While snowsports – ergo snowshoeing related – products were mostly absent in Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2011, a few gems were still lurking around to be found.
Newest of all and closest to the snowshoeing world is the news and sample of the limited edition Tubbs Romp To Stomp pink snowshoe. Supporting the cause of stomping out breast cancer, Tubbs supports family fun days and snowshoe races across North America to raise money. Now, Tubbs has built a pink Romp to Stomp snowshoe to match all those crazy pink outfits people keep wearing to the events. Rumor has it only 150 pairs are being made and the price hasn’t been released yet.
Atlas Snow-Shoe Company was also present with their new Aspect snowshoe. This is a snowshoe with a very aggressive traction system. The traction is built right into the frame of the snowshoe to compliment the under-foot cleats as found in many snowshoe designs. A solid heel bar for steeper approaches transfers your weight right into the frame ensuring a solid connection with the ground. I got to test a pair of these in Alaska last spring and they worked great.
Beyond seeing Tubbs and Atlas at Outdoor Retailer, I found a few products that are not always directly associated with snowshoeing, but simply with all-around comfort. Since snowshoe companies are always working to design a binding system to allow as much circulation in your feet to help keep them worm, it might be worth considering what you’re putting under your feet. Footbalance provides custom fit insoles to ensure you have the proper support in your footwear and this can also contribute to better circulation. Not only will stepping down simply be more comfortable, you may well have warmer feet while playing in the snow as well.
Mile High Mountaineering (MHM), a new backpack company, just designed a new snow sports backpack. With a very clever configuration of straps on the back, side and even bottom of the pack, it’s easy to convert from wearing snowshoes and carrying a snowboard or skis to switching your toys around with the snowshoes firmly strapped on the back of the pack. MHM rightfully prides themselves on innovative pack designs, cool lines and bold color schemes.
CamelBak released some new designs of water bottles that are of particular interest to snowshoers because of their insulative qualities. The popular Groove water bottle with the built-in water filter now comes in an insulated version. They are also promoting a new line of vacuum insulated metal water bottles in the Eddy line that keep your water from freezing on the coldest of days. Do be careful though when taking your first sip out of either of these to make sure your water isn’t too hot.
Columbia Sportswear has been doing some innovating with amazing demonstrations at Outdoor Retailer showing off their whole family of Omni- products, including Omni-Dry, their own version of a waterproof/breathable fabric. They take it beyond just the permeable quality of the fabric, but also incorporate ways to increase the surface area within the fabric to allow for quicker drying. These developments are going to be significant to being able to enjoy the winter wonderlands. Be sure to check them out.
Finally, for some simple safety insurance, whether you’re traveling alone or with a group, have a look at the Fast Find personal locator beacon. This is a satellite global rescue network. Even though it may seem like cell phone coverage is encroaching on every square inch of our wilderness playgrounds, there are still many places where it does not cover and if by chance you’ve opted for an international snowshoeing adventure, you might not want to pay the coverage rate.
The unit is $250 and is guaranteed to be functional for five years. After that, for $100, you send the unit in, they test it and install a new battery and you’re good for another five years. More than 120 countries are on the rescue network, so you’ll have hard time going beyond their reach. Naturally, the Fast Find works all year so it’s good for any of your adventures.
So, there’s a quick hit on some of the products at Summer Outdoor Retailer that relate to snowshoeing. Stay tuned for the piles of gear to be seen at the Winter Outdoor Retailer show, as well as the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) show.
Until then, happy snowshoeing!
For more information about the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012, visit http://www.outdoorretailer.com/winter-market.
For more information about the SIA show, visit http://www.snowsports.org.