Outdoor Retailer Trade Show – Summer — Shoes, Ski Boots, More


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | August 1, 2013      
Salewa Escape and Ramble combine comfort and style, and performance.

Salewa Escape (right) and Ramble combine comfort and style -- performance. Kevlar mesh under-sole allows breathability under your feet. Honestly, slip 'em on and feel the breeze. I'm not much of a footwear reviewer type guy, but these are on the list.

“Aw buckaroos, it’s time to slide one by you once more…” Yeah, here we are again amidst the hype and glory of GEAR. Overall impression: Outdoor industry as viable as ever, though I heard two undercurrents today that perked my ears.

First, someone was talking about a project to predict the outdoor recreator of 2030 — or at least the one that’ll keep all these gear makers and retailers afloat. All I could think is he or she would have a GPS implanted in a skull socket and have to pick between human power and anti-gravity. But I’ve been wrong before.

Another undercurrent: “We’re not making as much stuff for the military as we used to.” Hmmm, one has to wonder what part of that rampant outdoor industry growth was due to war? Painful.

On to the gear; a few highlights.

I was taken by the Salewa footwear, mainly their Escape and Ramble model shoes incorporating a new Gore-Tex system that places breathable mesh _under_ your foot that can exit heat and water vapor through vents in the sole. For those of us who always seem to have feet too hot; the ticket. Apparently we’ll be eventually seeing this Gore system on lots of shoes, but Salewa is one of the first. I’m looking forward to the review, perhaps with testing on a jet flight to Munich?

Salewa website.

It appears this will be the La Sportiva Spectre sold next winter, beefed just enough to keep it light but still stiff. Very high tech, state-of-art for the Italian ski boot crafters.

It appears this will be the La Sportiva Spectre sold next winter, beefed just enough to keep it light but still stiff. Very high tech, state-of-art for the Italian ski boot crafters. Red lines show areas that are beefed with more plastic or rivets.

Continuing on the footwear trail, I stopped by La Sportiva to check out what they’ve done with their Spectre “4 buckle” backcountry ski boot effort. Early incarnations of this shoe didn’t have the stiffness to match up with the current 4 buckle standard we’ve come to expect. Sportiva agreed, and put what appears to be major effort into keeping Spectre light at 1,427 grams per boot, only 32 grams heavier than the previous sample. Word is they “threw away the molds and started over.” That’s probably more a figure of speech than reality, but I’ll bet they did some major carving and otherwise modding on the existing molds. The cuff has visible beef, the tongue does not have a V cut in front of your shin, and areas that bulged during carpet testing have been thickened. I have high hopes for this boot. It is indeed light, stiff, and even has the buckles mounted where they won’t catch on rocks and ice when you’re doing the alpine polka.

La Sportiva website

Spectre tongue used to have a V notch in front of your shin. Eliminating that one thing is said to have stiffened things considerably.

Spectre tongue used to have a V notch in front of your shin. Eliminating that one 'feature' is said to have stiffened things considerably. Our take is this boot will easily combine easy walking and excellent downhill performance, with a last that's hopefully different enough from other brands to provide another fit option.

Text Anywhere is an Iridium box coupled with a smartphone app. Looks simple and effective.

Text Anywhere is an Iridium box coupled with a smartphone app. Looks simple and effective, and of course gives you the total global coverage of Iridium..

I’ve been on the technology walkabout as well. We’re always looking for new communication devices that you’d consider for backcountry skiing. A while back, Iridium came up with a “black box” that provides and internet hotspot of sorts. “Texting Anywhere” appears to have re-branded the Iridium box and coupled it with a smartphone app, thus yielding a nifty texter that works anywhere on the globe quite intuitively. From what I saw, this thing is easy to set up and use, and somewhat different than other solutions.

Cost for the Text Anywhere “box” looks like it’ll be around $399.00 (typically expensive Iridium gear), with monthly subscription around $29. Downsides: the box is bulky and requires a smartphone that’s batteried up. This rig is too bulky and massive for hardcore lightweight alpinism, but would work well for basecamp. Considering the facts that you cannot text from a Globalstar/Spot satphone, and that texting from an Iridium phone is incredibly lame, at half the cost of an Iridium phone the Text Anywhere could be a solution.

(Latest incarnation of SPOT is still the most compact emergency locator option, but of course it won’t two-way text — in my opinion a huge downside.)

Text Anywhere website

Check this out, the 'dog gun' works with sound. No more pepper or ammonia blowback.

Check this out, the 'dog gun' works with sound. No more pepper or ammonia blowback. But the question remains, does it work on bears? Or aggressive panhandlers? Testing shall commence.

Website for Canine Warning Device.

I’m of course all over the GPS stuff. As predicted, the Garmin booth was looking rather deserted due to smartphones taking over the GPS market in the same way they’ve decimated the camera business. Garmin’s stopgap solution is odd. The recently went public with their Monterra GPS that’s essentially a weather-proof Android smartphone that doesn’t work as a phone. Really, just plain weird. They need a reality check. Buy a used Android phone on Ebay, stick it in a waterproof case, and you essentially have the same thing only cheaper. Smartphone battery life is of course the issue — but Monterra is only rated at 16 hours, not impressive. It’ll be interesting to watch the market decide.

Garmin website

Garmin Monterra is nothing less than odd. An Android phone that isn't a phone.

Garmin Monterra is nothing less than odd. An Android phone that isn't a phone.

Another big stop for me was Trimble. I got to meet with their app developer. He and his associates appeared very responsive to some feedback about their app. Yes readers, they “charge for maps” so they’d better be giving us something beyond the “free” or semi-free GPS apps breeding like rabbits. I have a number of somewhat minor issues with the Trimble “Navigator” app, things like showing a decent compass on their map screen, and having a more intuitive way of downloading maps tiles for offline use (when you’re in the real backcountry). It’ll be fun to see if those items get reworked.

Trimble website

In all, it’s fun to be in the city for a few days — but Wildsnow field HQ is reaching out to me — siren call of the mountain seductress.



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Comments

8 Responses to “Outdoor Retailer Trade Show – Summer — Shoes, Ski Boots, More”

  1. lou August 1st, 2013 10:06 am

    La Sportiva boot ls Spectre not Spitfire, sorry…

  2. Lisa August 1st, 2013 10:16 am

    Readers, I corrected the boot’s name to Spectre.

  3. Clyde August 1st, 2013 10:25 pm

    Be sure to visit Trimble in the tents.

  4. Jimmy August 2nd, 2013 8:30 am

    Jerry Jeff Walker

  5. Mark Worley August 2nd, 2013 8:41 am

    Spectre looks amazing, one to look for in the near future. Salewa makes some nice mountain shoes and boots. Been eyeing several models at the shop where I work. Have to agree on the phone that’s not actually a phone but a fancy GPS. Not going to go to far without the phone factor.

  6. Lou August 2nd, 2013 9:13 am

    Jimmy, yeah, but fractured…

  7. Skyler Holman August 5th, 2013 11:48 am

    Can’t wait for the Spectre cause spitfire was a little too soft for me even at 130 lbs. I will miss the buckle system though, and the overall design of the spitfire.
    And Garmin…seriously?? dying market unless they rethink what people actually want. They just need to update their waterproof GPS phone case with better materials, battery, ultra powerful GPS chip, etc. Maybe add Iridium technology someday. People don’t want new devices, they want to use their smartphones with an extremely high quality GPS case for their adventures, duh!

  8. Lou Dawson August 5th, 2013 1:14 pm

    Duh, is right! I’m so sick of my pile of “devices” when my smartphone is a high powered computer that can do just about anything those other devices do. Only glitch is the crumby screens in bright ambi light, but I’ll bet that’s soon to get taken care of. App?

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