More than 1,000 brands and 20,000 attendees: The twice-annual Outdoor Retailer trade show, held last week in Salt Lake City, offered a peek at the future of gear. The Gear Junkie roamed the trade show for three days. Here are a few items that caught my eye.
• Smart Light – Look at a cliff face above a hiking trail. Your headlamp illuminates the rock with a 300-lumen beam. Now, glance at your map; notice as the headlamp beam instantly tones down to adjust for a close view.
That is the reality of the NAO from Petzl, a self-adjusting light that uses optical sensors and a tiny computer processor built in to assess what you’re looking at, how far away it is, and then to change its output accordingly from 8 lumens to 355 lumens in a literal blink.
Available in mid-2012 for $175.
• Avalanche Vest – This teched-out ski vest from The North Face costs $1,300, but in an avalanche it could save your life.
The ABS Powder Guide Vest, which will ship in mid- 2012, is the first apparel piece with an ABS avalanche airbag inside. Compressed nitrogen canisters sit in pockets and are ready at the pull of a rip-cord to inflate a pair of high-volume bags made to help a snow-goer survive in an avalanche slide.
• “Green” Generator – Made to be charged with solar panels and to store enough energy to power things like refrigerators and computers plugged in for days straight, the YETI 1250 from Goal Zero is a gas-generator killer. The company calls it a “complete solution for those looking for an alternate to a conventional gas-powered backup.”
Downsides? It weighs a staggering 103 pounds and will cost $1,499.99 when it comes to market in May.
• Swiss Cheese Coat – Built like a sleek windbreaker for outdoor activities, the H2 Flow jacket from Helly Hansen has a thin rip-stop face and a hidden internal layer of fleece. The fleece is drilled out with dozens of holes that trap heat in their big empty spaces.
Too warm? Open the vertical vent zippers on the front of the coat and let the air flow – Helly touts the Swiss cheese holes alternatively function to cool a wearer by letting air move freely through.
To be released in a men’s and women’s version by midyear for $175. On the net: gearjunkie.com.