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Editor’s Choice: The Best Gear from Outdoor Retailer Summer 2016

Ball-bearing knives, advanced sweat-wicking fabric, and much more.

AJ Powell

Twice a year, the outdoor industry gathers in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the Outdoor Retailer trade show to display all of the innovative gear and materials set to release in the next year. All of the big names are there — Patagonia, Marmot, The North Face — but there are also a ton of smaller brands working to revolutionize outdoor gear.

At this year’s Summer OR, active insulation was again a big talking point, as was materials innovation as a whole. Polartec leads the charge, but Primaloft and brands’ in-house insulations are not far behind. Stand-up paddleboards continue to be a booming market in the water-sports world, with even kayak brands throwing their hat in the ring. Rock climbing safety was another trend, with a handful of brands releasing anti-panic belay devices designed to keep climbers safe — especially beginners.

Below are highlights from the show, from the best new materials to a knife with a ball-bearing folding mechanism. While some of this gear is available now, most will be launching this spring. So keep an eye out for these innovations at your local outdoors store starting in February 2017.

Additional contribution by Jeremy Berger.

Outdoor Research Ascendent Jacket

OR Best of OR Gear Patrol

A Next-Generation Jacket: Outdoor Research’s Ascendent jacket is a game changer when it comes to active insulation. It utilizes Polartec Alpha Direct insulation, which has no liner. The insulation sits directly on whatever you’re wearing underneath the jacket. The outer shell is constructed from breathable and stretchy Pertex that is also highly water resistant. 

Learn More: Here

Thermacell Backpacker Repeller

Thermacell Best of OR Gear Patrol

Gas-Powered Mosquito Repellant: If you’re tired of bugs around the campsite, but don’t want to carry a heavy mosquito-repellent lantern or candle, Thermacell has you covered with its new Backpacker model. It provides 15 x 15 feet of mosquito, black flies and no-see-ums protection and weighs in at only four ounces. It hooks up to a standard gas canister from brands like MSR or Coleman.

Learn More: Here

Camelbak Quick Stow Flasks

Camelbak Best of OR Gear Patrol

Handheld Hydration: More and more, ultra runners are ditching the standard water bottle model. Easily stowable and collapsable water bottles are the name of the game. Camelbak’s new Quick Stow Flasks cater directly to this market, and come in insulated and non-insulated versions. And they’re durable, built from similar materials to their hydration bladders.

Learn More: Here

Salomon XA Enduro and Sense Pro Max

Salomon Best of OR Gear Patrol

The Best Ultra Shoes Yet: For the high alpine mountain runner, Salomon’s new XA Enduro offers protection with a built-in gaiter that comes up over the ankle. It also features Salomon’s Sensifit system, which locks your foot in and decreases movement when ascending and descending. Salomon will also be releasing the Sense Pro Max, which features a similar platform to their killer Sense Pro running shoes, with more cushioning either for larger runners or people who like more of a maximalist cushion in their shoes.

Learn More: Here

Gerber US Assist

Gerber Best of OR Gear Patrol

Your New Everyday Knife: Gerber’s new EDC knife features a ball-bearing system of deployment that offers smooth and consistent folding. The S30V blade includes a stone-washed finish that has a timeless aesthetic. The new knife will be available in November for $119.

Learn More: Here

Adidas Terrex Agravic Speed

Adidas Best of OR Gear Patrol

The Trail Shoe We’re Most Excited About: Like many running shoes these days, the Agravic Speed features a sock-like construction that wraps around your foot for a snug yet comfortable fit. It also has a Continental rubber outsole modeled after Continental’s mountain bike tires to give you reliable traction on a variety of surfaces. Availble spring 2017 for $120.

Learn More: Here

Polartec Delta Fabric


Sweat-Fighting Fabric: Polartec’s new Delta Fabric works to move sweat away from your body more efficiently than than anything else on the market. It’s constructed from a weave of two different fibers, one hydrophilic and one hydrophobic. The fiber closest to the skin is hydrophobic, to move moisture away from the skin and out to the outer layer; the fiber on the outside is hydrophilic, to absorb that sweat and evaporate it out. Available spring 2017.

Learn More: Here

Yeti Hopper Flip

Yeti Best of OR Gear Patrol

An Impressive Cooler, Made Better: Launched last month, the Yeti Hopper Flip was still big news at OR. The cooler is the perfect size for a day trip, and holds 12 pounds of ice alone, or 12 beers with a two-to-one ice-to-can ratio. The Flip is availble now for $280.

Learn More: Here

Smith Overtake and Pivlock Arena Max Bicicleta Sem Freio Collaboration

Smith Best of OR Gear Patrol

The Limited-Edition Cycling Helmet You Need: Adorned by cyclists in the Olympics in Rio, Smith’s new limited-edition Overtake features a collaborative colorway. The design on both the Pivlock Arena Max sunglasses and Overtake Helmet was done by Bicicleta Sem Freio, whose name translates to bikes without brakes. The group is comprised of work from three street artists based in Brazil. The kit is currently sold out, but if you dig around on the web, you might get lucky.

Learn More: Here

Arc’teryx Bora AR Pack

Arcteryx Best of OR Gear Patrol

The Game-Changing Backpack:By far, the new Arc’teryx Bora Pack is the most comfortable backpacking pack ever built. Not only does the hip belt swivel (a few brands have been doing this for a while), but it also glides up and down a track to allow the pack to move more fluidly with your spine. The one drawback could be the weight of the system, but it’s a small price to pay for supreme comfort. Available January 2017 for $499.

Learn More: Here

Suunto Spartan Ultra

Suunto Best of OR Gear Patrol

Suunto’s Best Watch Yet:Suunto’s new Spartan Ultra GPS smartwatch not only tracks every stat you would need in the mountains, but it also has a full color touchscreen that is easily viewable even in full sunlight. It’s everything you love about Suunto, elevated. Availble August 15 for $799.

Learn More: Here

Sea to Summit Ultralight Hammock and Nomad Duffle Expedition Bag

S2S Best of OR Gear Patrol

The Thinnest Hammock You’ve Ever Seen:The two significant launches from Australia-based Sea to Summit include a tissue-thin hammock and a line of expedition bags. The hammock, which compresses down to the size of a softball, weighs only 4.9 ounces thanks to the monofilament Nylon 66 fabric that it’s made of. The duffle bags are rugged and convenient, made of a combination of 900D Tarpaulin and 1,000D Cordura Nylon, with neat features like a magnetic handle keeper and multifunction straps. Available March 2017.

Learn More: Here

La Sportiva Akyra Trail Running Shoe

Sportiva Best of OR Gear Patrol

Mountain-Crushing Footwear: La Sportiva introduced another shoe meant for crushing rocky singletrack in the mountains at high speeds. Like the Ultra Raptor, the Akyra is a neutral, stable shoe with the brand’s “Trail Rocker Sole System.” It weighs just over 11 ounces with 9mm of heel-toe drop. Available February 2017 for $140.

Learn More: Here

Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket

Patagonia Best of OR Gear Patrol

The Nano-Air for Hardcore Athletes: Patagonia took its stretchy, breathable Nano-Air and made it significantly better for high-exertion activity by replacing the material under the arms and on the back with a 100 percent poly waffle-knit fabric treated with Polygiene — so you’ll keep cool and won’t stink. Available January 2017 for $199.

Learn More: Here

Fjällräven Abisko Trekking Tights

Fjall Best of OR Gear Patrol

Hardcore Tights: Ideal for people who like the performance characteristics of running or cycling tights, but designed to provide the durability that the trail demands, Fjällräven’s Abikso Trekking Tights look like pants (pockets, zippered fly, etc.), but are made of a dense, stretchy performance fabric with reinforcements in important spots like the knees. Available March 2017 for $175.

Learn More: Here

Kelty Shindig Blanket

Kelty Best of OR Gear Patrol

Best Luxury Blanket: Aimed squarely at the picnic-enjoying, festival-going crowd, Kelty’s Shindig Blanket is a dual-layer blanket, which means it’s effectively a casual, lightweight sleeping bag for two. It comes in fun retro colors and rolls up for carrying with its own built-in webbing and buckles. Available in spring 2017 for $70.

Learn More: Here

Mountain Hardwear AC Henley


The Ultimate Technical Henley: The appropriately named henley from Mountain Hardwear, a brand that’s aiming to get back to its hardcore outdoors roots, is stupidly lightweight at just two ounces. The 100 percent poly fabric is made from a moisture-wicking woven (rather than knit) fabric, so it looks from afar like a typical henley, but up close you can see that it’s actually a technical fabric. Available spring 2017 for $70.

Learn More: Here

Thule Subterra Carry-On


Thule Beyond Roof Racks: Thule’s new Subterra carry-on bag has everything you could possibly want in a travel bag. It can be carried in three different ways: as a backpack, as a shoulder bag and as an over-the-shoulder bag. It also comes with a removable laptop and tablet sleeve that can be carried separate, or can be tucked neatly into the bag. Available spring 2017 for $200.

Learn More: Here

More Outdoor Retailer Coverage


Looking for more Outdoor Retailer coverage? Check out our OR Edition of Today in Gear. Read the Story

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