It's the little things that count. After you've had your fill of cold-weather clothing, ski equipment and winter sportswear styles at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, you have to take a few minutes out to roam the aisles and find those cool new gadgets and accessories that make the outdoor retail business just plain fun. Our SNEWSÂ® reporters fanned out and found a few gems you might have missed.
Polar Fusion -- Polar Fusion puts your tunes in the lining of your favorite hat, headband or jacket hood with the iron-on Audio Pockets. It's such a great idea that's so simple you'll wonder why you didn't think of it yourself. You just apply a hot clothes iron to the fuzzy side of a fleece patch the size of a credit card wherever you think your ears will be, and Shazam, instant speaker pocket. High-quality ultra-thin stereo headphones come with, and they slide neatly out of the way. You'll hardly know they're there. The company also makes a larger item it calls a Presto Pocket. Same deal, but this item allows you to put a pocket big enough to fit a wallet or a cell phone on virtually any fabric article -- a jacket, a pair of shorts, etc., wherever you need it. www.polarfusion.com
Fisher Space Pen -- The Fisher Space Pen Company has been producing write-anywhere-at-any-angle pens since the days of the Apollo missions to the moon. But we figured it bore mentioning an item in its mix that also writes across time. The Millennium Pens feature the same type of pressurized compartment that propels ink toward the point against the force of gravity. So even upside down from a hanging belay, you can write a note to your mom. But instead of the replaceable cartridge that comes with other pens in the line, the Millennium has a much larger ink camber the manufacturer claims will allow the user to write for -- get this -- 80 years. Use it up and it'll send you a new one. www.spacepen.com
Inka -- Inka is a new player in the outdoor pen market. While Space Pen offers flashy designs and suit jacket elegance in its products, Inka offers a pen that is rugged and designed to perform not only at any angle but, according the manufacturer, at any temperature, altitude and even underwater. How you keep your paper dry is your problem. But the pressurized ink cartridge is housed in a waterproof cylinder that quickly disassembles for easy use and transforms into a full-sized writing tool. www.inkacorp.com
Ono's Trading Company -- Ono's Trading Company has just the thing for those over 40 or getting there. The company has a patent pending on a technology that builds reading lenses into a pair of polarized sunglasses. You have to wear reading glasses to appreciate the beauty of this product. We're all getting older, so if you don't already use reading glasses, it's probably just a matter of time, so listen up. If you want to read a map, bait a hook or dial your cell phone outside side or in harsh sunlight, you'll have to either squint yourself a headache or pull out your reading glasses to peek through your shades with one hand, while your fumbling around with the other. With five new models, Ono puts a sliver of reading lens into your sunglasses -- just enough to see what you're doing while not obstructing your view while driving, biking or casting flies. www.onostradingcompany.com
Reware -- The Juice Bag is your run-of-the-mill daypack at first glance. What makes it unique is the integration of a large solar panel into a ballistic nylon top flap. The wires from the panel terminate into a tube that will accept a standard car lighter adaptor for a cell phone, MP3 player or portable radio. The solar panel, a square foot in size, will produce 6 watts of power at 16.6 volts. So you can power up and charge most electronic toys. A laptop computer requires a little more juice, so you can purchase an accessory rechargeable battery pack, the Henergy 1 or 2, that will give the system a boost. You can also link two Juice Bags together with a Zlynk connector cable, or you can plug in two devices with ADTwin dual CLA adapter. Naturally, none of this works if you are hiking in the rain. www.rewarestore.com
Orikaso -- The strangest but cleverest doodad at the show was the series of Orikaso origami-like folding bowls, cups and dishes. Made of polypropylene, the products come packaged flat with folding instructions included. The Orikaso Cup is easy to clean, simple to construct and incredibly durable. It is lighter than its titanium counterparts, weighing in at a mere 37 grams. When not in use, it folds completely flat and, therefore, takes up hardly any space. It can hold both hot and cold products and even has a heat-resistant handle. The dish is multifunctional, and also be used as a food strainer, spout, funnel, chopping board and coffee filter. The Picnic Set includes two dishes, two cups and two bowls. The complete kit weighs a mere 8 ounces. Axis Outdoor distributes Orikaso in North America. For information, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.flatworld.co.uk.
Nelson Studio -- This first-time exhibitor brought bronze sculptures -- some life-size, some 15 inches to 16 inches tall. Outdoor themes include the "Summit" sculpture that features an 1800s vintage Alpine climber having just reached the summit, and "Spring Fever" that has a skier hiking up a mountain with skis on his back. Half-life-size and life-size versions of all sculptures are available through the Marvin Nelson Studio based in Utah. www.marvinnelson.com
Hottie Bottie -- These comfy fleece neck warmers incorporate a pocket in which you can put a Heat-Treat Mega Warmer. Wrap it around your neck and you've got a scarf that warms your whole body. The Hottie Bottie is available with custom embroidery and in solid colors and prints. There's even a version in lambskin with a fleece lining. They are available through Blue Moon Artworks at www.bluemoonartworks.com.
EMP -- EMP Tek Inc. produces home-centered emergency preparedness products. Its series of hand-winding power generating multi-tasking flashlights feature a mobile phone charger. The Self Power AM/FM Radio model comes complete with clock, flash siren, flashlight and mobile phone charger. Its Shake Flashlight employs the Farrady System in which a copper coil and magnet generates energy when the flashlight is shaken. The energy is stored in a capacitor. Thirty seconds of shaking yields five minutes of light. Ten minutes of shaking yields eight hours of light. The company is working on bringing to market a small AC/DC briefcase that will run small appliances and power a number of household lights.
Aqua Star -- This portable water purifier is a UV radiation system housed in a 1-liter bottle. The durable quartz bulb releases ultra-violet (UV-C) radiation to rid water of protozoa, bacteria and viruses. The radiation cannot penetrate the plastic bottle (thank goodness). To operate, the bottle is filled with clear water (if unavailable, water should be poured through a #1 coffee filter). Screw the cap on and hold the cap button for one second to start the cleaning cycle. The quartz bulb embedded in the bottle will glow blue, and an orange LED will light for one minute, ending with a flashing green "OK" signal. Presto! The water is safe, and you've had the pleasure of a mini-light show. www.myaquastar.com
Lifeline -- The Lifestyles line of "stuffed" Lexan water bottles make great gifts at all times of the year. New in the line and available in April are the Runner/Walker bottle, the Summer (beach items) and the Gardener. The colorful Holiday in a Bottle line is a sure-fire winner. Don't forget the Student, Halloween, Golfer, Workshop and Fitness bottles for those special customers and times of year. www.lifelinefirstaid.com/bottles.html
GloveBuddie -- Wet gloves after a day of paddling or skiing really suck. Especially if you are driving back to a cabin or campground with hopes of heading out on the river or snow the next day. Face it -- you're most likely slipping your hands into damp gloves. Unless, that is, you have the GloveBuddie. No, it isn't a perfect system as it only dries one glove at a time, but what caught our imagination is that you can now start drying your gloves during the drive from the ski slopes or river back to wherever you are staying. The GloveBuddie connects to an air vent on your car or truck dash and uses the heating or air conditioning as an air source to force air flow into your glove. The result is one dry glove in about 15 to 20 minutes. www.glovebuddie.com
StarStik -- Maybe you've seen those new super bright white keychain lights. The StarStik uses the same LED technology to provide an efficient floodlight illumination over a 15-foot radius. The water-resistant StarStik is a tough, light plastic wand that stands over 6 feet tall. It has an array of LEDs on top and a stake at the bottom. It is water resistant and flexible and folds to stow in an included 30-inch nylon bag. It features a clamp that allows you to attach the folded StarStik to a camp or picnic table. It utilizes eight AA batteries that can provide light for over 20-plus hours. The StarStik is made by Plan 9 in White Salmon, Wash. www.starstik.biz
Trimble Outdoors -- For pure technogeek wow-factor, it's hard to beat a cell phone that has GPS positioning, color topographic maps and takes photos. Trimble, long a big name in the GPS market, has teamed up with Nextel to offer a unique service. Not only will the cell phone tell you where you are, but it will record the location a photo was taken, and you can share that on the web in real time with friends. The phone can download routes and waypoints, zoom in or out on topo maps, and even view aerial photos. Our guess is the antenna is more easily blocked than those on large GPS units, but it will work fine in many locations. This convergence of technology is just the beginning and will only improve and pick up speed. www.trimbleoutdoors.com