not complete and by no means replete, but such that it is, here is our
look at a few products that really caught our eye and a bit of the
SNEWSÂ® team's imagination whilst wandering the trade show floor in
- Hits from the show included RLX really nailing the retro Tenth Mountain Division, early-days-of-skiing-goes-modern look.
out because the word at Columbia is that Tim Boyle has given the green
light to designers to produce more high-end technical outerwear. The
new Flexi-Alpine jacket is as tech as it gets and using magnet closures
on the zipper flap instead of Velcro closures is a nifty idea. The new
PowerShield Wind Flex jacket also heralds a new tech statement from the
price/ value leaders.
Alpine spiced up the scene with lots of vibrant colors (in general,
color is back and burnt orange is the show color -- though Lowe manages
to show just a bit too much of the orange stuff for our tastes). Their
new Adrenaline Tech jackets ($64) are on target for the active outdoor
athletic crowd. Retailer buzz is that Lowe finally has a line they can
merchandise and sell. Not only that, its designers are really paying
attention to women's styles too. We bet women will be all over the tops
and shells that aren't just sized down men's styles, but rather ones
with seams and fitting for a woman.
- There's more than a hint of motocross jacket styling in TNF's Synthethis and Free Ride lines.
Designs' M8 soft shell one of the best looking at the show and they've
joined into the growing parade to using Primaloft in outerwear, as well
as super close-to-the body styling with stretch panels on either Malden
Wind or Thermal Pro fleece or Primaloft-insulated lightweight jackets.
has branched out from being simply a sock company with an introductory
line we found quite high end and stylish. The "Watch Sweater" for men
and women especially caught our eye -- it has a small zip pocket on the
upper arm for men and on the lower arm for women.
new rainwear group impresses with lots of technical features in pants
and jackets at reasonable prices. Check out the Jasper shell and pant.
continues its push into the women's specific market, with some of the
same styles that have been updated and upgraded based on experience.
Their motto seems to be: Why dump the great stuff just to dump it? In
addition, cuddly extremely lightweight fleece tops in bright oranges
and purples (and even combinations of those colors) can do double duty
as both workout and outerwear. Moving Comfort keeps its market happy
too, updating its popular NoChill items with color-blocking, then going
one step up in warmth with a Tundra top and pant (What's next? Siberia?)
of colors, it seems women's designers for many of the companies were in
the same room choosing colors -- you'll find limes, oranges (both
called "citrus" by different companies), and that amethyst shade of
purple every time you turn around. If nothing else, the consumer will
be able to mix and match well!
snowshoe gang was out in force in Anaheim. Most of them were content to
discuss subtleties of change. At Red Feather it concerned a complete
cosmetic remake to better delineate product by use and to set women's
product apart better. Crescent Moon had upgraded decking material and
in their binding with a new ratchet system. Besides the recent addition
of the molded plastic SnowWalker line (now dubbed Stompers and Big
Stompers) Yakima has added the RidgeRunner show with interchangeable
tails as a companion to the StarGazer and DayTripper models in the
aluminum shoe line. Tubbs also has new product but nothing to detract
from their powerhouse proven winners. And then there's Atlas.
The Atlas team was armed for battle and woe to the person who asked the
question: "Got anything new to talk about?" Then it was off to the
races with a solid half hour of biomechanics, ergonomics and new
materials. All this about the new line of women's shoes that for all
intents and purposes (on-snow will tell) look well conceived and
thought out. In brief, the new shoes are slightly narrower, lightweight
(7000 series Easton aluminum); the binding is very easy to get on and
off and works to correct pronation. The shoes will come in two sizes:
22 and 25 inch in two series. The 8 Series shoes will be $169 and the
10 Series shoes $249. The production of these shoes represents the
first time Easton has done bent tubing. There's also a new Atlas
injected molded shoe at $189.
OR Winter Market is normally a slow footwear show for all but insulated shoes â€“ not this year.
stole much of the limelight with their two new top-end
mountaineering/ice climbing boots and the signing of a license
agreement to use Five Ten's Stealth rubber on the two new boots and
throughout their Exploring multi-sport shoe line. What
sets the Vasque Super Alpinista single boot and Ice 9 double boot apart
are their featherweight without sacrificing any of the needed technical
features a mountaineer requires. No need to detail all the tech items
here but worthy of mention are the fact that the boots are lasted for
foot hugging fit and very cosmetically eye-catching. The Connelly/Brown
era at Vasque starts with a bold statement. Sales of the two boots
might not be enough to make a banker happy, but they indicate that
change is in the wind and more interesting product to follow.
new winter boot offering proved a polished presentation. The line is
compact; the technical details are right. Retailer response was
has expanded the Sorel line to include a lot more casual styles. The
traditional, like the mainstay Caribou, are still there and are looking
better. The surprise here is the introduction of a companion line of
Sorel branded apparel. It's Carhartesque from rugged pants to study
jackets. Manly man stuff for guys who go to job sites and drive big
Geographic footwear expanded into the comfort and dressy travel
categories where they should do well. Their new lines are called Euro
Comfort and Traveler. By the way, the shoes now all carry the familiar
yellow square NG logo on the back of the heel. Merrell also had its
eyes on the traveler with well-received new items in both their World
and Topo collections.
Teewinot (where in the world do they dream up these names? -- wait,
don't answer that) marks Nike ACG's effort to blend a light hiker with
a climbing shoe that looks â€“ of course, we'll be the final judge in
testing â€“ like it might be a performance winner. A fall shoe here --
the Air Teocalli XCR -- will be Nike's answer to winter trail running
or snowshoeing, using Gore-Tex's new XCR (Extended Comfort Range)
waterproof, breathable material, being introduced in the fall lines by
of Montrails' new beefed up running /multi-sport shoes got high
retailer marks for fit, stability and looks. It is one of the four
companies adding Gore-Tex XCR material onto a shoe -- the Excelerace
XCR with over-the-ankle support expected of a hiking boot, but still a
lightweight feel that seems it could work for overall wear like for
adventure racing or trail explorations.
big surprise was two new (low and mid-cut) boots with reinforced holes
in the side of the boot's sole that mate with the new step-in binding
on the TSL (Lows USA distributed) snowshoes.
continues to add SKU's to an expansive multisport line with the Ice
Rider winter boot that features a waterproof, slip-lasted construction
and Polartec insulation. The company also put XCR on a casual shoe --
the Orbit Moc. With that fabric protection, it could be a fine answer
to winter bootie needs.
- Asolo expanded their multi-sport Enduro collection which was introduced at summer OR.
turned more than a few heads with the Canard, an everyday, lifestyle
hiker that looks very much like the venerable L.L. Bean waterproof
shoes with one exception â€“ all leather, no rubber.
much new at Salomon except they are the leaders in color blending the
now trademark Salomon yellow into as many shoes as possible. Oh, and
they are another of the four companies adding Gore-Tex XCR material to
a shoe -- here it's the XA Pro GTX that is said to be an "adventure
had a real sleeper of a winter training shoe in their Conrax II last
season. All the niggling little problems with that shoe appear to have
been fixed. Now with a full Sympatex liner, sticky rubber soles with
inset metal spikes and zippered cover over the laces, Conrax III is a
steal at $135.
Socks and Gloves
Without trying to mention everyone doing socks -- since it's a real
sock world these days -- we'd still like to say that some are truly
doing it right. One company exec said too many were however getting
into the sock market and simply confusing the customer.
that aside, Bridgedale continues to do it really right, adding among
other things a Trail Lo-top sock for those who like that ankle freedom.
And the sizing on its women's collection has been refined to where its
nearly the best around.
River has finally realized it has to "brand" its socks -- look for the
name subtly imprinted on the soles or that cute little fox head on the
cuffs of all socks to be phased in by early summer. The cycling sock
looks super, as does the new snowboarding group.
Chillys is getting into socks with a small line for Fall 02 that
emphasizes winter needs, using a silver ionization process different
than most that lends to an extremely soft hand. They are all really
well thought-out with articulated breaks in the right placaes, no toe
seams, and made with seven different fibers for different needs in
different areas of the foot or lower leg. Look for many more styles for
continues to know how to treat the hands -- totally revamping its lines
and introducing a new women's line for fall. Look for our stand-alone
story on that next week, but it's pretty revolutionary thinking. There
will also be a new sleek glove using Gore-Tex N2S fabric that looks to
be a winner.
Other Stuff -- Gidgets, Gadgets, Packs, Hats, Etc.
found its women's line of hydration gear -- introduced at Summer Market
-- has sold significantly more than expected and is tweaking that line
and adding new elements.
the tubular scarf that has made a name for itself on Survivor,
introduced a Polar Buff that has a fleecy extension on one end so the
Buff is even better for winter wear.
showed us a Quick Draw lead for dogs that in one configuration looks
like a web collar, and in the next, with a quick pull, becomes a short
lead to help keep a dog under control when disembarking from a vehicle
or at any other time.
this item apparel or "other" -- whatever it is, we wanted to note RLX's
introduction of a totally seamless molded bra. Still soft and seemingly
supportive, there are no seams for any pinching, chafing or rubbing.
has gotten into an active travel line that is more "youthful" because
they said their retailers were asking for it. Look for 11 pieces
including huge footlockers and duffles to small rollaboards and
Pullmans. Some retailers won't be bringing them in right away though
since post-Sept. 11 has left inventory levels high in some shops.
Chillys added a small line of hydration packs -- with no intent of
going after the hard-core audience. These are fun and low-key, that
mostly carry two bladders so you can fill with oine hot beverage and
one cold beverage ("Hot" and "Chilly" - get it?). These are more for
snowshoe treks and some winter family hiking things.
Creek is reaching out to the tech crowd with a very cool flat
panel speaker system that can be toted in its own carrying case, or
becomes part of a shoulder bag -- the Symphonium -- or a daypack -- the
Matrix Harmonium -- to make the world of boom boxes obsolete. Of
course, the thought of youths strutting through malls with a Harmonium
booming away on their backs makes us slightly older SNEWSÂ® folks
shudder. For the business traveler desiring sound in the hotel and for
presentations though, it doesn't get any better.
Diamond scored points with the Starlight headlamp -- perhaps the
smallest, lightest and most versatile light we've seen yet. LED just
keeps on getting better and better.
and Peter Whittaker have teamed up to offer a series of knives we
thought were quite nifty. The Approach is a folding lockblade that
attaches to a carabiner for clipping into a harness or backpack. The
Revolution also caught our eye with a fixed blade that rotates into the
handle which then serves as the sheath.