Gear Reviews

Best in Show: Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2017

posted by gumptiongear January 20, 2017 0 comments

Referring to the Outdoor Retailer Show as just another “trade-show” would be akin to calling Mount Everest just “another mountain”.  With thousands of brands and attendees, the show affectionately known as OR, is the largest convention of its kind. This is the place where industry trends are defined and the latest cutting-edge products and technologies are on display.

Staged January 10 — 12, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah this year’s show featured 1,075 brands, including 163 new to Winter Market. Nearly 20,000 people, including retailers and media, braved treacherous weather throughout much of the U.S. to make the pilgrimage to the Salt Palace and partake in the industry’s premier trade event.

Since returning to the Gumption HQ, we been diligently reviewing and comparing notes, pouring over pressers and and then doing it all over again. The end result is our annual “Best in Show” awards which represent some of the most unique and innovative new items that will be hitting the shelves later this year.

Crescent Moon EVA Foam Snowshoes

Historians trace the origin of snowshoes to Asia sometime between 4,000 and 6,000 B.C.  However, as recently as the 1950s, snowshoes were still constructed from wood and rawhide. In other words, the concept of the snowshoe has not only been around for some time, but it’s basic framework has remained unchanged for almost as long. But at this year’s Winter Outdoor Retailer Show, Colorado-based Crescent Moon shook things up with a new vision of the age-old snowshoe design.  

Crescent Moon’s latest product uses dual-density ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam — similar to that found in the soles of running shoes — making it lighter and more flexible than the traditional snowshoe. Deep lugged treads in the bottom of the shoe will provide ample traction, while the simple straps make it easy to strap in and tackle your adventure.  Add in a rocker-shaped design and no rotational hinge and the result is a product unlike any other snowshoe available. All told, these EVA Foam Snowshoes are the next evolutionary step forward for the traditional snowshoe design.

Superfeet 3D Printed Insoles

Superfeet, put their best foot (sorry, we couldn’t resist) forward at this year’s show with the introduction of a retail solution for fully customized 3D printed insoles and footwear recommendations. By working with world-class partners who are experts in 3D printing and scanning, and combining that with Superfeet’s expertise in shape, the brand is able to offer a 3D printed solution that provide unprecedented levels of fit and comfort. 

While at Winter OR, our team had the opportunity to put this new technology through the paces, and it’s as innovative as it sounds. The process begins by producing a full scale 3D scan of your foot that appears on a computer screen. The computer rendering captures every detail down to arch size and any small size variations between your right and left foot. The system will then make recommendations on which pair of shoes (and which size within that style) will offer the best overall fit.

The key in this new product, of course, is not only in the pure comfort of the insole, but the customization. With 3D scanning and printing, you can look forward to an insole that has been created specifically to your foot size and detailed measurements.

Fjällräven Bergtagen

For the first time in the brand’s history,  Fjällräven has developed a mountaineering collection. A full system of mountaineering equipment for men and women, the collection carries the same name as the historic Swedish phrase, Bergtagen, which was once often used to describe the spellbinding and humbling call of the mountains past the tree line.

The collection offers sustainably-designed shells, trousers, insulators, base layers and accessories for men and women. Each layer of the system brings garments uncompromising in functionality, sprung out of both tradition and innovation, and produced on nature’s terms. All told the Bertagen line is one of the most technically advanced lines  Fjällräven has to offer, but still uses the heritage materials and aesthetics for which the brand is renknown.

Adidas Outdoor Terrex Parlay Climacool Boat Shoe

Right about now you may be asking yourself why a ‘boat shoe’ made our Best in Show list. But this is more than just another shoe. Adidas has entered into a partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an environmental organization and collaboration network seeking ways to synchronize the economic system of humankind with the ecosystem of nature. Together, adidas Outdoor and Parley for the Oceans are working to transform ocean plastic pollution into high performance sportswear, spinning the problem into a solution.

The Parlay Climacool Boat Shoe (available for men and women) features a knitted Parley upper, Climacool tooling for enhanced breathability and a Traxion outsole for stability and grip. The shoes are constructed from some of the 740 tons of plastic waste that Parley intercepted in the Maldives in 2016.  Adidas is now turning this plastic waste into apparel and footwear.

Helly Hansen Odin Veor Jacket and W Odin Veor Jacket

With a 140-year-old Nordic heritage, Helly Hansen has been working alongside mountain professionals and athletes to create trusted and proven products. For 2017, Helly Hansen’s Mountain category continues to push boundaries in innovation with its introduction of the first breathable fully down jacket. Pulling inspiration from the Norwegian People’s Aid search and rescue teams, the new Odin Veor Jacket and W Odin Veor Jacket are lightweight and highly packable down jackets built for high-output outdoor activities in cold weather and changing climates.

The secret is the unique and highly efficient venting system. Using Helly Hansen’s proprietary H2Flow™ temperature regulation system, the Odin Veor Jacket has strategically placed vents under baffles on the back that open and close as the body naturally reacts to temperature. Here’s the deal; when you’re cold, you pull your shoulders up and in, tightening the fabric stretched across your back and closing the vents. When you’re your warm, you relax your shoulders, and the slack allows the vents to swing freely. The result is a highly intuitive and elegant system that works without you even thinking about it. The rest of the jacket utilizes premium Helly Tech features for ultimate protection and incredible versatility.

Yaktrax Summit

For the uninitiated, Yaktrax is a company that makes a line of products that you wear over the soles of your shoes to provide extra traction. This allows you to continue pursuing your favorite activities, even in the winter months when snow and ice are common. And while there is an array of winter traction devices on the market, there has been an undeniable gap that exists between mild traction options and full-blown crampons.

The new Yaktrak Summit beautifully fills this niche between the company’s other products and a full-blown crampon. Lightweight and durable, this traction device was built for winter adventurers  who like to travel light and fast on the trail, even in the winter months. Weighing in at a meager 17 ounces, the Summit features 3/8-inch carbon steel spikes that eagerly bite into packed snow and ice. But at the same time, those same metal teeth can also shed snow and ice quickly to prevent excess buildup that could slow you down. Featuring the patented Boa® Closure System, the Summit offers superior customized fit that is both comfortable and secure.

 

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