SNEWS' Glimpse at Winter Market 2002 Products

It's 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 SNEWS® team's imagination whilst wandering the trade show floor in Anaheim.
Author:
Publish date:

It's
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
SNEWS® team's imagination whilst wandering the trade show floor in
Anaheim.

Apparel Roundup

  • Hits from the show included RLX really nailing the retro Tenth Mountain Division, early-days-of-skiing-goes-modern look.
  • Watch
    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.
  • Lowe
    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.
  • Sierra
    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.
  • SmartWool
    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.
  • Kelty's
    new rainwear group impresses with lots of technical features in pants
    and jackets at reasonable prices. Check out the Jasper shell and pant.
  • Isis
    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?)
  • Speaking
    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!

Snowshoes

The
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.

Footwear

OR Winter Market is normally a slow footwear show for all but insulated shoes – not this year.

  • Vasque
    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.
  • TNF's
    new winter boot offering proved a polished presentation. The line is
    compact; the technical details are right. Retailer response was
    positive.
  • Columbia
    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
    rigs.
  • National
    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.
  • Air
    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 – of course, we'll be the final judge in
    testing – 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
    four companies.
  • Both
    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.
  • Lowa's
    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.
  • Merrell
    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.
  • Timberland
    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 – all leather, no rubber.
  • Not
    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
    running shoe."
  • Adidas
    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.

  • All
    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.
  • Fox
    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.
  • Hot
    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
    spring '03.
  • Manzella
    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.

  • Ultimate
    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.
  • Buff,
    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.
  • RuffWear
    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.
  • Is
    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.
    Wow.
  • Jansport
    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.
  • Hot
    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.
  • Eagle
    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 SNEWS® folks
    shudder. For the business traveler desiring sound in the hotel and for
    presentations though, it doesn't get any better.
  • Black
    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.
  • Buck
    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.

Related

OR Winter Market '03: Snowshoes

When it comes to snowshoes, Winter Market corners the market on companies to see. Here's a roundup of a few of the latest product and trends that caught our roving editor's eyes.Atlas -- Atlas reports great response to its new Elektra women's-specific snowshoe, the center-piece ...read more

OR Winter Market '03: Gloves

Gloves were a hot item at this year's Winter Market, with the work glove look showing up just about everywhere. Here are a few highlights of the gloves and mitt styles that caught our eyes at Winter Market. Arc'Teryx -- It was inevitable for Arc'Teryx to jump into the glove ...read more

OR Winter Market: Head turners and cool stuff

Our Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '03 coverage comes to a close with a look at products and cool stuff that turned our editors' heads more than once. No, it's not all-inclusive and yes, someone probably didn't get mentioned here that feels they deserved to, and you probably did. ...read more