On the first morning of the Outdoor Retailers show, we walked a few blocks through downtown Salt Lake City to the Salt Palace Convention Center. As we approached the entrance my eyes lit up, not for OR but for the new, 1.6 billion dollar 20 acre shopping mall across the street. Nordstrom. Sale. Need I say more?
Lou caught my glance. He could feel his wallet vaporizing. Hoping to quell my shopaholic tendencies, he assigned me the task of finding new female-specific items at the show. And find them I did. Indeed, who needs a posh department store when at least one company at the OR show is owned by a genuine Nordstrom family member? I’ll give you a first look at a few interesting items. Later we’ll review in detail as test samples come in.
One of the most exciting aspects of the outdoor industry is the development of high tech fabrics and clothing construction techniques. Fabrics are lighter, more versatile and keep you comfortable in a wider temperature range. Pieces are made snug fitting or loose specific to the sweat tendencies of each gender, and fabrics are placed strategically for wicking or warmth. Air flow for cooling is enhanced by thoughtfully placed zippers. My focus for this winter’s gear testing? Probably, but then, skis can always be lighter and easier to turn. So we shall see.
Ibex wool insulated Aire
Available fall 2012, the Aire WI jacket from Ibex is a puff jacket insulated with wool. Because of the excellent performance of wool, the warmth to weight ratio is comparable to down and synthetic insulation. The loft integrity of wool is said to be superior to down and synthetic insulation due to a cornstarch derivative that acts as a binding agent to the wool. It’s an elegant, lightweight number with slightly more insulation in the chest (Lou appreciates any increase) and back compared to the arms. Available with or without the hood, it also features shell material of tough, 100% recycled ripstop nylon, hand warmer pockets, and inside mesh pocket which also serves as a stuff sack for the jacket. The DWR coated outer shell will repel light moisture. It will be interesting to test how fast it dries if the wool filling gets wet.
Torque by Outdoor Research
Despite the sluggish economy, the outdoor industry continues to thrive. Outdoor Research’s (yep, they’re owned by Dan Nordstrom) Spring 2013 apparel line will grow 42 percent over last year, with a continued expansion of women’s specific products in all categories. The piece that caught my eye was the new Torque top. It’s part of the HighEx Collection developed for endurance athletes. Polartex Power Dry fabric blends polyester yarns on the outside with polypro construction on the inside for exceptional moisture transfer and quick drying. Foldover cuffs on the long sleeves offer a light mitt for your hands which tucks away nicely when not in use. I wore my sample on three long bike rides and I stayed comfortable despite sizzling weather. My arms were protected from the sun by the UPF 15 fabric, and I noticed that the Polygiene Active Odor Control must be working when I stood in a cramped sandwich shop and no one cringed.
Monterosa by Julbo
I’ve never been too excited about glacier glasses until I saw the stylish ones by Julbo. The women’s Monterosa has removeable sun shields for those days when you go from mountains to Macys. This spring they’ll be available in a fetching hue of lavender. In the meantime, I’ll be testing a classy black pair this winter with powder blue shields. The polarized and photochromatic lens will make them suitable for a wide range of conditions.
You never know what to expect at the OR show, but I’ve learned to be prepared. With a bright, new pedicure, I was not at all mortified when Bob Egeland sat me down and whipped off my shoes. My toenails were freshly polished and like a row of tiny apples, they were clean and shining. Bob, however, was not impressed as he looked at my calluses and an old blister from a long day skiing with ill fitting liners. Better insoles would help and he promptly turned on his grinder and molded a pair for my boots. Familiar with the Dynafit last, he narrowed the heel of the insole and offered to punch out the thin Grilamid plastic of my TLT’s with a blow torch if I’d visit him in Boulder (amazing the offers a girl gets from the backcountry crowd). He suggested the most effective option: custom foot beds. I agreed to give him a call after the show. More on that when it happens.
Lastly, since I come from a family of Macgyvers who can jump start a truck with a pine cone, here’s a nifty gadget that’s good for the environment:
CrunchIt by Jetboil
That just touches the surface of the cool things I found. More as test samples come in.