It is Winter Market trends wrap time again, and yes, your committed SNEWS® team of editors (some of whom should be committed, no doubt) fought through beer, sushi and dueling espresso parties to ensure we could bring you the most comprehensive take on trends, directions, colors, styles and innovations in stories that will run until we pass out -- or you get bored. No, each report does not name every company with new product, and we apologize in advance if a company feels its product was not mentioned when it should have been. So if you're not mentioned, our brains were either too fogged out from the smog to think straight or we didn't think your product stood out sufficiently to garner a mention -- you pick one. With that in mind, here's our take on noteworthy trends and new products for camping accessories:
Anytime. Anywhere. That's the new reality when it comes to product introductions. These days, companies don't always wait for a certain season or trade show to debut new gear, so we were pleased, but not shocked, to see so a bunch of new camping accessories at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.
We actually saw a handful of new stoves at this show, which was interesting considering how few cooking products appeared at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006. One noteworthy stove is the Primus Eta Power, which includes a stove that marries with a pot to trap heat and focus it on the lower portion of the pot. The system makes the stove more efficient, and you can actually hold the upper portion of the pot while cooking. (MSRP $110 for stove; $45 for 2.1-liter pot)
Manufacturers are also clearly focused on making products more effective and fuel efficient, and the Snow Peak Giga Power LI stove (MSRP $159.95) is the latest to use a liquid injection system where the canister is turned upside down. This allows liquid fuel to burn, rather than gas, ensuring that you can use all the liquid in the canister and get steady performance. Of course, people have been turning their canisters upside down for years, so this really just formalizes the practice.
While the new stoves demonstrate how the product cycle is shifting, there's another trend in camping accessories that can be summed up with a familiar phrase: "The little things mean a lot." At Winter Market 2007, several small but clever items grabbed our attention, and here's a few you shouldn't miss:
Nite Ize introduced the Figure 9 rope tightener, a product so logical and clever it made us hit our forehead and say, "Now, why didn't we think of that?" Basically, the Figure 9 is a small metal piece that helps you tie a taught line with cord that's 2 mm to 5 mm, and it doesn't require you to tie a knot that you'll struggle to undo after the line's tightened. Basically, this is great for all your customers who are knot-challenged or don't want to mess with learning to tie the "trucker's hitch."
Jet Boil's new hanging kit for its stove looks pretty cool, and we're anxious to put it through the paces. But we really do love the simple things in life, so we were stoked to see the company's new Jet Set Utensil Kit with a separate spoon, fork and spatula that retract with the push of a button for compact storage. And they weigh practically nothing (about 0.4 ounces each).
Light My Fire (a Swedish company whose products are distributed by Industrial Revolution) introduced Grandpa's Fire Fork, which we're surprised wasn't dreamed up right after the discovery of fire. The small metal device is a clamp with prongs that you can attach to any size stick for roasting marshmallows, cooking hot dogs or suspending whatever else over a campfire. You should seriously consider displaying some of these at your cash/wrap counter for impulse sales.
Coleman's new 4AA Pack-Away LED lantern (MSRP $34.99) is one of the smallest lanterns we've seen on the market in a while. It's 3 3/16 inches tall when closed and 5 inches tall when you pop up the top to expose the LEDs. Weighing 8.3 ounces with batteries, it runs on 4 AAs and shines for about 12 hours on the low setting and five hours on high.
SteriPen's new Adventurer (MSRP $129.95) is the smallest, lightest version of the purifier. It's 6 inches long and weighs about 4 ounces with batteries -- that's about half the weight of the Classic model. Plus, there's a new solar charging case with an AC Adapter, two rechargeable CR123 batteries and a carrying pouch (MSRP $49.95).
While plenty of companies rolled out new camping accessories, Sea to Summit went above and beyond the call of doodie. Its wonderfully named iPood (MSRP $16.95) is a 2.6-ounce waste disposal trowel that collapses for easy storage. The handle is hollow, so you can store a lighter and some tissue. Plus, you have to love the catchy marketing slogan on buttons the sales team handed out: "iPood and I'm proud." Now that's A-plus material there.
Another way cool item is Sea to Summit's new Pocket Soap (MSRP $4.95), which is a small plastic pouch with 50 leaves of dry, biodegradable soap. (The product looks like a slightly larger version of those first Listerine packs with leaves of breath freshener.) You can use this soap to shower, wash clothes or dishes, and you can put it in carry-on luggage because it's not a liquid.
But wait, there's more! You also should check out the company's new Pocket Shower (MSRP $24.95), a 2.6-gallon bag (made from its Dry Sack material) that has an easy-to-use twist spout to adjust the flow of water. Made of black fabric to absorb heat from the sun, it has roll-top closure D-rings for hanging and a 20-foot cord.
And finally, there's one small item that we'd like to see in a bigger form -- Guyot Designs has awesome new flexible cups and bowls made with food-grade silicone. Available as a set for $14.95, the 16-ounce bowl and 6-ounce cup can be squashed and they'll pop back into form. But now we'd just like to see larger versions for those of us that like to go big at mealtime.