This year’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market proved to be yet another landmark year for outdoor gear. Thankfully (and not surprisingly), backpacking and travel gear continues to get lighter, more compact, and more portable. In short: just plain smarter.
Here, we round up our top picks for this year’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013 Best in Show.
Eagle’s Nest Outfitters DoubleNest in Combination with Vulcan Underquilt, Blaze UnderQuilt, Ignitor TopQuilt and HouseFly Tarp
It sounds like a lot, but when compared to a four season tent and sleeping bag, this four season hammock system can save you a bundle on cost as well as weight and bulk. Think about that for a second — a four season hammock that packs down to a fraction of the size of a tent and sleeping bag combo. Traditionally, hammocks and cold weather have had a hard time getting along, but ENO figured out a way to combine a hammock with a sleeping bag two like peas in a pod.
The Blaze UnderQuilt is a 35 degree layer of duck down that goes under your hammock so cold air can’t bite you in the ass. The TopQuilt goes over the top so you’re completely wrapped in duck down. Combine with a fly that attaches to the ground to keep out wind and suddenly you have a four season hammock.
NEMO Equipment Muse Duvet Comforter and Cover
One of the hardest parts about traveling is leaving behind your family and your bed. While you can’t always take your loved ones, you can now take your bed — or at least part of it. The Muse Duvet cover and comforter is an ultra-lightweight, easily packable down comforter and duvet set that can be used in the home as well as in the backcountry.
The duvet cover features a studded insulation layer (similar to the Patagonia R1 insulation) adding an element of warmth and breathability, while the 800-fill power comforter insert has large buttons so that it can attach itself to the cover. After a trip, just remove the cover and use the down comforter by itself, or put on the duvet cover you use at home. You can now travel with the comforts of your own bed.
Pacsafe Toursafe 29″ Luggage
Most people think their luggage is safe after it’s been checked, but the reality is luggage in transit is a hot target for theft. In fact, nearly 26 million bags go missing, mishandled, or are stolen from each year. In one instance, JFK airport reported 200 checked luggage thefts per day!
That’s why Pacsafe invented the new Toursafe series with ToughZip zippers, which prevents thieves from poking into your belongings. The eXomesh construction supplies an extra layer of protection in case someone wants to slash your bag, while the TSA-approved padlocks and smart zippers are designed to deter theft in the first place. Pacsafe’s introduction into checked luggage fills a badly needed niche that is bound to be popular with international travelers.
Mountain Khakis Canyon Stretch Cords
There are some things in the world that can only truly be appreciated after being tried/worn/used, etc. The Mountain Khakis Stretch Cords falls into this category. These corduroy pants have the style and look of classy pants, but feel like sweatpants. It is very possible that these are the most comfortable pants ever made.
(Personal side note — I haven’t taken these off since receiving them at Outdoor Retailer. I wear them on my way to the SIA tradeshow, to my business meetings, and even to bed. To say it one way, I am less comfortable in the nude than with these pants on — and that’s saying something.)
Crescent Moon Rocket Carbon Fiber Snowshoes
Each Rocket weighs 1.1 pounds making them easily one of the lighter running snowshoes on the market. The bindings are easily detachable and running shoes can be screwed on directly by puncturing through the shoe onto the snowshoe. What’s more is that these snowshoes can attach to the SPD clips on the bottom of your bike shoes, making them usable year round.
In terms of technology, Crescent Moon features a third crampon under the toes for additional grip support (think of an ice climbing crampon — what good would they be if the crampons didn’t extend to the toe?) as well as the two traditional crampon cleats under the sold and heel. Best of all, getting your shoe into them is a breeze with the Single-pull-loop system — a single pull and the snowshoes are tight, and a single pull to loosen your shoe afterwards.
Thule Perskpectiv DayPack
Thule made a strong debut into travel and backpacks last year and is coming out even stronger into camera bags in 2013. The Perskpectiv 101 features a large top and side load compartments for two full frame DSLR’s and up to seven lenses plus cords, cables, mics, and any other important camera gear you need to haul.
The molded construction protects the insides in case you accidently drop your bag or it gets banged up. The welded seams, zippers and DWR coating seals out any camera-damaging moisture while removable and adjustable compartments let you rearrange your gear however you see fit. Considering that your camera gear is not only expensive, but holds priceless memories that can never be relived, an investment in a sturdy bag is warranted for serious and amateur photographers alike.
Goal Zero Sherpa 50 Recharger with Nomad 13 Solar Panels
There’s nothing like taking your own wall charger into a rural destination with a sketchy supply of power. The Sherpa 50 Recharger takes three hours to charge by wall and if paired with the Nomad 13 Solar Panel, it’ll take five to six hours to charge in the sun (depending on the availability of sunlight). After your Sherpa 50 Recharger is juiced up, it’ll charge a laptop once, or a tablet twice, or a phone seven times. The best part of this combo? Just recharge it in the sun.
The Tilley Mashup Hat
The only feeling better than finding money in your pocket is the feeling when you’ve repurposed trash into treasure. The Mashup Hat is essentially the leftover fibers from other Tilley garments, threaded and treated into the high quality construction that Tilley is known for. With UPF 50+ and a design that is crushable, packable, floats and repels wind, you won’t have to worry about destroying this repurposed piece — it might not be possible.
The Vagabond by Sanuk is not a new shoe by any means, but was too good to pass up for a Vagabondish Best of Show roundup. Aside from deriving a similar name, they weigh less than one ounce, are easy to slip on and off, and do wonders for your feet. They’re the perfect companion for slipping on and off at the airport while keeping your feet in a perpetual stage of bliss because of the molded EVA foot bed and AEGIS anti-microbial additive. How could a vagabond go wrong with lightweight comfy sandal-shoes that don’t stink?