SALT LAKE CITY — Mother Nature’s got a million ways to make your life miserable. Luckily, the outdoor industry is filled with innovators, entrepreneurs and inspired inventors working incessantly to make your adventures more epic and less stressful.
The sheer number of companies hawking advanced snowshoes, crampons and things made of Merino wool proved a little mind-numbing last week at Outdoor Retailer 2015, the industry’s largest convention.
Everything from stitch-free puffy jackets to shoes made with Michelin tire technology were on display in the giant convention center, but we waded past the immense numbers of mannequins and bowls filled with enticing fresh fruit (rather than convention-standard Red Vines) to bring you a few of the more interesting gadgets, clothing items and even a new camera strap for your micro 4:3 camera.
Under Armour Fat Tire Shoes
The fat tire bicycle craze has spun up myriad products, including special rims, tires and even bags, but now it has inspired a pair of moon-boot kicks from Under Armor. The shoelike Fat Tire GTX uses rubber from Michelin, a boa closure and Gore-Tex technology to make a waterproof, lightweight trail runner/hiker/rambler with a major quotient of support. Available this fall in a delicious camo, these monster-treaded shoes look even better in person.
Under Armour Fat Tire Shoes — $200
Columbia Heatzone 1000
Columbia has reinvented the puffy jacket to eliminate the traditional seam, which means no more chilly air blowing in between the puffs. The technology is called Turbodown Wave, and it basically gets rid of the usual stitching and instead uses a proprietary wave of water-resistant down and other insulating material, leaving no place for the brisk wind to get in. Available only in one jacket this year, we won’t be surprised when the technology starts to trickle across
Columbia Heatzone 1000 — $450
The third iteration of Suunto’s popular Ambit line adds smartphone integration. Even though the Ambit3 doesn’t look much different from previous versions, the watch’s internal storage has been doubled and the device has made the switch from Ant+ to Bluetooth. Not unlike Garmin, which also makes a great sports watch, Suunto has been smeared by reviewers for a janky Web interface; they are making strides to improve this, and the new mobile app has some pretty interesting features. The Ambit3’s new heart-rate strap stores your information while you swim and automatically updates to your phone when it hits the connection. We love the fact that Suunto keeps updating the Ambit line and think this is a solid step in the right direction.
Suunto Ambit3 — $550
Zootility Tools Pocketmonkey
With 12-plus functions, including an orange peeler, screwdrivers, bottle opener and hex wrenches, the Pocketmonkey is an arsenal in your pocket. Whether you fancy yourself MacGyver or just want to be prepared for anything, the TSA-approved pocket wonder will always be ready to lend you a hand. All in a package the size of a credit card.
Zootility Tools Pocketmonkey — $12
It doesn’t really matter if you just skinned up 80 bajillion feet and are in the best shape of your life — bending over to make the transition from up to down is still a giant pain in the ass. Scarpa comes to the rescue with the F1 Evo. This beast of a boot is designed to make everything as easy as possible in transition, from the boa closure to the hands-free ski/walk mechanism, the F1 eliminates the hassle and guesswork of hucking off after skinning up. Scarpa reports that, once locked in, the boot is powerful enough to let you ski the big skis in the big powder. Available now in a women’s version, too.
Scarpa F1 Evo — $699
Peak Design Leash
Peak Design’s ingenious new connection system is called The Anchor. Just attach the little disc, via a loop, to your camera, and then you can click the strap on and off easily. I’ve tried my fair share of camera straps over the years and have always gravitated back to factory straps. I like their simplicity and usually find aftermarket straps to filled with too many bells and whistles. The Peak straps possess a certain gee-whiz factor, but after just a couple of days I forgot my initial fascination with the design, and the strap is quietly doing its job. I may never go back.
Peak Design Leash — $35
Rumpl 50/50 Blanket
Rumpl, the undisputed king of the cozy, high-tech blanket world, is about to launch its new 50/50 blanket — and we’re lining up to got our toes tucked into one. Fleece on one side and ripstop nylon on the other, the 50/50 looks to be the perfect blanket for the couch, the Adirondack chair or the pickup bed at the drive-in. These blankets are machine-washable and come in many colors.
Rumpl 50/50 — starting around $95 for the throw size.
Clif Bar Organic Energy Food
If you’re out on the bike for hours, doing a monster run or even doing an all-day hike, at some point all the sweet gels, bars and beverages grow annoying and begin to taste like you have eaten too much Halloween candy. You no longer crave raspberry/peach/sangria chunks of gooey goodness — you want something salty and substantial. And so along comes Clif’s new dinner-flavored pockets of nutrition. Meant to be sipped slowly late in a workout or sucked down in times of desperation, the energy-supplying liquids are not meant to be sweet. With their reusable caps, the Sweet Potato with Sea Salt and Pizza Margherita packets are surprisingly yummy. Which is understandable when you read the list of all-organic ingredients — they’re made with all the good stuff and none of the bad.
Clif Bar Organic Energy Food — $2.29 for the 90-gram pouch and $2.99 for 120-gram pouch