Pat Petschel, the newest member of The Gear Junkie team, is at the Outdoor Retailer trade show this week in Salt Lake City. He will be making occasional reports from the show floor over the coming four days.
Day Three: 11:45p.m. — Day two on the trade show floor — and day three of the trip out in Utah — included a late night dinner with the folks from Keen. Now back at the hotel and time to blog. Today at the show, apparel and outerwear, especially jackets, seemed to be everywhere, with companies promoting new lines, new technologies and an environmental focus. Here’s a quick peek.
Spinning New Yarns
PrimaLoft, a synthetic insulation that often competes with goose down in jackets and sleeping bags, has been mentioned over and over by brands across the show floor. So much so that I had to stop at the company’s booth and see what was new. While this product does not yet have a brand partner, PrimaLoft has developed a yarn made from its micro denier fibers that’s soft next to your skin. It will function as a fabric for base layer clothing, as it has moisture-management (wicking) characteristics and warmth. Look for this new take on base-layer fabric in late 2009 and early 2010.
SPOT vs. OnStar
SPOT, maker of a satellite GPS messenger device, is promoting a new roadside assistance service that will launch this spring called SPOT Assist. It will deliver the only roadside assistance based on satellite technology, and users will be able to remotely alert a national roadside response center of their location in the case of a breakdown or emergency. Unlike some similar programs, SPOT Assist relies on a satellite network to initiate communication (not cell phone signals). The company says a leading provider of national roadside assistance will perform services including towing, auto-accident assistance, fuel services, tire repair, battery service, lost key and lockout. (Available this spring for $129.99/year, www.findmespot.com)
GoLite is touting its SympaTex Reflexion jacket as a way to entirely lose a layer in your cold-weather system. This new shell jacket keeps its occupant warm while still offering breathability by incorporating an aluminum-based SympaTex material, which acts as a thin radiant heat barrier. The warming layer is paired with a water- and wind-proof exterior shell material. GoLite is including SympaTex in the men’s hard shell, a women’s soft shell, and a men’s pant. (Available in the fall for $350, www.golite.com)
No Dye, No Where, No How
The NADA (Not Any Dye Applied) line from Merrell attempts to prove that sustainable designs don’t have to sacrifice a garment’s aesthetic style. The men’s and women’s jackets certainly looked sharp on the show floor. But the real stunner is what Merrell projects in material savings during the production process. According to the company, the no-dye production of a single size small women’s NADA-style jacket saves 1.6 kilograms of carbon dioxide, 115.2 liters of water, 0.18 kg of chemicals, and 2.47 kilowatt hours of energy. (Available August 2009, $229, www.merrell.com)
New Kids on the Block
The partners at TREW, a new outerwear company from Hood River, Ore., might cringe at that reference, but in their first OR Show appearance TREW has garnered some attention. The company seeks to combine a freestyle look with a technical product in its line of jackets, pants, and bibs made for skiers and boarders who dabble in bounds at resorts and out of bounds, too. TREW built its line with a simple question in mind: “why can’t technical outerwear look rad?” The company’s Bellows jacket, shown below in Ninja Black, offers a relaxed fit for a long day on the hill and is designed for uninhibited performance — in the park or in the backcountry. The outerwear is made of waterproof-breathable fabric and has nice touches like cozy high collars (no neck gaiter required!) and expandable chest pockets that can accommodate climbing skins folded up when you’re ready for the descent. (Fall, $479, www.trewgear.com)