Our bags are packed. Flights leave tomorrow. This week in Salt Lake City is the Outdoor Retailer trade show, a twice-annual pilgrimage for the Gear Junkie crew and a spread of outdoors gear unlike anything else seen on the planet. The spread below is our second gear preview (go here for our first look, OR Show Gear Preview, part I”) on the best equipment and apparel that will be displayed at the trade show (and subsequently in outdoors shops for 2012). See you in SLC! —Stephen Regenold
Canoe/Kayak Hybrid — The Mad River Serenade Hybrid “merges the comfort and efficiency of a kayak with the stability and ease of entry/exit of a canoe.” The company made the hybrid design with a single center seat (like a kayak) but with a hull and gunwales that mirror a recreational canoe. Available this fall starting at $1,499.
Uber-Cooler — Igloo Products Corp. is the nation’s largest cooler manufacturer, and this summer it will introduce a premium line for outdoors types. The Yukon series of Cold Locker coolers come in multiple sizes up to 250 quarts. They have thick foam and tight-closing lids with gaskets. The claim is “maximum cooling over multi-day trips” and the ability to hold temperature for 7 to 14 days! But with this “maximum cooling” comes maximum pricing, including up to $639.99 for the 250-quart version.
Soft-Side Water Tote — The Innate Aqueduct Water Transporter, $34, is a soft-side water case made with a stitch-less welded construction of fabric panels. It can hold about 15 liters (4 gallons) of liquid. When empty, it weighs just 7.8 ounces. There’s a clear window on the side so you can see how much water is left. A crush-proof water dispensing valve and a roll-top closure round out the neat design.
Piggyback Pack — Made for toddlers, this unique kid carrier offers a foot bar for a child to stand on. There are grab handles for a kid to hold as you hike. An optional safety harness secures the kid on tight. The Piggyback Rider from Full Sail International is available now for $80.
3-Pound, 3-Man Tent — At just 3 pounds packed up, the latest tent from Easton promises to be one of the lightest shelters ever for its size. A minimal build and carbon-fiber poles keep the weight down. Inside, campers get 43 square feet of floor space to stretch out and sleep. Available in 2012 for $499.
Lifetime Binocs — These rugged binoculars, called the Brunton Icon, offer top-quality glass and a build made to take bumps. Water and fogging resistance are included in the design. The body is made of a magnesium alloy. Brunton has a warranty that “immediately replaces any Icon, for any reason, anywhere, for life” if you run into trouble. Available this autumn in 8 × 44 and 11 × 44 power for $2,375.
Micro Helmet Cam — The 4-inch-long Drift HD camera has an integrated LCD screen and a rotating lens that captures HD-quality video. A wireless remote control is the in-pocket command center, and this little camera has a removable/replaceable lens. There’s a hatch on back with external mic and USB power ports. Available late August for $369.
Stand-Up Kayak — This is the first kayak on the market under 12-feet that you can “confidently stand in, thanks to rock-solid stability and widened foot-wells.” That’s according to the company, which made the Wilderness Systems Ride 115 to offer “massive capacity, versatile performance, and ‘rigability.’” Stand-up fly casting, anyone? Available this fall for $1,049.
Sit-Down Backpack — The KEEN Springer Backseat Pack, $120, has a fold-down pad to prop open an instant seat anywhere outdoors. Inside, the pack accommodates a day’s worth of gear and a three-liter hydration reservoir (or a 15-inch laptop when you’re around town).
Roof-Top Cargo Carrier — Küat Racks’ Vagabond integrates bicycle skewer mounts on a roof-top basket, offering capacity for two bikes as well as copious gear bungeed on. It’s made of steel and has a weight capacity limit of 160 pounds. $349.
Boot-Shoe — The Rift shoe-boot from Vasque offers a sticky-rubber sole and boot-like support. They have leather uppers, a thick mid-sole, and a stiff outsole for cushioning and support. The men’s Rifts weigh in at about 1lb, 11oz. per pair; women’s are 1lb, 6oz. Funky neo-mountain man looks included! $120.
Dynafit ‘Summer’ Gear — Ski-touring specialist Dynafit is jumping into the summertime gear market in 2012 with new shoes, packs, and apparel designed for fast-and-light mountain sports. The new category for the company will be called “Speed Mountaineering,” and it includes items for trail running, mountain biking, and fast/light climbing. The line promises “ultra-light and high-tech materials,” and from our first peek that looks dead on. The lithe apparel, packs and shoes are reminiscent of products from Salomon and other suppliers who cater to the speedy, competitive, athletic alpine crowd. Indeed, the slogan for the company’s summer collection is “Speed Up!”
—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.