Gear Reviews / GTFO!

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013: Best in Show

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Twice a year, the hottest outdoor brands, retailers, non-profits and media gather in Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer trade show. This past week was the Summer Market show, where companies displayed their newest summer items from SUP boards to waterproofing technologies. Here is a collection of what we thought to be the best new products for Outdoor Nation Blog readers.

We took a different angle from other outdoor publications when selecting Best of Show items. We didn’t include items that were unapproachably expensive or confusingly technical; we carefully selected items that were price sensitive to our demographic (Millennials and Generation Z) that displayed an understanding for our fashion tastes and social values. And without further ado, here’s the newest gear for our generations.

The Fair Trade Line from Prana
We’ve all seen the Fair Trade logo on our coffee, and now it’s coming to clothing thanks to brands like Prana. Prana is the world’s first apparel brand to participate in the Fair Trade program, encouraging the movement to liberate some of the most exploited workers in the world. And really, it’s about time the movement made its way to clothing. In recent months, the world has witnessed a bit about what what these workers live through; a system of debt and unbelievable working conditions. Prana has decided to take a stand against these exploitative institutions and we can only hope that other brands will will follow their lead.

The products are as sexy as the folks who wear them; below are two Dahlia Skirts from the line which display intelligence, social consciousness, and activity. Apparel doesn’t get sexier than this.



prana dahlia fair trade


Merrell – AllOut Blaze
Merell’s AllOut Blaze was designed for younger folks; peeps like us who don’t want to give up the lightness of a trail runner, but need a little more support when in aggressive terrain. It’s for folks who prefer one shoe that performs well in multiple environments, rather than having a multitude of different shoes. As a bonus – here’s a nice little video preview. 

Kavu – The Wyatt Shirt
The reality of our generation is that there are a lot of brands that used to be cool, that we no longer see as being that cool. Newer more relevant brands have stepped into that space and Kavu is one of those – hot among active youth and seen on flat bills and handbags everywhere. The Wyatt Shirt is a reflection of that – off centered plaid design, half and half polyester and cotton for maximum comfort, and a standup collar in case you need to dress up – without actually dressing up.
kavu wyatt shirt

Oliberté’s Entire Line

Tal Dehtiar started Oliberte in 2011. By 2025, he wants to create one million fair and sustainable jobs…in Africa. That’s quite the ambition, given that 60 percent of his workforce are women and everyone in his operation are treated with equality and respect. Dehtiar is on a mission to support worker’s rights, as well as changing the negative perceptions of Africa, and he’s doing that by producing a damn good product. The shoes are completely handmade in Africa, right down to the hundreds of stitches per shoe.



oliberte shoes




Retro is here, but it seems that many outdoor brands have missed the memo. The folks at Hi-Tec on the other hand resurrected their first pair of shoes from 1978. Hi-Tec started with a specialized shoe for a sport called Squash  (see – now that’s retro) and 40 years later, they’ve brought back the Sierra Lite. With a suede and high performance mesh upper, along with Multi-Directional Traction and a rugged rubber outsole, you’ll know your shoe doesn’t just look awesome, but will perform awesome.



hi-tec shoes



NEMO Equipment’s Galaxi 2P
Not every camper needs, or even wants, the lightest, most innovative tent, that weighs less than your shoes and integrates hiking poles into the frame (although NEMO has one of those). Infact, it’s probably not that far from accurate to say that the vast majority of young campers prefer simplicity-of-setup versus the (sometimes gimmicky) benefits of an ultralight/ultra-expensive tent. Yes – the thousand dollar sub 2 pound tents are sexy, and yes, they sweep up awards from big magazines, but who in our generation actually has the money to buy that stuff? That’s why NEMO responded by offering what seems to be the world’s easiest-to-set-up tent at a very reasonable pricepoint ($249.95). It’s designed to be as intuitive and hassle free as possible; a one-piece tent pole (even the poles are connected) that snaps to the tent with little plastic snaps, and magnets that hold the door open. The green or earth colored ripstop nylon fly’s will keep you dry and pockets at the roof of the tent will keep your activities well-lit. At under 5 lbs (which is still really light) what else do you really need in a tent?

 nemo tent

Thule Roundtrip Elite
You spent all summer working in a bike shop, only to find that there’s no way to transport your bike for the upcoming fall semester. Or, you can pick up what is essentially a bike-suitcase, and take your wheels on the plane. The Roundtrip Elite allows you to check your bike and pick it up in one piece. The ABS plastic on the outside and aluminum rails with mounting brackets on the inside, will ensure your bike doesn’t sustain any damage during the flight. Then when you’ve finally made it to your room, you can use the Bike Stand to prop your bike up for repairs.

thule bike

Gramicci Joplin Quilted Cloth Overalls and Bella Organic Cotton Shirt 
These overalls look like an heirloom quilt sewn into a pair of old-school Osh Kosh’s. That’s rad. The inspiration for the design comes from vintage quilted blankets in India (also rad), but that’s not why we selected this piece. We selected this piece because of the potential that they have introduced to what is traditionally, a really large piece of workwear. See, overalls give an artist a lot of space for creativity because essentially, there’s no break from the top and bottom. It’s like a really large canvas that is big enough for some next-level creativity. This print is a start – but with a canvas that doesn’t stop from head to toe (ok, shoulder to ankle), we hope to see some more interesting overall designs in the future.

The shirt underneath is made of organic cotton, which is also significant given that conventional cotton makes up about 20% of  the world’s crops, yet it consumes 80% of the world’s pesticides. Cotton is one of the world’s most unsustainable crops as it also consumes about 2.6% of the world’s water usage (which all gets contaminated with pesticides). One estimate says that it requires about 2000 Liters of water for one t-shirt! And while organic cotton is just as thirsty, the water doesn’t end up contaminated with pesticides, making it safe to be reintroduced into the water cycle. I probably won’t be wearing these overalls anytime soon (I’m a guy), but if I saw someone wearing them, I’d give them a thumbs up for their good taste and environmental awareness.


Gregory Packs – Active Trail
If you’re familiar with the brand at all, you’ll know that Gregory is known for their emphasis on getting the right fit in a pack. Their new Active Trail line is a good example of this as they are designed to stay comfortable during runs and races. The Miwok (male) and Maya (female) packs are built great for day hikes, and there’s also a 34 and 32 liter option (respectively) for lightweight hikers looking for a durable pack to get them to the end of the trail. You can pick them up or get them online this upcoming spring.





The American Mountain Co.
What founders Brad and Chad were seeing in the outdoor industry is that most hard shells looked the same. What they now bring to the table as The American Mountain Co. is stylish gear that fits and looks as good as it performs. The hard shell jackets and pants are all infused with technology called c-change, which opens up the fabric to breathe better in warmer activity, and closes when the weather is cold.  Constructed entirely in America with the signature of the person who put it all together on each piece of gear, you’ll know that quality is not something they’re lacking in. Better yet, all of their products are guaranteed for life – your life.




American Mountain Co




Kokatat UPF Shirt
The Kokatat UPF shirt is the first paddler specific UPF summer shirt. Many others have features that are great for everyone that doesn’t paddle, such as the venting slit runs across the small of your back, which is about the worst place to put it if you’re wearing a PFD. The folks at Kokatat made this shirt for paddlers, because that’s who they are too. The beauty of a shirt like this is that you can wear it fly fishing, but it’s uncomfortable to wear a fly fishing shirt under a PFD. Cinch the drawstring at the bottom so the shirt doesn’t ride up above your PFD.





CamelBak – Arête

This pack is a 2-1 product: a water reservoir for larger packs, and then a summit pack for that last push to the top. This is the first pack that can change from a summit pack into a reservoir (so far at least). It’s new for 2014, and will retail around $65.





Mountainsmith’s Deluxe Cooler Cube
This little pack is great for lugging around food and drink that needs to stay warm/cold until you get to your destination. It can stand on its own with a built in kickstand, and can be combined with two more to fit into their modular system so you can pack for a family. We like this cooler because of its flexibility and also, it’s not make of hard plastic that is hard to pack down when not being used. And plus it has a bottle holder and opener – what’s not to love about it?


Fjällräven – G-1000 HeavyDuty and Greenland Wax
You know that feeling when you find the best piece of gear? You know, that awesome backpack you take everywhere. Or, a jacket that looks good no matter where you are? But then you have to retire it simply because the fabric starts to wear out. With the new G-1000 HeavyDuty material, you can re-wax your favorite jacket for the wintertime when it needs more weatherproofing, and wash it out in the Spring for a lighter weight jacket.





Forsake started two years ago when the founder, Jake, realized something. Being a ski-bum for a few months, he saw that he and most of his buddies there would walk around the ski parks wearing their favorite skate shoes, not brands like Merrell or Timberland. The thing is, most skate shoes don’t have the weather resistant technology that would be in a what would be seen as a normal outdoorsy shoe; so he went a different route. He decided to make a shoe that would look cool at the bar or at the slopes. With a gusseted tongue, non-wicking leather and suede, you get a nice weather resistant shoe without having to clomp around in large winter boots. Three new models are being released next spring, so be on the lookout.



The Thurston Camel - Ledge



Ultimate Direction – Jenny Collection

Thus far in the ultra running gear selection it has been mainly a unisex choice. However, as well all know (I hope), men and women are built quite differently, so the packs that are available don’t fit all the female runners. So Jenny, Scott Jurek’s wife, decided that she and other women runners would design a line that would be comfortable for women – and the Jenny Collection was born. The bottles on the front of the Ultravesta are smaller at 10 oz to allow for breasts, and the buckles can slide up or down depending on what’s most comfortable for each woman. The fabric on the new pack has been upgraded from the standard xmesh on their other vests which will allow for a nicer ride with less chafing. The back of the vest still allows for a 70 oz water bladder depending on how much they’ll need on a run. In all, a very nice addition to ultra running gear.





Kahuna Creations
What started as just a father and son making boards out of their garage has now started to take longboarding in a new direction – paddles. As a skater for most of his life, Cory – the son – was noticing that his knees were starting to hurt while boarding. He saw a SUP, and then the wheels started turning. The Kahuna Stick was created soon thereafter, and now you can get a great workout while experimenting with a new style of shredding that sweet gnar.







Brunton – Reactor

If you’re like me then you’ve noticed the surge of portable solar power devices that have come out the past few years. Brunton has now introduced something different to the portable power world; a device that can power up your electronics via a hydrogen core. Each core has enough juice to power up your phone about five or six times, and when they run out you can recharge the cores with the Hydrolyser refill station (which is sold separately) that uses water to generate the hydrogen power. If you’d rather, participating retailers will be able to recharge and exchange your cores, kinda like a propane tank. Awesome, right? Expect the price to be around $150 when it comes out with extra cartridges around $8.

KEEN Class 5
Keen has spent the last decade leading the development of sport sandals, which is what led the development of the Class 5. The Class 5 sandal is designed for professional river guides and the like, who spend a lot of time in the water. The shoe has a lightweight, quick drying microfiber upper (helping them come in at less than half a pound), and adjusts around the foot with a bunjee cord tightener. We liked this shoe because of the price point ($80) but also because, unlike traditional sandals, it’s designed to protect your feet from the elements while submerged. The midsole is made of polyurathane, which lasts longer and is tougher than EVA, particularly when used underwater, the upper tightens to your foot to prevent rocks from slipping between your sole and the midsole (ouch!), and of course, they have Keen’s signature toe-cap in case you kick a boulder while wading in the shallows.

keen class 5


Five Ten
The brand of the brave just got  braver by stating that their new rubber sole is a game changer… Although it looks like they’re right. The new sticky bottoms that will be going on shoes like the new Team VXI was developed for the movie Mission Impossible 4 when they were asked to come up with something that could grip on glass. The rubber will also be incorporated into some of their other products as well.







By James Kennedy and Yoon Kim