Every six months all the major players in outdoor sports get together to show off their latest and greatest wares for the season. It’s like Comic Con, except cool: Outdoor Retailer has been the launch platform for just about every groundbreaking piece of skiing, climbing, backpacking and paddling gear that’s come to market. We were on the ground at this year’s winter show, and we weren’t disappointed. Here’s our take on the best gear of Outdoor Retailer 2013.
MORE OUTDOOR GEAR: Winter Mountain Biking Gear | Gift Guide for the Outdoorsman | Backcountry Skiing Essentials
Wild Things Custom Insulight Jacket
Wild Things has been a high-end niche brand specializing in climbing and trekking gear for 29 years. They’ve made their name in the climbing and military communities by providing lightweight gear that outperforms expectations. This year they kept with tradition and introduced a custom insulight jacket design feature on their website. Customers can pick fabric weight, colors, insulation type and features — right down to pocket placement and personal embroidery. That each jacket is made in the U.S. to your specifications and delivered in under two weeks is an added bonus. Bottom line: stop looking like every other yahoo on the ski hill and upgrade to Wild Things gear.
Goal Zero Yeti 150
In the connected world we live in, it’s almost unimaginable to be untethered to our social lives, even when we disappear for a few days in the backcountry. Goal Zero’s portable power packs and solar panels allow you to keep your tech juiced no matter where you are. The new Yeti 150 can charge your iPhone fifteen times or your laptop twice; that’s plenty of power to keep your Instagram current and let mom know you’re alive.
Zeal HD Camera Goggle
Zeal is known for pushing the envelope with their ski and snowboard goggles. Late in 2012, their introduction of the Camera Goggle showed just how far they’ve taken the integration of cutting-edge tech in functional and stylish goggles. New for 2013, the HD Goggle will snap 12MP still shots and full HD video. There’s no need to fumble with helmet mounts anymore. This is the new standard for POV action photography.
Have you always wanted to see if minimalist running shoes live up to the hype, but been wary of losing the comfort of conventional shoes (or worse, be seen in toe shoes)? Altra is a small company that has developed a big solution: a shoe line with a zero drop sole that doesn’t sacrifice any comfort. From distance runs in the Wasatch Range to short hikes in the Red Rock desert, the Superior has been engineered for speed and comfort.
La Sportiva Spectre Ski Boots
La Sportiva is at the forefront of climbing and mountaineering gear, so it’s no surprise that their new Spectre Ski Boot is the lightest 4-buckle ever built while maintaining a bevy of features that makes it equally at home summiting 14ers or heading out for a short side country tour. Taking cues from the Stratos and Spitfire racing boot line, the Spectre shaves weight using proprietary materials that don’t compromise in climbing comfort or downhill performance. Expect to see them sell out quickly this fall.
GP Contributor Austin Parker was on the ground at Outdoor Retailer going eyes on culling through the very best. If you missed out on his remote photo dispatches, be sure to follow us on Instagram so you’re in the loop. Below are a selection of #nofilter shots.
Left to Right from Top Wild Things Puffy Layer, Arc’teryx Alpha SV, Camelbak Gambler, GoPro Rally Porsche, La Sportiva Spectre Boots, Black Diamond Xenos Harness, North Face Booth, BioLite with Snap-On Grill
Anyone who’s spent serious time traveling in the backcountry either carries a jetboil system or wants to. Jetboil’s stoves can boil water faster than anything else on the market. When your friends are still stirring their ramen noodles, you’re slurping udon with a shit-eating grin (too bad it can’t make dehydrated backpacking food taste better). The Helios has a higher capacity than previous Jetboil offerings; it also features a novel inverted fuel system that ensures your stove lights, even when you’re at altitude or in frosty temperatures. Whether you’re just boiling water for coffee or whipping up a backcountry gourmet feast, the Helios will get you what you need — faster.
CiloGear Dyneema WorkSacks
Unless you’re part of the ultralight backpacking or thru-hiking crowd, you’ve probably never seen CiloGear’s packs in the wild. With most ultralight offerings, hikers must sacrifice volume and comfort to shave those precious ounces off their kit. But the Portland, Oregon company’s use of foam and aluminum stays, and more importantly, Dyneema fabric, ensures there are no trade-offs when you load your pack for a backpacking or climbing trip. When your entire pack weighs under two pounds, that 50-miler through the Tetons suddenly doesn’t sound so painful.
Stanley has been making quality vacuum bottles and flasks for 100 years. This year, their iconic styling moves into the 21st century with a recycled plastic flask — perfect for stashing a little of your favorite beverage for a day on the slopes. Featuring a two-stage lid, it’s easy to fill and easier to clean. The flask is also leak-proof, so you don’t have to worry about wasting any of that precious single malt scotch you’re saving for the summit.
Black Diamond Xenos
The product designers at Black Diamond have once again redefined the leading edge of climbing tech — although it seems they do that every year. The Xenos harness weighs just over a pound, yet has the creature comforts of Vectran for stability and light open-cell foam lining so you can wear it all day at the crag. It has haul loops for your sport and trad gear and a conveniently placed hook for your ice tools in the winter. Black Diamond’s signature speed adjust buckles accommodate extra layers when that storm blows in and you’re still stuck two pitches up your route.
Metolius Wood Grips Training Boards
Everyone has that dirtbag rock climber friend. All their clothes seem to be permanently discolored by chalk. Their car has random gear coming out of every nook and cranny. They probably have one of those brightly colored campus boards bolted somewhere in the office or home. While Metolius can’t solve their gear addiction problems, their new wood grip training boards are both eco-friendly (they’re sustainably harvested) and aesthetically pleasing, helping your anti-social climbing buddies gain at least a little class while upgrading their tools.