Outdoor Retailer Winter Market ’09: You want new and cool?

At every show SNEWS® peers into booths and around corners seeking the newest and coolest of stuff – the stuff that makes eyes light up and someone say “ah ha!” We can’t list all the new and cool, odd and unusual that we find here, but we’ll take a brief look at a few product highlights from Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2009 that still make our team go ooooooo.
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At every show SNEWS® peers into booths and around corners seeking the newest and coolest of stuff – the stuff that makes eyes light up and someone say “ah ha!”

We can’t list all the new and cool, odd and unusual that we find here, but we’ll take a brief look at a few product highlights from Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2009 that still make our team go ooooooo.

Adventure Medical Kit Survival Water Bottle – So we all know or should know things to do in emergencies, but the AMK bottle puts it front and center – printed on the stainless steel water bottle (called we think somewhat unfortunately S.O.L). MSRP for the 27-ounce bottle is $20. Packaged with a small first-aid kit, the pack has a MSRP of $25. www.adventuremedicalkits.com

CamelBak – We love bottles that go into our packs and car cup holders but we also like cold water. The new CamelBak double-wall insulated stainless steel bottle (available in May, MSRP $30) is insulated and keeps its cool for hours. We filled it with ice and found cubes still after a day sitting on the counter. www.camelbak.com

Clif Shot Roks – Remember those candy pebbles that used to be all the rage? These rocks are reminiscent of that but are protein bullets, not sugar surges. They were slated to be at retail in January and each packet of 10 pieces holds 260 calories (20 grams of protein) for $2.49. Oh, we forgot to add that they also taste pretty good without that yicky, fake protein taste most protein bars have. www.clifbar.com

eGear Pico Light, Spotlight– Not just a lighting company anymore, eGear (www.essentialgear.com) nonetheless emphasis little ways to light up your life. The Pico Light is one of those ways and when we say little, we mean little, pico, muy pico. Smaller than the tip of your pen and water-resistant, the Pico has a clip to attach to jackets, purses, pack or keychains, offers 15 hours of light and 30 feet of beam, per the company. At MSRP $12 the itty-bitty light is a cash-wrap counter no-brainer and so cute and colorful someone may decide to grab one for all the kids’ stockings. It’s out in March 2009. Also nifty is the Spotliight, a small double-A battery-sized LED light that plugs into the charging dock in the car (otherwise known as the cigarette lighter). Twist it on, twist it off, pull it out to use to read a map or whatever your heart desires ($20).

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Global Girlfriend – The founders have partnered with non-governmental organizations around the world, for example in Nepal and India, to bring the group’s products to the North American market. Fair trade and eco-friendly, purses for example, use plastic from shopping bags and clothing uses acid-free dyes. The overriding goal is fairly traded product hand-made by women in need. www.globalgirlfriend.com

Go GaGa Messenger bag – Less than a year since the company was founded, Go Gaga found its way to the OR show to try out the outdoor market. Its lead bag is The Messenger (MSRP $118, made of ballistic nylon). The patented strap design has a shoulder area of soft fabric to spread over your shoulder rather than embed into it. The front flap is cut at an angle so you can access a front pocket for small items like keys or train tickets without opening the whole bag wide. And the side pouches, although made for baby bottles to nest in an insulated and protected cocoon, actually hold water bottles (albeit not the wide ones) and even wine bottles. Inside compartments will even fit a 14-inch laptop. www.gogagalife.com

Guyot TapGuard – Also introduced at Summer Market ’08, notable is the redesign of the final product: The TapGuard gained a mouthpiece that allowed more liquid to get out without a struggle and an extended flap to keep water from spilling all over you if you tipped the bottle back too far. At $16 MSRP, the TapGuard is said to remove 95 percent of chlorine so a user can simple use tap water and still get better-tasting water. www.guyotdesigns.com

Human Gear – Human Gear was easy to miss, with its “booth” nothing but two tall bistro tables smooshed between two booths. We couldn’t resist stopping to talk to the young guy, Chris Miskovsky, a Stanford design alum, behind the tables without cloths, signage or anything else. We liked the capCap, which is like a small cap on a large cap for wide-mouth bottles (See our March 2, 2009 review by clicking here), which was out nearly a year ago, but thought the travel liquid tubes were a whack-on-the-side-of-the-head -- see photo to right. He describes the GoToob as a "civilized" liquid transport tube for travel and the outdoors and is made of a squishy FDA-approved, food-safe silicone. The no-drip silicone valve keeps caps from getting gunked up and the built-in ID window can be twisted to say soap, shampoo, etc., to keep track of what's actually in it. It comes in two carry-on friendly sizes -- 1.25 ounce and 2 ounce (MSRPs $6.45 and $7.95) -- the larger of which has an integrated suction cup to make it hands free. Sleek packaging and a variety of colors -- clear, blue, green and pink -- make it pop visually on the sales shelf – not to mention in your toiletry kit or backpack. www.humangear.com

HumanGear_GoToob.jpg

Hydrapack Softflask – Although the company showed a prototype last summer, its softflasks are ready now. They look a bit like fat toothpaste tubes but are a super soft PVC- material (same as the company’s packs). Two flasks, one 5 ounces and one 8 ounces, come with either a bite valve or a flip top. The intent is to carry sports gels so you can get every last drop but – ssssssh --- we’ve used the large one already with the bite valve as an extra water carrier that can squish to nothing. MSRPs $7-$12. www.gel-bot.com

Hydrapak-SoftFlask.jpg

Ivar Pack – Ian Ivarson’s booth with his Ivar Packs was in the middle of the ballroom looking for attention. Not just a daypack, as it appears, Ivarson has designed a patented system of slanted “shelves” in the pack to properly hold books, computers and other weight in a more ergonomic position so it doesn’t all just slide to the bottom and into your lower back. Ready to ship, he said, in April 2009, the packs all have sternum straps and hip straps to give additional ergonomic help. OR was his first-ever trade show for the packs, which have retails from $70 to $95. www.ivarpack.com

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LittleLife -- Tucked in a corner of the ballroom, LittleLife made a big impression with its kid-sized packs and tents designed in the United Kingdom. The Toddler daypacks fit kids ages 2-4 and come in kid-oriented styles including turtle, ladybug, bumblebee and cow prints. For 2009, the company has added the larger Kid's Adventurer daypacks for slightly older children with reflective front panels and piping and water bottle/snack pockets. The packs retail for $35-$39. LittleLife's tents, or travel cots as the company calls them, provide an airy environment for kids to sleep or play. Three styles are available weighing in under 7 pounds. Each mini tent is made of mesh and ripstop with openings on the top and sides (MSRP $169-$199). A "Lights Out" sunshade is sold separately and can be attached to protect from UV rays. The company also makes six different child carriers and various accessories for them. www.littlelife.co.uk

On a humorous note, while near the south entrance in search of new and cool in the outer reaches, we happened across two teen girls sneaking in. Adorned in low-cut fashion pants, tight tops and high-heeled shoes, they didn’t fit into the normal audience and we didn’t ask their intent on the floor…. As they passed by SNEWS, one said to the other, “It’s an outdoor convention, with all those freakin’ granola hippies.”

So there you have it.

--Therese Iknoian with contributions by Wendy Geister

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