With hundreds, or was it thousands, of new products to peruse – from the Made in America showcase to Venture Out to ingredient brands and tried-and-true favorites – scouring the goods of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market seems to get more daunting every year. While teal and burgundy overtook orange and gray, zippers got vertical, outerwear got even more techy, and responsible sourcing and recycling became ethe status quo. Here’s a quick spin around the show floor.
Outdoor Research always a leader in accessories and Gore-Tex endowed winter product has steadily diverted focus to the lifestyle-tinged apparel business. A rep for the brand admitted, “It’s our new focus for new growth.” 2016/17 jackets offer a more stylistic approach to outerwear for the traditionally core Pacific Northwest company. You know the drill: tech fabrics with lifestyle looks; but OR really hit the mark with subtle yet successful design cues, like its vertical zippers, unique necklines and color pop detailing. Check out next-season’s backcountry Skyward Jacket with AscentShell waterproof stretch and on-trend style details.
Columbia Sportswear continues to inspire with it’s user-friendly technologies, including but not limited to the new OutDry Ex Gold Down Hooded Jacket – what the company is calling a “truly waterproof puffy.” It’s got 650 fill down wrapped in Columbia’s Heat Seal stitch-free baffling system, faced on the outside with the award-winning OutDry Extreme waterproof-breathable membrane. That’s right – the membrane is on the outside and this movement has a completely different look and feel turning a lot of heads.
Plastic, easy to pack, and 87-percent lighter than a traditional water bottle, Vapur delivers with its dishwasher safe, freezable, and U.S.-made (factory in Chicago and distribution in Cali) bottle. Last season the brand took a note from its REI buyers, who said the best selling happened in the 1 liter and up products. Vapur quickly adapted and brought a taller 1.5-liter bottle, along with a hydration tube for Spring 2016, allowing the classic Vapur bottle to convert into a bladder. Check out the After Hours Flexible Flask, a new mini-Vapur for on-the-go summit shots (comes in a Flexible Wine Carrier that fits a whole bottle’s worth, but we’re whiskey people).
Despite the global notoriety of the Adidas brand, its Outdoor licensee is still growing, but doing so with great propulsion. Expanding 25 percent each year, Adidas Outdoor enters its sixth season with an emphasis on its Terrex line of apparel, which outfits the extreme Aspen Alpine Guides during their season. The Terrex Exclusive line is the cream of the crop, ranging from hardshells to baselayers and ski pants, with help from Gore-Tex Pro and Polartec Alpha. Rising to the top of the line is the Techrock GTX Jacket, $650 retail, and redefining what it means to own a technical jacket.
At Hydro Flask, the focus was on the brand’s updated, and now insulated, bottle caps. That adds 20-percent more insulation, company officials claim, and it makes the overall cap stronger. The threads and gaskets (seal) on the caps have also been updated. The seal now sits on top of the threads further down into the bottle instead of on top of the bottle. This solves an issue with the carbonation in drinks (i.e., beer in growlers) pushing up on the seal and leaking. With the new design, there’s room for the seal to move without the potential for leaks.
Bogs brought a variety of revamped farm boots with heritage rain boot handles, vogue neoprene and waterproof leather. But what really shined among the many new styles was the brand’s arch into kid’s footwear, where it brought nearly every new and classic style to smaller outdoorists. Now in big retailers like REI and Zappos, Bogs distinguished itself at Winter Market as a shoe brand for everyone. We swooned over the wall of children’s boots and pull-ons. While on the hardcore end of the spectrum, the Lamborghini of 2016 footwear is Bog’s New Tech Beacon Glacial Ice Grip Boots that withstand -112 degrees (these, however, don’t come in a kiddie model).
A big acquisition for Industrial Revolution made the focus of its Winter Market presence a tropical topic. Hawaiian action camera brand Intova is now in the IR lineup and making waves (we couldn’t resist). Years ago, GoPro asked Intova to make its waterproof housing, and now the lesser known brand its bringing to market affordable action cams that are waterproof and have an astounding dive capacity. Their $50 Duo Action Camera option alone has a 100-feet-below range. These cameras shoot HD video and have a light for clear shooting.
A new partnership with Gore-Tex has Berghaus celebrating the right way: a cutting edge three-layer Gore-Tex hardshell called the Pro Gen 3. This shell is absolutely insane, due in large part to its hood technology. President at Berghaus USA, Walter Crate, said excitedly, “we definitely geek out over hoods.” Crate dissected the Pro Gen 3 hood for us, exposing the cohesive spring-loaded release that cinches down without a hood and adds fabric with a hood. This means the right fabric and fit no matter the noggin volume. Also on the jacket is a face vent and back panel expansion pleat, making the jacket feel stretchy despite it being a hardshell. Berghaus also celebrates its new RDS certification – a mantelpiece that immediately ups the performance, reputation, and sustainability of a brand.
Scarpa’s F1 Ski Boot (Men’s and Women’s) for alpine touring will be the ultimate crossover boot. It’s super light, rocks a 62-degree walk mode, and Boa closure system. This boot (and the rest of Scarpa’s ski boots) can be credited to Italian designer and Head of Research and Design, Davide Parisotto, who leads the design team from Italy. Colors lean toward muted neon, with teal and burgundy – two popular colors for next season.
Eagle Creek is a veteran in the luggage game, but at OR the brand showed hints of daring color choices and youthful expansions. The No Matter What Top Load Backpack got an 80’s glam look with new white coloring. The color/fabric mix looks almost like a white leather you’d see at NY Fashion Week, only with travel godsends like a subtle safety whistle and laptop sleeve. A rep for the brand also divulged that we’ll begin to see more Sports + Fitness gym bags in the future, beginning with the Pack It Sport mini-sack that fits shoes, PowerBar, and a dry shirt.
As geeky as it sounds, water purification is the Kim Kardashian gossip of the outdoor world and we love talking about it. Warren Mason, VP of sales and marketing at SteriPEN, dished on a new project that will have more third-world application via purifying larger volumes of water. SteriPEN found a way to multiply the power of its UV light, which sends photons to the edge of the bottle and hit germs, giardia, and protozoa (aka the yucky stuff). Making the new bottle’s surface more reflectant on the inside means multiplying the purification affect.
Every brand has their thing. For Mountain Hardwear, it’s jackets, and Fall/Winter 2016 will be the season of stretch down. Partnering full body stretch fabric with stretch welded seams that expand unlike restrictive stitched seams, the Stretchdown Jacket is a piece we expect wearing far into spring, thanks to its comfortable feel.
Hi-Tec has grown to become the sixth largest outdoor footwear brand in the market. Introducing its OX Collection (OX=Outdoor Crossover) at ORWM, the company revealed a big partnership with tire brand Michelin for its outsoles in models including the Trail Ox Chukka. Ed van Wezel, Hi-Tec CEO, said of the partnership, “Michelin is a household name here in the U.S.” (Hi-Tec is an English-based brand that got its start in the 70s.) “With the urbanization of the outdoors, nobody knows the road better than Michelin. We’ll still work with Vibram for our traditional boots, but explore new channels with Michelin. We see this as the start of a long-term partnership.”
BioLite took momentum gained from its popular outdoor smokeless stove to bring blinding lumens to the city commuter in the Power Light Mini. This is a clip-on 130 lumen option that could be used across categories both outdoors and inside. USB charge port included. A look into 2017 shows plans to gear back to camping with a 400-lumen cube base lantern with versatile legs. BioLite will make an appearance at this year’s SHOT show Industry Day at the Range in an effort to reach-out to new sportsman consumers.
As homage to classic cool (think Steve McQueen Persols), Sunski premiered its 2016 Foxtails Collection of keyhole, high-nose bridge glasses – super light, super flexible, but somehow fitting like they were based on a model of your face thanks to the polycarbonate frame. Made unisex and offered in the brand’s most popular tortoise and emerald colorways, these glasses will go over big this spring. As a company that plays with updating vintage sunglass styles, it’s no surprise Sunski’s 2017 line will be a reworking of the retro Vaurnet shape. “We want to make the mountain goggle radical but accessible, and bring it to the masses with an expeditionary feel,” said Co-Founder Tom Stewart.
Trail running gets a nod from New Zealand’s Icebreaker with a line of baselayer-inspired crew and half-zips – the Women’s Comet and Men’s Factor. This will be your Fall 2016 run top that can also be worn as a layer in winter, a stand-alone top in early spring, and long sleeve for cooler summer nights. Icebreaker also expands its studio-inspired women’s shirts and tights for the yogis, with teals and new graphics.
Osprey packs is jumping on the urban travel bandwagon with “one bag to rule them all.” The design is a roller luggage wrapping its arms around a daypack. It’s a redesign of the Meridian, with backpack straps. Also big for Osprey is a new partnership with Hydrapak, which will launch Osprey into the “Hydraulics” bladder market. Yes, all their packs fit a hydration pack, but the new Osprey bladder with backer plate, unique grab cuff, and bite-blast valve is a leap into uncharted ground.
Darn Tough socks, the offspring of third generation sock mill Cabot Hosiery, returns to run with the Vertex Sock. “It’s only what you need,” said Director of Marketing, Brian Brand. “Specialty run is the next big step. The ultrarunners and crazy-ass adventure runners get us and love our socks. Now we’re going for the road and fitness runner.” Brand shared with us that road cycling will come next, with new products projected for release in Spring 2017.
Fjällräven’s booth was a winter wonderland with sled dogs, fake snow, and drool-worthy jackets. Our Pick: The Women’s Singi Down Jacket in burgundy, with removable faux-fur and Pertex Quantum (because soft and loft are our buzz words). Across the hall at the other half of the booth was a wall dedicated to a big eco-driven change in the classic Kanken. The Re-Kanken Packs are a recycled sibling, made from 11 plastic bottles, less water from pellet dyes, and a cool matte look. The brand will also be putting time and energy into a new line of tents.
One Venture Out brand is making sunglasses out of scarlet desert flowers and osprey feathers. Inspired by the Badlands of South Dakota, Shwood Eyewear’s latest wooden sunglasses are made from high pressure resin casting and takes a naturalistic approach to an ordinary accessory. Eric Singer, Shwood concept designer and mastermind/artist behind the original wood pair, said, “I like to challenge materials.” The brand works to do a new design release every three months. Looking forward, Singer said inspiration would come from brick and oceanic materials.
Stanley PMI, the Seattle-based makers of the timeless vacuum bottle, spent last season thinking a lot about spirits and beer. For Fall 2016, the focus switched to coffee. We tried their Steel Pot French Press, which allowed us to make fresh coffee in the backcountry with only grounds, water, and a fire. This is a lighter, more family friendly alternative to Stanley’s monstrous Mountain Vacuum Coffee System (on market now) which is a Russian nesting doll of everything you would ever need to enjoy a damn good coffee while camping.
Yeti in turn introduced its Rambler Bottles in three sizes for cold or hot beverages on the go. One of the big selling points is Over the Nose technology in a very wide mouth, easy for loading, drinking and cleaning. The brand’s TripleHaul cap is leakproof and insulated. Bottles feature “No Sweat Design” in 18/8 stainless steel and double wall vacuum insulation.
Smartwool teamed up with famed alpinist Conrad Anker to develop the new PhD Outdoor Mountaineer Sock, featuring what the brand is calling revolutionary Industractawool technology, a bulk free instep, two integrated mesh zones for aggressive venting, and a 20-to-30 mmHg compression heal cup. With Conrad’s attention to detail and Smartwool’s 20-years of sock innovation, this is the most technical mountaineering sock we’ve ever seen. They also dropped the capital W in the name. Editors take note.