Outdoor Retailer Wrap-Up

The Outdoor Retailer trade show is a twice-annual peek at what’s coming to market soon in the outdoors industry. This summer’s show, held in Salt Lake City, revealed a spread of innovations — from the upgrade of a popular GPS messenger device to a vest jacket that provides warmth via fabric cells inflated with argon gas.

KlymitIndeed, Klymit’s line of vests, available now at www.klymit.com, inflate at the press of a button to create a suit of insulating cells. Argon gas is pumped into the vests via a small valve in a side pocket. The result, according to the company, is a system that is “not only adjustable, but warmer, thinner and lighter-weight than other insulators.”

Klymit’s NobleTek insulation, which employs flexible, gastight chambers, is looking to take on goose down and synthetic insulating fibers in winter jackets and sleeping pads. The company’s debut line of vests, which cost $199, come with a small C02-like cartridge device that lets you insert and inflate for varying levels of warmth at will.

The popular SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger has been upgraded. The emergency signal and GPS tracker device is now smaller — at about 3.7 ◊ 2.6 ◊ 1 inches — and lighter at 5.2 ounces.

The unit’s GPS chipset and antenna have been upgraded for better connection. And one thing I really like: There are now safety covers over the SOS and Help buttons, giving users peace of mind that they can not accidentaly hit “911” and send in the search-and-rescue troops by mistake. The new SPOT will be available in mid September; price is forthcoming.

JanSportJanSport unveiled a line of activity-oriented backpacks, including models made for ultra-endurance racing, lightweight backpacking, and backcountry skiing. The 8000 Meter AR pack, created for adventure racing, has large mesh hip pockets and a svelte design. Another model, the Talus pack, has a lightweight, breathable strap system, trekking pole loops, and a hydration compartment.

Petzl unveiled climbing helmets for women and kids. The women’s-specific Elia, $65, has a streamlined design and a slot for a ponytail to poke out the back. The kid-size Picchu has dual functionality: A kid can wear the $60 hard hat biking or on a rock climb. Both helmets will be available next spring.

ClifClif released a new nutrition product. The SHOT Roks are like malted milk balls for the outdoors set. Each ball provides a dose of protein and other essential nutritional elements for recovery. Tasted good in my test.

Pacific OutdoorWaterproof bags are never exciting, but often necessary in the outdoors. Pacific Outdoor Equipment had something new in the category with its Zip Pnuemo bags. These “Ziplocs on steroids” provide a beefy zip-shut closure that’s guaranteed waterproof. The Pneumo Zips come in four sizes — pint, quart, gallon, and “jumbo” — for housing electronics, food, and even cloths. Prices start at $7.95.

Therm-a-RestFinally, for ultra-light backpackers, Cascade Designs’ Therm-a-Rest Haven Top Bag is an interesting new product. The sleeping bag has no zipper and it eliminates insulation on the bottom to save weight. The result is a unique wrap-around design with an elasticized opening.

The Haven Top packs small and weighs only 1 pound 6 ounces. Cascade Designs purports that the minimalist bag — when teamed with a good air mattress or pad — can keep a camper warm down to 20 degrees.

–Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.

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