My challenge: Choosing 10 items worthy of a closer look at this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. So many outdoor companies have “stepped up their game” with new innovations or improvements this year, it was mind boggling to pick the best.
As always, I preface this post by saying I know I’ve missed some great stuff, however, this list contains some new products really worth checking out. I’ve included three distinctly different boots this season, yet they aren’t redundant. Each fulfills a need in the outdoor world.
I wanted to showcase the newest items from the show. Therefore, many aren’t in stores yet, but now you’ll know what to watch for in the fall and spring. Enjoy!
Arc’teryx Bora Mid Boot
A quest for versatility, comfort, and breathability in footwear drove Arc’teryx to take on the highly competitive shoe market. They have reshaped outdoor boot design with the Bora Mid hiker and Alpha FL approach shoe. I like the Bora Mid simply because I prefer a higher top in winter and during rocky scrambles. This boot is ideal for someone needing a multitask shoe that really excels. By adding the optional insulated liner, they can handle hiking, cold weather, and around-the-camp needs.
In their words:
“The Bora Mid is designed with a separate, laminated outer shell and a fully stretchable inner boot lined with Gore-Tex® Performance Comfort ™ Stretch membrane which conforms to each individual foot anatomy. Unlike conventional construction, the absence of a tongue gives the liner a larger breathable surface area and increased waterproof coverage. The removable and interchangeable liners are washable and thanks to the reinforced sole wearable as camp slippers.
Constructed virtually without seams, and heat laminated using four layers of technical durable and hydrophobic materials, the outer shell is rugged, extremely quick drying and abrasion resistant. The separate construction of the upper leaves a minute air space between the shell and the liner, acting as a conduit for air exchange and moisture dispersion.”
The Osprey Kode series packs are designed for snowsports enthusiasts. Configured to carry a helmet, skis, and self-rescue gear, it is well thought out with just the right amount of features, including an insulated hydration pouch. I tested it last season with good results.
Now, an ABS avalanche airbag system compatible model of the Kode is available. Full of the same features as the original Kode, the back of the ABS model opens up to receive the airbag system which is sold separately.
In their words:
“The Kode ABS® Compatible…is a dedicated backcountry snowplay pack featuring ABS® compatibility, wet/dry gear organization, insulated hydration compatibility and the exact features needed for backcountry riding endeavors.”
Hiking, climbing, skiing, canyoneering, caving, biking, exploring the desert, or the ocean – One common factor is that when you are really out there, you’re going to get hungry.
Smashed PB&J’s? Don’t look away…you know you’ve done it.
Same old Gorp that probably has remnants of last trip’s Gorp in it? Don’t deny it.
Protein bars that taste like… protein bars (gasp)?
Trail bars that taste good for the first bite, but then leave you feeling like you’re eating leftover Halloween candy?
Now, there is an alternative. A solution that appeals to your refined tastes, your need for variety, and the knowledge that you are eating real food that is genuinely good for you.
Kind’s “strong and kind” series combine wonderful whole ingredients like almonds, pumpkin and hemp seeds with spicy / savory flavors that made me say “wow!” over and over again. On a recent hike, my partner and I honestly couldn’t decide which we liked more. Whichever one we tried seemed like the best one at the time. Highly recommend the Roasted Jalapeno, Hickory Smoked, Thai Sweet Chili, and Honey Smoked BBQ. The Honey Mustard is probably a winner too – we just haven’t had the chance to try it yet.
Columbia Sportswear’s Loch Lomand Jacket
Looking for lots of features in a lightweight waterproof shell? This is your jacket. The beauty is in the details…and the technology. Redesigned zippers (also used on the winter Olympic uniforms), advanced breathability, and comfortable fit, combine to make this jacket a superior piece of technical gear.
In their words:
• Omni-Tech® breathable, waterproof protection
• Attached, adjustable storm hood
• Abrasion resistant chin guard
• 2-way underarm venting
• Articulated sleeves
• Adjustable cuff tabs
• PU zipper on chest
• 2-way center front zipper
• Drawcord adjustable hem
• Drop tail
• Reflective details for visibility
• Weight: 16.4oz
• Backpack compatible”
ECCO Ulterra Boot
It’s not often that a hiking boot feels comfortable enough right out of the box to wear it on a long hike. ECCO takes pride in building shoes that fit from day one. Additionally, they are built to last using quality materials and injection-molded soles. While somewhat pricy at about $210, their quality build and comfort means you will enjoy them for a long time.
In their words:
“100% waterproofing provided by GORE-TEX®, meaning wet weather won’t slow you down. Strong Yak nubuck uppers are selected for their ability to move with you and won’t let you down. Dynamic support from RECEPTOR® Technology means the intelligent design responds to even the smallest movement”
This is the only bottle I carry, and now they’ve added a kid’s line and sexy matte-finished insulated models. Yes, water bottles are common, but once you’ve used AVEX self-closing bottles, you’ll push the rest to the back of the cupboard.
AVEX operates easily with one hand without any finger gymnastics or sucking on a tube, yet as soon as you let go the bottle could be upside down and wont leak. One lives in my car full time, rolling around month after month without a drop seeping out. I’m super excited that they have expanded their line!
In their words:
“This water bottle features patented AUTOSEAL spill-proof & leak-proof technology – simply press the button to sip and release to automatically seal. The AUTOSEAL lid automatically seals between drinks to eliminate spills and leaks.”
Simple and lightweight, Patagonia’s kit is ideal for people new to fly-fishing or backpackers wanting an ultra-light set up. The Simple Fly Fishing kit includes a tenkara rod; the book Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod & Reel; a box of one dozen soft hackle flies; floating tenkara line; a tapered leader; and a quick set up guide.
Tenkara fly fishing is very simple, the rods do not use a reel. Instead the line is attached to the tip of the telescoping rod. Think cane pole, only more elegant.
The tenkara method was rarely seen in this country until recently, but is now gaining in popularity thanks to its simplicity and because it is extremely lightweight. A $10 donation from the sale of each rod sold goes to the Madison River Foundation for O’Dell Creek restoration. Available now.
When I’m roughing it, I still need to power my GoPro, lights and more. The conditions are rarely pristine however. My gear gets wet, dirty and lightly abused, so any recharger I use needs to function in the same environment. This is why I like the new Venture 30 from Goal Zero, it can power all of your gear right where you play.
In their words:
“The Venture 30 is more than just a battery, it’s a lifeline to adventure, a conduit for exploration. Use it to keep the moment alive, to push the limits of your creation, to keep the essential charged and ready for what happens next – no matter the weather. Phones, cameras, tablets, whatever else you need to follow your passion, keep it all going from one adventure to the next.
- Built-in Micro USB Tip Tangle-free charging for phones and tablets. Certified cables for efficient charging.
- Solar Ready™ Built-in Charging Tip. No extra cables to lose. Charge up in 4 hours from USB – in 9 hours of full sun from the Nomad 7.
- Waterproof in Use Dunk it, spray it, use it in the rain. Power that handles whatever Mother Nature can throw at you. No rubber plugs needed.
- 30 Wh, 7,800mAh Power Pack Power phones (2-3x), tablets (1x) and more. Lightweight and packable from the airport to the trail.
- High-speed USB 4.8A across dual ports Two high-speed ports capable of dishing out the fastest charge possible, at the same time. Power two devices at once or share with a buddy. Integrated Flood Charge optimizes your charging time.”
The North Face Triarch 3
There is a never-ending quest to build lighter, roomier, tents. The Triarch 3, and the 2-man Triarch 2 (weighing 3 lbs 6 oz.), take tent design one step further in that direction. Both are freestanding with ample interior space, lots of pockets and duel vestibules. While it doesn’t add any functionality, I liked the look of the two-tone mesh as well.
In their words:
“This lightweight, freestanding backpacking tent provides enough livable space for three hikers. Lightweight, freestanding architecture / Double door and double vestibule / Vaulted head and footbox for maximum space / Vertical side walls and dry entry / Multiple mesh colors provide a little privacy without any extra weight / Multiple fly configurations so you can tune breathability / Ample tabs for hanging headlamps, drying lines or gear lofts / DAC poles and stakes provide an unparalleled strength-to-weight ratio / Gear loft and footprint included
TOTAL WEIGHT: 5 lbs 4 oz (2.38 kg)
TRAIL WEIGHT: 4 lbs 13 oz (2.18 kg)
FASTPACK WEIGHT: 3 lbs 9 oz (1.62 kg)
FLOOR AREA: 39.7 ft2 (3.7 m2)
VESTIBULE AREA: 15 ft2 (1.4 m2)
FABRICS: Fly: 15D durable nylon ripstop, 1200 mm PU coating, silicone water-resistant finish || Canopy: durable nylon ripstop || Mesh: lightweight nylon “no-see-um” mesh || Floor: 75D polyester taffeta, 3000 mm PU coating, water-resistant finish
Five Ten Canyoneer 3
The last boot on my list is designed for canyoneering, a rugged and wet sport, capable of destroying light shoes in a day. Five Ten has launched a new version of their Canyoneer boot to keep adventurers safer and more comfortable in a shoe that will last. They redesigned the heel shape, shifted to laces instead of buckles, and increased durability using welded rubber. These are officially on my wish list!
HERO PHOTO: PDA Stage