather than an insult. No testing on animals, no GMOs, no palm oil, and all natural ingredients.

—Emily Reed, assistant reviews editor


(Emily Reed)

I’m very much a one-strap-over-the-shoulder kind of guy when it comes to casual backpacks. So Kavu’s offerings, like the Paxton, are right up my alley. It helps that the strap is made from a handsome length of rope, and that the bag’s body is a bomber cotton canvas and 600-denier polyester that can stand up to no small amount of abuse.

—Will Egensteiner, senior editor


(Emily Reed)

These pocket guides cover more than just where to drink. More storybook than guidebook, Wildsam’s slim volumes include local culture and history, essays, short stories, illustrations, and short biographies—the kind of information you need to truly learn about a place rather than just putting together a tick-list of things to do. 

—Ariella Gintzler, assistant editor