I admit, in my youth I was very narrow-minded when it came to outdoor gear. I had the certain brand of shoes I climbed with, used the same tent for over a decade, and have been hiking in the same Nike trail runners for the past 5 years.
And though all the brands I had become addicted to worked great, I’ve come to realize, trying new stuff is not only essential, but fun. New technology is being developed everyday, and the outdoor industry is so competitive… You gotta stay on top of things, or you’ll be left behind.
So my recent visit to the winter ORshow has me wanting to replace all my climbing gear, hit the trail to try out my new hiking boots, and purchase more gear that i probably don’t need, but really, really want. Here is a short product review on a few of the items I saw and some that I actually got the pleasure to use…
Hydro Flask- Great new double wall insulated, vacuum sealed water bottles. We were given one of these for going on a Snow shoe that Shawn from Teton Sports had organized. And though this water bottle was given to me, it did nothing to sway my opinion of it. I actually did my own personal test between my Klean Kanteen and the Hydro Flask. Both started with 170* water from my coffee pot, placed outside my back door into a 27* winter day. After 2 hours the Hydro Flask was 10* warmer. And after 5 hours, the Hydro Flask was still 115*, the Klean Kanteen was only 100*.
Omni Heat- Amazing technology by Columbia Sportswear.
Omni-Heat is a thermal reflective and insulated liner, that came inside a Columbia Whirlibird jacket I recently ordered. The Jacket also has Omni-Tech, a waterproof/breathable critically seam sealed shell. Perfect for skiing or snowboarding. Great for any outdoor winter activity… But be careful, more than one layer of Omni-Heat might be too much. I found myself peeling layers when we were snowshoeing and I had Omni-Heat base layers, and a jacket and hoodie on. This stuff really works. http://www.columbia.com/
Tubbs Snow shoes- These were supplied to everyone who joined us for our ORshow adventure. We were all given a pair to demo for the afternoon around Silver Lake near Brighton, Utah. I chose the Tubbs Wilderness Snowshoe. As soon as I strapped them to my feet, I noticed 2 things, much easier to get bound up than my Atlas pair, and much lighter. The shoes actually worked great the entire hike, I’m sure everyone involved was more than please with them.
Teton Sports- Teton was nice enough to not only setup the snowshoe, but hook everyone up with a Teton Summit 1500 pack and hydration bladder. The Summit 1500 comes hydration ready, and will fit a 2-liter bladder. With multiple pockets & pouches, also several gear loops, this day pack is great for hiking, day climbing or even light/over night canyoneering. And also comes with a storm–proof zipper and water–resistant liner/cover. As a guest of Teton to the ORshow, I was able to check out their showroom. And I was very impressed with their Trailhead sleeping bag, with a built in foot box and still weighing in below 3 lbs., it looks extremely comfy. And the Outfitter XXL Quick Tent has a quick up hub system, making set up in seconds. A great 1 man tent for over night back country hiking and canyoneering, weighing in at only 4.3 lbs. AMAZING!
Keen Hiking Boots- Keen had an awesome sale at the Orshow, $40 for boots priced at $135 retail. I was able to score a pair of the Keen Bryce Mid WP’s, which is good, cause I’ve been in need of some durable hiking boots. I have yet been able to test them on a trail, due to all the snow we’ve recently gotten in Utah. But plan on doing so time and again when the winter breaks. I can tell you this, they are extremely comfortable.
Goal Zero- Great products that I was familiar with before the ORshow. Last summer at the Warped tour, I purchased a Guide 10 plus battery pack, and later a Nomad 7 solar panel. I have used both in the backcountry to keep my phone and camera charged. The battery pack will hold a charge for over a week if not used, and will charge your phone 1-3 times before needing a recharge. And on a clear sunny day, the solar panel can charge your phone in about 2 hours. Both products are light and definitely worth taking a look at for all your back country adventures. You should also check out the Yeti 1250 solar generator, completely silent and safe to run indoors because there is no fuel and no exhaust gases.
American Backcountry t-shirts- We were lucky enough to run into the folks from American Backcountry, and they hooked us up with the most comfortable t-shirt I’ve ever climbed in. I can’t wait to see how awesome it works on long backcountry hikes. Great looking graphics, and top quality “moisture wicking” apparel.
Other Products of note:
Millet- Makes some super aggressive, power bouldering/sport climbing shoes, the Myo. As well as many other summer and winter sport products.
Camp- Photon express nylon quick draws are sweet. I like them enough, I’m considering investing in an entirely new rack this season. And weighing in at just under 3 oz each, seems great for aggressive, short, pumpy sport routes. Not to mention their line of harnesses and ice climbing gear.
Sterling- Pretty much the only climbing ropes I choose to climb on. When I made it to sterling’s booth, the rep was cool enough to give me a sweet pint glass, and a pro deal from their website.
The one product I was most excited to discover was the Biolite. A portable camp stove, that takes the twigs you find on the trail for fuel, and can charge your phone with a USB port. Helps you be environmentally responsible by using renewable resources. And will be good at home if you ever lose power… Cook and charge gadgets.
As I walked into the Outdoor Retailers show, I realized one major thing, these are my people. This is the place I belong, I felt completely at home. Happy to be somewhere, that people understand why it is what I do… Why I want to go the places I go… What I’m talking about when I speak of an environmentally responsible lifestyle… And I came to a conclusion, I am not currently doing what I want to do with my life. At least not career wise… In the end, I’ll keep pushing and building toward some kind of future that involves more outdoor adventuring than I currently am getting. And remember, Get Outdoors