Eye on the Prize: 10 to Watch

Nos. 1-5

Aug 23, 2005
Outside Magazine

Tao XM2go

Mountain Hardwear Exodus

The United Industrial face-off was a nasty note in an otherwise upbeat show. Outdoor Retailer continues to grow—it's now so large that in two full days there I simply could not leg out every foot of aisle space. Which is to admit that I simply didn't see everything there. Not by a long shot. But I did do my best to spy the gear that's making its way to a store near you, mostly by spring '06, some earlier in time for your holiday gift-giving largesse. Here are ten things that caught my eye:

1. Tao XM2go Portable Satellite Radio: Not exactly new for 2006—the Tao XM2go unit is available now from retailers such as Crutchfield. But new now, and so very cool that the evening after I saw this I logged on to the Web via my Apple laptop and bought one. Tao is one of three companies licensed by XM to manufacture what are called "portable satellite radios"—compact devices that tune in signals from one of two satellite-radio providers, XM or Sirius. Tao's unit is the most outdoorsy of the three, with tough construction and compact size that can be clipped to a belt or placed inside a pack pocket. A rechargeable battery gives you five hours of listen time to XM's scores of stations. A $60 car kit add-on makes it easy to install in an auto, so you can listen to uninterrupted music or comedy en route to the trailhead or ski slopes. $300; www.taolife.com

2. Atlas Extreme Gloves: Good gear doesn't have to cost the world. Atlas Gloves—long popular with gardeners and construction workers—is introducing an outdoors-specific glove called the Extreme, with warm hollow-core fiber construction and Atlas' wonderful rubber-coated palms and fingers. They're not fully waterproof, but if they get wet you can wring them out and they'll dry in minutes. At $20, they're a must-have for cross-country skiers, snowshoers, hikers—anyone out in cool, damp conditions who needs to get a grip on things. www.lfsinc.com

3. Brunton Wind River Range Stove: Like to car camp? Hate to leave your Viking range home? Then the Wind River is for you. It's a stainless-steel, two-burner camp stove with commercial-style burners that put out a steak-searing 13,000 BTUs, or simmer low enough to melt chocolate for an after-dinner dessert fondue. Ruggedly built and easily cleaned. Plus, the Wind River will run off any size propane bottle. $440; www.brunton.com

4. Ecco Colima Sandals: It's true my feet and back both ached after a long day traipsing along the concrete walkways of the Salt Palace, Salt Lake City's sprawling convention center. So maybe I was biased when I tried on the super-cushioned, beautifully made Colimas. Still, I was sorely tempted just to keep walking and hope they didn't catch me. But Ecco shoes are comfortable all of the time, so for travelers or hikers, the Colimas will certainly play sweet music for da feet. $120; www.ecco.com

5. Mountain Hardwear Exodus Backpacks: Packs haven't evolved much in recent years—I'm perfectly happy schlepping gear in my 15-year-old Dana Design Terraplane. So after five years of development, Mountain Hardwear has tried to jumpstart that category with its new Exodus packs. They have easily the most über-engineered suspension on the planet, designed to keep big loads stable while offering rock-hopping mobility. Available in two frame styles and six bag sizes, from 3,300 cubic inches to 4,800 cubic inches. $330-$400; www.mountainhardwear.com

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