Twice annually the outdoor industry converges on Salt Lake City for a four-day festival dedicated to the latest and greatest in outdoor recreation gear. Unfortunately, the event is open solely to buyers, retailers, select media and PR, and those lucky enough to net a pass from a friend, meaning that most Utahns don’t get the chance to see the tech that hides within the Salt Palace walls until it’s released on store shelves.
Lucky for you, I spent three days walking the show floor to find the best innovations and updates, all while enjoying a happy hour brew from my favorite brands.
Rumpl Beer Blanket
Everyone loves a trade show freebie, and my favorite swag came from Kickstarter-founded start-up, Rumpl, who makes cozy blankets from the same fabric as sleeping bags. At Outdoor Retailer they handed out an item so popular that they now sell it for a nominal price online: The Beer Blanket. This coozie looks like a miniaturized sleeping bag that slips on your can to keep your hand from freezing on an icy beer. When not in use, it packs down into an adorable pocket. Get yours HERE.
Smartwool Jackets and Baselayers
Their baselayers and accessories have always been excellently crafted and built of industry favorite fabric, Merino wool, but sometimes the prints and styling have been less than fashion forward. The coming season’s revamp is a big departure from average and features bold prints, new design aesthetics, and fitted, fashionable styles that bring the sexy back to activewear.
Black Diamond Pieps Pocket
Figuring out where to stow your beacon when backcountry skiing is an important, but oftentimes difficult, task. It should be easily accessible, but protected from being smashed to bits if you have a yardsale on a steep slope, and kept away from your cell phone and other electronics. Black Diamond partnered with Pieps to create a brilliant beacon harness that’s built into their new freeride apparel to secure your beacon while using PORON foam padding to protect it from impact.
Snow Peak Silcone Glasses
Looking to class it up on your next camping trip? Glamp in style by mixing cocktails or enjoying wine in silicone glasses from Snow Peak that offer an at-home look in an unbreakable package. Available in beer, wine, and rocks styles. Available at REI.
BioLite Nano Grid
It would take too long here to explain the technology behind this outdoor lighting set, but the important part is its usefulness and low cost. The Nano Grid allows you to string together a set of lightweight lanterns to power your outdoor world, and use them to charge your electronics off the grid too. Plus, the $100 price point makes them within the budget of most travelers. Available in February HERE.
Smith and Woolrich
These industry powerhouses partnered this year to create a goggle and helmet set designed by Smith with beautiful wool designs on the strap and helmet ear covers by Woolrich. Available for men and women!
Clif Savory Gel
In a world dominated by sugary sweet energy gels, Clif Bar innovated to create an energy food that those keener on savory flavors will love. The Pizza Margarita flavor is made of organic food (not mystery ingredients) and is designed to fuel efforts longer than two hours. Perfect for ultra running, cycling, and endurance racing.
Kari Traa Baselayer
A European women’s apparel brand that’s new to the U.S. market, Kari Traa is making baselayers that wow. Featuring the styling of your favorite Henley tee but built of performance, wicking fabrics, they can be worn on- or off-mountain and look smashing. Line available Fall 2015 HERE.
Sure, there are plenty of headlamps on the market, but none have truly been designed with runners in mind, until now. Nathan’s new Nebula Fire and Halo Fire have cool technology that senses when car lights hit them and begin strobe flashing to alert the car of your presence. If that wasn’t cool enough, the strobbing actually spells out the word RUN in Morse Code. Available Fall 2015 HERE.
From afar, Helly Hansen’s new running line looks similar to most other technical running apparel, but take a photo of these pieces with your camera flash on and you’ll see a pattern light up on the jackets and tights. This hidden reflective detail is designed to shine when car lights hit it to make you visible, but remains unseen when worn during the day or indoors. Now you won’t have to be the dorky guy rocking neon when you go out for post-run brews. Available Fall 2015 at http://www.hellyhansen.com.
Headsweats Trucker Hat
I akways run in a hat on sunny days, but have always hated the flat, technical look of running hats. I wished I could wear my trucker hats, but longed for the technical features in my less-than-attractive running toppers. Headsweats solved this problem by creating a technical trucker that’s built with a performance sweatband and other run-ready features. Available now HERE.
Columbia Heatzone 1000 TurboDown Wave
Called one of the world’s warmest puffy jackets, this new tech-rich offering is crafted from 900-fill water-resistant down, OMNI-HEAT Thermal Insulation and Thermal Reflective to form a jacket with the best heat retention on the market. I’m hoping next winter is MUCH colder so I can justify adding this to my closet for the $450 price tag. Available Fall 2015 HERE.
Brooks Sheepish Line
This leader in running apparel began making sweat-to-street apparel before it was truly cool, and their leading the pack, errr herd, again with their new line of fashionable wool apparel that naturally wicks sweat, fights odor, and manages your temperature. The subtle, on-trend color palette looks great for nearly any circumstance. Available Fall 2015 at http://www.brooksrunning.com.