The biannual schedule that once ruled the outdoor industry’s biggest event in gear is no more. Last week, the Colorado Convention Center opened up its doors for the first November edition of Outdoor Retailer. Normally we’d have to wait until January to get a first look at thousands of products that won’t hit stores until the fall of 2019. We scoured as many booths as possible looking for the best of the best. Durable down jackets, 3D knit baselayers and climbing gear with integrated tech were all on display. The year isn’t over, but we’re already looking ahead.
Black Diamond Vision Down Parka
There’s a lot of reasons to get excited for Black Diamond’s Vision Down Parka. For one, it’ll be the brand’s warmest insulated jacket with a full fill of 800-fill, moisture-resistant down. It also includes gusseted arms for an increased range of motion and six pockets. But the coolest thing about the Vision is its proprietary shell fabric, which is manufactured in Japan with a liquid crystal polymer that makes it super tear-resistant. It’s so durable that Black Diamond’s factory could barely cut the stuff.
Mammut Diamond Fingerboard
Mammut is a really old company — it was founded in 1862 — but that doesn’t bar it from some seriously new tricks. Next year it’s introducing a fingerboard, which is a training tool that climbers use to practice brief yet intense straight-arm hangs. Mammut’s includes smartphone integration and weight-sensing tech to create targeted training plans from beginner to pro levels. And, it’s made of walnut, so it’ll look good enough to hang in rooms other than the garage.
Outdoor Research Vigor Hybrid Jacket
Breathability is always a concern with cold-weather insulating pieces. To support active pursuits, jackets have to be able to provide warmth, but breath so that you don’t get drenched in sweat. The Vigor tackles the incongruity through a hybrid construction and new proprietary insulation called VerticalX Air that offers a solid warmth-to-weight ratio and maintains its loft over time. Finally, the jacket contains a thermo-regulating treatment on its interior lining that changes its molecular structure to keep the wearer warm at rest and cool when active.
Gu Hoppy Trails Energy Gel
Gu’s no stranger to flavors that are best described as experimental — French toast, birthday cake and s’mores are all on the list — but hops is a step in a different direction. There’s thought behind the move though; Gu wanted to offer athletes a break from sweet flavors that can become hard to stomach when many gels are needed to get through a long event. We got a chance to taste the stuff, and it does taste like hops, in a good way.
Mountain Hardwear Phantom Hoodie
The Ghost Whisperer became Mountain Hardwear’s highly-praised, award-winning ultralight down jacket because it packs so much warmth in such a small package. In 2019, the brand plans to beef it up with a more durable outer shell fabric, which will create a slight weight increase (but it’ll still weigh just 9.9 ounces).
Smartwool Intraknit Baselayers
3D-knit is a term that’s readily applied to Nike’s latest sneakers, but it’s also something that Smartwool has been using to build form-fitting performance socks for years. In 2019, the company plans to use the method to build baselayers. Body mapping helps the new pieces focus on increasing ventilation, insulation and articulation while providing a comfortable fit that’s best characterized as sock-like.
Osprey Farpoint Trek Travel Pack
Osprey’s well-known for its trekking backpacks, which are very popular among long-distance hikers, and it used its expertise there to make a collection of equally-worthy travel bags. The forthcoming Farpoint Trek Travel Pack is something of a category blender; it combines technical features from the hiking line like Osprey’s AirSpeed mesh back panel with an internal pocket layout that world travelers look for. The backpack will be available in 55- or 75-liter volumes for $220 and $230, respectively.
Hults Bruk Sarek Splitting Axe
Hults Bruk is Sweden’s largest axe producer and one of the oldest continually-operating forges in the world. Its newest tool, the Sarek Splitting Axe, is designed for efficient splitting with a unique Scandinavian design that employs a straight blade with narrow cheeks (the side of an axe head) that feature a raised spine for wedging power. It’s something of a crossover between a felling axe and a maul, and it’s forged with Swedish steel and a solid American hickory handle.
Wolverine Heritage 1000 Mile Original Sneaker Low
With over 100 years of heritage behind it, the 1000 Mile Boot has become an icon of American footwear. Earlier this year, Wolverine used the pattern to inspire a sneaker, an evolution that will continue in 2019 with a low version of that same shoe. It will come in full-grain and suede leather with a light and sturdy Vibram outsole.
Norrona Lofoten Ace Ski Kit
Norrona is making its top-line Lofoten Ace ski kit in the same fashion as small-batch bourbon. Quality ingredients are the most essential element — Norrona is using recycled Gore-Tex Pro fabric — but style is important too (in contrast to the rest of the Lofoten collection, the Ace kit is all black). And just as with bourbon, this batch will be limited — there will be 200 jackets and 150 pants — and each piece will come with an embroidered edition number.
Danner 40th Anniversary Danner Light Boot
In 1979, the Danner Light became the first boot to feature a Gore-Tex liner. It was readily adopted by hikers and those working in the outdoors for that as well as its rugged, American-made construction. Next year it’s turning 40, and Danner is celebrating with a limited-edition version that might be its most handsome yet.
Gore-Tex 3D Fit Footwear
Your waterproof hiking boots and running shoes probably use a Gore-Tex liner to keep your toes nice and dry. It’s built into footwear as an additional layer of material that, in some cases, can affect how a shoe fits. 3D Fit focus on fit as well but takes a much different approach. It’s a sock-like liner that will function with knitted and mesh footwear — it’s light, stretchy, breathable and of course, waterproof. Look for it next year in footwear from Adidas and Salomon, with others to follow.
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