This year, Outdoor Retailer Summer Market was mostly made up of iterations of existing technologies — but that’s not to say that there weren’t exciting products. Fashion-forward technical gear, built to transition seamlessly between urban environments and the outdoors was an overarching trend that carried on from the past two shows — even some of the big boys took notice and played along with the trend. Patagonia and Arc’teryx were noticeably absent, having skipped out on the show in protest of Utah’s public lands policy; meanwhile, approximately 3,000 members of the outdoor industry marched from the Salt Palace Convention Center to the Utah State Capitol Building to protest as well.
In total, we met with and saw new gear from over 130 of the best brands in the outdoor industry. These are the items that caught our eyes the most, giving us all good reason to be excited for the outdoor industry and the year ahead.
A product of Yeti’s newly minted innovation lab, the Panga Duffle is essentially a Hopper without the insulation. It utilizes the same rugged materials and when properly closed (by putting the zipper in the U dock), it’s 100 percent waterproof. It is available in three sizes: 50L, 75L and 100L. For travel, outdoor adventure or even trips to the grocery store, the Panga is as versatile a bag as it is a durable one.
Based in Portland, Oregon, Nau is one of our favorite stylish-yet-technical apparel companies. The Daytrippen pants are the perfect addition to any traveler’s kit. They offer a solid amount of stretch without looking like technical pants. They’re unassuming but are designed to perform to the highest standard — even if that standard includes a bike commute.
The new Rab Mythic 200 is essentially a sleeping-bag version of the Zero G jacket that was announced at this year’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. Made with a 7-denier nylon shell, the Mythic is built to be incredibly lightweight and pack down to the size of a grapefruit, all while still insulating like no one’s business. Unlike some ultralight sleeping bags that shave weight by means of a tighter fit, the Mythic features the same signature fit as the rest of Rab’s sleeping bag line.
Though a relatively simple product, Sea to Summit’s Alpha pot collection is well thought out and well designed. Each pot is made from a hard-anodized alloy, with polished internal surfaces that resist caked-on food. The handle has a mechanism that not only allows it to fold, but also allows for it to be locked into place, making for a sturdy handle to grab on to.
This new “city to mountain” jacket from Fjällräven is constructed from the brand’s Eco-Shell material, a PVC-free waterproof breathable membrane. In addition to technical chops, the Greenland Eco-Shell has a cut and look that isn’t out of place in even the trendiest neighborhoods. The jacket is part of the Swedish brand’s Greenland Collection, launched to commemorate the anniversary of the Swedish Greenland Expedition.
Under Armour’s newest trail running shoe is an expansion of the brand’s Horizon line. The Horizon KTV was one of the best trail shoes we tested this year, and the Horizon 50 looks to top it. It’s designed for ultra runners — specifically those knocking off the 50-mile distance. It features a built-in gaiter that keeps out any mud and muck when the trail gets hectic.
If you’re an average runner, logging a few midweek miles before work, this isn’t the shoe for you. The S/Lab Sense Ultra 2 was designed in collaboration with ultra runner Françoise D’haene and is built to take a beating during 50+ mile races. The midsole features dual-density EVA foam with an EnergySave insert that’s more resistant to degradation and stands up to longer runs. For a more-visible technical enhancement, look to the Sensifit wings on the shoe’s upper, which improve fit and accommodate any foot swelling. The purple-red fade, however, speaks for itself.
If you’re the kind of ounce-counter who drills holes in their toothbrush handle in order to pack more lightly, take notice: One of the biggest names in backpacking has made a bag specifically for you. Osprey’s Levity is a minimalist backpacking bag built with 30-denier Cordura Silnylon and NanoFly Ripstop in a layup that is both ultralight and highly durable. The 45L version weighs 1.76 pounds; the 60L, 1.83 pounds. It’s a bag for diehards, by diehards, and it’s a welcome addition to Osprey’s mainstream lineup.
It didn’t make any sense. Black Diamond, one of the world’s largest and most influential makers of climbing equipment, had never made a climbing shoe — but at this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, Black Diamond finally unveiled its hotly anticipated first-ever climbing shoe collection; the Shadow is the most aggressive shoe of the bunch, built for the steepest, most difficult boulder problems and sport routes. Aside from its Batman aesthetic, its most striking feature is the breathable knit upper — a material never before seen in climbing shoes, which typically incorporate leather uppers. The Shadow will be released next March; other shoes in the collection, like the Momentum, will be released this fall.
Columbia is known for what’s been loosely dubbed as “visible technology.” Remember those metallic-lined, heat-reflecting jackets? Omni-Shade is like that, but more subtle. Garments featuring the new tech are covered in tiny, pale-looking dots made from titanium dioxide, an active ingredient in sunscreen, which deflect heat away from the body and keep the garment cool. The Omni-Shade fabric itself is constructed with a tight weave that blocks harmful UVA and UVB waves; when combined with the deflector dots, it creates the ultimate in warm-weather sun protection. The Omni-Shade Sun Deflector will be available in 18 styles, debuting Spring 2018.
The Ridge Ruck’s significance, as far as cutting-edge daypacks go, boils down to one simple yet ingenious feature: an innovative strap arrangement that reroutes the shoulder straps into the hip belt to form a single-point adjustment system. By tightening or loosening the hip belt, you also adjust the shoulder straps — almost like a giant Chaco sandal on your back. It’s a welcome simplification of traditional, often wonky three-point adjustment backpacks, and one that will likely be imitated. The Ridge Ruck comes in 25L and 30L capacities and will be released next spring.
The Saga GTX builds upon the successes of Vasque’s best-selling Breeze III GTX, adding a lightweight, breathable, engineered upper, toe vents and a Vibram MegaGrip sole. Its construction is rigid and supportive, as all hiking boots should be, yet nimble and precise, much like a rugged trail running shoe. For 50+ years, Vasque has been an innovator in the outdoor space; the Saga GTX is evidence that the Minnesota-based company is continuing its push for lighter, faster, stronger boots.
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