River Shoes, Belt-Drive Bikes among Best ‘OR Show’ Gear

We spent the day ogling new gear at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City, including bike bags, a chrome gear box, a jacket with ventilation panels, and much more. These products stood out on the trade show floor as some of the most interesting new gear. —Stephen Regenold

KEEN River Sandals — Made for whitewater as well as casual wear, the Class 6 sandal from Keen has a PU upper constructed “in a 360-degree cage” for fit and protection in moving water. EVA footbed and a bungee lace system. The sole has soft rubber lugs for grip. Weighs 8.5 ounces a foot.

Affordable Belt-Drive Bike — Novara, REI’s in-house bike brand, has the most affordable bike with a Gates Carbon Drive in North America. It’s called the Arkham, and the $849 commuter has the no-grease-needed drivetrain as well as attachment points for a rear rack, fenders, and a basket on front. An internal 3-speed hub offers respite when the hills tilt steep.

Vertical Air Flow — Helly Hansen’s innovative use of insulation continues with the Crew H2 Flow. The sailing-oriented jacket has PrimaLoft insulation, vertical baffles, mesh, and zippers meant to dump hot air and vent before you can overheat.

Pack Raft — The LiteWater Dinghy from Klymit is a blow-up boat that packs down to the size of a folded pair of pants. Canyoneering and fording remote rivers are uses for the pack raft, which has an independently inflatable seat cushion. It packs up small and weighs only 34 ounces in a backpack. $224.95.

$2K Gear Box — Aiming at the luxury market, Thule showed off its Dynamic 900, a chrome-color and limited edition box that costs $2,000 (ok, $1,999.95). It has 15 cubic feet of space inside and works both as a gear stowage area and car-top bling.

(See more OR Show coverage and new gear at the post “Future Gear! First Look at Outdoor Equipment for 2014”)

Big Wheels for Grownups — High Roller USA sells big-wheel trikes for adults. We sat in one on the show floor and pedaled a few feet. But in that short distance we could tell the close-to-the-ground ride would be a blast. The High Rollers cost about $600 for a big boy price.

Play With Fire — A sharp, cheese-grater-like metal piece lets you shave sawdust and small pieces of kindling into this tiny box by rubbing wood on the course edge. Fold out the magnifying glass and aim a beam of sunlight at the pile of shaved wood. Bam, you have fire! That’s the theory with this Gerber product, which will be added to the company’s Bear Grylls product line.

Climber’s Pack — The Pinnacle 50 from REI is made for the mountains. The pack includes 50 liters of capacity and ice axe slots, climbing gear loops, and a crampon pocket on the back. Weighs about 4 pounds empty and has an attractive price tag at $159.

Retro-Look Outdoor Research — A new line from OR, the Rangefinder Collection, has an old-fashioned look and a unique fabric that feels like a canvas or leather. RF-welded seams and waterproof fabric keep your gear dry inside.

Alpha Vest — The Eider Blow Alpha Sleeveless is a vest stuffed with Polartec’s Alpha insulation to balance warmth and wicking when you exert. Chest pocket doubles as a stuff sack when you warm up and need to put the piece away. Weighs 9 ounces and works as a mid-layer or worn alone.

Self-Adjust Bike Mount — Premium car-rack brand Whispbar showed off its WB201 Frame Mount Bicycle Carrier. It has a self-adjusting feature that clamps onto a bike frame with no fine-tuning needed. A solid metal build and sleek look make it at home atop any vehicle type.

Platy for Women — Platypus hired a former lingerie designer to help build a new pack line. The result is two anatomically-correct packs for women, the Siouxon and B-Line models. Soft edges, angled hip belts, and added ventilation are among the extra features.

Gear from a Vehicle Brand — The brand is called JXP, and it stands for Jeep Xtreme Performance. That’s right, the Jeep name is being brought into the outdoor-gear space, including on a to-be-debuted line of tents, bikes, jackets, paddling gear, and more.

JXP already is sold in China, where 60+ stores carry the brand. The line made its North American debut at the Outdoor Retailer Show. Watch for JXP in stores in the USA next year.

—See editor Stephen Regenold’s “Future Gear! First Look at Outdoor Equipment for 2014” for more Outdoor Retailer products and coverage.

Stephen Regenold

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.