Showing posts with label Outdoor Retailer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Outdoor Retailer. Show all posts

The 20 Most Important Products From Winter Outdoor Retailer Ranked

If you haven't quite had your fill of gear news just yet, I have yet another article sharing the best new gear from the Outdoor Retailer show, held last week in Salt Lake City. This time, the list comes to us courtesy of Men's Journal, which ranks the most important new products that were revealed at the conference.

All told, there are 20 different pieces of gear that earn a spot on the MJ list, and while I didn't have a chance to see all of these, I did see more than a few of them. Some of the products that make the cut include updated running shoes from both Hoka One One and Altra, a sweet new down jacket from Montane, and a non-technical crampon from Yaktrax. You'll also find a variety of new products that are on the cutting edge in terms of technology and design that helps these items stand out from the crowd and do some truly innovative things in helping us to stay outdoors longer and enjoy our time there more fully.

While I don't necessarily agree that these are the 20 most important products on display at Outdoor Retailer, I definitely feel that most of the gear on this list are impressive updates for sure. Depending on your own personal outdoor passions, you'll find a lot to love here, with some new equipment that will definitely spark your attention. In fact, there are even a few items on the list that may get you interested in an activity that you hadn't considered before. This is definitely the case with the number one item on this countdown, which I won't reveal here. Needless to say however, I have seen this product personally, and think that it is going to be a lot of fun to use next winter.

Most of the gear that Men's Journal shares here won't be available for months yet. In fact, the vast majority of the items I saw at the show are not slated to begin shipping until Fall/Winter 2017-2018. That's the problem with attending a show like OR. It gets you very excited for new gear, but than makes you wait for months before you can get your hands on it. Still, most of this stuff is going to be worth the wait. Trust me!

The Best New Gear From Winter Outdoor Retailer 2017

Last week, the biggest brands in the outdoor industry descended on Salt Lake City, Utah to show off their latest creations at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. As usual, there were more jackets, boots, backpacks, sleeping bags, and tents than you could ever hope to see in such a short period of time, although those of us in attendance certainly gave it our best try. Over the course of the past week, a number of media outlets have shared their selections for the very best new gear to make its debut at the show, allowing you the consumer to get a sneak peek at some of the great products that will be arriving in our favorite gear shops in the months ahead. Here is just sampling of what earned some of that recognition.

Over at the Gear Institute, we handed out our semi-annual Best New Gear Awards, recognizing 9 new products that we thought were innovative an interesting. Amongst them were a gas-powered generator from Goal Zero and a new way to create custom insoles for our shoes. Similarly, the crew at Outside magazine handed out five awards for their favorite new products, while Popular Mechanics discovered 8 items that their editorial staff found noteworthy too.

Interestingly enough, there isn't a lot of crossover between the items that make all of the lists, which should give you an idea of just how diverse the products on display at OR truly are. The general consensus amongst those attending the show was that there were few products that were truly revolutionary this time out, but a lot of really nice new gear that made strides forward in terms of incremental improvements.

If you're looking for a very comprehensive rundown of some of gear that was on display, Gear Junkie took a first-look at a wide variety of products. Their team went beyond just naming a few award winners, but instead gave a very good overview of a number of interesting products that were unveiled at the show.

As for me, I may well share my favorite items from Winter Outdoor Retailer over the next few days too. I'm still decompressing from the show and getting back on track at home, but I definitely have some thoughts on what stood out as the most interesting to me. I'll have more to come on this topic soon I'm sure.

Heading to Outdoor Retailer!

I know we've only just returned from the holiday break, and just started getting back to normal around here, but it is already time for me to head off once again. I'll be spending most of next week in Salt Lake City attending Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, where I'll spend several days getting a sneak peek at the latest outdoor gear and apparel. When I return, I'll write a couple of post sharing my thoughts on the show, and the best new items that I saw there. But, if you'd like to get a sense of what's happening while the show is going on, follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page. I'll be posting updates throughout the event with thoughts on the things that catch my eye. 

Today and tomorrow I'll also be spending my time relocating The Adventure Blog world headquarters to its new, permanent location. While I'm getting my office set up and running once again, there may be some temporary disruptions in posting. But, I hope to be ready to get back on a regular schedule after I get back from OR at the end of next week. 

Thanks for being patient while we work through these busy couple of weeks. With the holidays now behind us, and Outdoor Retailer just about to start, 2017 is about to get rolling. Stay tuned for lots of great adventures and inspiring stories to come. It should be a great year.

Outside Gives Us the Best New Gear for Under $50

The 2016 Summer Outdoor Retailer show may be long over at this point, but there are still things to be said about what we saw there. Case in point, Outside magazine has posted a story that reveals their picks for the best pieces of gear for under $50, a price point that isn't necessarily all that common when it comes to the gear we use on our adventures.

So what made Outside's list? As you can imagine, they selected some unique items that are affordable, but also highly functional. For instance, Stanley showed off a new product designed to help keep your coffee warmer for longer, while Hydroflask revealed a Growler that can keep your craft brew drinks colder. Meanwhile, JetBoil's new MightyMo stove is certain to be a big hit in part because it weighs just 95 grams (3.35 ounces), and the latest knife from Gerber proves you don't have to break the bank to find a decent everyday carry for your pocket. Finally, the latest headlamp from Black Diamond also received a nod from the magazine thanks to it being very light (56 grams/1.97 ounces) and bright (150 lumens).

Since each of these items is $50 or less, there is sure to be a lot of interest in them. You'll probably have to be a bit patient however, as most of the gear shown at Outdoor Retailer won't be available until next spring. Still, it'll be worth the wait, and since these products are so inexpensive, you won't have to take out a second mortgage just to pay for them.

In the weeks ahead I'll be testing a lot of gear that I saw at OR and posting reviews. I've already started to receive some of those products, and there is plenty of good things to come for outdoor adventurers and travelers. I think you're going to be very happy with the way the industry is evolving, both in terms of delivering high quality gear that performs amazing well, and how eco-friendly the approach to creating our gear is becoming. It is an exciting time to say the least.

The Very Best Gear of 2016 Summer Outdoor Retailer

As you can see, I'm back from Salt Lake City and updating The Adventure Blog once again. While there to attend the Outdoor Retailer gear convention I had the opportunity to see all kinds of interesting, ingenious, and downright crazy new gear that is coming our way in the months ahead. Some of that gear I'll actually get to test myself, and share my thoughts with you readers. But there is simply so much to see there that no one person could ever review it all in a single year.

Thankfully, there are a number of websites that have shared their picks for the best new gear that was on display at the show. For instance, Outside magazine has posted its selection of the 5 best pieces of gear that were unveiled at OR with a new backpack from Arc'teryx and a tent from Cotopaxi each earning a nod.

Elsewhere, Popular Mechanics has shared it's picks for best in show as well, with some very interesting products earning a spot on their list. They handed out their "editor's choice" awards to seven new products, including an innovative and eco-friendly jacket from Columbia that was a hit with everyone at the show, and the new BaseLantern camp lighting system from BioLite.

Finally, the Gear Institute – a site that I contribute to and helped picks the award winners for – had posted it's selection of Best New Gear Awards too. We ended up handing out eight awards in total, with winners ranging from an ultra-slim, two fuel stove from Kovea to an innovative new sleeping bag from The North Face.

This is just a small sample of what we can expect in the weeks to come, as the trends that we've expected from the outdoor industry – namely lighter, more efficient, and more versatile gear – continues to be the theme. Your pocket book might not be too happy about all of the great gear that is on the horizon, but as an outdoor lover, chances are you will be very satisfied.

Off to Outdoor Retailer

As many of you probably already know, tomorrow marks the start of the 2016 Summer Outdoor Retailer gear convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. As usual, I'll be attending the show to check out the latest and greatest gear coming from our favorite outdoor brands. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. 

Because I'll be at the convention all week, there will be no further updates on The Adventure Blog until next Monday, August 8. In the meantime, if you'd like to get an idea of some of the new gear that is heading our way, be sure to drop by Gear Institute to read the three show previews that I've written to cover the event. The first was published yesterday, while part two went live today, and a third is coming tomorrow. On Wednesday, just as the show is opening, we'll also post our selections for the Best New Gear Awards as well. 

Of course, I'll also be sharing my thoughts directly from the show floor on Twitter and Facebook. Follow me at @kungfujedi or join my Facebook page to get those updates over the next few days. I usually post photos and thoughts on some of the most interesting gear that I come across while there. 

I'll be back soon with more adventure news.

2016 Winter Outdoor Retailer Round-Up

This weekend I returned home from the 2016 Outdoor Retailer convention, where hundreds of companies were showing off their latest gear designed to make our lives a lot easier on our adventures. As the name implies, this version of the show is heavily focused on winter activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. As a result, much of what was on display is designed to help keep us warm in the cold temperatures, while enjoying our favorite winter sports.

For those who couldn't attend the show, I thought I'd share some of the gear round-ups that have been posted around the web, starting with the ones that I personally wrote over at the Gear Institute. Not only did we publish three show previews (read part 1, part 2, and part 3), we also shared our selections for the best new gear that was on display at the show. Those items were chosen because they brought something, new, unique, and exciting to the gear market.

But we weren't the only ones combing the halls of the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City checking out the new products. The Gear Junkie also posted their picks for the best gear they saw there too, as did Outside magazine, and even Popular Mechanics got in on the act, although I haven't seen their awards selection posted just yet. (Update: Here's the link to the Popular Mechanics awards)

Most of the gear that was shown at OR won't arrive on store shelves until next fall and winter. In some cases the products are still being developed, and they won't be ready to go for a several months. But that means you'll have plenty of time to save your pennies, because a lot of the really great pieces of gear won't come cheap. Still, there are some truly amazing things in the works as our gear continues to get more sophisticated and technical. It is certainly a great time to be an outdoor enthusiasts, as it is now easier than ever to be comfortable and warm, even in harsh environments.

Off to Outdoor Retailer

We've only just returned from a bit of a holiday break, and its time to hit the road once again. Tomorrow, I'll be headed off to Salt Lake City to attend the 2016 Winter Outdoor Retailer show where I'll get a chance to take a look at the newest outdoor gear scheduled for release later this year.

The show itself doesn't actually begin until Thursday, but I'll be joining a few other media folks on an overnight camping excursion tomorrow before some of the official festivities begin on Wednesday. This means that once again, updates are likely to be sparse for the week ahead, at least here on the blog itself. I will be sharing thoughts and images from the OR show floor on my Twitter feed, as well as on The Adventure Blog Facebook page. Follow either of those to catch a glimpse of some of the best new gear that I come across along the way.

If you'd like to read a preview of what to expect from the show, I've written three of them that will be going up at Gear Institute over the next few days. The first one is live now, and the others will follow on Tuesday and Wednesday. Each takes a look at ten interesting items that will be revealed at the event.

Hopefully things will get back to a normal pace around here next week. It's time to get focused on 2016, and some of the fun adventures ahead. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Best Gear from Summer Outdoor Retailer 2015

As many of you know, last week the 2015 Summer Outdoor Retailer convention was held in Salt Lake City, with many gear manufacturers unveiling their latest and greatest products there. Most of those items won't go on sale for weeks – or even months – yet, but as usual OR gave us a glimpse of what to expect in terms of gear trends and new products that will make our outdoor adventures and travel experiences much better.

This year, there was a focus on expanding what defines an outdoor adventure, with many companies debuting products that were designed for both fashion and function. There is definitely a trend in pursuing urban adventure as well, with a lot of products transitioning nicely from trail to town. The outdoor industry is finding that many younger people don't want to spend their days hiking and backpacking a rugged trail, but instead they like to spend time with their friends outdoors at an event such as a concert or festival. Products designed for this market are very different from what we traditionally think of in terms of tents, backpacks, and sleeping bags.

Of course, many of the online gear sites put together their picks for the best new items on display at Outdoor Retailer, not the lest of which was "Best New Gear Awards" that we handed out over at the Gear Institute. I serve as the news editor for the site, and helped in the selection process. Amongst the products that we honored were an amazing water purifier from MSR, a lightweight tent from Mountain Hardwear, and the lightest waterproof jacket available today (3.5 oz) from Berghaus.

We weren't the only site handing out awards however. The Gear Junkie selected his favorite products from Summer OR as well, with several items making a repeat appearance from the Gear Institute list. Outside magazine also weighed in with their thoughts, honoring other impressive gear items from the show as well.

All in all, it was another good Outdoor Retailer, with plenty of gear for us to covet. That said, there were very few items that were revolutionary, but plenty that made incremental improvements that will certainly be welcomed by the outdoor community.

Off to 2015 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market!

If you're an avid outdoor enthusiast, and a gear nut, you probably already know that the 2015 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market is set to get underway in Salt Lake City Utah tomorrow. For those who don't know, OR is is the bi-annual convention where the top gear manufacturers show off their latest and greatest gear, most of which won't be available until late this year, or sometime in early 2016. For those of us who love our backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, and hiking boots, it is what I like to refer to as "gearvana." Essentially it is four days of outdoor adventure lifestyle, with lots of really fun and interesting people.

Today, I'll be catching a flight for SLC, and I'll be spending the next few days meeting with a wide variety of gear companies at OR. It will be long, tiring days, but also incredibly fun and revealing too. If you've read my blog during past OR shows, you know that I tend to do follow-up articles when I get back sharing some of the cool things that I saw there. But, I also post a lot of photos and impressions on social media while I am there too. So, if you'd like to keep up with some of the things I'll be seeing, follow me on Twitter at @kungfujedi. Additionally, since I am also the news editor at Gear Institute, I'll be working closely with the team there as well. You can follow us on Twitter at @GearInstitute as well. 

I'll be back next Monday, and posting regular updates once again. Enjoy the rest of your week and the weekend ahead. 

Outside Shares Their Favorite Gear of Winter Outdoor Retailer Too

Last week I posted a link to the Gear Junkie's coverage of the Winter Outdoor Retailer gear show, in which he shared his favorite new gear that will be making its way to store shelves later this year. Now, Outside magazine has also posted their selections for the Gear of the Show, spotlighting 10 items that stood out with the editors.

Amongst the items that received "Gear of the Show" honors were The North Face's new Modulator ABS which has received a lot of press in the wake of its unveiling at the show. This safety device can convert any backpack into an avalanche airbag system, potentially saving your life while in the backcountry. This is counter to most other ABS devices which typically come built into a pack, requiring you to use a different sized backpack depending on your needs. The North Face now gives us a single option that is adjustable to any pack we want to carry on our adventures.

Also earning a spot on the list is a new waterproof, breathable jacket from a new company called Voormi, an incredibly warm down jacket from Columbia, and the new shoes from Under Armour that incorporate a sole that resembles a fat tire. That funky-looking footwear is also garnering a lot of attention as well. Other items include a couple of pair of ski and snowboard googles from Julbo and Abominable Labs, as well as a few other items designed with the skier in mind.

Since this was the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, most of the items shown there were focused around winter sports. The Summer Market show is scheduled to take place in early August and will feature more general outdoor gear with a focus on hiking, backpacking, and so on. Neither show is particularly healthy for your pocketbook since they always introduce great gear that we just have to have.

The Best Gear of Winter Outdoor Retailer 2015

The 2015 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market gear show wrapped up this past weekend. The bi-annual event attracts the biggest gear companies in the world to show off their latest and greatest products, most of which won't arrive on store shelves until this coming fall. As usual, there were a host of interesting products on display, some of which were even truly groundbreaking. In fact, there was so much good stuff to see, that the Gear Junkie had to post his best of show selections in two different articles.

In Part 1 of his "Best of Show" round-up we get a look at a super-comfortable looking new hiking boot from Hoka, an avalanche air-bag system from The North Face, and a versatile new crampon developed by Black Diamond. There is also an ultra-light hammock from Eno, and a new moveable goggle lens design from Julbo, amongst other products.

Part 2 of the "Best of Show" round-up introduces us to a charger for our smartphones that provides power from a candle, as well as a new shoe from Under Armour that incorporates the tread from a fat tire mountain bike. There is also a cool device called the Fogo that incorporates a GPS device and two-way radio into a 1000-lumen flashlight. There is also a new battery pack for your GoPro courtesy of Brunton which not only provides a 400-lumen light, but promises to keep your camera running for 24 hours.

This is just a small taste of the gear that GJ highlighted from the show, and what he spotlights is just a tiny fraction of all of the items that were unveiled at Outdoor Retailer. Some of what was unveiled there will be arriving in your favorite gear shop soon, but much if it is slated for release in the Fall/Winter of 2015. This gives you plenty of time to start saving your pennies for that one item you need to complete your gear closet.

Adventure Tech: The North Face's New Virtual Reality Experience

It's no secret that fewer people are heading outdoors these days, with a particularly sharp decline amongst young people. Researchers believe that the rise of technology, including smartphones, tablets, and video games, has helped to erode interest in outdoor pursuits, as many now prefer to stay inside with their gadgets rather than go for a hike or on a camping trip. But The North Face has come up with an interesting new way to possibly spur interest in the outdoors once again, and with an ironic twist, they're using technology to do so.

At the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market convention,  currently taking place in Salt Lake City, the gear company introduced the Virtual Outdoor Project, which uses virtual reality video footage – specifically created for the Oculus Rift – that was shot by the wizards at Camp 4 Collective. Reportedly, the result is an immersive experience designed to create a sense of being outdoors in some incredibly wild and remote area.

For those not familiar with the Oculus Rift, it is a virtual reality headset that has become the talk of the tech world over the past year or so. With high resolution video screens and head-tracking technology, it creates an incredibly immersive experience that allows users to experience an environment that exists 360º around the viewer. In other words, tilt your head to the left and you'll see what is happening in that direction. Turn around completely and you'll see things that are taking place behind you.

According to the Stephen Regenold of the Gear Junkie, the video experience that The North Face was sharing at Outdoor Retailer transported viewers to Yosemite National Park to experience a difficult rock climb up a route called "Separate Reality" from the eyes of the climber himself. The VR film included amazing views of the surrounding landscape, and captured the experience of what it was like to be scaling a big wall. At one point, the climber even loses his grip, falling down the rock face momentarily until his protection arrested the drop. The experience for Stephen made his stomach drop however, as the virtual reality environment simulated the plunge a little too closely. Later, the video even followed some BASE jumpers as they plunged off a cliff, capturing their fall in in "360 and 3D" as well.

North Face intends to roll out this VR project to its retail stores sometime this year. That means if you have a store in your area (Mine just opened!), you'll be able to drop by and give it a go yourself. The hope is that by bringing a virtual outdoor experience to customers, they may inspire more people to actually get outside themselves. Int his case, virtual reality may spur interaction with actual reality.

Call me a pessimist in this regard, but my guess is that it will probably spur consumers to actually want to buy an Oculus Rift or similar product, rather than actually go spend some time int he wild, but we'll see.

Gear Junkie Takes A First-Look At The Gear of Winter Outdoor Retailer

Right now, the world's top gear companies have all descended on Salt Lake City where they are showing off their latest creations. The 2015 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market got underway a few days back, and as usual there will is a dizzying array of new products being unveiled. Unfortunately some personal commitments have kept me from attending in person, but thankfully the Gear Junkie is on hand, and he has given us a "first-look" at some of the best new gear on display.
Amongst the items that have caught the eye of the Gear Junkie crew is the new Longhor jacket from Ternua. The product is setting new standards in terms of creating sustainable gear in the fact that is uses recycled down as its insulation. The down is apparently re-claimed from the "bedding products" industry, and is cleaned and sanitized before being reused in these jackets. This is an interesting trend that I'm sure will gain traction with other manufacturers as well.

Also earning a spot on the GJ list is a new ice axe design from Black Diamond that incorporates adjustable grips, who also have a new crampon built to quickly and easily transition across a variety of terrains. Columbia gets a nod for their new Heatzone 1000 TurboDown Jacket, which is described as possibly the "world's warmest jacket," while Vasque received kudos for a redesign of their classic Sundowner GTX boot. Other gear of interest include a protective vest that could save you from an avalanche, as well as a new lightweight running vest that incorporates a 150-lumen lamp right into the chest strap.

It should be noted that most of what is shown off at Outdoor Retailer won't hit the store shelves until next fall. So while you may see something on the list that catches your eye, start saving your pennies now. Meanwhile, all of the gear that debuted at last summer's OR show will be arriving in your favorite gear shop sometime this spring.

There is plenty more to check out in the Gear Junkie story, so take a peek at what's coming by clicking here.

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.

Outdoor Retailer Recap (Part 2)

Yesterday I shared some thoughts on just a few of the great products I saw at Outdoor Retailer last week, spotlighting some items that stood out in a sea of new boots, tents, backpacks, and sleeping bags. While of course, those items are a staple of OR, there are plenty of other gear items to see there as well each year. The show can be overwhelming at times, but it also is a good indicator of the trends we'll be seeing in the outdoor industry in the days ahead.

One of the tends I noticed this year was a distinct movement by a number of companies to get into the "wearable" technology space. Obviously there have been a number of excellent fitness watches on the market for years now, but the devices that were on display at Outdoor Retailer were more sophisticated and connected than ever before. Most paired with a smartphone to collect data and track our runs, rides, and other workouts, but others upped the ante in other ways as well. As a result, there were some impressive products shown, as the industry prepares to for what ever product Apple will announce for this market sometime this fall.

Here are a few of the wearables that caught my eye at Outdoor Retailer.

Timex Ironman One GPS+
While most of the companies showing off new fitness watches were looking to connect to your smartphone, Timex introduced the Ironman One GPS+, a watch that connects to AT&T's 3G cellular network to share data without the need for another device. The watch can send and receive messages, share your GPS position with friends and family, and even alert them with an SOS should something go wrong. It has 4GB of onboard storage for carrying music, and includes all the typical features you would expect out of a watch designed with the triathlete in mind. It will retail for $399 when it is released, although no shipping date has been announced just yet. The watch includes one year of free service on AT&T's network, although fees for use after that year is up have not been announced either. How useful the watch will be in areas that lack cell coverage remains to be seen, and battery life is suspect until Timex proves otherwise.



Mio Link Heart Rate Monitor
At last summer's Outdoor Retailer, the folks from Mio were crammed into a tiny booth, showing off a great looking fitness watch that could monitor your heart rate without the need for a bulky, annoying chest strap. This year, they were back with a much larger, and nicer, booth to show off that product once again, as well as their $99 Mio Link wristband that does away with the watch functionality, and only provides heart rate monitoring. The band is ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible, so it should connect with your other fitness devices, providing a great alternative to the chest straps that no one really likes to wear. The Link is available now, but coming soon will be the new Mio FUSE, a fitness and activity tracker that promises better functionality and improved performance. It will ship in time for the holidays, and carry a $179 price tag.

TomTom Fitness Watches
Speaking of Mio, the folks over at TomTom were so impressed with their technology that that they actually licensed their heart rate monitoring technology for their own watches. This allows the TomTom devices to do away with the chest strap as well. This technology is integrated into the company's Cardio line of fitness watches, which are available now. These devices connect to a smartphone, offer an easy to use touchscreen interface, and are competitively priced at $269. Considering what you would pay for a GPS watch that includes a heart rate strap, that's quite affordable.

Suunto Ambit 3
I already wrote about the Suunto Ambit 3 when it was officially announced, and it is still on track for a September release. The device will have Bluetooth connectivity for the first time, as Suunto expands into the connected device space. This will allow the you to share workout data via social media of course, and get notifications directly on your watch. But there is more to the Ambit 3 than just being able to communicate with your smartphone, as it will also interact with geotagged photos to share information about your workout, while also gaining the ability to use that data to create videos that overlay speed, and distance covered, on a 3D generated map of your run, climb, ride, or paddle. The Ambit 3 doubles the battery life of its successors, and adds daily activity tracking to the mix as well. As is typical with Suunto's watches, it won't come cheap. The "Sport" model will start at $400, while the "Peak" edition will go for $500.

Garmin Forerunner and Vivofit
Not to be left behind, Garmin was showing updated firmware for their popular line of Forerunner fitness watches that gave them more accuracy and features as well. These affordable watches have just about everything you could ask for in a wearable device aimed at helping your workout, and the company continues to provide good support as the products evolve. Garmin has added support for more fitness apps on our phones, and has created some of the most versatile fitness watches on the market at the moment. But, not content to sit still, they've all launched the Vivofit, an activity tracker that is designed for use all day. At $129, it is very affordable, and offers a fun, unique way for casual athletes to get into better shape. It mostly tracks movement, counting your steps each day, but it can also monitor calories burned, distance covered, and duration of the workout. Users can set goals, with an included app keeping track of progress. It is available in five colors, and should compete nicely with similar devices such as the Fitbit.

That's a round-up of some of the new wearable technology I saw. There were a few other things, but mostly stuff I can't talk about yet, including a pair of earbuds that also have the ability to monitor your heart rate. Those will come in due time of course, but for now, it is the smart fitness watch that seems to be getting all of the attention. Of course, these could all be rendered obsolete if Apple deliver an exciting product this fall, but considering they are an unproven quantity in this space, I'm not sure how much these companies need to worry about the "iWatch" just yet.

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. 

Off To Outdoor Retailer!

The calendar reads early August, so it is time for me to make my annual pilgrimage to the Outdoor Retailer gear convention, which gets underway tomorrow in Salt Lake City, and runs through Saturday. Over the next few days, outdoor gear companies, large and small, will be unveiling their latest and greatest creations to the world. Most of the gear that will be on display there won't be available to buy for several months, but it is our first chance to see the trends that are driving the outdoor industry, and what will be shaping the equipment we'll be using in the months and years to come.

As usual, I plan to share thoughts and photos from the show on social media. If you're interested in getting a sneak peek at some of the things that I'll be seeing while I'm there, then feel free to follow me on Twitter or "like" the Adventure Blog page on Facebook. I'll be posting updates throughout the next few days, with some thoughts on the most interesting items I spot at OR. But to get an idea of what will be shown at the convention ahead of time, check out the Gear Junkie's OR Summer Market preview.

My schedule for the show is jam-packed with appointments with many of our favorite gear companies, and there are always more things to seen than time allows. Still, it is also an incredibly fun event, and I'm looking forward to catching up with old friends while I'm at the show.

Regular postings on the Adventure Blog will resume on Monday, August 11. Until then, I hope you're getting outdoors and having some fun.