Summer started in fine style for the Gear Geek this year, in large part thanks to the Outdoor Press Camp, a media event hosted in Park City, Utah’s Deer Valley Resort, where a host of outdoor and travel gear-makers flaunt their latest/greatest over four days of gear-speak, food, drink, and outdoor play. The weather was pristine—hot in the sun, cool in the shade, and chilly at night. Deer Valley lived up to its rep for high-end hospitality, as evidenced by culinary talents that proved “buffet” doesn’t have to be a bad word (especially when they used the Camp Chef’s slow-cooker). But its warmer-weather activities also demonstrated that the resort is about so much more than skiing—as in lift-service hiking and mountain biking, stand-up paddle-boarding, trail running, and…it bears repeating, lift-service hiking and biking. Here are a few highlights for what’s coming down the pike or just hit the market.
Main and lead photo by Don LaVange/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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Smith and Ryders Sunglasses
The Internet of Things has been a…thing for a few years now, and most of the products that fall into that camp typically lean heavily on data/gamification tools that cater to the Strava scene. But this October, Smith Optics offers something genuinely different. The new Lowdown Focus ($350, pictured) is dubbed the "first cognitive-training eyewear." It comes with EEG monitoring that reads brain waves to help athletes get in the right head space via a bit of guided meditation via the Smith Focus app. It will also deliver all the expected performance data, come with their image-enhancing ChromaPop lenses, and are RX compatible. Ryders Sunglasses , meanwhile, has blended together a host of tech features into their new Fyre lenses to provide impact protection, photochromatic tinting, optimal light transition, color enhancement, and some of the best anti-fogging treatment available. The new Roam shades ain't cheap at $240, but for serious active pursuits—where sunglasses qualify as necessary equipment, rather than just an accessory—they're hard to beat.
Photo by Nathan Borchelt
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Though Jack Wolfskin has been in the U.S. market for only three years, the German-based company has a pretty global worldwide following—both for their expansive suite of products as well as their environment-first stance. Their Ecosphere jacket line (which drops in spring 2018) illustrates that commitment. The hard shells are crafted entirely from manufacturing waste, using trimmings left over from other jackets. The jackets also boast the industry's first entirely recycled membrane, as well as recycled outer and inner layers. Prices start at $169.
Photo courtesy of Jack Wolfskin
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Victorinox Swiss Army
Iconic brands like Swiss Army always attract the dedicated collectors, and most of 'em will probably be eyeing the new INOX Titanium Sky High Limited Edition set ($795), which includes a watch and knife made with space in mind, and comes with a killer astronaut graphic . Or maybe they'll clamor for the limited-edition knife made in partnership with Nespresso ($55), featuring a glossy exterior crafted from recycled coffee capsules. But we dig the new line of pocket knives made in partnership with the National Park Foundation (who also received a $25K donation from Victorinox), which includes some great graphics lifted from some of the country's most iconic landscapes.
Photo by Nathan Borchelt
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Camelbak's new "Crux" reservoir has an increased tub diameter, and an adjusted angle to facilitate 20 percent more water flow from their hydration bladders, and will be integrated into all of their hydration products in spring 2018, including their newly revamped Fourteener backpack (starting at $130). This new version of an already-awesome pack uses two "wings" at the hip belt that attach to the outer section of the pack, letting you compress the entire pack to deliver a more svelte fit ideal for rock scrambling. The pack will come in 20- and 24-liter sizes, along with two models specific for women, and offers enough storage for a seriously long all-day mountain assault. The brand is also amping their efforts on running vests in 2018, and will also unveiling the Brook, a new water bottle with a threadless mouth.
Photo by Nathan Borchelt
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Equally at home in the backcountry or the next outdoor music festival, Tentsiles are best understood as outdoor jungle gym/shelter rather than just another tent. They're designed to be fully suspended off the ground, an ideal scenario in hot climates or when camping in the sand. Each comes with three straps and ratchets that let you anchor the platform from nearby trees or rocks; get a few and you can build a multi-story abode or an entire village suspended in the trees.
Photo courtesy of Tentsile
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Cocona has been in the outdoor space for a while, but they recently rebranded as 37.5 Cocona , highlighting what they describe as the optimal core temperature and humidity level for staying comfortable in unforgiving climates. The technology employs volcanic sand and coconut shell particles—as many as 10,000 active particles per skin pore—and can be integrated into a variety of fabrics, including synthetics as well as wool. They claim they can even make typically active-averse cotton almost performance-oriented. Their collaborations cover the gamut, from smarter bedding solutions and faster-drying towels to Tommy Bahamas' performance apparel and Adidas' Terrex line. Skeptical? Try out a pair of socks from Point Six (starting at $16), which uses 37.5 Cocona in many of their merino wool products.
Photo courtesy of 37.5 Technology
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Footwear from Oboz and Altra
Montana-based Oboz had already cultivated a loyal following among hikers and backpackers who prefer burly boots, and in spring 2018, they'll likely see another flood of adulation when they release the Wind River III, which boasts an asymmetrical heel cup with a natural rocker under foot to create a more natural gait. Their new Campster ($90) should also help rid the backcountry of those god-awful Crocs; the soft, light sandal/shoe hybrid comes with a legit footbed and woven canvas uppers, ideal for post-hike fireside scenarios. On the lighter side, Altra's new trail line—one of the most popular footwear brands among thru-hikers—will consist of five models, including the popular Lone Peak as well as the new, recently released King MT ($140; pictured), a shoe designed for obstacle course-racing, with aggressive treads and water drains around the footbed.
Photo courtesy of Altra
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Some parents may flinch at the notion of putting their kids right on the handlebars, while others don't understand why you'd want a kid's seat positioned so the only thing the child sees is the back of the parent doing the pedaling. Either way, Thule's new line of kid-centric cycling solutions has you covered. The Mini ($179; pictured) sits at the front of the bike, with an easy on-off and a carrying capacity of up to 33 pounds, while the Maxi attaches to a standard rear bike rack and can be used by kids up to nine years of age. Their Chariot Cross trailer ($899), however, might be the pinnacle of pedal-assisted kid-carrying solutions. This four-season trailer gets every detail right, from safety features like a legit roll bar to smart comfort tweaks like multi-point-adjustable seating. It can even be outfitted with jogging wheels or skis for cross-country ski-obsessed child rearing. Better still, the ball socket attachment means the trailer will stay upright even when the parent's bike goes down.
Photo courtesy of Thule