Outdoor Retailer Summer Market ’10: Products that are The New, The Coolest, The Quirky too, Pt. 1

Sometimes we just all simply say “wow” about a few products we see at the shows. These are The New, The Cool and, sometimes, the Quirky. What is a “wow?” Sometimes it’s the really fresh look by a company at how a piece is executed. Here in the first of two parts are our picks for this year’s ORSM new, cool and quirky. In part 1, SNEWS looks at ways to carry stuff -- all kinds of stuff -- from packs and bags, to car racks and cases.
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SNEWS® team members scatter across the floor, peering into booths, racks and shelves, seeking out superior gear that you will want. A whole lot of it is great and new. But sometimes we just all simply say “wow” about a few items. These are the New, the Cool and, sometimes, the Quirky products that are the ones we want to tell everybody about.

We’ve debated what causes the “wow” factor since there is so much really well-done product on the floor. Certainly, the wow stuff is new. Sometimes it’s a first, the kind of thing that makes you slap your forehead and say, “Now why didn’t I think of that?” Sometimes it’s the addition of a certain feature to a tried-and-true item. But in many cases it’s the really fresh look by a company at how a piece is executed. In other words, somebody sat back and questioned something, rethinking a design, concept or even just one or two features. Those are the ones that typically produce a unified “wow.” Of course, then there are the quirky items that somebody rethought or dreamed up -- but leave you scratching your head trying to figure out “why” rather than saying “wow.”

As usual, this is not a complete list of great stuff on the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 floor. But it includes some highlights sought out by our team over the show’s four days. This year there was so much that we are actually breaking this story into two parts! So don’t miss the next part coming soon.

And if during the show you missed our SNEWS Morning Reports, take a look at our daily list of five to six hot products. In this year’s Morning Reports we covered, for example, Petzl’s Grigri 2 belay device for smaller rope widths, Julbo’s Trail sunglasses with lightning-speed photochromic lenses, Klymit’s eye-popping Inertia X Framesleeping pad (photo, right) with cut-outs, DeLorme’s Earthmate PN-60w GPS married with a SPOT Satellite Communicator, Season Five’s paddling top for when the water’s cold but the weather’s warm, With a Twist’s Lantana color- and graphic-infused cardigan… and another 16 more hot picks not to miss. All in this ORSM 2010 SNEWS Morning Reports.

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You want packs, bags or things that carry stuff? You got it.

Newcomer Alite Designs takes a fresh look at everything it does. The folks there think of stuff that is suitable for urban life but can head to the campsite too, or just come at stuff that is for the younger set who define their outdoors as an urban park. The Bear Can Pack (MSRP $49.99 -- photo, right) is “picnic basket goes hip” (no relationship to a bear can, but round like a can). Roomy pockets and lots of straps let you pack along all you want, while it’s still sturdy enough to be a mini-table once you kick back. (www.alitedesigns.com)

No company can survive only having one product and that goes for Chico Bags (www.chicobags.com), which has expanded its line in the last two years to include sling bags, messenger bags and even reusable produce bags -- all lightweight and, per its original bag design, pack into their own little carry pouches. We love the Messenger Bag of recycled PET in two sizes (10 and 20 liters) for a just-in-case tote for adventure travel or around town use. (MSRP $19.99)

Launched just a year ago, Clik Elite (www.clikelite.com) says that sometimes photography is a sport. And it is trying to solve photo-gear-carrying uses for the adventuresome types. One of its newest is an addition to its ClikStand line that is bear of a bag but a photo studio in itself called the Volt (MSRP $400). Carry your gear into the backcountry, then pull it apart, prop up your studio-quality lights and you’re a one-man (or woman!) photo studio way out yonder.

Don’t miss the Ivar backpacks (photo, left) that we wrote about as a new and cool at the company’s launch and one of our SNEWS Youth Team reporters called out in a story as a youth-oriented cool with its backpacks with weight-dispersing shelves. Youth aside, we more mature reporters thought its debut of its Pilot (MSRP $110) was gang-busters. The shelf system to ease our aching backs and yet a more professional look, too.

Granite Gear (www.granitegear.com) was on quest…not for the Holy Grail, but to develop a backpack to carry a bear canister securely. The Nimbus Core pack (photo - right) has two full-length lateral pockets that cinch around whatever you place in the center section of the pack, then a compression flap can be cinched down tight to secure it all in place. In the course of R&D, designers found it’s also versatile enough to hold other hard-to-fit items, like fly rods or compressed items like sleeping bags. The pack also has a reengineered 3D TopoFlex frame to fit the topography of the back and the new Advection back panel for air flow. (MSRP $260). Then we were in awe of the eVent Uberlight Drysacks -- dry sacks that are as light as plastic shopping bags (MSRP $39-$49).

Magellan’sToughCase (www.magellangps.com -- photo, right) is a multi-tasking powerhouse for iPhones and iPod Touches. It goes way beyond the usual protection against bumps, dings and water. It comes equipped with a high-sensitivity GPS chip that enhances the reception and accuracy of any navigation app. It also has an internal battery that automatically charges your Apple gadget, doubling its battery life. And, users still have complete access to the touch screen, hard buttons, microphone speaker and audio headphone jack. (MSRP $200)

Looking for ways to carry stuff? From toiletries to boats to underwear, Sea To Summit (www.seatosumit.com) likely has you covered. The new TSA-approved TPU quart-size case (photo, below left) is soft and, more importantly, durable to last in and out of airport security over and over. Forget toss-away zipper bags! (MSRP $19.95) Then, for bigger stuff, try the Traveler Soft Rack for a simple way to strap boat, skis or surfboard to the roof of a vehicle. The rack has high-density foam encased in nylon and integrated straps, so you don’t have to fumble with several loose components, and the whole thing can be attached or removed in seconds. The daisy-chain lashing provides many tie-down points, and a grippy material on the bottom prevents the rack from sliding and protects the car roof. And it’s light enough to pack along to put on rental cars. (MSRP $99.95)

We got a lot of stuff to carry these days and STM Bags (www.STMbags.com), at its first OR show, is all about “protecting your digital cargo.” Just another bag or pack? Nope. There are some great little feature tweaks including a concealed laptop section in the main compartment. That compartment is actually tucked into the wall of the section that is opposite from your back (protective and more comfortable to boot), but when you unzip the section to access some files, nobody peeking in over your shoulder can even tell there’s a valuable computer there. The mesh phone pocket on the front strap accommodates all sizes (that’s a forehead-whacking item!) and the front pocket has an organizer with an angled zipper for easier access. Newest model is the Revolution (MSRP $100 -- photo, right). 

Yakima’sWave Hog rack addresses the challenge of transporting a stand-up paddleboard from home to water. The Wave Hog package includes Soul Pads (EVA foam to cushion the board), as well as RipCord tie-down straps. But the key to the rack is the “S.U.P. Brah,” a tie-down system that allows you to secure the ends of the board with bow and stern straps. (MSRP $129. www.yakima.com)

And there’s the other stuff you may not want to carry, but must…

Just like death and taxes, it’s inevitable that we all have to go potty. While we can thank Thomas Crapper for the toilet, when outdoors the Biffy Bag (www.biffybag.com) may become your new best friend. The “personal disposable toilet” has a foil pouch that holds the super-absorbent Biffy Powder and an attached “transport bag” (photo, left). That’s where the magic happens…the transport bag system ties around the waist with a flap that comes up between the legs to create a funnel -- OK, kinda like a diaper … move over Depends. It then transports your…well … yes, THAT. Once nature’s call has been answered, seal it up and pack it out. Toilet kits also come with TP and wipe. (MSRP $3.49/one; $9.99/3-pack; also available in 10, 25, 50 and 100 quantities)

--Therese Iknoian with Wendy Geister and Marcus Woolf

The SNEWS® team of seasoned reporters covers a trade show to seek out product highlights, indications of a trend (to a product category, a company or the industry) or products that are new to the market. In our post-show reports, we do not write about every last piece of gear or equipment we have seen, although, promise, we have most likely seen nearly everything. Even if not in a show report, you never know how information may be included in a future report, trend watch, product review or story. If you have any comments or questions, please email us at snewsbox@snewsnet.com.

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