Twice a year, the outdoor industry gathers in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the Outdoor Retailer trade show to display all of the innovative gear and materials set to release in the next year. All of the big names are there — Patagonia, Marmot, The North Face — but there are also a ton of smaller brands working to revolutionize outdoor gear.
At this year’s Summer OR, active insulation was again a big talking point, as was materials innovation as a whole. Polartec leads the charge, but Primaloft and brands’ in-house insulations are not far behind. Stand-up paddleboards continue to be a booming market in the water-sports world, with even kayak brands throwing their hat in the ring. Rock climbing safety was another trend, with a handful of brands releasing anti-panic belay devices designed to keep climbers safe — especially beginners.
Below are highlights from the show, from the best new materials to a knife with a ball-bearing folding mechanism. While some of this gear is available now, most will be launching this spring. So keep an eye out for these innovations at your local outdoors store starting in February 2017.
Additional contribution by Jeremy Berger.
Outdoor Research Ascendent Jacket
A Next-Generation Jacket: Outdoor Research’s Ascendent jacket is a game changer when it comes to active insulation. It utilizes Polartec Alpha Direct insulation, which has no liner. The insulation sits directly on whatever you’re wearing underneath the jacket. The outer shell is constructed from breathable and stretchy Pertex that is also highly water resistant.
Thermacell Backpacker Repeller
Gas-Powered Mosquito Repellant: If you’re tired of bugs around the campsite, but don’t want to carry a heavy mosquito-repellent lantern or candle, Thermacell has you covered with its new Backpacker model. It provides 15 x 15 feet of mosquito, black flies and no-see-ums protection and weighs in at only four ounces. It hooks up to a standard gas canister from brands like MSR or Coleman.
Camelbak Quick Stow Flasks
Handheld Hydration: More and more, ultra runners are ditching the standard water bottle model. Easily stowable and collapsable water bottles are the name of the game. Camelbak’s new Quick Stow Flasks cater directly to this market, and come in insulated and non-insulated versions. And they’re durable, built from similar materials to their hydration bladders.
Salomon XA Enduro and Sense Pro Max
The Best Ultra Shoes Yet: For the high alpine mountain runner, Salomon’s new XA Enduro offers protection with a built-in gaiter that comes up over the ankle. It also features Salomon’s Sensifit system, which locks your foot in and decreases movement when ascending and descending. Salomon will also be releasing the Sense Pro Max, which features a similar platform to their killer Sense Pro running shoes, with more cushioning either for larger runners or people who like more of a maximalist cushion in their shoes.
Gerber US Assist
Your New Everyday Knife: Gerber’s new EDC knife features a ball-bearing system of deployment that offers smooth and consistent folding. The S30V blade includes a stone-washed finish that has a timeless aesthetic. The new knife will be available in November for $119.