Each summer, thousands of gear companies gather in Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer trade show, which takes place this year August 2 – 5. The event gives a peek at to-be-released products coming to market next year. These are a few items that caught our eye from the pre-show buzz already. —Stephen Regenold
UFO Tent — The Mojo UFO tent from Sierra Designs employs futuristic materials like a silvery sailcloth for its body and thin (but strong) carbon-fiber poles. The space-age build makes for an ultra-light shelter that packs to less than 2 pounds in weight. But at $1,799 the UFO’s price tag is also out of this world.
Power from Fire — The BioLite CampStove turns heat from a fire into usable electricity, ready to charge an iPhone or GPS device in the wilds. You stuff wood inside the unit and light it, placing a cooking pot on top to heat water or food. The $130 unit also steals energy away from the burning wood and converts it to device-friendly power compatible with a USB plug.
Water Gloves — Hydration on your hands? That’s the premise of the Sense Hydro S-Lab Set from Salomon, which are made for runners tired of carrying bottles or wearing a hydration backpack for water. The gloves position small, flexible bottles under each palm, allowing you to run and sip with less bouncing and sloshing until the hand-positioned H20 is drained.
Bombproof Wallet —Pelican is a company known for its watertight, crush-proof cases. This year, the brand debuts a wallet. The $30 billfold-size case is made of a tough plastic material that clamps tightly closed. It is waterproof and touted as “crush-proof” — great for protecting your cash and ID as well as media cards from a camera while on the go.
Not a Kayak —Don’t call this boat a kayak. The odd and unique Bellyak boat treads murky waters between a surfboard and a whitewater vessel, offering a thick-hull creation that essentially looks like a kayak with its top chopped off. You lie down on your belly (as per the name) as it courses through rapids and paddle with your hands.
Air Chair —As a low-slung seat for campsite comfort, the Mayfly Chair from Alite offers a breathable material mounted on an aluminum frame. It folds down small and fits in a stuff sack, weighing just 1.4 pounds for transport in a backpack. A bonus: You can remove one of the chair’s legs and convert it into a mini rocking chair to sit and sway while chilling ‘round the fire and under the stars.
Crank-Arm Torch —Gerber’s Bear Grylls Rechargeable Torch gives turn-to-power light in a tiny package. The flashlight has rechargeable batteries on board, letting you spin the little arm to regenerate when power runs low. Bright, too, with an output estimated at 80 lumens on its high mode. $50 when it comes to market next spring.
Water Eyes — As extreme eye protection for water sports, the Wave glasses from Julbo have oversize gaskets for protection from water and wind coming in through the sides. A neoprene strap holds the glasses on tight, and if they do fly off. . . they poly frames float. $90 and up (depending on lens).
Sleeping Bag Sync-Up —Pad maker Therm-a-Rest jumps further into the sleeping bag realm with what it’s selling as a line that’s “among the lightest, warmest and most compressible in the industry.” The 1 lb, 15 oz., Antares bag, as one example in the line, uses goose down and costs $350. It’s rated to 20 degrees, and as a bonus there are “flexible synergy link mattress connectors” that mate the sleeping bag to a Therm-a-Rest pad underneath.
Platy Pack —Platypus redesigned its pack line for 2013, including the svelte Tokul X.C. 3.0, which is a biking pack made for hydration and a bit of gear. The company’s Big Zip SL reservoir fits inside, and there’s an external tool pocket and an internal pump sleeve. Will cost $70 on January 1, 2013.
Chunky Rimless — Costa’s Rockport is sold as “a rimless sunglass on steroids.” Thick temples block light from the sides, but the front face of the specs look minimal with the rimless glass. Color combos include tortoise frames with copper or silver mirror lenses. $169 and up.
Light Hard Hat — Billed as the lightest climbing helmet on the market, the 186-gram Vapor Helmet from Black Diamond has “massive ventilation” but certified protection from falling stones. The secret? A sheet of Kevlar and carbon rods are sandwiched between layers of the helemt’s foam to “minimize weight without sacrificing protection,” BD states. $140
Magnet-Door Tent — The zipper-less Fishhook SL 2 tent from Big Agnes uses tiny magnets to seal closed. Placed along the door area, the magnets snap together and “zip” the tent shut, no snagging guaranteed. The company states the design “eliminates the frustration and noise of zippers while maintaining full protection from the elements.” The two-man tent is light, too, at 3 pounds, 10 ounces (with 37 square feet of floor space). $400
Climber Pack — Rock climbers in need of gear organization might dig the Cliff Org from Millet, a pack with an internal rope bag, mesh pocket for shoes, water bottle holder, daisy chain, and a pocket for a guidebook. There’s no waist belt so as not to get in the way of your harness on the hike in. $99 next spring.
Air-Pole Tent — Pump it up! Forget poles, the Kelty Mach 4 and Mach 6 tents use inflatable chambers that give structure and support. The family-size tents come with a floor pump, letting you hook up a valve and inflate your family shelter in under a minute, Kelty cites. $389 and up next spring.
Air Coat — The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer jacket weighs mere ounces and is touted as “weather protection in your pocket.” (It folds up that small.) Low profile hood and full zipper. Nylon fabric is wind- and water-resistant. $165.
Touchscreen MTB Gloves — Facebook a photo from your phone between laps on singletrack with the Dakine Concept Glove. The men’s mountain bike gloves are touted as the “world’s thinnest, lightest, most comfortable,” including a palm made of vented silicone mesh. (Touchscreen compatible, too.) $25 in February, 2013.
—See GearJunkie’s latest OR Show reportage on our new special section, “Outdoor Retailer Coverage,” and in the articles “Future Gear Extravaganza! 2012 Outdoor Retailer Preview” and “Coming to Market 2013. . . Peek at Future Gear.”