Great products for fitness come from all arenas, even an outdoor show

Great gear for fitness retail can be found in a lot of places -- try tote bags, water bottles, chronograph watches and one-size-fits-all wraps. SNEWS snooped out a few at the recent outdoor show that could be fitness finds – especially as the holidays near.

The SNEWS® team of course spends a lot of time at trade shows sizing up new products and gear to keep our readers informed. What we’ve realized is that items we often see at one type of show, say outdoor or bike, may be a nifty little piece for some fitness stores too. Or vice-versa. 

On the heels on the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in August, we covered a lot of products in an array of stories – some we even lined up in our fitness readers’ SNEWS emails or News Digest. Still, we want to make sure that you don’t miss some equipment that may be something your customers would also snap up, from bottles and bags to watches and snacks.

Get your bottle here!

Of course everybody hydrates – in plain speak, drinks water or fluids! – and our story on the Battle of the Bottle at the recent outdoor show got a lot of attention. We counted some 30 different bottle companies and nearly half of those were new with only one show – or none – under their belts. Some were just practical – vacuum-insulated, double-walled – but some were more lifestyle and fashion-oriented and perfect for taking to the gym, to yoga class, or plunking down on our home piece of equipment and still looking great too. If you missed that Aug. 20, 2010, story, well, don’t: “Hydration category turns into ‘Bottle Battle’”.

What about food?

No matter what you do you need nutrition. Our SNEWS Youth Reporting Team took its look at food trends (click here to see that Aug. 18 story that covered all the bars, gels and snacks).

What we’d like to point out in particular is the newest item from Honey Stinger, which uses honey as its base in products that taste too good to be true, including protein bars and snack bars. This newest item comes on the heels of a recent partnership with Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong – a thin snack waffle. Pieces of the Honey Stinger Waffle were flying off the tasting plate at the show. A yummy sweet treat with whole-wheat flour and honey that just melts in the mouth will be at retail in mid-October. Two small saucer-sized waffles per package (MSRP $1.60) at about 100 calories each.

Small and impulse under $20

Colorful, practical and inexpensive, Bangees (photo to left) look like a tight wrist band, but they have a zipper pocket for keys, money, or other small items. It will suit runners, travelers weary of pick-pocketing or just a gym-goer. Sprig’s Bangees even come in over 60 styles, and various bold patterns – all for only $15. Look for a new Bangee designed with a special pocket for a cell phone.


Looking for ways to carry stuff? From toiletries to boats to underwear, Sea To Summit ( likely has you covered. For example, the new TSA-approved TPU quart-size case (MSRP $19.95) is soft and, more importantly, durable to last in and out of airport security over and over or in and out of purses and gym bags. Forget toss-away zipper bags!


Discovery Trekking Outfitters wants you to stay cool. Its new Cooling Towel, Cooling Head Scarf and Cube Tube will do just that, the owner says. All are made from a highly absorbent material that will not dry too quickly and will keep you cool partly via evaporation. Wet them down, wring them out and wave them around to activate. The Tube can be filled with ice for more hours of cooling. Towel (10-inches-by-36-inches) has an MSRP of $19.95.

No company can survive only having one product and that goes for Chico Bags (www.chicobags.comphoto to right), which has expanded its line in the last two years from a compact shopping bag to include sling bags and messenger 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 unanticipated workouts or packing in a suitcase for schlepping to the gym or just shopping. (MSRP $19.99) 

Got time?

has always been a leader in basic chronograph watches. Now it introduced something anybody working out indoors or out will appreciate – a wrist watch that does not require you to twist your arm to see the face. We were really taken by the Race Trainer Pro (MSRP $170 — photo to left). The watch is designed to sit on the side of your wrist so if you’re cycling or running, you can with a quick glance and sans a twist of the arm or wrist actually see how you’re doing. Like duh, yes? Then there was the 50-Lap Dual Tech (MSRP $80) that allows you to turn off the digital face so you look like a normal person with a normal watch after your workout.

You can have it all and carry it too

Who says your gym bag can’t be functional and stylish? Made of woven ballistic nylon, the Scrunchie tote (photo to right) from Timbuk2 has a rounded, hobo-bag design with extra capacity to fit gym gear, like workout clothes and shoes. It’s also designed to cradle a yoga mat between the straps, and has several easy-access external zip pockets. (MSRP $80,

Yes, clothing and footwear too

Layering was the hit at the outdoor show but it doesn’t mean carrying sizes for complicating inventory – necessarily.One-size-fits-all cardigan-style wraps with flowing sleeves were everywhere. What a great post-workout or even pre-workout item for around the house, to the coffee house, or out to the mailbox. With a Twist offers one-size-fits-all cardigan-style wraps with flowing sleeves in different knits. The pima-cotton Orchid wrap (photo to left) is available in solid colors, like red, orange, yellow, green and blue, while the lighter-weight Columbine is striped in a linen/rayon blend. (MSRP $100-$120, Others, but in sizes, came from Prana (, Stonewear Designs (, Ojai ( and Sherpa Adventures (, with MSRPs down to $49.

The epicenter of a trend that hasn’t slowed, Vibram’s Five Fingers shoe is no longer built for just barefoot running. Many styles are making their way onto a workout floor, elliptical or treadmill for a nice light but grippy shoe for lifting weights, doing martial arts or hitting the cardio. The women’s Jaya (MSRP $85, www.vibramfivefingers.comphoto to right) specifically targets the fitness crowd and has a stretch nylon upper, padded collar, and grippy pads on the sole for indoor and outdoor workouts.(Tip: We know running stores that put them in their windows and non-runners just walk in and buy them.)

–Therese Iknoian