A look at ‘Future Gear’ from OR Trade Show

This month marks occasion for the twice-annual Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City, Utah. With the event, hundreds of outdoor brands unveil new products, from modular ice axes to “swamp jackets” made for dogs. GearJunkie will be live on the scene starting next week to report on the blog and via social media for all four days of the show. For now, we dug through some of the pre-show buzz to find these stand-out products below, all coming to market later this year at an outdoor shop near you. —Stephen Regenold

Snow Safety Packs — More brands are leaping into avalanche backpacks like those in the Ortovox Free Rider line or the Hodlekve ABS from Bergans of Norway. Pull a cord if an avalanche is triggered and “wings” inflate like automobile airbags to keep a skier higher in the sliding snow. But the safety does not come cheap, with both Bergans and Ortovox selling their packs starting at around $1,200.

Convert-a-Shovel — K2 built a modular tool, the Rescue Shovel Plus, that takes an ice axe head or a shovel blade. Interchange the two implements depending on your climbing, chopping, or snow digging needs.

‘Feminine’ Freeride Shell — Trew Gear touts its Stella Jacket for women as having a “flattering free-ride feminine fit.” The hardshell is built for the slopes and the worst winter weather with waterproof zippers, a membrane fabric for breathability, and big inside pockets for stowing backcountry gear and climbing skins.

Utility Vest — Who needs a backpack? The gear-toting BC Vest from Dakine can be stocked with a shovel, radio, hydration, ski skins, and other necessary equipment for backcountry skiing adventures. It weighs less than 2 pounds and fits close for tree skiing and fast descents.

Primo Down Coat — Among the puffiest of puffy coats, the outrageously priced ($900!) Helly Hansen Thrym Jacket uses “pods” of premium goose down to trap copious amounts of body heat. The brand touts the pod configuration as promoting “continuous air movement and nonstop body temperature regulation” on the coldest of days.

Slick Splitboard System — K2 markets its Kwicker System as the “lightest, fastest splitboard system on the planet.” It comes with all the needed pieces to explore the backcountry — splitboard, boots, bindings, skins, and crampons, all for a cool $1,249.95. The board is light at 3.9 pounds, and the company promises “no bow-legged walking” when you are climbing up thanks to a “neutral skinning stance” configuration.

Retro Shades — Modeled after high-alpine optics used decades ago, Julbo will ship its special-edition Vermont Mythics sunglasses this year. The leather-shielded shades are aesthetically old school but updated with modern lenses to block harsh high-altitude light today.

Dog Cooler ‘Shirt’ — Made for overheating canines, the Swamp Cooler from Ruffwear is a three-layer coat. Dogs can stay cool thanks to water’s evaporative effect and a middle fabric layer on the coat that soaks up liquid for keeping your pup always “wet” while on the run.

Minimal Raft — Klymit is a company known for its sleeping pads and air-chamber insulated jackets. This year the brand debuts a tiny, one-person pack raft. The Lite Water Dingy will cost about $225. It packs down small and inflates ad hoc in the wilderness to float rivers or cross a fjord. Weighs a scant, take-it-anywhere 32 ounces when packed away.

Puff Master Jackets — Sleeping bag and tent brand Big Agnes jumps into puffy jackets with its Hole in the Wall DownTek line. With 700-fill, water-repellant down and unique vertical baffles (touted to deliver more uniform heat distribution) the company said it borrowed tech from its sleeping bag designs to make a better puffy. They will come in men’s and women’s styles for about $220.

One-Piece Suit — Head to (almost) toe coverage comes from the Capilene 4 Expedition Weight One-Piece Suit. Patagonia made this base-layer suit for serious winter adventures and as the foundation of a mountaineering kit. (This is not to say you cannot use them as pajamas at home.) Thumb loops to keep the sleeves down and “access zippers” at key points.

Balance in the Backcountry — Strap on your skis and climb. The Millet Matrix 30 MBS is a ski-touring backpack with an asymmetrical design made to better balance a load with diagonal skis strapped on the outside. Compartments for shovel and probe. A crampon pocket on one side is counterbalanced by an ice axe holder on the other side.

Luggage that can ‘Morph’ — Described as “ultra-durable, ultra-versatile, ultra-light,” a new luggage line from Eagle Creek morphs from wheeled suitcase to duffel to a backpack with straps. The Morphus line includes two models that transform for various travel scenarios. They have a polycarbonate base frame and clips, buckles, and straps that allow the various configurations on the go. The pack sternum strap even has a safety whistle built in.

Waterproof Puffy — Leave your hardshell jacket at home. That’s the goal with the Floodlight Jacket from Outdoor Research, which combines 800-fill down insulation with a watertight Pertex Shield fabric face.

New-School Insulation — As another alternative to goose down, ThermoBall insulation technology offers synthetic-fiber clusters to trap body heat. The North Face features the tech in its namesake ThermoBall Full Zip Jacket, which will cost $199 and is, the company touts, “as compressible as down and insulates even when wet.”

Balaclava 2.0 — Chaos Headwear’s Headwall Adventurer piece is a balaclava with water/wind/snow resistance. Embedded Thinsulate insulation and a fleece lining offer warmth and comfort on the head. A ventilated mask with mesh lining lets you breathe better when the wind picks up.

Below-Zero Breather — Another uber-cold option, Talus Outdoor’s ColdAvenger Pro has a filter touted to “warm the air you breathe” in the deepest of chills. The brand cites that many Arctic and Antarctic teams wear the mask when skiing and trudging toward the poles. New this show, the brand offers a “high-vis” ColdAvenger that’s a day-glow yellow and has a removable mask.

All-Season Shelter — Easton Mountain Products markets adaptability for all seasons with its Torrent 3P tent, from “stability for the winter snow” to ventilation for camping in summer heat. Its awning props up with trekking poles or can be sealed shut when the wind picks up. Hermetically sealed to prevent dust and fine snow from blowing and finding its way inside.

Filter Bottle — A flexible bottle. An integrated water filter. The MicroFilter from Vapur has a “hollow fiber membrane technology” filter said to remove 99.99% of bacteria and organic matter as you sip. At just a couple ounces, the brand calls it the lightest filter of its type in the world.

Ski Glove to the Max — The Compulsion Glove from Mountain Hardwear, made for skiing, has a crazy combination of materials, including a wool-blend liner, a goat-leather outer, and the brand’s synthetic Thermal.Q Elite insulation inside. This is all wrapped under a waterproofing treatment of OutDry made to keep ski-pole-gripping hands from getting wet. $160.

—Monitor GearJunkie’s Outdoor Retailer Channel for gear coverage, our “Best in Show” awards, and live reports from the trade show floor.

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Stephen Regenold is Founder and Editor-In-Chief of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for nearly two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of four small kids, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.