The Gear Junkie: Outdoor Retailer Preview

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.

By Stephen Regenold

The twice-annual Outdoor Retailer trade show, which will take place this summer in Salt Lake City from August 3 to 6, is a peek at the future of gear. The items displayed on the trade-show floor are what you'll see at shops this winter and in the spring of 2011. Here is an early preview, a few scoops from Gear Junkie and my moles in the outdoors space:

Super Light Tent: England's Terra Nova Equipment has reached new lightweight horizons with its one pound, one ounce Laser Ultra 1 tent. It's made for one person and is touted as “the lightest double-wall tent in the world.” (The two-person Laser Photon 2 weighs a smidge more at one pound, 15 ounces.) There are literally trail-running shoes that weigh more than this tent!

Pump-Up Camp Pad: The Klymit Inertia X Frame, $99.95, packs down to the size of a soda can. It inflates with normal air or a C02-like cartridge gun from Klymit that pumps in insulating argon gas. Weight: 9.1 ounces. Length: 72 inches. Width: 18 inches. Made from rip-stop nylon and “body-mapped” to support a sleeping frame.

Human-Grade Dog Chow: Promoting “gourmet jerky and dehydrated trail food” for dogs, PeakWaggers's canine line is homemade, all-natural and organic. The fancy, trail-ready puppy chow comes in vacuum-sealed bags. Flavors include Chicken Pawmesan, Barkin’ Beef-Barley Stew, and Dog-Gone Cottage Pie. The kicker: Because all the ingredients are “human grade,” a hungry hiker can literally share a meal with Fido in a time of dire need.

Endurance Vest: Called an “endurance running vest,” the XT Advanced Skin SLAB product from Salomon is essentially a form-fitting hydration pack. It's made for “intense trail running” and ultras. Its meshy, minimalist design holds a water bladder and small essential items like energy food and an extra clothing layer or a light shell jacket. There are no buckles or straps to prevent chafing. Comes with a 1.5-liter water bladder. Weight: one pound, 6 ounces. Capacity: 305 cubic inches.

Bro Packs: In an attempt to make backpacks that will appeal to a younger crowd, Jeff Popp and Jordan Vecchiarelli–both 24 years old–have launched Mile High Mountaineering. The Denver-based outfit has three backpack models, all with a “fresh, bright, and clean design,” as the company puts it. Tech attributes include side-loading sleeping bag compartments, a “back-hugger” internal compression system, and what is said to be “one of the best dual-pivoting/adjustable cant hip belts available” on the market.

Sit-On-Top Kayak: Necky has produced its first sit-on-top kayak in nearly a decade. The Vector 13 model is advertised to blend the comfort and stability of a sit-on-top with the efficiency and performance of a touring kayak. The company says the Vector 13’s seat was made to reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve and prevent the leg and foot fatigue often associated with paddling long distances. The boat is 13 feet long, 29 inches wide, and weighs 59 pounds. Available in August starting at $899.

Tecnica Trail Runner: Tecnica has entered the trail-running category with a technology called TRS Max. It addresses stability, absorption, and propulsion of the shoe. The claim: Wearers will be able to “surf downhill and roll uphill with maximum efficiency.” How's it work? TRS allegedly improves energy transmission and comfort with greater toe and heel rocker height. The TRS footprint is also much larger than traditional trail-running shoes. Inferno Max model, $150, shown here.

Easton Ultra-Light: Touting a “never-before-seen carbon pole system,” Easton Mountain Products's Kilo Tent weighs less than two pounds (about 31.7 ounces, including its poles). Easton says its techy poles are 56 percent lighter than comparable aluminum poles. $399.99

Wrap-Around Pack: Bear-proof food canisters are becoming mandatory in many wilderness areas. Granite Gear's latest, the Nimbus Core backpack, targets that market with a new design, including a large opening on back and side pockets that wrap around the pack’s core. It fits a large bear-proof food canister. Recommended for loads up to 40 pounds. Pack weight when empty is three pounds, 12 ounces.

iPad in the Outdoors: Australia-based STM Bags's Scout shoulder bag is a slim case designed for the Apple iPad. It has an outdoorsy aesthetic and is made of canvas. There is protective padding and a felt lining inside to surround digital gear. The Scout bag works with the iPad and most 11-inch laptops/netbooks.

Tri Suit: Wacoal Sports Science touts that it has been issued more than 50 international patents for the anatomical CW-X apparel line. Two new CW-X products, the Ventilator Stabilyx Tri Shorts ($85) and Ventilator Web Tri Top ($75), are made for triathletes–they can be worn for an entire race, no changing required. A lightweight fleece chamois bike pad, UPF 50+ sun protection, and a flexible “support web” of fabric–to assist posture, breathing, and arm movement–are attributes marketed with the versatile line.

–Stephen Regenold is founder of A portion of this column appeared on his blog at

promo logo