Last summer, something exciting happened at Outdoor Retailer. While being lulled to sleep by the repetition of terms like “membranes” and “midsoles,” I heard a whisper about a new corner of the show where young brands had created their own unique scene.
Called the Venture Out section, the space had a decidedly hipster feel to it. People flocked to the obscure tent for good reason—the cool kids were out there. During Winter OR this January, Venture Out was still packed full of exciting new lifestyle products, very different from the core gear you find on the main floor. Here are our five favorite items.
Boston-based Forsake collaborated with Woolrich to make this sturdy sneaker-boot hybrid. The Lockout is fully waterproof while still being the most stylish footwear we saw at OR. Under the leather- and wool-trimmed exterior lies a membrane designed to keep wearer’s feet dry up to the ankles even in a downpour. The Lockout also has one of the coolest features we’ve seen on a casual shoe: magnets around the collar grab the shoelace tips, which prevent untied laces from dragging on the ground.
Duckworth Striped Pom Pom Hat
Wool clothing maker Duckworth uses super premium helle rambouillet merino wool from Dillon, Montana, in all its products. This year, they introduced chemical-free, pre-washed wool, which is made from a multi-step process that eliminates the chemicals most of our soft wool garments are treated with. This hat is not one of those chemical-free pieces, but we loved its vintage look, something you’ll find throughout the Duckworth line.
Topo Designs Mountain Pack
I’ve used a Topo Designs Klettersack as my everyday backpack for years. Its 1000-denier nylon has proven bombproof and it always draws attention thanks to the retro look. But it’s a decidedly city-oriented bag. The new Mountain Pack, however, looks like the Klettersack’s technical younger sibling. The 23-liter pack has two waterproof exterior zippers—one for the main pouch and the other for an accessory pouch—and has eleven gear loops on the exterior to hand everything from a water bottle to a helmet. Like the Klettersack, it was built in Colorado from burly 1000-denier nylon.
Miir Tall Boy Tumbler
Whether you’re an athlete, journalist, buyer, or seller at OR, you’ll likely have a beer vessel in hand after 4 p.m. Miir’s 16-ounce tall boy tumblers stood out in a sea of metal pint glasses. For one, they look like a true tall boy with their sleek, stainless steel shape. And the product has a great philanthropic backstory: For every Tall Boy sold, Miir guarantees clean water for one person in need.
Iron and Resin Cotton Waffle One Piece
The onesie has come a long way. While I’ve tested onesies with ergonomic drop seats, high-tech Polartec fabric, and bacteria fighting threads, part of me longs for the ones my ancestors used during their western migration. Nothing high-tech, just soft, supple cotton.
That’s probably why I was so excited to see Ventura, California-based Iron and Resin—a surf and motorcycle clothing manufacturer—release a cotton one-piece. The heavily pre-washed fabric—which gives a soft, next-to-skin feel—looks like it came from an 1800s Sears catalog with its waffle construction and buttons (eight in the front and three in the back).