The familiar confines of the sprawling Salt Palace had a little different feel than years past, but it was still a proper Outdoor Retailer (OR) with hustling media, brands, and retailers buzzing around aisles of the latest gear.
Though many of the big brand names abstained from the event, there were still some familiar faces and — perhaps most exciting — more visibility for upstarts and bootstrapping innovators.
We zigzagged the aisles for 2 full days, crushing our step-count goals and leaving no booth unattended to uncover the best that OR’s Snow Show had to offer.
And we did just that — check out our top five Best in Show selections below!
GearJunkie Best in Show Winter 2023
Jack Wolfskin Tapeless Jacket 2.0
Jack Wolfskin launched its Tapeless Jacket in October during the lull between bi-annual OR shows. So it was fair game this time around — but our job was even easier thanks to the Tapeless 2.0, an update to the already new style.
The Tapeless 2.0 will have everything its predecessor did that made it great: It will use less material, create less waste, and offer more breathability than seam-taped counterparts. And, of course, it boasts seams that never fail, according to the brand.
But the 2.0 builds on the original with the addition of dual zippered hand pockets in place of a single accessory pocket — something consumers roundly requested.
Check out our post on the initial Tapeless launch to learn more about the science behind seamless.
Fischer ONE & TWO
“Kid-tested, parent-approved” — now in ski boots! The Fischer ONE and TWO are all about taking the pain and discomfort out of learning to ski, and nowhere is that more of an issue than the boots.
These boots have a wide opening that’s comparably much easier to get little, kicky feet into, and it’s lighter to lessen the burden.
But Fischer claims these more comfortable ski boots still offer the support, warmth, and protection necessary for a safe and fun day on the slopes — thanks to the durable, double-layer waterproof gaiter construction.
The more feature-rich TWO boot has GripWalk soles, left/right shell indicator, and included stickers for customization and naming. The ONE is available in Mondo sizes 15.5 up to 17.5, and the TWO comes in 18.5, 19.5, and 20.5.
Monarch Flyway Minsolite
Reduce petrochemicals and improve monarch butterfly habitats — all with a spanking-new form of insulation.
OK, in reality, Monarch Flyway has been exploring the wonders of milkweed (and its fluff) for a while, but we just caught our first glimpse at OR this year.
According to Monarch Flyway, it can generate insulation batting that rivals the insulating power of Primaloft Silver. It’s not as robust or packable as down, but for lightweight applications, there’s plenty of upside.
The folks at Monarch want to work with farmers and land stakeholders to plant more milkweed — the crux of monarch butterfly habitat and migratory patterns. And they told us that they could meet the demand of the outdoors’ biggest brands right now.
That’s an impressive claim — but given “Minsolite’s” natural loft and hydrophobic properties, we think it’s an innovation worth exploring.
In addition to prevention and protection, time is the most critical element in avalanche and ski safety. Safeback, with the help of Db, set out to tackle that crucial variable with the SBX.
This device sits inside the Db Backcountry vest and offers peace of mind in an emergency. If a skier falls into a tree well, say, they can pull the orange lever to activate the SBX.
This device will begin to pump air from the snow around you, through the hoses on either shoulder, and out around your face. The idea is to give search-and-rescue teams as much time as possible to find you — as much as 90 extra minutes of oxygen.
Make no mistake: This is not a substitute for proven, recommended avalanche safety and protocols. Travel with companions, know the conditions, heed warnings, and carry a beacon, probe, and shovel (there’s room in the Db Backcountry Vest for that).
The SBX runs off of six rechargeable AA batteries and will run for an hour-and-a-half in temps down to -22 degrees Fahrenheit. Read our first look for more info!
Stoko K1 Summit
Perhaps the toughest call in this year’s Best in Show came down to the innovation from the Stoko booth. Not because it isn’t impressive — it certainly is and that’s why it won — but because any medical-type claims raise big red flags for us.
So we will maintain some healthy skepticism on real-world performance until we’ve tested them. But the concept and execution alone are truly eye-opening.
Stoko offers up a performance baselayer laced with Dyneema strands that run down either side of each leg. Two adjustable dials along the back of the waistband control the tension in those strands — one dial for each leg.
The purpose is to provide support for those with joint instability or those who are recovering from injury. The brand also claims these next-gen baselayers reduce pain and help prevent injury — but we have to try these ourselves to know for sure.
If Stoko can really do what it says it can, it should make an attractive option for those with joint instability and an insatiable appetite for adventure. But this tech comes at a price: nearly $400 per pair!
We’ll weigh in with our own review, but you can learn more at Stoko now.