It's trade-show time again. This week, you'll find me (and thousandsof other "gear junkies") in Salt Lake City at the Outdoor RetailerSummer Market, a twice-annual exhibition of the latest gear andequipment made for playtime outside. Here's a peek at some of the swagon display under the big roof in Utah. Say "Hi" if you see mestruggling under an overstuffed backpack hustling through theconvention hall.
1. Barefoot-Style NB
New Balance is jumping further in to "barefoot-inspired" shoes withits new, top-secret NB Minimus model. (They would only provide cropped"spy photos" for now.) The new line, which won't come out until spring2011, was created specifically for runners "seeking a truly minimalistexperience," the company says. The cross-category Minimus collectionwill include road, trail running, and "wellness" shoes.
2. Water Purifier
The SteriPEN Sidewinder has a crank arm to power its water-purifying,UV-light mechanism. The result is a protozoa-zapping contraption thatpurifies suspect water and can go completely off the grid. Step 1:Fill the unit's one-liter bottle and attach the Sidewinder. Step 2:Flip the bottle and Sidewinder upside down and unfold the handle. Step3: Crank until green LED indicates successful purification. Step 4:Drink up! Available in September for $99.95.
3. GRIGRI, part II
In 1991, Petzl changed the climbing world with the invention of itsGRIGRI, an assisted-braking belay device. Now, the company has a newversion, the GRIGRI 2, which operates using the same fall-catchingprinciple as the original GRIGRI though with three major differences,including a wider range of rope-diameter compatibility; a new descentcontrol handle for lowering; and a reduction in device size andweight.
4. Stanley Lunchbox
Semantics might keep Stanley from calling it what it really is (thecompany dubs its new food container the "Lunch Case"). But for packinga midday meal along to work or for an activity outdoors, thisheavy-duty lunchbox conjures images of recess and grade-school antics.It's actually a "crushproof" stainless-steel case with a plasticliner. Optimistically, the company gives it a full lifetime guarantee.Available this fall for $20.
5. Tent Fabric Upgrade
The North Face has a new tent fabric, DryWall, that will offerincreased breathability and water resistance, the company touts. Itwas made at a Japanese mill and includes a powerful new Durable WaterRepellant (DWR) treatment that will not wet out or soak through, TNFsays. The big claim is this: DryWall can provide the lightweightcharacteristics of a traditional single-wall tent while delivering thewaterproof-ness and moisture management of a double wall tent. TheDryWall tents will range from $199 to $399 when they are on the marketthis coming spring.
6. Bear Grylls Knife
Bear Grylls, he of the broadcast television hit "Man vs. Wild," hasdesigned a knife with Gerber. The first product in a line, Gerber’sBear Grylls Survival Series Ultimate Knife, has a full-tang,partially-serrated, stainless-steel blade. The sheath storesBear-inspired tools, including a sharpening stone, magnesium firestarter and a weatherproof survival guide. Available in October for$60.
--Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.