Will Work for Gear

Will Work for Gear

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the editors

A roundup of outdoor gear and apparel from the Outdoor Retailer show.

Twice a year, in summer and winter, thousands of people from the outdoor industry – manufacturers, retailers, media, public-relations oufits, et al – gather in Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow, a five-day event held in the massive Ice Palace convention center. With over 1,600 exhibitor booths, the show is big business – not to mention a decent party, as one would expect from a fun-lovin', IPA-swillin' outdoor crowd. As usual, the O/B crew piled into the truck and drove down to Mormon town, joining dozens of folks from Bozeman both on the floor and on the slopes (what self-respecting Montana skier would miss a chance at some Utah snow?). Here's a rundown of some of our favorite products from the show.

Fabulous Footwear
Shoes, sandals, socks, snowshoes, ski boots... it seemed like every other booth had something to do with feet. Which was apropos, as three days on the Ice Palace's concrete floor sure got the dogs barking.

Lowa Phoenix GTX Lo – Simple, lightweight, and soft underfoot, this ladies' day-hiker works great around town or on longer treks. The mesh upper dries out fast and the Gore-Tex liner keeps your feet free of moisture, making the Phoenix a one-shoe-fits-all selection for spring and summer outings. $200; lowaboots.com. —Joyce Pollastro 

Lowa Phoenix GTX Lo

Lorpen Light Ski Sock – A good sock can make or break your ski day, and this merino-nylon blend combines a precise fit with decent warmth. Shin cushioning protects the foot from abrasion inside the boot, and moisture wicks away for a dry foot all day long. $24; lorpennorthamerica.com. —Mike England

Lorpen Ski Light

Kahtoola MicroSpikes
– We’ve reviewed them before, but there are some improvements to this already-great product, including reinforced eyelets, a lower profile, and a welded chain. Traction for all conditions in a lightweight package. $70; kahtoola.com. —Chris McCarthy

Kahtoola MicroSpikes

Fox River Mariposa – These colorful socks kept my feet warm all day, both on and off the ski hill. I never even thought about my feet, they were so comfortable. Great fit, too, and my feet did not feel cramped inside my ski boot. $22; foxsox.com. —Joyce Pollastro

Fox River Socks Sox

Superfeet Sandal  – Everyone loves wearing their flips, but nobody likes how their feet feel after a long day on a hard surface. Superfeet's new sandal builds its popular orthotic right into the shoe, so you have better posture and reduced arch pain all at the same time. $60; superfeet.com. —Mike England

Superfeet Sandal

Everything Outdoors

From innovative new products to oldies-but-goodies with new colors and styling, great outdoor gear greeted us at every turn. 

Poptical Sunglasses – Cheesy name, cool product. These are high-performance sunglasses designed to fold up in a compact carrying case.  So when it's time to stash your shades in a pocket or pack, you can fold them up to keep them protected. Available in several styles; I’m holding out for the polarized PopGear. $200; popticals.com. —Chris McCarthy


Lifestraw – A personal water filter, this is great for backpacking, trail running, or to keep for emergencies. Lifestraw is exactly what the name implies: a straw that filters out waterborne bacteria as you drink directly from a water source. The best part: this lightweight filter lasts for 1,000 liters (264 gallons). Suck on that, giardia. $25; lifestraw.com. —Chris McCarthy


Seal Line Blocker 5L – It only took a few decades, but somebody finally thought outside the box – or bag, in this case – and designed a new dry sack. This lightweight stuffer has all the features of a classic tubular bag but with a more efficient and packable shape. $15; cascadedesigns.com. —Mike England

Seal Line Blocker Dry Sack

Hydrapak Seeker
 – This collapsible, ultralight container is the perfect water-storage and delivery solution for camping, hiking, or any backcountry adventure. You can drink directly from the flow-control cap, or use it to pour into another receptacle. The thin TPU and RF welded seams ensure durability and simple storage in the included bag. Available late spring in 1L, 2L, and 3L sizes $18-$22; hydrapak.com. —Chris McCarthy

Hydrapak Seeker

SOL Trail Dog Kit – Our dogs join us on every outdoor excursion, but what happens when they get hurt? Instead of sheep-slinging your 80-pound lab back to the trailhead, carry this special canine kit, which weighs less than a pound but has everything you need to patch up your pup in the field. $125; surviveoutdoorslonger.com. —Mike England

SOL Trail Dog

Don't Skip the Small Stuff
It pays to carry a bag or backpack around the show, as samples abound, and many are really good products, and who doesn't like free swag?

Compete Energy Bites – Great-tasting and stashable in a pack or jacket, these yummy bites have enough caffeine to keep you going between meals. I scarfed down a few during our ski day at Solitude, which helped immensely after a couple long days walking around the convention hall. $4.50 for a six-pack; competenrg.com. —Joyce Pollastro

Compete Energy Bite

Tiger Balm Ultra – This stuff feels fabulous on sore muscles. I applied my samples after soreness set in from skiing. Bonus: it smells way better than most other brands. $15; tigerbalm.com/us. —Joyce Pollastro

Tiger Balm Ultra

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