Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Outdoor Retailer Recap (Part 1)

I spent the better part of last week in Salt Lake City, Utah, attending the annual Outdoor Retailer Summer Market gear show. As always, it was a lot of fun to catch-up with friends, while soaking up the outdoor adventure atmosphere, and checking out all of the new gear that will be making its way to our favorite shops in the months ahead. As usual, the convention center was jammed with all kinds of interesting products that are indicative of where the industry is headed, with new packs, tents, sleeping bags, boots, and so much more on display. And while I rarely saw anything revolutionary there, the best gear companies in the business continue to refine their gear, giving us clothing, footwear, and other items that perform at an increasingly amazing level. 

While it is impossible to share with you all of the great gear items that were on display, here are a few of the things that caught my eye, and stood out from the crowd. 

Osprey Updates Atmos Line of Packs
For my money, Osprey makes some of the best packs available on the market, and almost every pack that I use for travel or outdoor pursuits comes from the company. It doesn't hurt that they have the best warranty in the business, and are constantly striving to improve their products. My favorite pack of all time is an Osprey Atmos 50 that has been on six continents with me. New for 2015, Osprey will update this very pack with a new suspension/harness that wraps around the body, cradling it snuggly. This new suspension allows for better load balancing, and provides increased ventilation as well. When the pack is placed on your back, it actually fits like a glove, not moving an inch. I have a feeling, backpackers are going to love this bag when it arrives next spring. 

Salomon S-Lab X Alp Carbon GTX Shoes
The folks at Salomon had a lot to share as well, as they continue to refine their amazing trail running products. One of the items that they unveiled at the show was a new pair of shoes designed for moving fast and light in the mountains. The boots feature a waterproof upper, built-in gaiter, a flexible carbon-fiber frame, and a lightweight body. Designed by ultra-runner Kilian Jornet, these shoes are built for speed on rough, icy terrain, and he put them to good use on his recent speed record on Denali. He also used a prototype of a great new mountain running pack coming from Salomon as well, and I promise that if you like moving fast and light in an alpine setting, you are going to want this pack too. Both the shoes and the backpack are scheduled for 2015 release as well. 

Keen Uneek Shoes
Salomon wasn't the only ones showing off fantastic footwear. My friends at Keen also unveiled their new Uneek line of shoes, showing us how to completely change the way that footwear is made. These shoes certainly live up to their name, but the comfort and sense of style that they bring to the table is simply unbelievable. You've never seen anything like them, and you've never worn anything like them either. 

Switch Sunglasses
I've been a fan of Switch sunglasses for some time, and each year they continue to make solid refinements to their already great products. The hallmark of their eyewear is the ability to quickly and easily swap out lenses that are designed for use in a variety of different lighting conditions. But their new products include fuller frames that give the wearer the option of adding or removing gaskets that help seal out external elements such as sand, dust, and snow. These great looking frames can pull double duty in all kinds of weather, making them great on the water, on the slopes, or on the mountain. Truly versatile sunglasses that look great too. 

Sherpa Adventure Gear Clothing
The team at Sherpa Adventure Gear has a great new line-up of clothing coming our way. The company already has an extensive collection of apparel for outdoor adventure and travel, but they'll add new items that include PrimaLoft-Merino wool and PrimaLoft-down blends that will add even more technical capabilities to their clothing. The Nangpala Jacket, scheduled for next spring, looks amazing, and should perform well in poor weather too. Meanwhile, the Vayu base layers promise to keep us warm in all of our favorite cold weather activities. Made in Nepal, the Sherpa products are versatile, durable, and look great too. 

5 Owls Personal Shelters
One of the more unique, and interesting, products that I saw at the show was a new line of personal shelters designed for backpacking and travel from a company called 5 Owls. Inspired by the bedrolls that cowboys carried on the back of their saddles, these shelters roll-up to be quite small, and yet contain everything you need to stay warm and dry no matter where you go. An integrated sleeping bag, and an innovative shelter system make them a breeze to set-up. The system is designed to allow you to sleep comfortably under the stars, but have a quick and easy shelter when poor weather sets in. The company's Ranger 2 products is great for equestrian or car camping, while it's Solo Shelter is built with the backpacker in mind. The designer of this product has put a lot of thought into how everything works, and it shows when you see it in action. 

This is just a tip of the iceberg for what I saw at Outdoor Retailer, and I hope to share more in a second post soon. I'm also hoping to get my hands on some of these products down the line, so I can test them myself, and post reviews. There are a lot of excellent new products coming in the months ahead, so prepare your wallets now. You'll want to replace your old gear with some of these updated products for sure. 

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Rizvia Belal said...
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