The Gear Junkie Scoop: Outdoor Retailer’s Best Gear
Each winter, the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City brings together 40,000 attendees to ogle the latest in outdoor apparel and gear. Here are a few products that stood apart from the rest.
Brooks Range Elephant Foot Sleeping Bag: Takes inspiration from minimalist European alpinists, the company says. Indeed, the compact down bag ($249) has built-in suspenders, comes up only waist-high when in use, necessitating a warm down jacket on top for a bearable night's bivy. But the result of the pared-down design–which is specified to keep a climber warm to 15 degrees Fahrenheit–is a bag that packs tiny and weighs just one pound. Available at brooks-range.com.
National Geographic World Atlas: This iPhone app gives the ability to explore the globe virtually on a small screen. There are satellite photos, ocean maps, and GPS-based tools. A unique option, the “antique” view, offers old-world-style maps viewable on a 21st century device. The World Atlas app, available on iTunes, costs $1.99.
Timex Ironman Global Trainer Bodylink System: The name may be a mouthful, but the system provides a GPS-enabled training experience heretofore unavailable on such a small face. The watch has a four-part split-screen to display data on your real-time running speed, pace, distance, heart rate, and other metrics a fitness freak may need. Available in May for about $300.
Cricket Trailer: Like an Airstream Trailer for the adventure set, the Cricket Trailer is a lightweight camper tow-able by almost any automobile. Station wagons, minivans, and even some four-cylinder cars can hook up and haul the 15-foot-long pod. Inside, a 6-foot, 2-inch-high ceiling, a bed, table, fridge, sink, and optional toilet provide a cozy living space for a camping couple or a small family on the road. The price tag is a steep $15,000 and up at crickettrailer.com.
Bridgford Foods Corporation Sandwiches: In the I'm-not-sure-about-that category, Bridgford Foods Corporation's premade, shelf-stable sandwiches are touted to have a three-year life if stored at 80 degrees or less. The “ready to eat” sandwiches are marketed to campers, hikers, hunters, and boating enthusiasts. The sandwiches, originally developed for the U.S. military, come in flavors including BBQ beef, BBQ chicken, Italian, and “pepperoni stick.”
Keen Alaska Boot: A full-on snow tromper from a company best known for its sandals. The women's boots, made with a leather upper, are lined with insulation and have a “thermal heat shield footbed” said to reflect warmth back into the boot even as you walk over frozen ground. The boots will cost $150 when they debut later this year with Keen's cold-weather line.
Wenger RangerGrip 179 WPER: I may be biased about this knife, which is named after a race in Patagonia that I will compete in next month, but the Wenger RangerGrip 179 WPER ($72.95) is a worthy Swiss Army tool, including a wood saw, screwdriver, cap lifter, wire stripper, and a big serrated blade with a safety lock. The handle has rubber inlays and is laser-engraved with the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race (WPER) logo.
Petzl CORE System: Bringing computer control to the category of the headlamp, Petzl's CORE System is a rechargeable battery compatible with many of the company's popular TIKKA and ZIPKA lights. Plug it into a USB computer port to charge. The ion-polymer battery can store enough power for 120 hours of operation. Soon to come: Petzl will add an application for users to set up custom battery power and light strength via a control panel on their computer screen.
CamelBak Roulette, Pit Boss Packs: These are a pair of winter hydration packs for backcountry skiers and snowboarders. The women's Roulette and men's Pit Boss backpacks include the requisite CamelBak hydration hose and reservoir, plus adjustable carrying straps for skis or a snowboard on back. Both packs have a shovel pocket and places to stow climbing skins, an avalanche probe, goggles, and other backcountry essentials. Available for next year's ski season at $100.
–Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.