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What's New in Outdoor Gear

In today’s booming outdoor gear marketplace, customer needs are constantly changing and companies must do everything they can to continue to excel in performance and comfort. Whether that means investing in the research and development of an innovative tent design or putting a team together to work on a marketing plan that best showcases a new product line, there’s little time to rest on one’s laurels – lest a competitor steal your edge. 

Here’s a few items/concepts from the most recent Outdoor Retailer Show that consumers are sure to be hot for this coming year:

Environmental Sustainability

Patagonia has always been earth-conscious, yet they seem to have upped their game even more the past few years. Recently, the company introduced a “green” wetsuit made of 60 percent bio-rubber, making it significantly less harmful to the environment than traditional petroleum-based rubber insulation. And unlike larger, more established brands, Tahoe ski startup Slant has turned to bamboo in manufacturing its downhill skis, minimizing the amount of plastic that goes into top sheets, cores and sidewalls for a more earth-friendly alternative that also minimizes the weight. What’s even more interesting, longtime bicycle designer Craig Calfee recently unveiled a DIY kit for a bamboo bike frame that is as sturdy as it is light.

Interchangeable Parts 

Gear manufacturer Petzl is no stranger to the world of crampons, having been in the climbing business for years. The problem was that customers often had to buy different sets depending on conditions, i.e. designs specifically built for climbing didn’t work as well for glacier travel. Not only did that mean climbers had to spend more money, but it also meant they had to travel with multiple sets of gear. Petzl announced a new line of crampons in which the front section can be swapped out for another to match conditions. Char Poles, a boutique ski pole outfit in Salt Lake City, has begun integrating interchangeable toolsets into its pole designs – including camera mounts, screwdrivers, bottle openers and other unique parts – to meet skiers’ changing needs.

Breathability

As more people take to the outdoors for adventure or for leisure, the demand for stronger, lighter, more breathable clothing has drastically increased. The reason for this rising trend is simple – when users are active, they want body moisture to escape so they don’t overheat or become uncomfortable. The alternative is, well, stifling. Breathability calls for high performance fabrics, fibers and insulation, for which Arc’teryx is a shining example. They offer some of the lightest and most durable insulated shells on the market to achieve maximum comfort. Others have begun to dip their toe into alternative fabrics, shifting away from polytetrafluoroethylene to more earth-friendly textiles, with varying results.

“Smart” Soles

The problem with winter weather is, aside from the cold, its unpredictability. Ice, snow and freezing rain is all problematic. The Vibram Artic Grip aims to change all that. This next-generation tread looks like your average rubber sole, but when tested on ice it works exceptionally well, adapting with the temperature to change color and grip. Available for Wolverine Brands Merrell, Sperry, Hush Puppies, Wolverine, Saucony and Cat Footwear, Vibram boasts the most advanced footwear technology available.

Fitbits, Fitbits and more Fitbits

In our continual pursuit to monitor health and fitness levels 24/7/365, performance athletes and amateur fitness buffs alike have plenty more options to choose from this year. Misfit’s new Ray fitness tracker offers a minimalist design that monitors sleep quality, distance traveled, calories burned, while providing a number of wrist notifications to ensure you’re always at the top of your fitness game.  When it comes to appearance, it would appear Fitbit’s new Blaze used the Apple iWatch as the source of its inspiration. This sleek number syncs with countless workout apps, tracks distances, tells time and more — all via a color touchscreen. 

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