We like to get our hands on new gear early, and short of theft and corporate espionage one of the best ways to do that is by checking out Outdoor Retailer, a biannual product show for retailers, manufacturers and other industry pros. We were on hand at the Winter Market 2014 show at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT, where every brand with a stake in the great outdoors showed off their future cold-weather wares. Immediately notable was all the wilderness-ready booze paraphernalia — from Stanley, Vapur, MSR and more — but of everything we touched, tasted and saw, this gear stood out most.
Additional reporting by Austin Parker.
Black Diamond Halo 28 JetForce
News of Black Diamond’s revolutionary avalanche pack leaked in late 2013, but the Halo 28 JetForce was officially unveiled at OR — and it’s a next-level product. The major innovation is that the airbag is filled by a high-test fan powered by a rechargeable lithium polymer battery and that it can be deployed several times in one outing.
Salomon S-Lab Hybrid Jacket
We’ve been interested in Salomon’s race-quality S-Lab collection since we tested the Sense Ultra trail runner. The Hybrid Jacket is ridiculous. It’s a feather-light 120 grams, with a close-fitting hood, waterproof panels and a “stash” waist — a 360 degree stretch panel that allows you to take off the jacket and wear it like a belt, without stopping.
BioLite BaseCamp Stove
Last year Brooklyn-based BioLite introduced the HomeStove, a biomass cookstove that converts waste heat into electricity, with the goal of bringing the technology to households currently cooking over open fire in Indian and sub-Saharan Africa. BaseCamp is inspired by the HomeStove, but more luxurious: it has a grill, folding legs, a 5W output for charging devices, a USB light to illuminate the grill, and it stores power so you can reheat dinner for a late-night snack.
Scarpa F1 Evo Alpine Touring Boot
Scarpa’s ultralight randonee racing boot is the first to sport a built-in hike/ski function. Instead of a manual switch, the boot changes between modes automatically: when the boot is in the binding, you’re ready to go downhill; snap out and it’s in walk mode.
Faribault Map Blanket
Minnesota-based Faribault Woolen Mill Co. has been making blankets since 1865, and lately they’ve been partnering with companies like Engineered Garments and West Elm for special edition woolen products. At OR we saw their map blankets, 50 x 65 inch oversized throws made from 85 percent fine merino wool and 15 percent cotton. The first run included maps of Minneapolis and St. Paul; in early 2014 they’ll be making maps of New York. Interesting fact from the Faribault owners: these throws are made on a jacquard loom operated by a woman who has worked at the mill for 59 years.
Adidas Duramo Cross X GTX
We’ve been crushing out miles of trail running this winter in the Adidas Terrex Fast R GTX, which we included in our first annual GP100 awards. It’s really a lightweight hiker, but we haven’t found a sole on another trail runner that grips the snow and ice as well. The Duramo Cross X GTX is an extension of the line and a true trail runner — we can’t wait to get them out for a spin.
Speedo MDR 2.4 Goggles
The only product from this list that’s already on the shelves as of January 2014, Speedo’s MDR 2.4 goggle uses a brand new gasket design with grooves in the liquid silicone that expand on your face. It’s one of the most comfortable goggles we’ve ever strapped on, and it has a split (rather than curved) lens with zero distortion, making it an ideal tri goggle.
Helly Hansen Warm Flow FZ Hoodie
We’ve been wearing Helly’s Lifa fabric since before we could drive to the mountain on our own. It was good then and it’s superb now. Incorporating the brand’s Flow technology, the base layer has an open-weave interior that funnels moisture away from the skin to the merino exterior. Bonus points for the hoodie, which is how we like our base layers.
Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp
Sea to Summit’s Escapist Tarp is ideal for adventures that require an ultra-light and minimalist kit. It’s made from waterproof 15D Sil/PU coated Ultra-Sil Nano fabric with eight tie-out points for a handful of setup options (conveniently printed on the outside of the stuff sack). You can also get it with a mesh inner shelter that hangs, pole-free, from the tarp.
Mammut Alyeska GTX Pro 3L Realization Pant
Swiss mountaineering company Mammut has built safety right into a pair of pants — and we’re not talking about diapers here. The Alyeska GTX Pro Realization Pant integrates a climbing harness into a pair Gore-Tex bibs, so you’re ready to rappel without bringing along an extra piece of gear. Then again, if you’re skiing that far out of bounds, a diaper may not be a bad idea.
Brunton All Day GoPro Battery
Wyoming-based Brunton introduced a handful of useful recreational products at this winter’s show, including a heating system for outdoor accessories, but the most useful product will likely prove to be the All Day, a 4,000 mAh battery battery pack for the GoPro Hero3+, housed in a water- and shock-proof case. The All Day extends the battery life by up to four times — so theoretically to six hours.