This year, Outdoor Retailer Winter Market was a mixed bag of truly groundbreaking innovations and iterations of existing technologies. Fashion-forward technical gear built to transition seamlessly between urban and outdoor environments was an overarching trend that carried on from the past three shows — even some of the big boys took notice and played along with the trend. The show was also noticeably bigger this year, as the snowsports industry was included in the mix for the first time. Interestingly, we heard from more than a few brands that they are looking forward to winter 2019 — which leads us to believe there will be some real innovation happening next year.
Over the course of three days, we met with over 150 of the best brands in the outdoor industry and saw, without exaggeration, over a thousand products. Here, we narrow it down to just ten. These ten products caught our eyes through innovation, advanced materials and superior design, and made us excited for the outdoor industry and the year ahead.
While a select few pieces below are available for purchase now, most of the gear featured here will be available for purchase fall/winter 2018.
Teton Bros. Hybrid Down Jacket
Teton Bros. is, despite its name, a Japanese company started by Nori and Junko Suzuki. The company takes its name from the famous Wyoming mountain range, the Tetons, where Nori spent time. We first caught wind of what the brand was doing a number of years ago when its Tsurugi Pullover won Polartec’s Apex Award for innovation. Since then, the brand has continued to innovate and push design in the outdoor industry.
The brand’s latest innovation is the Hybrid Down Jacket, which, like a select group of other Japanese brands, utilizes Kodenshi down. With Kodenshi down, the down feathers are coated with ceramic particles that help to reflect your body’s heat back more efficiently. In addition to the ceramic particles, the Hybrid Down Jacket also features a unique cuff. Essentially, the cuff is on the inside of the sleeve, by the wrist. But instead of having a traditional cuff, elastic is sewn into the shell material to keep things simple and save weight.
Oakley PRIZM React Goggles
While Oakley wasn’t the only brand launching electrochromic goggles at Outdoor Retailer this year, the stalwart brand’s version called PRIZM React was by far the most polished. Unlike others in the marketplace, Oakley’s PRIZM React has no separate battery pack, no wires and is an overall tighter package.
As its name implies, the electrochromic lens changes tint when an electric current passes through it. A button on each side of the lens frame can change the tint from lighter to darker depending on the user’s preference and lighting conditions.
Patagonia Capilene Air Base Layers
For 2018, Patagonia is changing the nomenclature that coincides with its baselayers. In the past, all of Patagonia’s synthetic baselayers were referred to as Capilene while its wool versions were referred to as merino baselayers. For 2018, all of Patagonia’s baselayers will be referred to as Capilene.
As part of the launch, Patagonia is launching a new version of its Air baselayer, the Capilene Air. It’s a completely seamless, 3D knit baselayer comprised of 51% merino wool and 49% recycled polyester giving you the best of both worlds. It’s stretchy, won’t stink, is faster drying, breathable and temperature regulating.
The North Face Ultra Fastpack III GTX Woven Hiking Boots
The North Face continues to help everyone from your average joe to professional athletes reach new heights and goals in the outdoors — from summiting the tops of the Himalayas to a faster PR on a trail run in Chamonix, France. The brand’s new Ultra Fastpack Collection is the start of a new era of mountain boots aimed at getting the most out of your hike. The boot features lightweight materials in an engineered-woven upper that help limit abrasions over long-term use. The boots also feel soft and comfortable on your feet thanks to a FastFoam midsole.
With the new weaving process, TNF can integrate different materials and fibers directly into the boots down the road. With the fabric updates and technology advances we’re seeing, there’s a good chance that TNF will integrate even more durable materials like Dyneema over time.
DPS Phantom Base Treatment
DPS is a ski company, but its latest product will benefit both skiers and snowboarders substantially. Phantom is a base treatment that, once applied, keeps a pair of skis or a snowboard fast and removes the need to wax…forever. The formula was developed by DPS and polymer scientists at the University of Utah. It can be applied easily at home — the treatment consists of two parts that cure in the sun for three hours each — and because it permeates the entire base of the ski, Phantom will remain intact through every run and stone grind you put your planks through. Wax techs will not be happy.
Outdoor Research Bitterblaze Gloves
Created initially for NASA space suits, PrimaLoft Gold Aerogel is being heralded as the ‘warmest insulation on earth’ and making its way into consumer goods. Aerogel is a malleable solid that’s basically all air (98% to be exact). It’s an excellent insulator and stops cold from seeping into Outdoor Research’s newest gloves and prevents any heat that’s already inside from escaping out. This technology is placed in the palms and fingers, while in typical Outdoor Research style, goat leather is placed along the points of contact where ropes and tools tend to rub to provide more durability. The new glove is called the Bitterblaze, and in addition to the aerogel, it utilizes a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane and PrimaLoft Gold 1330gram insulation to keep your hands warmer than ever. The test? Attendees of Outdoor Retailer could lift dry ice with the gloves to get a feel for just how protective they are.
Rab Microlight Summit Down Jacket
The visual look of the horizontal baffling in a down jacket is the way we’ve come to know and recognize that a layer is warm. The catch is that when you add stitching to create the baffles, you create hundreds of tiny holes in the fabric. Those tiny holes allow cold air to move in and out of the jacket — and while it’s on an extremely micro level, it can still disrupt warmth. Rab’s newest jacket eliminates stitching and welds, which are the typical alternative, by employing a circular weaving process that creates the horizontal tubes that house the down securely in place. The process produces a warmer, more windproof jacket — no stitching means no extra holes.
With 750-fill of ethically sourced, hydrophobic goose down, the jacket is built for the toughest climbers and mountaineers, meaning for the rest of us, it’ll handle virtually anything. It also has a helmet-compatible hood to keep you toasty warm. It’ll be available fall/winter 2018 for $325.
Salomon S/LAB Shift MNC Binding
Salomon has been innovating ski bindings since the 1950s when it replaced traditional leather straps with the mechanical “le lift.” Next winter, after seven years of development and testing, Salomon will do so again with the launch of the Shift. The binding represents a true merger of uphill touring and downhill skiing capabilities with a toe that converts back and forth between pins and a downhill toe. The Shift may not be the lightest touring binding available, but it ups the ante on binding safety and allows skiers to charge as hard as they want when it’s time to descend.
Dynafit HOJI Pro Ski Boot
Developed with professional skier Eric “Hoji” Hjorleifson over the course of four years, Dynafit’s latest boot is a lightweight touring boot (1,450 grams for a size 27) that achieves the performance capabilities of a downhill boot. The magic is in the walk/ski mechanism (called the HOJI Lock System), which consists of a highly-engineered system of cables and pins linked to a single lever that transitions the boot from a 55-degree walk mode to the stiff, forward-leaning downhill mode. It may sound elaborate, but the goal achieved is simplicity; no more messing around with buckles and switches, just one, easy-to-access lever.
BLACKYAK Modicana Jacket
South Korea-based BLACKYAK aims to change the concept of layering with its new MIDSHELL collection, which, as the name suggests, blends the waterproofing abilities of an outer shell with the warmth and breathability of a mid layer. The just-revealed Modicana does that with particular panache — every detail in the jacket is engineered to perfection. The shell is soft to the touch and stretches in all directions; the cuffs are unobtrusive, the interior is lined with merino wool seam-taped panels, the hood moves with the head and not against it. In short, the Modicana may just be perfect.