Last year I was scheduled to check out the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow, but a snowstorm caused a delayed flight which made me miss the show, but provided amazing snow for riding that weekend. This year I planned accordingly and am glad I did so. The Winter OR show, hosted at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah, was one of the best that I’ve attended with the mix of brands and companies showcasing their outdoor gear. I’ve highlighted brands and products that caught my eye.
An American staple enriched with heritage is Pendleton out of Oregon. Born in the early 1900’s the brand is known for their signature prints and fabrics along with their iconic blankets. Aside from the various collaborations over the years with brands such as Nike, Vans, Bugaboo, Jansport and many more, Pendleton has their own line of clothing and accessories. I spent some time checking out their gorgeous booth filled with their upcoming collection of apparel. The hats really caught my attention along with their the Thomas Kay collection, which features a modern fit and timeless design. They definitely had plenty of goodies to show off with just the right amount of details and styling from the exploding plaids to leather used on the elbows of some of their tops and outerwear to a new water-wicking fabric used for button-ups.
On the other side of the spectrum is technical apparel and gear. Brands like Arc’teryx, North Face and Patagonia showcased various styles of their gear that featured down insulation, waterproofing tech and more. Every booth seemed to feature the puffer jacket in all shapes and colors.
Another classic American brand that has stood the test of time is Filson. Since 1897, Filson has put out some of the highest quality products. Standing behind their offerings is a lifetime warranty. Their goods are still made in the USA, when other have outsourced to other countries to save a buck. Rather than come out with new product each season they simply keep to a staple collection that has been tried and tested year after year. Such as their Mackinaw Cruiser and No. 258 bag.
What really caught my attention was their Filson AEV Brute Double Cab, built by American Expedition Vehicles. Priced at $130,000 the vehicle features a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine, dent-resistant composite bed, Filson Rugged Twill interior accents and is outfitted with a custom rear seat Rugged Twill bag. Built for the real rugged and the toughest expeditions and adventures.
Other heritage brands Woolrich and Carhartt also displayed some good product.
Selk’bag stood out to me, which is a full-body sleeping bag with full arms and legs along with feet attached for mobility while staying warm and still easily packs up like a normal sleeping bag. Great for camping or just lounging around at home. All versions have a hand hole to easily be able to use your hands when needed and a new version has removable feet that cinches at the bottom to allow to walk around and keep your shoes or boots on. I had the chance to try on the Selk’bag for myself and was quite impressed with how comfortable and functional it really is.
A couple years ago barefoot running was a huge trend with many of the top sneaker companies coming out with their minimalist designs. Vivobarefoot is the original brand that has dedicated their research in providing their barefoot technology in all of their footwear. I learned a lot about barefoot running by visiting this booth and am intrigued with the knowledge and passion these guys have. All of the research has lead to better shock absorption, more flexibility and are anatomically correct to allow your foot to move in natural movements along with providing better feedback to your body when you move. Vivobarefoot have on-road, off-road and amphibious models. I’m curious to try out a pair to see how my body reacts to the shoes along with find out if I even run properly without adding even more damage to my body.
There were countless products that were showcased that uses the latest in technology to add safety for adventures. The brand Bult takes the action sports helmet and adds integrated videohead technology. The VHX3 provides – a 120 degree wide-angle lens, 1280-720 resolution, 30 frames per second, built in 8gb micro SD card, 60 min recording time and AVI format to capture all your best tricks on camera. What I really like about this product is that the camera is indiscreet and clean in design. The function buttons on the side of the helmet are also very simple and look easy to use when worn. The camera has an adjustable view to point it directly where you want to film the action whether its skating, snowboarding or riding your bike. With many colors and a couple styles including the newly introduced snowboard helmet there’s something for everyone.
Sea to Summit creates everything from waterproof packs to keep various items safe and secure for water adventures to camping and travel gear. They recently introduced a new line of travel pillows that were simply rad. Super comfy and lightweight and portable. Their sleeping bags are some of the most high-tech on the market as well. Their new Rapid 26L Drypack would be perfect for a stand-up paddleboard adventure or trip white water rafting.
Freewaters showcased their great collection of shoes and sandals. Freewaters was started with a mission to provide clean drinking water for those in need. Every purchase helps provide a financial contribution that directly funds their grassroots water projects. They continually dig wells that provide safe sources of drinking water for communities in need with the goal to expand into other global regions and implementing new purification techniques. Some of their products feature Therm-a-rest, which is better known in the camping world as the purveyors of comfortable camping mattresses, thus creating a super comfy shoe and sandal. Both shoes and sandals are the perfect companion to and from the beach with the shoes easily being able to be worn without socks and with wet feet. The styles are lightweight and classic designs with subtle details that make them stand out from the rest.
Speaking of drinking water, Sigg, a company I’ve been into for a bit now showcased some new product and designs into their line-up of water bottles. The Swiss craftsmanship mixed with a clean and sleek design make their bottles the best on the market. As fashionable as functional, the bottles are eco-friendly and re-usable.
Another company that gives back in more ways than one is Krotchet Kids. Through a unique model they empower the women of Northern Uganda and Peru with the assets, skills, and knowledge to lift themselves and their families out of poverty by giving them jobs in the manufacturing and creation process of each item in the collection. The woman that makes each piece also hand signs that item giving you the opportunity to connect on a deeper level to that person. Aside from the humanitarian side of the business, Krotchet Kids also makes some great products. The company started with headwear mainly beanies, which are extremely soft, but they now also now carry other quality apparel for men, women and kids.
Mountainsmith makes products for the great outdoors with a wide-range of products from technical backpacks, trekking poles, tents and sleeping bags, travel storage systems, luggage, pet products, camera bags, as well lumbar packs. I particularly found their tote back that converts into a backpack something that I could see myself using for grocery trips (they don’t give plastic bags out at stores in Long Beach any longer) or even trips to the beach. Their camera collection was designed by renown National Geographic photographer, Andy Mann and features pretty everything you could want in a camera bag for an outdoor adventure from waterproof fabric coating to plenty of storage space for all your gear. The bags seamed very heavy duty for the type of shoots that require you to hike long distances or brave harsh conditions.
If you are looking for a great looking bag for every day use or travel luggage, Dakine may be the answer. I particularly liked the new DLX travel series of bags particularly the carry-on roller that features a functional design and plenty of space as expected, but what sets this apart is how they designed the additional storage compartments with an easy access laptop pocket that seems well protected, fleece lined iPad sleeve and even a bottle opener attached to the back of the luggage. Many times while traveling I’m stuck with the dilemma of trying to carry too much within a small space so I am forced to carry multiple bags for my clothing and my work / camera gear. This bag seems like it could be a good solution in keeping things simple. Dakine also has some of the best snowboard bags on the market and I’m in the need to upgrade soon to one with wheels. They also carry a couple good camera bags that would be a stylish option while on the slopes.
For those looking for a great city bag, Timbuk2, has expanded their offerings to include a new urban collection of bags. These are a bit of a departure from the traditional messenger bags that they are known for, after all they are a San Francisco based company. The bags themselves are nicely constructed and are good addition to the Timbuk2 line. I also liked their collaboration pint cup with MiiR.
Snow Lizard showcased their line of cases for iPhone 5/5S that are not only waterproof, shockproof and provide heavy duty protection, but also double as a solar powered battery source. This could be helpful for those that may be out on an expedition for several days and need a quick charge for their phone or other USB device. A bit on the heavy side, but what do you expect from a case that provides so much in personal assurance.
Inspired by the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, Olukai footwear, brings the spirit of Aloha into their products and business. They give back to the community and even provide the footwear for many Hawaiian lifeguards, who are amongst the most respected in the world. Their casual Honolulu collection stood out to me for the little details put into the footwear.
The Power Pot is an amazing product, a lightweight thermoelectric generator that converts heat into DC electrical power. You can charge your USB device using the power generated from the pot. So not only can you cook a cup of soup, but you can charge your phone at the same time making this the perfect camping companion.
One last product that caught my attention is the Ninja Suit. Who doesn’t need long Johns with pizza or outer space print? These would be perfect to wear for cold outdoor activities, lounging around the house or even just going to grab the mail. Or pair it with your Poler Napsack as they even have a collab with Poler. So what separates this from regular long John’s, the design with fantastic prints or just simple colors. The Ninja suit is built for function with an easy zip-off section to allow you to use the restroom, while staying warm.
Last but not least is Danner. Another Portland based company that provides quality craftsmanship to each product. Their boots are some of the nicest quality and most rugged around. Using the highest grade leathers their boots last a long time. Handmade from the stitching to the construction almost guarantees a perfect pair of boots. Danner will be featured on actress, Reese Witherspoon, in her new film, “Wild” based on the book about a hiker’s journey through the formidable Pacific Coast Trail.