For this summer’s Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, Digital Trends teamed up with The Manual to crown the greatest outdoor gear as our Best Of Show winners, along with two brand new awards going to the most innovative products. Head on over to The Manual to see the complete Outdoor Retailer Awards.
As a host of established and startup companies took to the Outdoor Retailer showroom floor this summer intent on debuting the the latest products, perhaps no brand unveiled anything quite as innovative as the Hydra-Light. Using an imaginative new energy cell technology called Hydra Cell, Hydra-Light flashlights actually rely upon water — yes, water — to produce light. An innovation in every sense of the word, the groundbreaking Hydra-Light tech was impossible to ignore as a Digital Trends Innovation Award winner.
Debuted by the similarly named Australian company, Hydra Light, this inventive new approach to flashlight technology should prove an absolute game changer. Simply dunking a HydraCell in water for roughly 10 to 15 seconds produces more than 100 hours of power for a lantern or flashlight, and provides incredibly easy access to electricity. Though a single exposure to water won’t power the cell to its capacity, it can subsequently be dunked to replenish the electrical current.
By developing a cell that utilizes water as a hydration system, the team at Hydra Light found a way to produce steady electrical currents by way of liquid. To top it off, Hydra Light offers a range of lanterns, flashlights, and power packs compatible with a variety of Hyrda Cell sizes and variations, with each toting the same water-activated tech but different applications.
It’s easy to chalk up something this unique as a gimmick. But Hydra Light didn’t take to the Outdoor Retailer show to simply talk about its invention — it gave showgoers a firsthand look at the tech in action. Across the Media Preview event and on the main showroom floor, Hydra Light treated passersby to what seemed like a magic trick. A booth outfitted with buckets of water, several large HydraCells, and samples of the company’s Mini-Light, Hydra Light dunked cell after cell in water, which accomplished the dual feat of powering the flashlight and dropping jaws to the floor.
What helps make the tech even more fascinating rests not just with its ability to serve as a versatile camp light, but also with its inherently positive benefit on the environment and the impact it could have on developing countries. Hydra Light reports that, according to the EPA, more than 3 billion batteries are thrown out annually in the United States. (It’s easy to recycle batteries, actually.) And since the only requirement for a Hydra-Light flashlight is water — no matter how clean or dirty it is — developing countries should have consistent access to a convenient form of electricity.
There’s no denying the advantages inherent in Hydra Light’s Hydra Cell technology, making it the perfect recipient of a Digital Trends’ Outdoor Retailer Innovation Award.