Outdoor Retailer Winter 2016 Highlights: Part 1

Most industries boast a signature trade show and the massive outdoor industry is no exception – our crowning glory is the biannual Outdoor Retailer extravaganza. This mecca for the adventure-inclined boasts over 1,000 exhibitors, countless educational panels, and a bevy of beer-soaked happy hour events to keep the stoke high. Retailer buyers, outdoor journalists, and athletes attend to discover new trends, drool over cutting-edge gear, and mingle with their flannel-clad brethren. Team Modern Hiker attended the recent Winter 2016 Outdoor Retailer and came away nothing short of impressed. Here are Shawnté’s picks for “Best of Show”:


Best Backpack: Granite Gear’s Lutsen // I’ve been carting around an REI Flash for about 8 years now, and several thousand miles and endless Seam-Grip-Duct-Tape-Dental-Floss surgeries later, I have to admit that it’s a very hole-filled shell of its former self. The Lutsen (available February 2016) appears to have everything I want in my next pack: simple, adjustable, and reasonably light, but able to handle mid-range loads. Only trail time will tell, but I guarantee this pack is a strong contender to hit the PCT with me this spring. granitegear.com

Ahnu Montara Luxe

Classiest Boot: Ahnu’s Montara Luxe // A new addition to the roster for Fall/Winter 2016, this is one of those boots you might wear off-trail as much as on-trail. The cushy shearling interior and felted wool side panels add style, but the technical construction is all business. ahnu.com

Sexiest Dress: A sneak peak from Voormi’s upcoming line // While other pieces in Voormi’s collection were impressive (the fantastic Fallline Jacket stands out), I walked away with stars in my eyes after a sneak peak of some of their upcoming women’s lifestyle pieces: gorgeous phase-dyed wool cut in some seriously sexy shapes. Thing is – their smaller collections often sell out quickly once they post online, so consider signing up for the brand’s mailing list if you want to stay informed. voormi.com



Item I’d Have Bought If I Won The Lottery: Woolrich’s Pacific Crest Trail blanket // If someone wants to buy this surprisingly soft, yet unsurprisingly pricey wool blanket for me as a gift once I finish the PCT guidebook I’m working on, I’d be very grateful. Just saying. woolrich.com


Best Colorways: adidas Outdoor // I loved the subdued dusty rose and mint colors on display for the Fall/Winter 2016 collection, woven through both clothing and footwear (pictured here on the Terrex Fast R Mid GTX, a mid-cut boot taking athletic liberties) – a reminder that not all outdoor gear needs to be brown or bright. adidas.com



Most Impressive Technology: Vibram’s Arctic Grip rubber // We were first introduced to this tech at the Merrell booth, where they insisted that we had to try it ourselves to see what all the hype was about. Fast-forward to me standing, walking, jumping, and hopping on slippery, wet ice with complete and utter traction, and I became an instant convert. Wolverine brands, including Merrell and Saucony, will debut the technology across their Fall/Winter 2016 lines. vibram.com

Petzl Leopard

Best Weight-Saving Innovation: Petz’s Leopard LLF crampons  // JMT hikers, you’ll especially want to keep an eye on these during this El Niño year (sorry, PCT hikers – they don’t debut until July 2016). Full aluminum construction and Dyneema cord replaces traditional metal bars to make these the some of the most insanely light and packable traction devices on the market. petzl.com

Most Genius Innovation: Outdoor Research 3DFit Technology // Most hikers know and love Outdoor Research for their insanely popular Helium Jacket, but they’re going to be your go-to glove stop once they release this new line in Fall 2016, based on a 3D pattern instead of a flat one, so you have more dexterity while bundled up.  outdoorresearch.com

Champion Duofold

Biggest Surprise: Champion Duofold base layers // Yes – Champion. The sweatshirt people. The gym clothes people. The…technical apparel people? True story: the beloved athletic wear company partnered up with the century-old base layer company to create a line of technical clothing that we’ll be testing out soon to see if it lives up to the hype. hanes.com/champion

Best Caloric Bang-For-Your-Buck Hiking Snack: Bounce Energy Balls // These tasty discs are small and lightweight, but pack a hefty caloric punch – perfect for long-distance hikers, but also pretty damn tasty even when you’re sitting on your butt. Protip: the Coconut Macadamia flavor is divine. bouncelifestyle.com

Good To Go curry

Tastiest Backpacking Food: Good To-Go’s Thai Curry // After one spoonful, I turned to the man who handed me the sample and said that I’d like a full bowl, please. Concocted by a New York chef who left the rat race in order to dream up tasty dishes for her backpacking beau, the Good To-Go line is dehydrated, not freeze dried, and the result is that it tastes less like astronaut grub and more like real food. goodto-go.com


Click here for part two of our Winter OR roundup!


Top photo: Modern Hiker’s Casey (l) and Shawnté (m) goof off with the Outdoor Industry Association’s Katie Boué (r) at OIA’s storytelling gondola at Outdoor Retailer. 

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