Basin & Range Mag editors choose their favorite pieces of gear from the 2017 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market
The 2017 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show just came and went through Salt Lake City, Utah this month. Outdoor Retailer Winter Market is like a snow-themed gear climax – the entire showroom floor is stocked full of amazing brands and their amazing gear. Each year the show is punctuated by a few significant milestones in the overall progression of outdoor gear as well as dozens of other notable and interesting smaller improvements. We also wanted to “keep it local” by keeping an eye out for all the manufactures that come from the US’s 13 western states. With all the great gear out there, narrowing down our favorites to 4 “must-see” pieces of gear can feel impossible: as soon as we claim some favorites, you turn the corner and… well, more new cool stuff! But we managed to accomplish the goal and bring you this list of gear we can’t wait to put to on the mountain next winter…
Smith Quantum Helmet ($300)
Smith (Sun Valley, Idaho) has been making top-notch outdoor optical wear ever since 1965. Their performance helmets however have made most of their headlines despite how young the company is at it. The Quantum improves on this new tradition of innovation and super high quality. Like its’ predecessor the Vantage, the Quantum is built around Smith’s Koroyd honeycomb polymer interior. Koroyd is Smith’s way of providing protection without adding unnecessary weight.
In addition to borrowing on some tried and true tech, the helmet also received some big upgrades over the Vantage, including a comfortable plush liner and two-tone panels on the shell made of harder plastic that add protection and add some style. Smith also incorporated the Boa cinch system to ensure a custom fit, while a magnetic buckle on the chinstrap clasps and unclasps easily with one gloved hand. 22 vents efficiently evacuate heat when the day begins to warm up. Kudos to Smith for elevating a great design into a near perfect one. Find out more here: http://www.smithoptics.com/
Crescent Moon Eva All-Foam Snowshoe ($149)
Crescent Moon Snowshoes (Boulder, Colorado) have spent the past ~20 years working towards snowshoe perfection – building a reputation for smart designs, quality, craftsmanship and a friendly personal touch. But thanks to this debut at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, they now they can chalk up ‘disrupter’ to their list of achievements with their Eva All-Foam Snowshoe. The company touts it as the love child of an Adidas running shoe and a Blizzak snow tire. The body is made from dual-density EVA foam – like the stuff in running shoe midsoles, while the outsole uses a rougher composite for spikes to add traction on snow and ice. The 1.4-pound snowshoe’s foam keeps things super light while maintaining a flexible, cushioned, and agile feel. The rocker shape of the footbed also allows Crescent Moon to ditch usual hinge, removing parts that otherwise are subject to fail or get iced up. Find out more: http://www.crescentmoonsnowshoes.com/
Mountain Hub/Avatech Scope Poles ($499) + Mountain Hub app (free)
(Park City, Utah) Technology’s influence on the outdoor experience has so far been directed at curating lists of favorite outdoor spots or making social connections, but Mountain Hub (formerly known as Avatech) has taken it another level up. Mountain Hub/Avatech’s new Scope Poles made for one of the most interesting product release at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. The pole telescopes into a probe with a sensor that measures the hardness of snow layers at various depths and sends its readings to the skier’s phone. Avatech stresses that the sensor should supplement — not replace — snow pits for a firsthand view of the snow layers. The Scope Poles are best used to confirm snow-pit findings and avalanche forecasts with a quick plunge of the stick adding to the available data in backcountry decision-making. The readings transmit to the Mountain Hub app, which collects and maps from multiple users not just sensor readings, but also written reports, video and photos from trips. The Mountain Hub app originated as a winter reporting app, but users can now add information about routes and trail conditions for hiking and mountain biking in summer. Together, they’re a powerful combo in attempting to make backcountry winter travel safer for adventurists. Find out more: http://mountainhub.com/
GoTenna Mesh ($200)
Speaking of backcountry safety… The original GoTenna was a smart and innovative way to solve the problem of cellphone’s notoriously limited range in remote areas. The first GoTenna allowed for text messaging without cell service, but because it used VHF (Very High Frequency) to perform the task, it had some limitations in mountainous terrain. The second generation (to be released in 2017) will operate in the ultra high frequency (UHF) range of the spectrum. The real key upgrade in the GoTenna Mesh, as the name suggests, is the ability to work in a mesh network, which means that other GoTennas – even those not a part of your group – can act as a relay for your messages. This improves GoTenna’s effective range from maybe five miles to upwards of ten. It’s also smaller than the VHF model as well as waterproof… two more pluses. Find out more: http://www.gotenna.com/pages/mesh
That wraps up our super-favorites from the 2017 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show from Salt Lake City. Let us know if you had any favorites or if you want us to keep an eye out for other things next time!