outdoor retailer 2018Since “Hunting” is in our name here at SHWAT™, and that’s almost exclusively an “outdoor” activity, it should come as no surprise that we wound up at the Outdoor Retailer (OR) trade show in Denver this week. No gun dealers were there but there were certainly some gems at this Outdoor Retailer event. I’m sure we’ve missed some, but here are our top five takeaways for you.

SiOnyx Aurora Day/Night Vision Action Camera

Sionyx AuroraSiOnyx brought its new color day/night action camera, the Aurora. Think color night vision, the Holy Grail to many. It works in daylight, too. And as I prepare to publish this the news is breaking that the SiOnyx Aurora won Best In Show, a huge accomplishment considering the megabrands at the show. A quick glance around Facebook and you find hard core doubters and the almost piously hopeful; so much speculation on both ends. I’ve already gone hands on with it, but first the basics as published.

The SiOnyx Aurora weighs in at almost eight ounces compared to a PVS-14 night vision monocular at closer to eleven ounces. The OLED display looks good, not Cinema 4k good, but does the job. The Aurora supports compass and GPS functions. Via future updates to the app we’re supposed to get Augmented Reality (AR) including navigation, waypoints, team geolocation and more. Can they really do that? Dan Cui, acting CMO of the SiOnyx Aura project, graciously agreed to a private demo. He has a very deep background in AR and yeah, all that and more is possible. There are adapters for picatinny rails and go pro mounts in the pipeline and more things for hunters that I cannot share at this time.

My initial impressions are positive. Our demo started as thunderstorms began to drop rain on us near the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. No lights there, but light on the street. The moon was close to full, but on and off again hidden behind the clouds. I didn’t have pitch black to work with, but that’s not to say it wasn’t dark. I pulled out an old license and it was too dark to read it. But with the Aurora and it’s manual focus, we got a sharp image at something near eight inches. Trees at 100 yards clearly had leaves on them. The colors are a bit off as we’re viewing both visible and some near infrared, but still, it’s impressive on this demo. From a usability standpoint I cannot say how much I love the fact that SiOnyx gave the Aurora actual control inputs, not just menus to search through. Want to go from photo to video? Rotate the dial to the mode you want and you’re there! Fast and accurate. And you can record photos and videos to a removable micro SD card. Naturally we’ll need to go hunting with an Aurora to really practically wring it out, but so far so good.

The Aurora is not a weapon site, not subject to ITAR restrictions etc. I can be mounted in front of a good 3x or less day optic which begs the question of how one actually maintains zero in that case. Stay tuned is all I can say. But as day/night action camera will it hold up to recoil? Dan tell me it’s gone thousands of rounds on 5.56 AR-15. Beyond that, we don’t yet know. The Aurora retails at $799. If you want to see pictures from our private demo subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, @SHWATteam.

12 Survivors

 12 survivors water treatment

12 Survivors is an entry level survival/outdoors gear supplier. They have everything from tents and hiking poles to knives and a variety of water purification systems. They even have an outdoor shower that most would think useful during extended back country hunts or camping. However, after hot nights hog hunting I’m pretty sure it would be winning proposition with some of the hosts we’ve hunted with! On a more serious note I came home with a Pocket Water Purifier  and Reservoir 10 water bottle that’s pretty interesting. We’ll review these later, but the bottle is really a bag the reminds me of a baby feeding bottle. I’d never have thought of that as a portable purification option, but it might be a winner when packing your way home from Elk camp deep in the Rockies.

Boost oxygen

boost oxygenSpeaking of the Rockies, if you’ve ever been here you know that the air at this elevation lacks the same oxygen levels that most of the United States population is accustomed to breathing. It turns out that even if you live here you can run into issues while active, it happened to a friend of mine. That’s who first told me about Boost Oxygen. They sell bottled oxygen. Pretty simple, it’s not liquid, it’s just compressed into a bottle you can take with you. Seems like a really good idea. I found this bottle at Walmart.

Lalo Tactical & Athletic Footwear

Lalo boot reviewLalo makes my feet happy, so far anyway. I received a pair of their amphibious boots while on the East Coast. They look different and in fact are quite different than anything else I’ve ever owned. I mentioned wearing them in a recent Texas hog hunting story. So far I’m really happy with them and you can look forward to my more detailed evaluation soon. The boots are very high tech and incredibly light weight. Lalo approaches the tactical boot market from a performance athletics perspective. I’m planning to try out some of their shoes that a friend has been rocking for a while now. Well, not his shoes, of course!

CRKT Knives


As I’m typing this I literally wonder how many people own a version of the CRKT M16 knife. I do. I bought it at full retail (and then some?) from a tiny West Texas gun shop. I still love that thing and it seems I’m not alone. In visiting with Bryce Gerard at the CRKT I found out he’s heard that same story over and over. I guess it’s the quintessential CRKT knife. They were also showing off a sweet axe called the Freyr. Yeah, Viking design makes it look pretty cool and looks got my attention. But it’s also practical with a nice head for splitting wood. By choking all the way up on the handle you also can do smaller manipulations to carve kindling. All well and good in your camp this fall, but I’m told it also makes a great throwing axe so bring on the entertainment!

So that’s my top five takeaways from the summer 2018 Outdoor Retailer show. Did I overlook something you’d like to comment on? Well, jump on in and comment below. No login required!

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