Outdoor Retailer Summer Tradeshow 2012. Photo: Bryon Dorr

By Bryon Dorr

Every August the Outdoor Industry gathers in Salt Lake City, Utah, to show off their new products, share information and prepare for the upcoming season. It's The Outdoor Retailer Summer Trade Show, and it is by far the largest collection of paddlesports gear anywhere on the planet, along with Canoecopia, of course, and a great place to look for new, cool gear. They even have an Open Air Demo, where you can try out all the new toys on the water. As you might guess, it's a great place to party too. There's a lot going on after the show each day, which notably included the C&K Awards this year, and the premiere of CONGO: The Grand Inga Project, which documents the first descent of the world's highest volume rapids. It's a lot to take in—to say the least— so after four days of geeking-out on gear non-stop, we've culled down the list to just seven items for you.

Here are C&K's picks for the Top 7 pieces of trend-setting paddling gear at this year's Outdoor Retailer Summer Trade Show:

Dagger Jitsu with Contour Ergo Outfitting
Dagger is finally releasing their much-anticipated new playboat, the Jitsu for the 2013 season. Dagger seems to have worked in the best design elements from many of today's top playboats while keeping the Dagger DNA that we all expect. The boat will come in three sizes (5.5, 5.9, 6.0) and feature Dagger's new Contour Ergo Outfitting, which depicts the topography of the Green River in NC. The outfitting is flashy, functional, lightweight and improved in just about every way over Dagger's current industry leading outfitting. (Dagger.com, $1,049)

Point 65 Mercury
Point 65 has been leading the charge in hard shell collapsible kayaks for some years now, but had never offered a performance version of the concept. The Mercury is the answer to the dilemma of being able to easily transport and store a touring kayak. The boat will travel inside a Prius and then be able to go up an elevator and store in a closet. The boat breaks down into three sections, with the bow section able to nest in the cockpit section for a much decreased storage size. The other key feature of the boat is the ability to add sections and make it into a 2, 3, 4, etc… person kayak with ease. Versatility and portability are what this craft is all about! (13'7" single and 17'10" double). (Point65.com, $874)

The Bellyak is an all-new way to enjoy moving water. The craft is designed to be used lying on your stomach or sitting up on your knees while using hand paddles. It comes in two variations; the Frequency downriver/creek version and the Play series, a design offered in three sizes to play in river features. The Bellyak looks like a boatload of fun, and you're sure to see a lot more of them on the water soon, especially on the warm waters of the SE USA where the company is based. (Bellyak.com, $849)

BioLite Camp Stove
Probably one of the most talked about products at the show is BioLite's new Camp Stove. This small stove burns small twigs and uses the heat energy produced to power a thermoelectric generator and fan, which will quickly boil water or heat your favorite meal. The keys to this unit are that it uses a re-newable fuel source, twigs, which in turn leaves a smaller carbon footprint and saves you pack weight and money by not having to carry and buy petrol based fuels. To top it off the unit has a USB connection that can charge your phone or other small electronics. With the unit's open top and large fan driven flame you can also roast marshmallows around a controlled flame when fire bans are in effect. (BioLite.com, $129)

Sureaqua Water Filtration Bottle
Sureaqua has probably developed one of the most reliable and high-capacity safe drinking water solutions on the market. It is an Australian company and is trusted for use in the field by the Australian military. The system has no moving parts, is durable, chemical free, has a 10 yr shelf life, and immediately makes almost any water source safe to drink. One of the killer features is that you always know when it is time to change the filter, as the system stops allowing water through the filter. Sureaqua offers its system in a number of functional forms, but the handheld water bottle is the perfect companion for those long days out on the water or your next overnight self-support kayak mission. (Sureaqua.com, $98)

Native Watercraft Slayer
The Slayer is Native's answer to the high performance kayak-fishing enthusiast. The boat comes in two sizes, 12' and 14'6", and will hit your local retailer early this fall. The overall design theory for this boat was to create a super clean deck that allows lots of fishing options and the ability to custom outfit the boat to your liking. The seat has a low and high setting and the boat is designed to allow fishing from the standing position as well. The hull is also well sorted and allows you to efficiently get to those far off fishing holes with ease. Functionality and simplicity are what make this boat such a great package. (Nativewatercraft.com, $1,179, $1,279)

Kokatat Maximus Prime
The Maximus Prime rescue vest seems to take the best parts of many of the top Rescue PFD on the market and roll them into one unit with a big helping of Kokatat DNA and innovation thrown in for good measure. The vest features an innovative tow tether system that incorporates a new stash pocket and quick access system that looks quite promising. The new Maximus PFD platform will also be available in a non-rescue version and some bright colors developed as part of the new Jackson Kayak signature line. (Kokatat.com, $219)

To see more new products from Summer OR 2012 check out Dorr’s OR Wrap-Up Report on ExploringElements.com.