Like we said in Part 1 of our cool and quirky product coverage, which ran on Feb. 7: We think it’s getting more and more difficult each show to pick just a few products we have dubbed “new,” “cool” or just plain quirky or eyebrow-raising. Are we getting softer or is there just a whole hecka lot of product that really does fit the bill?
At Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, our team fanned out across the floor — didn’t hurt that we were running the OR Daily so we had more team members and saw even more — to see what we felt fit the “new and cool” bill. While we can’t truly test on the floor, we were poking and prodding in the few minutes we devoted to each booth visit.
As we did at Summer Market 2010, we also asked a few members of our fledgling SNEWS Youth Advisory & Reporting Team (www.outsidebusinessjournal.com/youthreporting) to pick out a few items that they coveted for their coolness. You’ll find those near the bottom of this list.
Now take a skim through Part 2 for our picks of newness and coolness in accessories and hardgoods for winter 2011:
Aqua Armour is a thin, polyurethane skin — similar to a form-fitting baggie — for Smartphones, like iPhones and Androids. It allows users to access all their phone’s features. To achieve a waterproof seal up to 5 meters, the company uses 3M tape that sticks to the phone itself for more protection but can peel off like a Post-It. Originally marketed as the Phone Dome, the company is in the process of re-branding it Aqua Armour. For more info, click here. (MSRP $10-$15)
Create a barrier between food and bears in the backcountry with a Bearier 700, the debut product from start-up Camp 4 Outdoors. Weighing in at less than 2 pounds, this tough clear plastic canister also allows for the compartmentalization of items inside with a mesh separator, and it can grow or shrink with the optional GrubHub attachment. www.camp4outdoors.com (MSRP $110)
New exhibitor D-fa Dogs Gandhi leash has custom-made swivel carabiners; an on-board stuff sack for poop bags, keys or treats; and a clever shortening and hitching feature, plus a little stretchy give for a dog who stops to sniff while you keep going. We’re told dogs walk peacefully and with civil disobedience — and they strut a little too because it looks cool. www.d-fa.com (MSRP $40)
Another newbie Gheek is a one-item company with goggle protectors that head gheek Brooks Detchon said are designed for helmet wearers. The soft, lightweight neoprene — in a popping array of colors and designs — stays subtly on your googles, so if you toss your helmet somewhere with goggles still on them, the goggles’ lenses aren’t damaged. The item can be logo’d for stores and resorts, and it has a soft microfiber cloth incorporated for cleaning and interior protection. www.thegheek.com (MSRP $13)
The Mountain Goat Ski Tote is a patent-pending webbing strap device that allows users to carry a pair of skis or a snowboard on their back. The simple design allows skis to be transported securely and balanced when hiking in the backcountry or even walking from the parking lot to the lift. Lightweight and compact, it can be rolled up into a small bundle about the size of a hockey puck that fits in a pocket when not in use. www.mountaingoatskitote.com (MSRP $27)
You can always count on Nite Ize for some tiny item that makes you slap your head with your palm and say, well, DUH, can I have a half-dozen? This show it was the Gear Tie. Think twist tie that will last a very long time in a selection of bright colors and sizes. Tired of misbehaving cables and cords? Want to bundle socks together? You name it, twist, tie, untie, repeat. www.niteize.com (MSRP $5-$10)
From afar, it looks like a swanky leather urban shoulder bag, but the new Meg from Pacific Outdoor Equipment really is made out of 420-denier, thermal-welded nylon for a tough and completely waterproof commuter bag. Inside its bomber zippers lay a computer sleeve and pen, paper and gadget organization. There’s also a smaller Byte model, or the larger Gig. Click here to see more. (MSRP $130)
Feel like your expensive emergency beacon isn’t getting any use — perhaps you’re not living dangerously enough. Or you might want to check out the new Pieps Vector Beacon that, along with its four antennas, features GPS tracking to download trip locations later. The GPS also works with the simultaneous-working antennas, through triangulation, to add another reference point to find a buried victim. And a foldout antenna quickly switches the beacon from transmit to search mode. www.pieps.com (MSRP $600)
The creators of the PocketToolX said they were always in need of a tool on the trail or in the shop but hated lugging around bulky multi-tools. So as engineers and designers with manufacturing backgrounds, they decided to do something about it and developed a line of low-profile, lightweight pocket tools in stainless steel and titanium. The Piranha has 20 functions, such as tightening screws, loosening bolts and prying things open, weighs in at 1.9 ounces and is TSA compliant. www.pockettoolx.com (MSRP $35)
Sherpani has released the limited edition Moda Sport line of 11 pieces — purses and totes to daypacks and messenger bags to rolling luggage — with a floral-esque embroidered detailing on the front face. Each piece — like the Access daypack (MSRP $70) and Verve messenger bag (MSRP $100) — has all the technical details expected from the company with this striking design twist. Ideal for street or sport, they’re available in pewter/black or royal purple/brown color combos. Price range is $35-$250. www.sherpani.com
–Therese Iknoian with David Clucas, Wendy Geister and Michael Hodgson
SNEWS Youth Advisory & Reporting Team picks
The Felsturn from Mammut uses new Gore-Tex Active Shell technology, meaning that it is waterproof and it is about as breathable as a T-shirt (OK, not totally that breathable). Additionally, the zipper coil is directly welded to the Gore-Tex, so it has the smoothest action out of any waterproof zipper. At 297 grams, it appears to be a perfect layer for quick ascents or for digging out of the bottom of your backpack when walking home from work in the pouring rain. Includes a teeny stuff sack. www.mammut.com (MRSP $390)
Cilo Gear City Bag gets a few details right for the hardcore commuter. It has a side zip for the computer and is bright white inside. What a concept! You can now actually see where you dropped that pen in there! www.cilogear.com (MRSP $150)
Mountain Khakis puts its own spin on the classic canvas jacket with triple-stitched seams and iconic-angled hand-warmer pockets in its Stagecoach Jacket. Every detail is accounted for, from nylon-lined sleeves (easy on/off) to adjustable snap cuffs to the hidden zip-pocket compartments. Lined with a brushed tricot, it looks to be the perfect 3-season companion. www.mountainkhakis.com (MSRP $155)
As a college student, life runs on coffee and tea. There is nothing worse than cold drink, so the non-metal Stanley Ecycle Mug is a dream. This bike-friendly (you heard it!) mug is great since without metal, you can microwave it to reheat the liquid once you get to your destination. www.stanley-pmi.com (MRSP $15)
Named after the sandal running tribe in Mexico, the Tara Lite by GoLite Footwear features a thong-construction to keep you stabilized while running. Additionally, it features all of GoLite’s natural running features, with a more natural heel angle, no heel-to-toe drop and, oh, did we mention it looks pretty sharp after training, too.www.golite-footwear.com (MRSP $115, women’s; $120, men’s)
–Audrey Goss, Lorin Paley and Anthony Shaheen
Don’t miss Part 1, covering cool, new apparel and footwear, as well as the Editors’ Picks from the OR Daily. We couldn’t not mention this list of 8-10 items on each of the four days that grabbed our attention enough to get them featured in the o.r.d. (www.outsidebusinessjournal.com/ordaily) To see it all, click here.
The SNEWS® Youth Team has been made possible in part by the generous support of Vibram: