This winter, the 2023 Outdoor Retailer Snow Show returned to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the largest retailer showcase in the outdoor industry. It was a bit of a homecoming for OR, which has been in Denver, Colorado, for the past few years.
The winter OR show took place downtown at the Salt Palace Convention Center. It brought out many outdoor industry brands, from Dynafit to Fox Racing, who were all eager to showcase their latest innovations and releases.
OR is always a great place to check out what trends are coming down the pipeline in the outdoor industry, and this winter show did not disappoint. Plenty of unique innovations and new trends are energizing the outdoor world.
Snowshoe Magazine was on site to check out some of the top trends percolating at OR this winter, which will be arriving at an outdoor store near you soon.
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The safety-first motto rings true for OR this winter season, especially regarding avalanche safety. Everyone from snowshoers to snowmobilers has to watch out for avalanches in the winter. Unfortunately, Colorado has had an especially dangerous avalanche season, with several deaths already.
Companies such as Arva and Safeback know this is always a challenge and are looking to ensure backcountry users get in and out of the mountains alive. This year Safeback Avalanche Survival Gear showcased a new system that can help provide oxygen to a buried person for more than 90 minutes. That lengthens the window to rescue people who are buried.
Other companies, such as Arva, had new avalanche vests on display, such as the Arva Ride Vest 15+, which has a built-in airbag to help keep people above the snow in case of an avalanche. Innovations like this lightweight vest are great for snowshoers looking to hike through avalanche terrain in the winter and stay safe.
Communication in the great outdoors has always been a bit problematic. The lack of cell service and wifi in the woods makes it hard to keep in touch. There’s nothing worse than losing communication with someone on a snowshoe trip. Someone may be close, but they are hard to find in the wilderness if you can’t talk to them.
Several companies are looking to make communication in the great outdoors possible and more accessible. For example, Cardo Systems showcased the new Packtalk Outdoor hands-free communications system that hooks up to a helmet. The hands-free system lets users talk to one another on a JBL headphone off of a dynamic mesh communication system. Up to 15 people can connect with a range of 0.6 miles (1 km).
Another company called Milo premiered its Action Communicator device. The hands-free communication device is a new take on the walkie-talkie. It attaches to a shirt or pack and lets users communicate with one another without cell service or wifi. Milo’s communication device works off a mesh network with a range of about 2,000 feet (610 m), depending on terrain conditions. These communication trends are ideal for snowshoers to stay connected in the mountains.
The trend of making outdoor gear portable was a significant theme this winter at OR. From carrying and transporting skis to compact light camp chairs, the trend of making gear easier to travel with was front and center at the conference.
A prime example is the OR Innovation Award-Winning Split Skis Ltd.’s Split Skis Freetour skis. These skis come apart underfoot with a cascade connection latch and split into two pieces for easy transportation. As a result, the skis make it easier to transport or take into the backcountry. Another company looking to make travel with skis easier is The Stevie Strap, a ski and pole carrier system that makes it easy to carry one-handed.
In addition to skis, we saw compact portable camp chairs. From Grand Trunk to Snowline, companies are all in on lightweight, compact chairs which can quickly go from the backyard to the backcountry. Grand Trunk even had a Compass 360 Stool that snowshoers could throw in the car and use to easily put on their snowshoes at the trailhead.
The trend of recharging products is big right now in the outdoor world. From batteries to flashlights and everything in between, rechargeable is the way to go these days.
One major rechargeable battery at the 2023 Outdoor Retailer winter show was Land Energy’s E Motorcycle which can go 70 miles (113 km) per hour and up to 120 miles (193 km) distance on one battery charge. As if that’s not innovative enough, those same batteries can be used to power laptops, cell phones, or even RVs in addition to the motorcycle.
From big down to tiny, Nite Ize premiered its new Radiant Rechargeable Pen Light flashlight at the show. The small pen light, which is very bright with 235 lumens, can be recharged using a USB cable. This feature makes it simple and easy to charge up and throw in the pack just in case you find yourself snowshoeing into the night.
Walk through any outdoor store, and most color options are similar. Often it is dark hues and natural tones. However, this year at OR, many companies are breaking the mold and adding a bit of color to their product lines. This year, everything from Grand Trunk hammocks to camp chairs included a sizzle of color.
Companies such as Lowa and Freshy showcased new lines of shoes with a splash of color. For example, Lowa’s new ATR or All Terrain Runner line of shoes included neon yellow, orange, and blue making them pop. And Freshy’s new Pow Stomps boots come in a rainbow of colors, including yellow, green, blue, and red mixed into the electric-looking snow boots.
Clothing companies like OOSC got into the color trend with bright neon snowsuits, jackets, and pants. The company’s motto, “Bring Color Back to the Mountains,” shows that the boring old black and brown jackets are not enough these days when it comes to shining on the mountain.
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