By Steve Woodfield
Though the hiking and camping season may be over for the season, now is the perfect time to plan ahead for next year and take advantage of great discounts on the best gear of 2013. Whether you’re a hardcore adventurer or weekend hiker, having great gear is key for experiencing an enjoyable and safe time in the wilderness. Direct from the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show, here is a list of gear that features standout style, invention, creativity, and pure cool.
Adidas Terrex Solo
The brand with the three stripes acquired Five.Ten, a climbing and cycling-shoe label, about a year ago. That deal is now paying dividends with this new approach shoe, which uses Five.Ten’s sticky outsole rubber—a proprietary material called Stealth, which flat-pedal mountain bikers discovered a few years back and climbers have flocked to for decades because it is exceptionally grippy and wears quite well. The Adidas Terrex Solo is meant for light hikers who really need extra traction for rock scrambles; should help Stealth reach a wider audience.
The North Face Thermoball Fall Zip Jacket
Down insulation has two chief limitations: It has to be treated in some secondary process to be reasonably water-resistant, and apparel makers have little control over how the geese that provide the down are treated. The North Face’s answer was to work with insulation maker Primaloft on synthetic balls of insulation that have high insulation value and low weight; the resulting Thermoball has a claimed warmth factor of 600-fill down, while being highly compressible, more water-resistant, and far cheaper than a comparable down piece.
The North Face 950 Pro Down Supernatural Jacket
Although synthetic down is now available, nothing synthetic can match the warmth-to-weight ratio of 950-fill down. So The North Face is also working on new water-resistant down products. The company claims its process keeps the down free from moisture 17 times longer than do untreated feathers. This jacket is made of Pertex II, which itself is water-resistant and lightly wind-resistant as well.
Boreas Packs Bootlegger
Sometimes there’s a simple breakthrough so cool you wonder how it didn’t exist before. Boreas came up with a rather brilliant idea for a three-in-one pack that shares a single frame but makes it possible to interchange bags for different applications. A large 30-liter dry bag is ideal for anything from a day hike to a day playing at the beach; a lighter 28-liter bag features organizer pockets and is configured for commuting; and a smaller 13-liter bag and is focused as a super minimalist fast-hike/mountain-bike hydration unit. Each of the bags quickly plugs into the same stainless-steel and aluminum-framed harness. The entire system weighs less than 4 pounds.
Timberland Pro Series Boots
It’s time to move beyond the classic steel-toed boot. Steel is tough, but it’s heavy and gets too cold if you work in a cold environment. Timberland’s line of work boots now includes lighter aluminum or even carbon-fiber boxes for toe protection.
Timberland Pro Series Wellilngton
If you’ve ever tried to pull on a tall cowhide boot by a silly little rear pull-tab, you have seen true frustration. Timberland puts two stout grab handles on the sides of its Wellington and rivets the rear to prevent potential wear.
Wild Things Apparel Custom Insulight Jacket
Americans of a certain tax bracket are accustomed to bespoke clothing. But tailored outdoor gear, made right here in the U.S.? Wild Things is doing just that. Buyers can choose from a range of insulation levels, how much stretch you want, more or less breathability, more or fewer pockets, color, whether to have a hood, and so on. It’s sort of like walking into an outdoor store and taking a pair of scissors to a dozen different jackets, then restitching the parts into the jacket you really want.
Nemo Equipment Spoon Series Sleeping Bag
Nemo Equipment is one of a handful of companies really looking at the way people recreate, and re-creating the typical lines of outdoor offerings. Its Spoon bags aren’t mummies because, well, not everyone sleeps well when swaddled like a Tootsie Roll in its wrapper. The Spoon caters to side sleepers, who sleep best in a fetal position, by being wider at the knees (so you can easily roll over within the bag), but tapered toward the top and bottom. Weights manage to stay within a reasonable range for backpacking—just 2.5 pounds for a 30-degree down model.
Jansport Klamath Duffelpack
The Outdoor Retailer Show is crammed with luggage. But affordable luggage? Not so much. Jansport, better known for making kids’ backpacks, is actually an expedition-level outfitter, and one that cares about cost, too. This clever duffel, which comes in 40- and 60-liter sizes, converts from a backpack to an over-shoulder duffel and back again, making it ideal for travel. The pack straps tuck away simply and easily, so the next menacing airport conveyer belt or ornery baggage handler won’t destroy them.
Fenix HL-10 Headlamp/Flashlight Torch Combo
Can’t decide between a headlamp and a handheld flashlight? The 70-lumen HL-10 is both in one. The torch rotates easily within its headlamp berth, then quickly removes from the casing so it can be used handheld. It weighs 1.6 ounces, uses one AAA battery, and runs for 30 hours on its lowest setting.