From climbing gear to tents (to kayaks, boots, stoves, and packs) brands congregate each summer in Utah to launch new products at the Outdoor Retailer trade show. Our team of experts spent the week evaluating hundreds of products at the massive event to find the best to-be-released gear for 2017. Vote now for the GearJunkie Readers’ Choice Award.
Columbia OutDry Extreme ECO Shell
Likely the most-lauded product at the entire trade show this summer (with a stack of award plaques, including a first nod from GearJunkie), Columbia’s OutDry Extreme ECO Shell is a waterproof/breathable jacket like no other. It has an innovative “permanent beading surface” fabric that is constructed without the use of environmentally suspect PFCs; is made of 100% recycled polyester from plastic bottles; and it is entirely dye-free, which saves copious amounts of water at the factory. See the full GearJunkie review.
Wild Country Revo Belay Device
Wild Country upgraded the assisted-belay device category with its Revo ($129), which uses a rope-catching design that “irrespective of the situation” in an uncontrolled decent causes a reel to activate and grip the rope to arrest a fall. We tested it at the OR Show, and it’s awesome — the bi-directional, auto-locking belay device was designed to overcome mis-loading the rope, among the most common of belay-related climbing accidents, as its function is independent from the loading orientation of the rope. The Revo will pay out, lock, and keep the rope aligned. It’s smooth and basically foolproof.
EnerPlex Kickr 7 FL Solar Panel
EnerPlex cut the weight of its lightest solar panel… in half! The Kickr 7 FL ($100) is a 6.5-watt model with a 90-percent efficient regulator that weighs just 5.1 ounces due to new materials used and a streamlined design. It’s simple, folds up small, and it powers USB-compatible devices with a single output. It’s also available in a 9 watt model, the Kickr 10 ($130), that weighs 6.7 ounces.
Sea To Summit Ultralight Hammock
Airy and almost fully see-through, Sea To Summit employs a new monofilament 20-denier fabric for its svelte backpacking hammock, called simply the Ultralight Hammock. The result is a super-breathable sling that stuffs away tiny and will cost you only 4.9 ounces in a pack (without webbing). It comes to market in 2017 for $90.
Gerber US-Assist Knife
Made in the USA, and with a new assist-opening technology called (no joke) “Balls Of Stainless Steel,” or BOSS for short, Gerber aims to regain street cred with its 2017 US-Assist, flagship of a vastly improved lineup. Tiny ball bearings make for a fast, smooth assist-opening feature that flicks the 3-inch blade to life with the nudge of a thumb. It comes in S30V steel ($100) or 420HC steel ($80) options, and the design is ambidextrous for fast deployment left or right.
Tepui Baja Rooftop Tent
We camped in a Tepui rooftop tent collectively for weeks this summer and got to trust the brand. (See our full review.) The news at the OR Show was a new model, the Baja, which has an interchangeable canopy, meaning you can swap out the airy summer tent for heavier tent flies made for winter or otherwise nasty weather. (The design also allows for easy replacement of fabric parts while maintaining the original platform for future tent upgrades.) Coupled with the fact that it’s a fairly light 100 pounds, the Baja is a strong contender in the burgeoning rooftop-shelter market.
Mystery Ranch Stein Backpack
A modular design, the Stein backpack ($300) by Mystery Ranch can tote huge loads but has a unique removable “yolk,” meaning the shoulder straps and frame-sheet come out of the main pack. You can attach the lid and hydration compartment of the pack to the yolk, creating a summit pack with the best support and suspension possible. The Stein is a sweet piece of engineering for anyone who bags peaks from a backcountry basecamp and wants to take only one pack along for the ride.
Hoka One One Speed Evo R Track Spike
A timely debut coinciding with the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Speed Evo R track spike from Hoka One One is among the most specialized shoes we’ve seen. It’s designed fully for the left turns encountered during Olympic track and field events, and thus it has an asymmetrical design that optimizes a runner’s stride, particularly when turning left. The brand says at least one pair will be on the racetrack in Rio.
Motionize Paddle Edge
Two small sensors pair wirelessly with an app to create a new kind of paddling tracker. The Motionize Paddle Edge lets you see distance per stroke, strokes per minute, efficiency ratio between your technique and heart rate, and much more. Our paddle-junkies were impressed.
MSR Trailshot Microfilter
It weighs 5 ounces and packs small. A silicone squeeze-pump and 15-inch hose (with a hollow-fiber filter on the end) completes a setup for fast, filtered water anywhere outdoors. MSR touts the Trailshot Microfilter ($50) takes 1 minute to filter 1 liter of water, and in our show-floor tests those numbers held up.
Pacsafe Vibe 20L
A refined daypack, the Pacsafe Vibe 20L ($90) looks sleek and has stealth (but effective) anti-theft features. We liked the cable-laced strap system, which unlocks to braid around a fixed object to keep a pack secure. The main body has a steel-cable netting, protecting against bag-slashers while traveling in suspect environments around the globe.
La Sportiva Flash Kid Shoes
The Flash line gives a nimble platform for kids (ages 4 – 10) to hike or run on trails. Built rugged like their adult-oriented cousins, these shoes have a TPU-welded film over a mesh upper and a flexible but supportive sole. A special BOA closure is made for small hands, and a wider toe box gives more room so kids can spread toes naturally and also grow into the shoes.
Kelty Sine Sleeping Bag
A simple re-think of closures makes the Sine sleeping bag from Kelty worthy of recognition. Its two zippers are unique — one zipper crosses the upper body at an angle, giving access; another zipper crosses the bag along the foot box, offering ventilation. The down-insulated sleeping bag comes in men’s and women’s models for $279 (20 degree) or $239 (35 degree).
Suunto Spartan Ultra Watch
The Spartan Ultra is the “sleekest [GPS] watch ever,” touts the brand. But what really sells us is its uber-useful touch-screen, a vibrant, high-contrast color interface that gives a new kind of control. Upgraded GPS navigation features and the ability to customize the bezel’s appearance to a number of “analogue” read-outs is rad — it’ll look good on the trail or in the office. All that goodness is pricey; the Suunto Spartan Ultra Watch starts at $700.
Hobie Mirage Eclipse SUP
Hobie marries a stand-up paddle board (SUP) with a stair-climber in this weird and cool contraption. We give the brand credit for creativity: The Mirage allows users to propel themselves by “climbing” (pedaling) the foot-pads that drive an underwater propulsion system. Rather do it the old-fashioned way? The step system and handlebars (used to steer) are removable to turn the board into a regular SUP commandeered with a paddle and muscles as you cut open water and head into the waves.
Salomon XA Enduro Shoe
This is one hardcore mountain-running and scrambling shoe. It has a gaiter to keep out loose debris, but unlike similar models the mesh gaiter is intended for use in hot weather. With a burly sole, 9mm heel to toe drop, and a durable upper, it’s remarkable that this shoe weighs in at just 10.6 ounces for a men’s size 9. It’s available for both men and women in January 2017, ready to run.