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The Best Gear Of Outdoor Retailer (Part 2)

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A few days ago I shared my thoughts on the best gear that I saw at this year's Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. But the half-dozen items that I spotlighted at the time were just a tiny fraction of the new outdoor equipment that was on display there. Here are a few more items that caught my eye and may of interest to you when they hit store shelves over the next few months.

Kelty TraiLogic
One of the more impressive set of products that I saw at OR this year was the new TraiLogic system from Kelty. The company has gone back to its roots, creating a collection of gear that is designed to work well with one another in a very efficient manner. The TraiLogic product line includes a tent, sleeping pad, Dry-down sleeping bag and a backpack that converts from a 50-liter bag designed for backpacking to a 35-liter day pack in seconds. It is difficult to sum up all of the innovation that I saw in the TraiLogic designs but just know that Kelty is focused on making a complete backpacking system that is lightweight and affordable. How lightweight and affordable you ask? The entire collection weighs less than 10 pounds and will cost just $800-$900 depending on which configuration you select. Expect to hear much more about this product as it gets closer to launch next spring.

Adventure Medical Kits Fire Cubes
I've been a big fan of Adventure Medical Kits for years and absolutely love the products they've designed for travel, adventure racing and backpacking. At OR, the company was showing off another new innovative product in the form of their All Weather Fire Cubes. Somewhat resembling small marshmallows, the cubes are designed to help you easily start a fire in the backcountry. They are designed to ignite easily with the included fire sparker, even when wet and they are capable of generating a flame that burns as hot as 1300ºF (704ºC) for about 10-12 minutes. In other words, they burn long enough for you to get your tinder going so you can build a fire when ever you need one. Available in the spring, a $12 bag will include 48 cubes, which can actually be broken down into 8 smaller pieces should the need arise.

Brunton Hydrogen Reactor
One of the more ambitious projects that I saw at the show this year was the new Hydrogen Reactor from Brunton. The device uses hydrogen fuel cells to power our USB-chargeable gadgets such as headlamps, smartphones, GPS devices and so on. The fuel cells are good for approximately six charges of a typical smartphone and when depleted they can be refilled at a local gear store or swapped out for a fresh cell as needed. There will even be a $250 device available to charge you own fuel cells if you find yourself going through them quickly. The point of the reactor is to provide clean, renewable power to our devices from a lightweight and rugged source. The device works great, but Brunton is still building an infrastructure with retailers to support it. You have to commend them for their efforts at the very least.

Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 Tent
I'm a big fan of Mountain Hardwear gear so admittedly they can sway me pretty easily with their new products. That said, it is hard to not like the new Optic 2.5 tent that is designed for two people and features a door on both one side and one end. When both are opened you get a nice panoramic view of the landscapes around you that will make you wonder why someone didn't incorporate this design sooner. With a trail weight of 5 pounds, 13 ounces it is a bit heavier than most of the new two-person tents I saw at the show, but it comes with a pretty sweet price tag to help balance it out. The Optic 2.5 costs just $240, which is a great entry level for anyone who wants to buy a Mountain Hardwear tent.

Jetboil Joule Group Cooking System
Jetboil pretty much set the standard for a lightweight cooking system when they released their original
stove a few years back. Since then the competition in this space has gotten stiffer and the company has continued to improve and expand its product line to meet the needs of its customers. The new Joule stove, due in the spring, is large enough to feed 3-5 people and yet still packs down small enough to easily carry with you in your pack. It features a unique design that puts the fuel canister up-side-down which should improve the consistency of performance even as the canister runs low or the temperature begins to drop. The Joule is a cinch to use, heats up extremely quickly and provides ample space for the backwoods gourmet.

Mio Alpha Fitness Watch
If you've ever been to Outdoor Retailer you probably know that some of the more innovative products are often found tucked away in the pavilions that are located across from the main hall. That's where I came across the new Mio Alpha fitness watch which is designed to help athletes train and race better. The watch is capable of monitoring the heart rate of the wearer without the need for a cumbersome and uncomfortable heartrate strap. The watch can then give visual feedback on how much the athlete is pushing him or herself and help them perform better. The watch itself is comfortable and attractive, and can connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth for use with some of the more popular fitness apps out there.

I have a few more products I'll probably spotlight in the next few days. As you can see, there were a lot of items to checkout and excellent improvements and innovation from a number of sources. All of this gear may make your wallet groan a bit, but we're living in a time where things are continually improving and we get to reap the benefits.

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