Although many U.S. companies used the OutDoor show in Germany in mid-July to introduce their products, the gear and accessories shown off by non-U.S. companies are what always catches our eyes. Why? Because in most cases you can’t get them in North America and sometimes they are particularly eye-opening.
For the record, The North Face made a comeback at the OutDoor show after a sudden disappearing act in 2009 when it told SNEWS it was abiding by its strategic goal of talking more directly to the consumer and saving money by eliminating what it considered more of a regional German show. And, with its return, it too showed off its products that were subsequently launched at the Outdoor Retailer show.
Aside from the maneuvering that always happens, the renewed economic strength helped companies seek out trends and new product categories. (Click here to see our first show story on July 19 covering overall trends, “Germany’s OutDoor show picks up the pace as economy turns,” and our July 21 summary of economic trends from the buying groups and others, “Europe’s economic trends, forecasts from Germany’s OutDoor show -- outdoor strong, price hikes coming.”)
Let SNEWS give you a quick look at a few product highlights from the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. (Note that where possible we have included prices in euros but will not translate them into USD since they are not sold in dollars and cannot be directly converted.)
adidas outdoor – Continuing its march through Europe, adidas’ outdoor division entered its second season there with an expanded product line that also included a few packs and gear. After going into Asia a year ago, it has the U.S. market in its sights for 2011. Meanwhile, a quick look at its product shows bright colors, an athletic fit in its higher-end Terrex line and lots of functional add-ins and materials. In footwear, the company showed a new line of boat and water shoes, including the Boat CC Lace with its proprietary “Clima Cool” technology for breathability. With drainage holes in the outsole, its intended for rafting, kayaking and other water sports. The HydroTerrra Shandal (yes, SHandel, to show its cross-over as a shoe and a sandal) has a back that easily folds in and down so you can either wear it as a slip-on or as a shoe when the back is folded up. Click here to watch editor in chief Therese Iknoian's exclusive interview on SNEWS TV with adidas senior vice president of global operations/outdoor Rolf Reinschmidt. www.adidas.com/outdoor
Euroschirm – Although Euroschirm does some business in cooperation with GoLite, not all of its models and products are in the United States. Its new hands-free backpacking umbrella (EUR 59) attaches securely to a pack’s shoulder strap and waist belt, so you can hike, carry other gear, hold a child or even trekking poles while still protected under an umbrella. www.euroschirm.com
Houdini – From Sweden, Houdini’s story is all about sustainability. Its line is now 80 percent recycled and/or recyclable. New is the Slipstream active/running collection of super lightweight and wicking fabrics. The Lightspeed crew is made of 100-percent recycled fabrics. www.houdinisportswear.com
Jack Wolfskin – Its big launch was a new jacket that the German company called a “breakthrough” in breathability, while still being 100-percent waterproof, called the Texapor Air (photo - left). www.wolfskin.de
Klattermusen – Leave it to this small but growing Swedish company to have 17 new products, including updates. You heard us right, 17. Mostly, it has been expanding its lighter weight summer and spring line and now has its first real collection of blouses, pants, skirts, T-shirts and light windtops. Even its simple Saga shirts have design touches that make you drool: The fabric has a slight natural crinkle ideal for traveling, and pockets are designed with gender in mind (men’s have front chest pockets). For EUR 67, they’re a steal in the line. www.klattermusen.se
Light My Fire – New for this company was a Spork case. Yeah, it has taken the simple, loveable Spork and perhaps overcomplicated it with a case to keep it clean. Still nifty in its design, we suspect the case will make its way into more glove compartments, baby bags and picnic baskets than into backpacks. Also announced was a glow-in-the-dark Spork: “What is your Spork doing while you sleep?” the company asks. Now, you can find out, plus you can find it in your tent or bag when it’s dark. www.lightmyfire.com
Ruby Tec – Out of Holland, the Ruby Tec company specializes in what it calls “smart products for people on the move,” president Wynand van Poortvliet told SNEWS. Look for solar chargers, various packable towels, wind-up flashlights and power stations, among other gadgets. We took a look at the Mini Solar Charger (EUR 17.95) that charges up, and then can give some quick emergency juice to another item. On a keychain, it weighs a mere 129 grams and comes with five adaptors for various common-sized jacks and phones. www.rubytec.com
Tilak – Always a relatively hard-core, technical brand, Tilak from Czechoslovakia introduced sweatshirts, shirts, jeans and even a dress that its founder Roman Kamler called “cute” and then flinched a bit when he said it. “After 15 years of superior technical products, we have stuff like this,” Kamler said. “We can give our customers something they can wear every day.” www.tilak.cz
X-over Bag – Not really new but now re-launching in the market after a three-year hiatus, X-over bags out of Switzerland have a cool across-your-body design that you can wear like a shoulder bag or messenger bag (“city option”), bike bag (with waist strap for security, called the “outdoor option”) or a cross-strap system that secures it more like a backpack (“extreme-sport option”). A fashion-outdoor bag, they come in a huge array of colors and materials, with various features such as cell-phone pouches and water bottle pockets, with prices from EUR 40-120, depending on the material and features. www.x-over.eu.