Gear nerds look forward to Outdoor Retailer the way style mavens anticipate New York Fashion Week. But while both shows boast a low-body-fat crowd, OR offers far more fleece and ripstop nylon.
We hit the show floor in Salt Lake City last month to see what drool-worthy new gear the outdoor industry has to offer.
Here’s a sneak peek of what’s on our want list. You can grab some of it now, but for other items, you’ll have to wait until fall. Try to be patient.
SHIRTS AND JACKETS
* Arc’teryx Gaea/Argus jacket. The newest addition to the bird’s Endorphin line might look a bit like a puffer coat, but it’ll perform like a synthetic superstar. The front of this jacket is made from Polartec’s Alpha insulation, a new air-permeable synthetic to keep you warm, while the lining is made of a gridlike fleece to wick moisture away from your skin.
The moisture-management properties of this jacket make it great for high-intensity activity in the cold. The water-resistant ripstop nylon face, two zipper pockets, two rear stash pockets and thumb holes make us pretty eager to stomp through the snow in this one.
* Sherpa Adventure Gear Vayu PriMerino baselayer. New for fall, this collection of short-sleeve shirts to a long-sleeve hooded zip is a 50 percent merino, 50 percent PrimaLoft synthetic blend.
PrimaLoft touts this fabric as drying 20 percent faster than wool “because the merino wool pulls moisture away from the skin while the PrimaLoft content pushes it to the surface.” PrimaLoft fibers are about half the diameter of cashmere fibers, making this collection very lightweight and soft yet still warm. Vayu is designed as a baselayer, but it also performs great as outerwear; it also kept us warm and dry (under a light shell) on a recent 20-degree, 20-mile run.
www.sherpaadventuregear.com; Zip T (shown) $99
* Montane Shark Ultra T. Montane’s Shark Ultra T-shirt is designed to keep you extra cool during summer’s scorching months. It features Montane’s Quartz Skin fabric, which is 9 percent spandex jersey, 61 percent regular nylon and 30 percent Ice Cafe nylon — Montane’s proprietary fabric that is cool to the touch.
The shirt includes all the now-standard summer gear features, such as flat-lock seams, antibacterial treatment and a UPF of 25. What this shirt has that most don’t is a bumpy silicone print on the shoulders, which will keep your pack or harness from slipping. Mesh panels and a 1/4 zip add extra ventilation.
*Patagonia Houdini Pullover. Patagonia has found a way to make its popular feather-weight Houdini jacket even lighter. How? By removing the zipper and turning it into a pullover. The pullover is still made with the jacket’s 1.2-ounce, 10-denier ripstop nylon but weighs in almost an ounce lighter at just 3.1 ounces. DWR water-resistant finish will help keep you dry while the zipper chest pocket will keep your small items secure.
Sugoi Zap Bike Jacket. Sugoi — maker of our beloved Versa jacket — has several great products coming out this fall, but the one that caught our eye (because it’s bright and shiny) was the Zap Bike Jacket.
It’s made with Sugoi’s Pixel Woven fabric, which is screen-printed with micro glass beads. The entire jacket — not just the accent points — will glow when hit with headlights or flashlights. Waterproof front, fully taped seams and a drop-tail hem offer great protection from weather and tire spray.
*Hoka One One. Clown shoe … er … max cushion shoe maker Hoka One One is debuting two new styles this fall that will dial down the clown factor. These two models will have less cushion and a lower price tag than previous models. The men’s Huaka ($150) clocks in at a 25mm forefoot, 2mm drop and weighs less than 9 ounces. The Clifton ($130) is even lower and lighter at 24mm forefoot, 5mm drop and less than 8 ounces.
Both styles are built with a no-sew SpeedFrame mesh upper to cut down on weight, and the Huaka features Hoka’s new RMAT midsole for improved durability. Think of them as Hokas for people who hate
*Altra Zero Drop. We saw a lot of Polartec at Outdoor Retailer, but one place we didn’t expect it to pop up was in shoes. Altra Zero Drop is putting the synthetic insulation in its Lone Peak 2.0/Polartec trail shoes, out this fall. The Polartec lining is hydrophobic and will create a waterproof barrier between your feet and the wet sloppy trail. Can’t wait? Look for the regular Lone Peak 2.0s (shown) in late spring.
www.altrazerodrop.com; $145 ($120 without Polartec)
*CEP. Short socks are the new big thing from tall-sock makers. These above-the-ankle compression socks offer the same ankle, Achilles and arch support as their taller cousins but without the calf compression. Use them in the summer when it’s too hot for a knee sock or create a Franken-sock combination with your favorite set of calf sleeves. Having a separate sock/sleeve kit would make midrace foot checks or sock changes much quicker.
CEP’s Dynamic+ short socks claim to increase circulation and give you better foot and ankle stabilization. The circumferential compression around the metatarsals provides arch support, which could help plantar fasciitis pain.
Available: Now. Look for a merino version this fall.
www.cepcompression.com; $25; $30 for merino
*Injinji. We love Injinji toe socks, but in the past have noticed some big holes — literally — in durability. The company has beefed up its Performance 2.0 sock line by adding CoolMax XtraLife fabric to the synthetic socks. The 2.0 socks also feature new mesh uppers and arch support.
New for fall will be the Outdoor line of NuWool merino socks, over-the-calf ski socks and the addition of a midweight Multi-sport line. So far we’ve done lots of muddy miles in the midweight Performance 2.0 Trail socks and have been pleasantly surprised how well they fared in the slop. We’ll post a full review on these soon.
Military perk: Available in the exchanges and soon on military discount site www.govx.com.
Available: Fall (Outdoor, ski and Multi-sport socks)
*Nathan Sports. If you’re a runner, you’ll want to watch for Nathan’s Zephyr flashlight later this year. This USB-rechargeable light, available in 108- or 308-lumen options, has a comfortable hand-held strap. The front of the light is angled down so you can carry it with a relaxed hand position and still have the light pointing toward your feet. The back end of the flashlight operates as a blinking red LED for visibility. The Zephyr even includes an alarm button … just in case. Battery life is 12 hours (308) and 15 hours (108) per charge.
www.nathansports.com; $45 (108 lumens), $55 ($308 lumens).
*Suunto. Suunto has developed a running-specific watch — called the Ambit2 R — which will have GPS and an accelerometer.
Like the other Ambits, the R will have three GPS cycle rate settings that will determine the battery life. On the R, at once-per-second you should get eight hours of battery; at once-per-five seconds you’ll get 12 hours and at once-per-60 seconds you’ll get 25 hours.
The R will also have Suunto’s “FusedSpeed” feature, which uses the accelerometer — using the motion of your arm swing — to track distance. If you temporarily lose the satellite signal, you won’t lose distance.
www.suunto.com; comes in white or black; $249, $299 (with heart rate monitor)
*TomTom. TomTom’s Runner GPS watch has a small footprint and two sizes of bands. The smaller band (in pink, of course) will fit women’s wrists much better than some of the bulkier watches on the market. It has an accelerometer to track distance indoors and will last you eight to 10 hours in GPS mode.
*Zamst ice pack. Zamst’s IW-1 set is an icing system great for joints — knees, elbows and ankles — that puts your soggy bag of frozen peas to shame. Zamst’s icing products offer the benefit of ice plus compression to help you bounce back from a hard workout or injury. The IW-1 is a neoprene outer wrap and a medical-grade ice bag that won’t give you frostbite. Once secured, the whole kit will stay in place, allowing you to move around (or binge-watch TV).
*Otterbox. Otterbox’s Commuter Wallet is a slim iPhone case but still capable of holding three cards and one bill in its sliding wallet drawer on the back. Carry your ID, credit card and some cash while you PT and know that you’re covered if you need a cab home (or a post-PT coffee break).
*Hydro Flask Wide-mouth Straw Lid. Hydro Flask has been a favorite of ours since we schlepped the 40-ounce bottle through Death Valley two years ago. Get the new straw lids now and look for a new 32-ounce bottle in May. BPA-free and dishwasher safe. Straws fit the 18-, 40- and 64-ounce wide-mouth bottles.
*Military perk: Available in Navy and Marine Corps exchanges.
*Trigger Point. The new Mini Grid roller from Trigger Point is a fraction of the size and the price of its bigger roller brothers. Looks great for travel.
Military perk: Trigger Point offers a 25 percent military discount with code TPMilitary and ships to APO addresses.
*Honey Stinger: Honey Stinger has introduced a new cherry cola flavored chew and will be rolling out the new waffle flavor — gingersnap — in March. Also coming are new energy gels with 32mg of caffeine from white tea.
The company also has created a children’s line of chews and waffles. These products will be half the size of the adult versions and will have half the calories. But don’t worry, adults can eat them, too.
*Military perk: Troops are eligible for a 40 percent discount from Honey Stinger. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Also available on the military discount site www.govx.com.