The Outdoor Retailer markets predict what new recreational gear and clothing you’ll soon be spending money on. The most recent annual winter market was no exception. The biggest future trends seen were fabric technology that uses your own body heat, new products for pooches and, of all things, fun.
The emphasis on using your own body heat will allow warmth without layers of insulation. Columbia is now offering lines of shoes and clothing that incorporate a silvery fabric overlay, which reflects back 20 percent of your body heat. Manager Kent Creet says, “It keeps you 20 percent warmer. It’s a technology we’ve had at Columbia since fall of 2010, but now it’s in a lot more of our garments.”
Craft of Sweden is using “hollow fibers” to do the same thing. Mattison Crowe, the company’s brand manager, says, “We do performance base layers that are ‘body mapped.’ Certain areas are designed to keep you warmer or ventilate body heat, so you’re not expending energy trying to heat yourself up or cool yourself off. Inside the fiber itself is a hollow tube, so your body heats up the air inside that yard and it keeps you warmer.”
There was also a major increase of vendors showing products for dogs. One of the big trends are dog packs that allow your pooch to carry everything from water bottles to clothing—sort of “let your dog be your backpack.”
Two of the show’s most innovative products were instant fire and instant power. Both are from Utah companies. InstaFire allows amazing photo ops of holding the flaming granules in your cupped hands without getting burned, or floating them alight on water, but it’s also extremely useful. The Clearfield company, just 3 years old, has come up with a totally new product. Owner Gary Banner says, “It’s a mixture of volcanic rock and wood pellets. The rock absorbs seven times its weight of our burning elements. A cup of InstaFire will burn from 20 to 25 minutes, with a flame 10 to 12 inches high.”
Banner says there are no chemicals in InstaFire; the coarse granules are 100 percent natural. It burns from the top down, not from the bottom up, so the fire can actually be carried. A burnable bag containing half a cup costs just 99 cents. The product can be ordered online from InstaFire.com and will soon be seen in outdoor and sports stores.
Goal Zero, located in Bluffdale, offers solar-power sources and some of the best mini-speakers on the market. Goal Zero just won the Innovations Award in the “Portable Power” category at the prestigious Consumer Electronics Show for its Sherpa 50 recharger. The item has been totally redesigned, going from 2.2 pounds to just over half a pound. It can be used to power small refrigerators, motors, laptops, lights and fans.
But the best new trend at this OR show was the introduction of fun, featuring products that have nothing to do with hard-core survival or climbing Mount Everest, but instead just increase the good time you can have outdoors.
The Land Yacht, which is essentially a skateboard, is the first ever to be exhibited at the OR show. It’s bigger than a regular skateboard, with a longer wheelbase and softer wheels. The Land Yacht is faster than other skateboards, and can be more easily used for carving to regulate speed.
Another source of outdoor fun is the Zipfy Mini Luge, a lightweight, low-cost sled. Zipfy’s Jamie Cameron says, “You can go really fast on it, but it’s very safe. You just put your heels on the snow to slow down. It has a 250-pound weight capacity, so it’s good for both kids and adults. It weighs only 3 1/2 pounds, so you can throw a bunch in your trunk and take the family to a snow-covered hill.” The Zipfy Mini Luge is already hitting stores such as Target, and can also be ordered from Amazon.com.
Each OR show offers a prediction of the coming trends for outdoor enthusiasts and the products they’ll be buying to be part of those trends. The direction shown by this year’s winter market can be summed up in one sentence: It’s all about using the wilderness, not just surviving it.