Outdoor recreation manufacturers converged on Salt Lake City recently for the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market (ORWM). They brought their newest and best products, some never seen on store shelves, to entice retail-store buyers. They also brought killer swag, costumes, elaborate booths, food, and a number of epic after-hours parties.
The Active Explorer crew attended to get a look at the latest innovations in outdoor products. There was so much to see it was hard to choose favorites, but a few items grabbed our attention.
First, I’ll qualify “our attention,” ORWM includes over 1150 manufacturers, and we both tend to be a little distracted, so we certainly missed a lot of good stuff in spite of visiting a total of four days. It simply wasn’t possible to catch everything.
This post includes my favorites, while I’m sure George has his own as well. For each item I picked, I’m going to include my thoughts and the manufacturer’s official “spiel.”
Pssst… This is a long post but make it to the end and there is a video of a hydration pack being blown to bits. Who doesn’t love seeing stuff explode???
Woman’s Hike Snowshoes by Easton Mountain Products
The first thing I noticed about these shoes was the ergonomic shape. I tested them in deep Idaho powder along the Snake River for over four hours, they were comfortable, and the bindings never pinched. They were also easy to put on and take off. We plan to test both the Men’s and Women’s further.
Easton says… Advanced materials and ergonomic design work together for the perfect balance of traction, flotation, and comfort to accommodate longer and steeper excursions. The easy Quick-Cinch.™ binding with a single strap pull-and-go entry holds the boot securely without shifting. Specifically contoured to match a women’s unique stride, Hike utilizes an ergonomic crampon, Climb-Assist.™ heel lift, and stability enhancing Virtual Pivot Traction Cam.™ to help you Go Farther.™
Woman’s Hike Snowshoes – Retail ranges from $159.97 – $199.95
Boreas Erawan Travel Duffel
A backpack meets a duffel bag in the Erawan with lots of thoughtful details. This bag is incredibly innovative. The Boreas team travels – a lot – so they made note of what they wished their luggage could do, and built it. A heavy-duty waterproof bottom allows travelers to set the bag down without worrying about wet or dirty ground. This bag has “experience” written all over it, and I want one….
Boreas says…Fabrics: 420D nylon and highly durable 840D TPU bottom.
Suspension: shaped, perforated EVA foam backpanel helps keep back cool.
Body: Wrap around hidden daisy chains that enable shoulder straps attachment/reattachment for varying torso lengths, convertible shoulder straps that tuck away when not in use, large waterproof pocket, and built-in wet/dry storage pocket.
The Boreas Erawan is available in two sizes, 50L and 70L. Retail $149.99 for the 50L and $159.99 for the 70L.
Goal Zero Solar Kits
Yes, I’m an adventurer, but I also like to stay connected to my kids and use my phone for photos, even while backpacking, go ahead and chastise me…. Naturally, on multi-day trips the problem becomes maintaining a charge. Enter Goal Zero solar chargers. We are currently testing the Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit model and will have a full report on that soon. However, I also have my eye on the lighter Switch 8 USB Recharger. To see a review of the Bolt Flashlight, click HERE.
Here is what GoalZero says about the Guide 10… Keep your power hungry phone juiced and ready for you to use. More Angry Birds! Power up your tablet for 25% longer. Never buy batteries again. Recharge up the AA or AAA batteries right from the sun. Just add sun. Small and compact enough to carry with you always and power up anywhere. Handy built-in LED flashlight to help you search in your dark backpack or purse. AA rechargeable batteries included.
Goal Zero Guide 10 Adventure Plus Kit – Retail $119.95
Goal Zero Switch 8 USB Recharging Kit – Retail 99.95
Avex Brazos AUTOSEAL Water Bottle
This ingenious bottle is my new companion. Its innovation didn’t hit me when the rep handed me one and said, “Just try it.” I just tossed it in my bag with tons of other swag. Now this bottle has completely revamped my hydration. It will not spill, but it’s easy to use even with one hand. Perfect at my desk while I write, or in the car, tossed on the seat. The point is I never have to worry about this bottle spilling on my things. I just gave away all of my other sports bottles in favor of the Avex.
Avex says… One-handed, BPA-free plastic water bottle automatically seals between sips. This BPA-free plastic water bottle has no cap to remove, no spout to open – making it perfect for one-handed use during activities. This water bottle features patented AUTOSEAL® spill-proof & leak-proof technology – simply press the button to sip and release to automatically seal. The AUTOSEAL® lid automatically seals between drinks to eliminate spills and leaks. Easy transport with a convenient clip-on handle that attaches to gym bags, backpacks and gear. Spout shield covers and protects the spout from dirt and germs. No plastic odors or taste with FDA-approved, BPA-free Tritan™ materials. Water bottle is top-rack dishwasher-safe. 25 oz. capacity.
Avex Brazos AUTOSEAL Water Bottle – Retail $14.99
FITS Medium Ski Socks
I was warned before my first ski lesson to wear quality ski socks. Not owning any, I borrowed a pair and remained comfortable throughout my lessons. When FITS offered me a pair of my own, I was elated. I have a bit of a sock fetish, what can I say?
I liked the tailored fit and they did an excellent job of keeping my feet warm during hours of snowshoeing and then some unplanned snow hiking (an interesting story). The FITS rep advised me not to double up on their socks, but I didn’t listen. After about an hour of snowshoeing, my toes were cold and numb. I stripped off the second pair of socks and just wore the FITS. Soon I could feel my toes again and was comfortable. Lesson learned.
I tested these socks beyond their designed use and they performed.
What FITS says… Get Your FITS®…and ski in luxury! The Medium Ski provides a fully cushioned foot and shin using the finest gauge Merino Wool we could find. The Medium Ski will have you saying “Finally, someone got it”– and we sure are glad that you did.
FITS Medium Ski Socks – Retail $24.99
BOGS Summit Boots
Warning… I’m a RAVING fan of these boots. They are another product that I pushed far beyond their intended use and they took all I could throw at them.
These waterproof casual boots are designed for warmth and comfort around town. They are also a cute wardrobe piece. BOGS boasts that the Summit has a comfort rating of 14° F. I tested this in real world conditions, and it’s legitimate. They are not available in stores yet, but I was given a pair to test pre-release. Look for them on store shelves in late summer.
Initially I wore the boots around the house and to the Outdoor Retailer show for several days. I received complements on their appearance and they were very comfy. Next, I packed them for a trip up to Idaho where I wore them on a snowmobile. It was supposed to be a quick half-hour run and the BOGS were my warmest and only waterproof shoes, even though they are a soft boot. Long story short, we got stuck and had to hike out. Thanks to my BOGS boots and FITS socks, my feet and toes never suffered in spite of thigh-deep snow. Had I chosen to wear my regular hiking boots, I might have been in trouble and potentially suffered frostbite. I now look at my BOGS with appreciation – like a good friend.
What BOGS says… 100% waterproof, plush lining for extra warmth, crafted with soft fabric to easily fold down, machine washable, 2mm Bogs Neo-Tech insulation, duel-density contoured EVA insole with DuraFLesh anti-odor protection, molded rubber outsole, comfort rated to 14° F.
BOGS Summit Boots – Retail $100.00
Geigerrig continued to lead the hydration system market this year, adding several new packs and an anti-viral in-line filter. I don’t have one pack in particular to profile here, I’m a fan of the system overall.
The cool thing about the Geigerrig system is that it can be placed in nearly any pack. The innovation is not just in their packs but also in HOW they deliver hydration. The system is pressurized, meaning you can squirt water into not only your mouth, but also a friend’s or a dog’s. You can also use it to rinse a wound, your body and messy children. The bladder opens all the way for easy fill and cleaning. It can also be tossed into the dishwasher. The bladder and seal are practically bombproof.
There is a lot to say about their innovation, so I suggest you give the Geigerrig website a look if you would like to see what the next generation of hydration systems look like.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links that send me a few bucks if you buy something after clicking on them. Trust me; it’s not even enough to pay the bills, let alone justify recommending a product I don’t believe in. They may someday fund a Starbucks coffee, which helps me write. The links I use lead to Backcountry.com where I find prices run lower than on other retail sites, so you save some money as well.
Snowshoeing interests me in theory, but anytime there is enough snow on the ground, I am cross-country skiing. The ski socks look great. I need to get me a pair of those. I just use my hiking wool socks, so I could use some specialty clothing.
I still want to learn to cross-country ski… Downhill is so expensive. I also like the idea of tranquil trails. The fit of the ski socks was very different than hiking socks, worth trying. Then again, if you like your socks, why mess with a good system?
Welcome to SLC. I just read your post about the hike to the living room. I’m just down the road in Utah County so whenever you’re ready to take a closer look at one of the Zombie Apocalypse Paks you mentioned above just drop me a line. BTW, SLC has some awesome outdoor writers to collaborate with. I can get you some intros if you like.
Hi Mike! Good to hear from you. I’m absolutely looking to connect with other writers and would appreciate the intro. I also would like to check out the pack once I get settled. I plan to stay busy on the trail this spring and summer so I’ll have some good testing opportunities. It looks like I may be working in Utah County so I’ll be in your area from time to time.