Future Gear: 2011

The Gear Junkie crew is in Salt Lake City this week for the 2010 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, a twice-annual trade show where next year’s new products are displayed. In a sneak peek article last week, we reported on a dozen interesting new items, from lightweight tents to “human-grade” dog chow. Below are a few more highlights from the show floor so far, a smattering of “future gear” picks that won’t be in stores until this fall or early 2011. . .

Belay On! In 1991, Petzl changed the climbing world with the invention of its GRIGRI, an assisted-braking belay device. Now, the company has a new version, the GRIGRI 2, which operates using the same fall-catching principle as the original GRIGRI though with three major differences, including a wider range of rope-diameter compatibility; a new descent control handle for lowering; and a reduction in device size and weight.

Crank to Clean. The SteriPEN Sidewinder has a crank arm to power its water-purifying UV-light mechanism. The result is a protozoa-zapping contraption that purifies suspect water and can go completely off the grid. Step 1: Fill the unit’s one-liter bottle and attach the Sidewinder. Step 2: Flip the bottle and Sidewinder upside down and unfold the handle. Step 3: Crank until green LED indicates successful purification. Step 4: Drink up! Available in September for $99.95.

Dry Tent. The North Face has a new tent fabric, DryWall, that will offer increased breathability and water resistance, the company touts. It was made at a Japanese mill and includes a powerful new Durable Water Repellant (DWR) treatment that will not wet out or soak through, TNF says. The big claim is this: DryWall can provide the lightweight characteristics of a traditional single-wall tent while delivering the waterproof-ness and moisture management of a double wall tent. The DryWall tents will range from $199 to $399 when they are on the market this coming spring.

Retro Rainwear. Helly Hansen goes back to the future with its new line of rainwear, including classy men’s and women’s pieces. The company touts that it created the “first textile waterproof rainwear” in 1877. Today, products like the men’s Ask Raincoat, $600, and the women’s Embla Softshell Coat, $500, reflect that long heritage with a nod to classy cuts and old-school style. Updates? They now feature laser-cut seams!

Wind Top. Weighing a meager four ounces(!), the Women’s Cirrus Wind Top from Rab is a tiny wind shell that adds warmth with minimal bulk. It’ll pack to fit in a pocket. But zip it up and the windproof Pertex Quantum fabric will block wind and add a layer of warmth and protection in the outdoors. $110.

Bionic Canvas. Forget about nylon and mesh. Timberland is using tried-and-true canvas in more than 90 shoe styles across its men’s, women’s and kids’ lines for 2011. But the new “Bionic” canvas is not what you think. It blends petroleum and natural fibers with recycled plastic bottles made of PET — specifically, 50% organic cotton outer wrap, 38% recycled PET core, and 12% polyester — to make a new type of canvas yarn that is “30% stronger than regular canvas while maintaining the look and feel of natural cotton canvas,” according to the company. The Earthkeepers Cupsole Sport Boat Shoe, $90, is pictured here.

Swiss Wood Knife. The EvoWood line from Wenger adds sustainably-grown Swiss walnut wood handles to a line of Swiss Army Knife models. Four pocketknives with varying tool configurations will come with the walnut handle. Each EvoWood knife is constructed from walnut pieces that would otherwise be waste material from other production processes.

‘Athletic’ Dresses. Promising to be “pioneering a new category for women who want femininity and functionality,” Patagonia has two “athletic dresses” in its 2011 line. They are made of quick-drying, recycled/recyclable polyester fabric and have built-in sun protection.

Pliers and Blades. Brooks-Range enters a new category with its Multi-Functional Plier. The $79.95 tool — made more with skiing and mountain sports in mind, less for campers — has a serrated knife, six screwdriver bits, a wrench, bottle opener, and pliers. Made of stainless steel and aluminum. Weight: 6 oz. Size: 4 inches long. It has the necessary tools to fix and adjust AT ski bindings for ad hoc field repair.

Foot Pods. The marketing push for these Sperry Top-Sider shoes states that the “anatomically positioned pods” on the sole of this shoe work “in concert with a textured insole containing independent chambers to enhance proprioceptive feedback.” Get that? Not here either. But they look neat. Clarifying, the company — which calls this design SON-R Technology — says the construction provides paddlers with maximum tactile sensations so they can now “see with their feet.” This I gotta try.

Bear’s Own Knife. Bear Grylls, he of the broadcast television hit “Man vs. Wild,” has designed a knife for Gerber. The first product in a line, Gerber’s Bear Grylls Survival Series Ultimate Knife has a full-tang, partially-serrated, stainless steel blade. The sheath stores Bear-inspired tools including a sharpening stone, magnesium fire starter and a weatherproof survival guide. Available in October for $60.

Collar Art. In an unlikely collaboration, dog collars and sunglasses straps meet up with the latest Stunt Puppy product. The collars borrow colors and patterns from Croakies’ line to create a new limited-edition run. Several styles available. Save a gray motif for my Weimaraner back in Minnesota. . .

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.