Gear of the Show: The Best of Summer Outdoor Retailer 2016
The 5 pieces of gear we're most excited about from this year’s event
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Each summer, the world’s top outdoor brands gather in Salt Lake City to show off next year’s gear. We sent six editors to look for the most exciting, innovative new releases. From an environmentally friendly rain shell to an upgraded (and beautiful) track spike, these are our five Gear of the Show winners.
Cotopaxi Inti 2 Tent ($350)
The Inti 2 is the most versatile ground tent on the market. At its core, the structure is a two-person, three-season tent with a rain fly. But when you attach the included alcove—essentially a huge vestibule with a nylon floor—you double the shelter’s size and create a comfortable, four-person tent for camping with kids or dogs. The alcove can also be set up solo as an ultralight shelter or awning.
The main tent uses three poles, includes two vestibules for gear storage, and offers feet of headroom. Two doors make for easy access, while the mesh ceiling provides ample ventilation.
By itself, the main tent weighs 4.9 pounds. With the alcove, it weighs just over seven pounds. Tents start shipping in April 2017.
Columbia’s OutDry Extreme ECO Shell ($199)
Most rain jackets are terrible for the environment because they rely on perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), which have been linked to toxicity in animals, to repel water. For years, companies have tried to substitute these compounds with less harmful ones. Trouble is, PFCs are damn good at what they do, and getting rid of them has typically meant reducing product performance.
That’s why we’re so excited about the new OutDry Extreme ECO, which uses zero PFCs. The entire jacket is an exercise in sustainability: each is made from approximately 21 plastic bottles, and the fabric is dye-free, according to Columbia.
Here’s the crazy part: It works really well. Wes Siler, who runs Indefinitely Wild, our outdoor lifestyle blog, tested the Extreme ECO while camping in the Sierra Nevada. The garment kept him dry, and he found the fabric to be no more crinkly than that of standard hard shell. In short, the jacket wore and performed great. For more details, check out Siler’s full review.
The Extreme ECO goes on sale in spring 2017.
Hoka One One Speed Evo R Track Spike ($130)
Fun math fact: Middle- and long-distance track athletes spend 60 percent of their race making left turns along the curves. With this in mind, Hoka One One, the company known for lightweight maximalist trail and road runners, developed a new set of spikes that offers more traction heading in this direction.
The Speed Evo R features asymmetrical spike patterns, plus supportive wraps in the midsole that angle toward the runner’s right—the outside of the track—both of which improve stability in the turns and prevent slippage.
The shoe is targeted at middle distances and weighs a measly 4.1 ounces (3.6 in the women’s model). Hoka’s Olympic athletes put the Speed Evo R on show at the track and field trials in July. It ships to everyone else in February 2017.
Arc’teryx Bora AR 50 Pack ($499)
We’ve seen packs with swiveling hipbelts that allow for more mobility and a better fit. Arc’teryx has taken that idea one step further, pairing that side-to-side motion with 1.25 inches of vertical give in the new Bora AR Pack. The technology is called RotoGlide, and it creates significantly more mobility (and thus a better fit) as you shorten and lengthen your torso while climbing over rocks and up steep pitches on the trail. It also eliminates chafing on your thighs.
Up top, shoulder straps that adjust for both height and width work with the belt to create one of the most secure, comfortable packs we’ve tested. A simple compartment system makes items easy to organize, and bomber materials mean the pack should last for multiple seasons. We’ll be using it for fall backpacking and winter ski mountaineering. The Bora AR launches to consumers in early 2017.
Tepui White Lightning Rooftop Tent ($2,850)
We’re sold on rooftop tents. They offer bed-like comfort, thanks to solid metal or fiberglass platforms and thick foam mattresses, and keep you out of the muck when things get wet.
Tepui has made these shelters even more convenient with its two-person White Lightning hard-shell model. Instead of flipping open like a book—a traditional rooftop design—the White Lightning’s fiberglass panels expand like an accordion and take just minutes to set up. Closed, the tent is only eight inches tall and thus easier on your gas mileage.
Here’s our favorite part: With other rooftop tents, you need a rear rack for bikes because there’s no room on top of your car. But the White Lightning has a rail system where you can attach a rack for bikes, kayaks, and other toys. They can even stay up top when the tent’s open.
The White Lightning was recently funded on Kickstarter and should begin shipping in November.