As Outdoor Retailer heaved with an over-capacity crowd last weekend, one message and ten new pieces of gear caught my attention. The message was 'Keep it simple.' The gear was pared down and practical.
1. Eagle Creek’s Silk Undercover Bra Stash ($12; eaglecreek.com) is a smart solution for travelers who can’t stand the discomfort of a neck pouch or bulky waist belt. Its new silk, snap-enclosure pouch hooks snugly to your bra between cups to hold currency, a credit card, or other small treasures while traveling.
2. There aren't many options in the dress-up-bike-commuting shoe department. That’s why Merrell’s new “Heels and Wheels” line is so innovative. The Evera MJ ($110; Merrell.com) has a chunky, bike-friendly heel and a reinforced arch to grip pedals or pavement. And the strappy, Mary Jane upper looks great.
3. Beyond the glamour, there’s a great reason why the Williams sisters slam tennis balls in dresses: they’re comfortable. Try running in Patagonia's All Weather Dress ($49; Patagonia.com). Its non-binding, polyester-spandex blend is one layer and boasts UPF-15 sun protection. And with no bra or underwear, you can mix and match with your favorite undergarments. You may never run in shorts again.
4. A classic: L.L. Bean's 100th Anniversary Canoe ($7,500; llbean.com). It’s nearly impossible to improve on the aesthetics of a canoe this good looking, especially one built by Old Town. Made of wood and canvas, and built around a cedar-strip skeleton, it is almost exactly the same as it was at the turn of the 20th century. Paddle it with their Beavertail paddle ($169), which is made from reclaimed spruce logs dredged out of the Penobscot River.
5. The Primus Fire Hole 300 ($250; primuscamping.com), a two-burner propane stove, has an easy-to-light electric piezo ignition. But it also comes with a few handy bells and whistles that make cooking outside a lot easier: An onboard light and timer, a utensil prep kit in the lid, and magnets that keep the sides from crashing down on the burners, which each kick out 12,000 BTUs per hour and can boil a liter of water in three minutes. The result is a stove that could work for car camping, soccer-mom sideline partying, or tailgating in the ski resort parking lot.
6. Moving Comfort's Jubralee bra ($54; movingcomfort.com) is a must-have for a well-endowed woman. It's the first-ever bra built from the ground up based on the findings of biomechanics testing, and it's a lot prettier than other high-intensity bras on the market.
7. The Brooks-Range Ski Multi-Tool's ¼" hex driver allows you to use the ski bits your really need, like a #1 Philips, #2 Philips, #3 Posi-drive bit, a Torx® T20 bit, and a #4 flathead. That means you can carry one multi-tool instead of two. In the carrying case: a bit extender, a hex drive drill bit, and an awl. It even has a bottle opener. ($70; Brooks-Range.com)
8. The hiking, trekking, trail running, alpine, and mountaineering shoe market is getting crowded these days, which is why it’s important to keep tabs on shoes that stand out, like Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX ($129, low; $189, mid; salewa.com). The shoes are sleek, light (610 grams), and designed in Italy. But they've also got all the hard-core specs, like a Gore-Tex lining, a Vibram outsole, and a triple-density micro-porous rubber midsole that will keep your feet warm, dry, and firmly on the rocks and scree on the most technical scrambles. But it’s also topped by a suede upper suitable for trekking through fancy airports. Best of all, it comes with an out-of-the-box, 100-percent blister-free guarantee.
9. Wearing wool in the heat of summer might seem strange, but the Ibex Indie Free Ride Cycling Jersey ($120; ibexwear.com) keeps you cool and sweat free on even the longest rides. The fabric is 18.5 micron New Zealand merino wool, but the elegant silk-screen design is purely Japanese. With short sleeves, an invisible 11-inch front zipper, and a back pocket, it's functional and good looking.
10. Who doesn't need feisty, pencil-sized flame thrower in these uncertain times? The Nano Striker ($27; exotac.com) is a ferrocerium fire-starter made of two different grades of stainless steel that generate enough spark for 1,000 fires. Keep the 14.5 gram Nano Striker in your backcountry emergency kit or stash it in your handbag for summer thunderstorm power outages at the cottage (or Manhattan, for that matter).