We got a chance to see thousands of camping and hiking products at the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow in Salt Lake City, UT last month and one thing was clear: there is some serious technology behind the latest and greatest outdoor gear. Some of the booths felt like science labs with experiments and demonstrations showing warmer, drier, and more digitally connected products than ever before. Here are some of our favorites.
Camelbak showed a water bottle with a built-in UV purifier. The company, perhaps best known for its hydration packs and collapsible bladders, is betting adventurers will appreciate the ability to make water safe to drink no matter its source. Just don’t forget to use the pre-filter to get the big chunks out – UV won’t do anything about particulates in your drink.
Fleece liners have been popular for a while now because they’re warm, versatile, and comfortable. The only problem is, fleece quickly overheats when you’re being active outdoors (like say, hiking). The North Face found an innovative solution to the problem: a subway-style pattern of fleece tiles with vented fabric in between the tiles. The result is a more breathable fleece and a distinctive quilt-like pattern on the outside of the jacket.
Columbia Sportswear uses a similar concept in their Omni-Heat Reflective line of outerwear. Tiny reflective circles line the inside of jackets like the one pictured above to keep more of the body’s radiant heat inside. It’s the same idea behind the foil blankets survivalists and marathon runners use but in a more comfortable, breathable, and less crinkly configuration.
These days it’s possible to pack powerful technology for camping and hiking in the form of GPS units like those in the eXplorist line from Magellan. The eXplorist 110 pictured above is a great basic unit with a color screen and fairly detailed basemaps, all for less than $150 (one of the cheapest color screen units we’ve seen). The top-of-the-line eXplorist models pack detailed topo maps, a digital camera, and even a touch screen for the ultimate navigation and data collection device on the trail.
Hey, just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to be uncivilized, right? GSI Outdoors had this full line of wine glasses for camping (including the collapsible and stainless steel models pictured) plus a hand-crank blender for making trail-side margaritas. Still, the company isn’t just catering to the car campers – hardcore backpackers will appreciate the Halulite Minimalist cooking + eating kit pictured below.
Kelty introduced the new Agile series of backpacks and they’re the company’s most technical packs to date. With lightweight support systems and intelligent compartment designs, these packs are ready for anything from day tripping to overnight adventures. With several sizes to choose from in both mens and womens designs, there is now a Kelty backpack for just about everyone.
Trail running has been a hot market over the last few years and now we’re seeing that enthusiasm spill over into new areas like speed hiking and ultralight mountaineering. These boots (shoes?) from New Balance caught our eye not just for their form but also the bold colors!
As you can tell there was a lot to see at Outdoor Retailer this year and manufacturers continue to push the latest technology into camping and hiking gear. The upshot: enhanced comfort on the trail and at the campsite means we can play outside longer and harder than ever before!