SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE GEAR REVIEW:

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market: Part II

Day two at Outdoor Retailer (OR) was more about getting a look at new products that are launching. Taking aim at getting us outdoors or making it more comfortable when we do venture out and a few definitely stood out.

Goodhew
I’m always on the hunt for products that marry design with application and do so with commitment to the environment and keeping jobs close to home. Take Goodhew socks for example.

Following the theme of blending, three years ago the two founders applied their separate talents together – one had spent 20 years with Smartwool and the other had a background working with mills. Based in Chatanooga, Tennessee, the company produces stylish, performance, wellness, and lifestyle socks made from premium fibers, including merino wool, bamboo and alpaca. While most of their materials are sourced from the United States, they are transitioning to have that percentage rise to 100.

About the socks: they’re soft and have multiple applications. (It’s worth mentioning their lead design went to podiatry school.) No longer do you need to carry another pair of socks for your after work workout: these socks go from office to the trail, keeping your feet warm, dry and comfortable. And Goodhew’s line called Sockwell offers therapeutic options – from all-day compression to recovery socks that will keep the blood flowing: www.goodhew.us.com.

HydroFlask & Eco Vessel

HydroFlask – from small to growler

Stainless steel hydration bottles aren’t new but what is are the number of options consumers face when it comes to hydration. HydroFlask and Eco Vessel are just two of many manufacturers that supply insulation-type products to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. Initially, this doesn’t seem like a big deal but when you consider the application of enjoying hot tea during a cold snowshoe five hours from the trailhead, you start to listen to the salesman’s spiel.

HydroFlask’s guarantee: cold drinks stay that way for 24 hours while hot drinks for 12. Eco Vessel’s triple insulated bottles keep your drinks the way you want them for 36 (cold) and 12 (hot) hours. It’s worth noting that both brands are environmentally considerate. In fact, HydroFlask is ambitious: their goal is to replace plastic entirely and offer numerous versions – from an 18oz narrow mouth traditional style to 12 oz food flasks and even a 64 oz Growler. I don’t know about you but I can see several field applications for the growler.

Cocoon
Cocoon has been around a long time providing travelers with comfort items that either keep you safe, dry, or warm. And their new offerings follow in kind, only better. Take their Microfiber Towel Ultralight: this fall they will release an option that has sizing of a beach towel and can double as a blanket. (Absorbency levels remain five-times the weight.) And if weight isn’t a factor in your travels this will come in a terry cloth version with absorbency eight-times its weight.

Osprey Packs
Osprey’s focus this coming year is to reintroduce their travel line which features clean lines and their trademark organization options. They also lightened up their Kestrel pack, which reigns supreme in the realm of ‘quiver of one pack’ in your hall closet.

Additionally, Osprey is rolling out a few new options including a series called Synchro. This pack will give ventilation across the back in the form of a hydration pack. A simple hip belt will keep it in place. Seems Osprey had the bike commuter in mind when they created the Synchro. They will be introducing the Carve, their next foray into a backcountry ski pack. It will come in three torso sizing options and include an insulated hydration sleeve, an external carry of the shovel handle with probe while the shovel blade gets stored inside, a diagonal ski carry, and Osprey’s signature organization. http://www.ospreypacks.com/.

Snow Peak
Snow Peak has always been a winner when it comes to cleverly designed, lightweight backpacking gear. Their new offerings don’t stray from this especially in the lighting category.

New for September 2012: the miniHozuki Lantern. Modeled offer their popular and award-winning Hozuki Lantern, the mini is, well, a mini version of the original. It is just as durable as the original only in a much smaller design. In fact, its the size of a Christmas tree ornament. Features include a flexible silicon globe and a magnetic hanger that holds it in place while you’re relaxing in the comfort of your tent. Compact design, longevity (battery life 55 hours), water resistant, and luminosity (60 lumens on high setting) make this a must have for extended backpacking trips. http://www.snowpeak.com/.

ViewRanger GPS

ViewRanger GPS screen shots.

Apps are apps, right? I used to think so. A week ago UK-based ViewRanger launched its new GPS app. While it offers all the things other apps do – social media integration, web-based applications, records your adventures, and traditional GPS functionality, the ViewRanger takes it a step further. This app will work anywhere in the world (think satellite over cell signal) and uses an upgraded topographic map view that looks like the real thing.

It has a search functionality that will find even the most obscure trail or peak (believe me, I tried and it quickly produced my favorite hiking trail that I believed was so secret only a handful of us knew about) and easily uploads trail images to Flickr and Picasso.

It also offers the option to download content from Moon Travel Guides 60 Hikes series. For an extra fee you can get guide content delivered to your phone or tablet and have it handy for reference. The app itself runs $4.99 and comes with unlimited storage of trails, tips and exploits at my.veiewranger.com. http://www.viewranger.com/en-us.

Steripen

SteriPen’s new Freedom with solar charger accessory.

Award-winning Steripen continues to add to its innovative products and will be introducing the Freedom, a new lightweight (weighs 2.6 lbs) and compact (size of a spork) water purifier. It has a USB power interface and a built in flashlight feature. It will be paired with an iPhone-size solar panel accessory that will recharge the Freedom in three to four hours. Alone, the Freedom will run you $119 and retail with the solar charger for $149. http://www.steripen.com/.

To read part one of Snowshoe Magazine’s Outdoor Retailer coverage, click here.

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