Outdoor Retailer is a biannual product show for retailers, manufacturers and other outdoor industry enthusiasts and pros. Those who attend communicate in a vernacular that relies heavily on words like “bomber”, “pow“, “burly”, “skimo” and “heat-reflecting microdots”. We were on hand at the Winter Market 2015 show at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT to scope out the future of cold-weather goods, hard and soft. If you want the CliffsNotes: ski mountaineering is and has been blowing up. Read on for new products in that discipline and beyond.
Nudown Mt. Tallac Jacket
Insulated by Air: While there’s always a large and very dense conversation about textiles and insulation at Outdoor Retailer — Polartec, for example, rolled out Power Wool on new wares by Under Armour and Westcomb — Nudown was the only one selling air. Their collection of jackets and vests use an air pump to inflate and thereby insulate the product. We were skeptical, but we’ve already put this one in the field for testing and came away pleasantly surprised.
Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi WP
Hoka Takes on Hiking: By now you know (but still can’t pronounce) Hoka One One as the brand that started the so-called “maximalist” running shoe trend: their super oversized and cushy midsole, coupled with a stable ride, made them a popular choice for ultra runners and runners recovering from lower-extremity soreness. At Outdoor Retailer they moved into hiking with the MTN Trek series. The Tor Ultra Hi WP is the shoe we’re most excited about, combining the same basic features of their running shoes with a burlier Vibram outsole, a waterproof and breathable membrane, an ankle-high cut and the best colors they’ve put on a shoe yet.
Helle of Norway Utvaer Knife
A Knife for Bushcraft: When you need a knife not so much for cutting into a wedge of clothbound cheddar, but rather for batoning through the cheddar (and the table) to demonstrate how much you like cheese — well, then you’re in the market for the Utvaer, Helle of Norway’s newest knife designed for the survival and bushcraft set. Designed by Danish knife guru Jesper Voxnaes, Utvaer has a full-tang construction, a 4-inch blade made of a single 3mm layer of steel and, importantly, two rivets in the curly birch wood handle so you can beat it up without sacrificing its structural integrity.
Brunton Lightwave Amp
Lantern, Disco Ball, Stereo: Brunton’s Lightwave series of lanterns is intend to make your camping experience brighter, more entertaining and perhaps safer. The largest lantern is the Amp, with a 400-lumen light, a rechargeable 21,000mAh lithium-ion battery and USB ports for charging other electronics. But hang on just a second, Mr. Car Camper: it also has speakers and RGB color-capable LED lighting — both controlled from their B-SYNC app via Bluetooth — which can work in concert to deliver a lightshow based on the music you’re listening to. If you run into trouble the Amp also has SOS lighting functions, though if everyone else in the woods is listening to the complete Heart discography and staring into a lightshow…good luck.
Edison Bulbs for Outdoorsy Types: Biolite’s newest product is not a stove or a kettle: it’s lights. Nanogrid consists of a PowerLight — a lantern, torch and energy hub — and SiteLites, smaller lamps that can be daisy chained together with the PowerLight to create an ambiance much like you’d get in a bar lit by a string of Edison bulbs. The PowerLight has a 4400mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery capable of refilling up to 3 smartphones via USB and providing up to 200 lumens of light for 7 hours in lantern mode (there’s also a flashlight or “torch” mode). Biolite says that the chief innovation of the system is the “edge-lit” technology of the PowerLight, which means that the light is emitted evenly across the entire lantern rather than from one hotspot in the center.
True Anti-Fog Goggles: Backcountry skiing (including ski mountaineering and touring) was the most prevalent theme at this year’s winter Outdoor Retailer, and Julbo designed a goggle especially for these disciplines. The Aerospace has a lens that can pop out a centimeter away from the frame and then snap right back into place. Pop it out going uphill; snap it back going down.
New Skin in the Game: While most climbing skins are made of nylon and/or mohair, Fischer introduced a set — which they’re calling a “ski-base attachment” rather than a skin — made of polyethylene. Unlike traditional skins that use rearward-facing fibers to prevent the skier from sliding backward, the Profoil’s polyethylene looks almost like the scales of a fish. And since Profoil is made of waterproof material, Fischer says that it won’t gain any weight while ascending.
Dynafit Winter Guide GTX
Gore-Tex Hits Ski Boots: Gore-Tex will be in ski boots for the first time. Dynafit’s Winter Guide GTX, designed for ski mountaineering, uses a combination of Gore-Tex laminates to create a waterproof and breathable inner boot that’s also heat moldable, which means sweat that builds on ascents won’t lead to cold and wet feet going down. Scott is also introducing Gore-Tex to ski boots in 2015.
Helly Hansen Pace Norviz LS
A Long Sleeve with Lights: Rarely is there a shirt that works equally well as a base layer, hi-viz running shirt and rave attire. Helly’s Pace Norviz is made of quick-drying fabric with a reflective print that illuminates in a brushstroke pattern when hit with a flash of light.
Cool Shades, Plain and Simple: In honor of the company’s 50th anniversary this year, Smith is introducing the “archive” collections, which of course reach back to earlier designs for inspiration. We like the Questa sunglasses, originally part of Smith’s moto series that came out in 1990, which is one of the best executions of the round lens shape we’ve seen. In tortoise, the Questa is like Oliver Peoples for those of us who prefer bikes and burgers to overnight facemasks and reservations at Dorsia.
Of course, there were a lot more products to see at Outdoor Retailer, some of which we’ve already covered in Today in Gear, others that we kept quiet because we don’t yet have photos or sufficient information to share. Stay tuned throughout the year as we share more new products and put as much as we can out in the field for a proper testing.