The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market kicked off today at the Salt Lake City, Utah, Salt Palace Convention Center, welcoming thousands of outdoor gear brands and just as many retail buyers, brand representatives, media and more.
Envision rows and rows of your favorite gear — from backpacks, tents, boots, gadgets, specialized equipment and MUCH more — creating a maze of flashy chaos. It’s any gear lover’s dream come true.
And it’s just the place to sniff out awesome new products for Scouters (and Scouts) to try. Here are five of the standout items I saw today. (Remember, most of these won’t be available until spring/summer 2015 unless noted.)
Click through to view my top picks.
JanSport Kalamath Backpacks (available in 55, 65 or 75)
These packs were designed by JanSport with the help of Philmont Scout Ranch rangers, who put these packs through summer treks at the base. The pack features a specialized Grid-Fit adjustable harness system (shown in image), making this a great option for growing Scouts or a troop that hopes to pass on packs from generation to generation. They can certainly take the wear and tear, too. Pricing starts at $165.
Have you ever tried to stake a tent in powdery snow? What about sand? At the end of a long day, this has tested my patience and even cost me some wind damage to a tent (after giving up on the snow stake and going to sleep). Toughstakes work with a combination of guy wire and stake that bury deep into sand or snow at an angle from your tent. Connect the contraption to your tent guy lines and the tension on the stake — due to its wide surface area — is 10-times stronger than your typical tent stake, according to the brand. Sizes range from small, medium and large; prices start at $24.99. (This item is now available.)
This was my first encounter with Nature’s Coffee Kettle (although the design isn’t brand-spanking-new) and I am vowing to never take another Starbucks Via on a backpacking trip ever again. (Blech!) The collapsable “kettle” — which folds just like a pack of dehydrated food — has a compartment at the top designed to fit pouches of fresh-ground coffee, available in varying flavors like hazelnut. Pour hot water over the pouch and your java is ready in no time. One kettle can be reused with a new pouch of coffee up to four times, helping keep your pack light and waste minimal. One pouch plus kettle weighs in at 2 oz. Plus, the coffee tastes good. The brand also sells tea, hot cocoa and soup mixes, too. $2.99 and up. (This item is now available.)
Lots of readers and fellow Scouters ask me: What’s the best way to avoid blistered feet? It starts with great socks. Enter Darn Tough. The upcoming spring/summer 2015 line adds new colors to the lineup of seamless Micro Crew socks that are blister-proof. The socks also feature updated one-way stretch which means they won’t fall down in your shoe — giving you more time to worry about your Scouts’ feet, instead of your own. $22 and up.
Osprey Packs new accessories
If you pack your backpack with stuff sacks, take a peek at how much open space you see in your pack. See a difference in the above photo? The new drysacks and organizers from Osprey’s spring/summer 2015 line are square-shaped, which means less wasted space and more room for organization. A range of colors even lets Type-A Scouters organize by hue, making it even faster to find what you’re searching for in your pack.
Stay tuned for another gear roundup after Day Two. And follow @gretchenBSA for even more updates from the show throughout the day.