Thursday, August 14, 2014

Outdoor Retailer Recap (Part 3)

All week long I've been sharing some thoughts on the gear that I saw at Outdoor Retailer last week. If you've missed my previous two installments, you can find them here and here. Before I put the show behind me for another year, and start planning ahead for reviewing some of the great gear that I saw there, I thought I'd share some more of my favorite pieces of equipment that were on display. Some of these items will be appearing on store shelves in time for the holidays, but many of them won't be available until next spring. That gives us plenty of time to start saving for the items that we really want to add to our gear closets in the future. So, without further adieu, here are more pieces of equipment to keep any eye on.

Osprey Hydration for the Whole Family
In my previous OR recap, I wrote about Osprey's great update for the popular Atmos pack, which has a new harness that is incredibly comfortable to wear. The company has also introduced new hydration packs for the entire family, with sizes designed for kids as young as three years old. The entire line has been updated to accommodate just about everyone in the family, with youth packs that are specifically built for the needs of active young people. Soon, every little hiker will have a pack made just for them, and I can assure you that they are adorable.

Nite Ize GearTies
I wasn't all that familiar with Nite Ize gear when I dropped by their booth, but while I was there, it was eye opening. The company makes dozens of products, many of which are truly innovative, delivering some unique functionally for outdoor enthusiasts. One such product is their GearTies, which are flexible cables that are versatile enough to be used to cinch up just about anything, either on the trail or at home. Better yet, the GearTies come with a docking system, which allows you to organize your garage or gear closet in an efficient manner, while still allowing you quick access to anything you need. This is one of those items that you don't realize you actually want, until you see it in action.

BioLight BaseCamp
BioLight continues to produce innovative products that give us the ability to charge our electronic devices in the backcountry, while also cooking our meals. A few years ago they introduced their CampStove, which allows backpackers to burn just about anything they have available, while creating electricity to power smartphones, cameras, and other devices. This year, they're taking it up a notch with the new BaseCamp model, a much larger stove with an integrated grill, light, and the ability to generate far more power. The stove has some innovative controls built right in as well, allowing you to cook in a variety of ways. The BaseCamp ships in September, and costs $299.

Goal Zero Venture 30
Goal Zero continues to push the boundaries of what we can expect out of solar panels, generators, and portable power sources. Their new Venture 30 is a small, hand-held, back-up battery for charging smartphones, tablets, cameras, and other electronic gear. It has smart sensors that automatically detect the best charging speeds for a given device, and it has the ability to charge two devices at once. A perfect travel companion, the Venture 30 will make it easy to keep your device charged up while you're on the road, whether you use one of Goal Zero's solar panels or not. It will run $99 and is set for a spring release.

Concept Shoes from adidas Outdoors
One of the best things I saw at Outdoor Retailer was a pair of concept shoes that may, or may not, be coming from adidas in 2016. The shoes are build for trail running, but have taken the innovative step of using a mountain bike tire as the soles, providing more grip and traction on rough, muddy surfaces. The fact that these shoes actually look amazing only adds to their appeal. A version of the shoe is in development, but what it will look like when it finally comes to market remains to be seen. Still, in their present state, they are already inspiring gear-lust in more than a few of the attendees at OR. Here's hoping adidas deliver on the promise.

Mammut Comfort High GTX Surround Boots
Speaking of awesome looking footwear, Mammut also took the wraps off a great looking boot scheduled for release in the spring of 2015. It is the Comfort High GTX Surround, and it uses new Gore-Tex materials to provide unmatched breathability and ventilation, while keeping the foot warm and dry. These super-lightweight boots still provide plenty of stability and protection in the mountains, and happen to look amazing too. They were on display in both Mammut and Gore's booths, so you know that they are excited about delivering this product to consumers. MSRP is about $199, which is very affordable for a shoe that delivers this much performance. I'm looking forward to checking these out.

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 Pack 
As usual, Mountain Hardwear had a host of great new products on display, including a super lightweight jacket designed with mountain runners in mind. But I was also impressed with their new Scrambler 30 daypack, which looks like it'll be great for short adventures into the mountains, or as a nice travel pack. This year, the pack adds OutDry fabrics, which will make it a completely waterproof product. That adds a new layer of versatility and functionally to a pack that is a great size, and already has a good history. Fans of Mountain Hardwear products will not be disappointed with this update to an already outstanding product.

That's all from OR 2014. I hope to be reviewing a number of these products in the weeks and months ahead, so stay tuned for my thoughts on these gear items.

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