Outdoor Retailer trade show Winter Market 2006, gear highlights

The Outdoor Retailer trade show is a twice-annual gathering of product designers, salespeople, retail buyers, athletes and other forms of outdoors cognoscenti. The Gear Junkie was there, too. Here’s a peek at new products and test prototypes from the show to watch for over the coming months.

SnoMoBike
The SnoMoBike is a one-of-a-kind prototype bicycle debuted at the trade show. As the name entails, this bike was designed for snow, particularly Nordic ski loops, snowy roads and snowmobile trails. Up front, the bike sports a short ski connected to the handlebars. In back, a long and skinny metal tread provides power and float in the fluffy white stuff. Cheney Family Enterprises, the Lindon, Utah, company behind the SnoMoBike, hopes to have a product to market by next winter at a cost between $2,000 and $3,000. (www.snomobike.com)

SnoMoBike

Light My Fire
Originally developed for the Swedish Department of Defense, the Scout and Army are “Swedish FireSteel” sticks that shower sparks purported to be 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit. When scraped against a metal object, the sticks shoot searing sparks that will ignite kindling in an instant. (I saw proof in a demonstration.) To boot, the firesticks are waterproof, virtually unbreakable and long lasting. The Scout model, which costs $11, provides 3,000 fire-igniting strikes; the $17 Army model, 12,000 strikes. (www.lightmyfireusa.com)

GELBOT
Endurance athletes are used to carrying a water bottle and an energy-gel flask in separate pack compartments or pockets. The GELBOT, which looks like a regular plastic water bottle, hides a small gel flask inside the cap, allowing for fueling and hydration from a single vessel. Athletes can eat energy gel or drink water from the same valve; the position of the valve determines whether water or gel flows into your mouth. Invented by ventureDESIGNworks, a small design firm from Menlo Park, Calif., the GELBOT will be available later this month for $16. (www.gel-bot.com)

GEL-BOT

Princeton Tec Genesis
Princeton Tec’s trade show debut was not a fancy new headlamp. Instead, the company introduced a small black flashlight that will cost a pricey $85 when it ships in June. But the Genesis is a super-bright model, with a company rating of 47 lumens. This intense light, which comes from a 3-watt LED, can be used as a self-defense tool, temporarily blinding or disorienting a bad guy. In the outdoors, the light could be used to scout climbing routes in the dark or chase off unwanted campground wildlife. (www.princetontec.com)

Summer Buff
The indispensable buff — a whacky piece of “performance” headwear long endorsed by the Gear Junkie — now provides protection from the sun. The company’s new Summer Buff is made of Coolmax fabric, which wicks moisture and blocks harmful UV rays (at least 95 percent of all harmful UV light, according to the company). The $20 uber-handkerchief is available now. (www.buff.us)

Keen trail runners
Diverging from its roots as a sandal maker, Keen introduced two new shoe models made for trail running. The Ochoco ($110) and Humboldt ($105) have protective toe bumpers, grippy rubber soles and supportive midsoles. Mesh uppers promote air flow and breathability on the Humboldt model; the Ochoco’s exterior is a breathable nylon fabric. Both models feature asymmetrical lacing, which Keen markets as encouraging a natural running stride. (www.keenfootwear.com)

Avalanche Escape 15

Avalanche Backpack
The Avalanche Backpack was designed to keep you on top of the snow during a slide. Two giant airbags, which inflate in one second at the pull of a ripcord, provide enough float to keep most avalanche victims on the surface of a sliding mass of snow, according to the company. While these packs have been available in Europe for more than 10 years, Avalanche Backpack made its U.S. debut just this winter. The Escape 15, the company’s best-selling model, is $819. (www.avalanchebackpack.com)

Spyder Shell
Spyder Active Sports, a company known for its skiwear, is aggressively pursuing the outdoors market, including product development for sports like adventure racing and mountaineering. Its Refuge shell, a $475 jacket model that will ship next fall, uses an “intelligent” fabric called DiAPLEX, which the company says has pores that open and close to promote breathability depending on the intensity of the sport. The hood has a clear brim, providing better visibility while climbing or biking. The collar area has mesh gills, which the company says will warm winter air as you breathe in as well as capture your exhalation to diminish fogging of goggles and glasses. (www.spyder.com)

Mountain Khakis
Mountain Khakis is a Jackson, Wyo., company that makes fashionable apparel with an outdoors ethos. Its latest products, made for women, include the Teton Cargo Capri ($70) and the Teton Twill ($65). Both models are made of a tough cotton canvas that will stand up to abuse outside while preserving a casual-dress appearance in town. (www.mountainkhakis.com)

CamelBak Bottle
CamelBak debuted a water bottle that incorporates the same bite valve design used on the company’s line of hydration packs. The clear polycarbonate bottles have .75 liters of capacity. The flip-up valve, which is connected to a short hose straw inside the bottle, is leak-proof, according to the company. The CamelBak Bottle will be available in May for $12. (www.camelbak.com)

Smith Goggles
The Smith Phenom have all the features you’d expect from high-end goggles — good fit, lens options, helmet compatibility — plus several customization features. Six standard frame styles are available, including black, silver and white as well as three pattern designs. Lens options include mirror, platinum, gold and polarized. But most unique, the company includes a snap-on accessory kit with the goggles to let you customize the frame with ascent color treatments and metal badges. The Smith Phenom, which have a lifetime warranty on materials and workmanship, start at $115. (www.smithsport.com)

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Stephen Regenold is Founder 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 two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.
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