Winter Outdoor Retailer Show in Review

Friday, January 31, 2014

For those of you that are unfamiliar, Outdoor Retailer is the largest Outdoor Gear trade show in the US and is held in Salt Lake City.  It happens twice a year, Summer and Winter, and attracts both brands and retailers from all over the world.  Bringing in roughly 1100 Brands and over 20,000 attendees, it is simply HUGE. Now a few days removed from the show the fog in my head is starting to clear.  Between having 50 brand meetings in 3 days and the never-ending happy hours, things can get a little fuzzy.

You may have followed along on our social media sites and caught a glimpse inside the world of the ORShow, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.  After seeing literally thousands of products, I picked a few that I just thought were cool.  I wasn't looking for the most amazing technical advances, just the most lust worthy.  'Lifestyle crossover" was a term used repeatedly at this show and what it really means is brands are looking to make gear that works as well on the street as it does on the trail.  We like the sound of that...





One great example of how gear can disguise as everyday apparel is this flannel shirt jacket from MH.  At first glance it looks just like any other plaid in your closet, but hidden inside are technologies that make it a legit addition to your gear arsenal.  Its flannel twill weave exterior and microfleece lining both sport MH's Wick.Qtm moisture wicking tech, so while it keeps you warm it can easily shed any moisture you produce should you get a little too warm.  $100



Possibly the coolest product I saw at the show. Want perfectly framed action selfies?  Tired of watching your kid's game through a viewfinder?  Pair up a huge range of cameras like a camcorder, GoPro or even your camera phone with the AIMe robotic mount and keep the action in view automatically.  AIMe's little buddy EmIT is a beacon worn by whatever you want to film, and AIMe will rotate 360 degrees and tilt 120 degrees to keep EmIT in frame from up to 150 feet away.    $299



Always innovating, Columbia dropped a whole new line of insulated jackets on us and they are calling them TurboDown.  Coming in 3 grades; Diamond, Platinum and Gold, you get a range of both protection and cost.  The Cadillac set-up, Diamond Series, marries the already proven Omni-Heat reflective technology and thermal insulation into a new two layer combination with premium 890 down insulation.  Compared to similar down-only jackets Columbia's TurboDown delivers over 30% more heat retention along with a sticker price that the average human can justify.   Most expensive jacket in the line $325 (Diamond), with options at $180 (Platinum) and $150 (Gold)...  Killer deals.




Simon Beck is a "Snow Artist" who creates amazing giant geometric designs in snow with just a drawing, compass and a pair of snowshoes.  Think crop circles in the snow.  In partnership with Beck, Icebreaker is launching a line of their merino wool base layers emblazoned with Beck's designs.  You get killer insulation with unique designs and $1 from the sale of each piece will be donated to Protect Our Winters (POW) a non-profit representing snow sports enthusiasts trying to effect climate change.

Garnering accolades from a number of media outlets, this new multi-day hiking pack from Granite Gear is just killer.  They already make some amazing packs, but this one has a couple new features that really set it apart. A real Maple wood core frame sheet and front zippers to gain access to the pack from top to bottom make it one of the most user friendly pack made.  This 70 liter pack will comfortably carry 60+ pounds and do it with style.  Oh, and did I mention these guys are from our great state of Minnesota?  MN Pride!  $349


Hanwag may be new to the US market, but they have been making bomber hiking boots over in Germany for nearly 100 years.  Their double stitched construction sets the standard for durability and they find a way to inject some great off-mountain style while doing it.  These Tashi hikers utilize Yak leather, a first for me.  Because Yak leather is considerably stronger than cow hide, they can shave it 2.5 times thinner without sacrificing ruggedness, making these boots significantly lighter than their cow born counterparts.  Plus, how many guys do you know that have Yak leather boots, right?  $380

In the world of ultra premium active sunglasses, the list of players is pretty short.  Revo was once at the top of a very short list.  In the last decade however, their reputation has slid some while under the Luxottica umbrella (think Oakley and Ray Ban).  Well, in a coup of sorts, Revo just bought itself back out from the sun glass mega-giant and has it's eyes set on rebuilding the brand to it's once legendary status.  Though the catalog isn't huge yet, styles like the Guide we reviewed a while back and the Heading above are sure to get people's attention.  Personally, we can't wait to watch what happens.  $189


Far less technical and all about style, the boots coming out of Oliberte' simply blew me away.  I NEED to add these to my collection.  One of the only Fair Trade certified boot makers on the planet, the African factories hand select leathers and partner only with other socially and environmentally conscious vendors and factories.  You can't help but feel like these boots were hand made 50 years ago.  Even brand new they look well loved and oozing with character.  The 2014 line has expanded styles for both men and women as well, so keep your eyes peeled.  And they are a bargain at only $170


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