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Outdoor Retailer Snow Show happened in Denver, CO at the end of January and we worked with many of the manufacturers to preview what’s coming up for 2020 in the outdoor retail space.
The Outdoor Retailer Snow Show trade show is basically a who’s who in the outdoor gear manufacturer world displaying their wares for the upcoming season/year. Per OR’s website, Outdoor Retailer is “the largest global B2B trade events serving the outdoor industry.” So yeah, it was pretty robust and exciting if you’re an outdoor sports junkie.
There’s a lot of exciting gear coming our way, particularly for winter sports. The biggest takeaways for me, however, weren’t necessarily about any one particular innovation or category. Three things really struck me:
1. Sustainability at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show
The outdoor sports category is truly leading the charge when it comes to sustainability and conservationism. And it couldn’t be more prevalent at the Outdoor Retailer – Snow Show. It makes sense since we’re on the bleeding edge of environmentalism being that our playground is being directly affected. However, we expect the emphasis to be there from large brands like Patagonia, The North Face, and others. But what was truly inspiring was all the smaller brands embracing the push as well. Across the board, brands are trying to reduce their carbon footprint. This is nothing new, but it’s nice to see such a collective movement, both large and small.
2. Crossover Apparel at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show
Brands are working hard to bridge the gap between their technical and lifestyle categories. We’re starting to see a lot of cross-over as more and more consumers are utilized technical gear in their everyday lives. Many of the larger brands are recognizing this and letting some of their technical prowess trickles down into their lifestyle pieces, particularly in clothing. I saw a lot of highly technical fabrics being used in everyday pieces that one might wear to the office on a weekday and then take out into the mountains on the weekend. The name of the game here is versatility. The goal for some of them is to do away with the ‘gear closet’ and the ‘wardrobe closet’ and have it all blend together in one water-repellent, breathable mash-up of gear and clothing. Pretty cool if you’re already bursting at the seams with your current gear and clothing stash.
3. Women Steal the Show at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show
There’s a big push coming in 2020 for women. The world of outdoor sports will no longer be a men-first endeavor as women are doing more and their voice is certainly being heard by manufacturers. Several brands made it clear that the female category is their growth-leader and they’re poised to deliver on that.
That being said, let’s take a look at some of the cool things coming up this year…and beyond.
Osprey is a brand known for packs and travel gear, and they truly produce some of the nicest gear in the category.
New for 2020 is an updated line of their travel bags/packs in their “Transporter” series. Updated materials, colors and tweaks to functionality lead the charge here. Osprey is really doing a great job evolving their design language and making their packs straddle the line between travel and urban.
New for 2020 at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show is the Soelden/Sopris line of backcountry ski/snowboard packs. These are highly technical packs geared toward the full-send crowd. Designed to work dynamically with your body as you move through the backcountry, the packs are meant to not only carry your gear but extend your useful range of fun in the pow. Available with a 4 season hydration kit.
The pro versions of the packs incorporate an Avalanche Airbag system. Very cool stuff if you’re planning on pushing the limits of the backcountry. The electronic system itself is rather ingenious in that it’s non-hazardous and travel-friendly…meaning you can fly with it. Really cool stuff from a safety standpoint.
The Daylite series is being updated with new fabrics, a more modern, clean aesthetic and updated colors and fabrics. Although just as technically capable as in the past, the new look is much more polished and less technical looking. These bags/packs are meant to straddle the line between urban jungle, airport and light trail. Versatility and style are the name of game here.
Learn more at Osprey.com
Smartwool is a brand mostly known for its merino wool socks. As a bit of a pioneer in that space, Smartwool owned the category for a long time, but we’re starting to see an influx of merino wool apparel coming in from a wide array of manufacturers. To that end, Smartwool has expanded into baselayers, outerwear as well as lifestyle wear. They’re doing some really innovative things in body mapping and manufacturing techniques in order to stay out ahead of the rest of the field, and from the looks of what they had on display at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show, 2020 will be a big year for the brand.
Partnering with several professional athletes, Smartwool is leveraging their experience to expand their snowsport sock offering with mapped thicknesses, ventilation and color/pattern variations. Cool stuff that should help keep your tootsies happy on the slopes…and beyond.
Smartwool’s new Intraknit technology took center stage in their base layer offering. This revolutionary 3D manufacturing process allows Smartwool to develop gender-specific products with body-mapped ventilation and insulation zones that provide better fit and function, all while cutting down on waste compared to a typical cut-and-sew style of garment development. They’ve also introduced some cool new patterns and styles that, again, will help bridge the gap between technical wear and streetwear.
Learn more at Smartwool.com
GU ENERGY LABS
GU Energy Labs is one of the leaders in the energy gel/nutrition space, and if you know of them, you know their flavors are on point.
New for 2020 is the Cola Me-Happy flavor, and as you can guess, it’s cola variant, as you might expect, this particular flavor is infused with 40mg of caffeine to keep moving on that long run, ride, session, race, whatever. And yes, they’re tasty AF.
Another new entry into their 2020 lineup will be the Salted Lime GU Chews. And as the name suggests, there will be an increase in electrolytes in these bad boys for people like myself who sweat enough for 3 normal humans. With 125 mg of sodium and 400 mg of amino acids, this should help keep fatigue and cramping at bay just a bit longer.
Learn more at GuEnergy.com
DC has been a player in the snow-sports scene for a while now, and they’ve grown to be known for their boundary-pushing styles. 2020 will be no different as they’re launching new products in some truly wild colors and patterns. The images can’t do their apparel justice as this stuff needs to be seen in person. Their way of utilizing patterns, colors and fabrics is not only innovative but truly memorable. And let’s be honest, if you want to make an impression at the resort, this is the way to do it.
Learn more at DCShoes.com
We all know DJI as a leader in the drone space, and that doesn’t look to be changing in 2020. What’s noteworthy is DJI’s efforts in the education space.
The DJI Robomaster S1 is an advanced educational/programmable robot geared at kids interested in getting into coding. Inspired by DJI’s annual robotics competition, the Robomaster introduces science, math, physics, and programming through gameplay modes and intelligent features.
DJI’s notion of ‘learn by doing’ bridges the digital world with the real one, bringing abstract theories to life through practical operations. The S1 supports Scratch and Python programming languages, allowing users to experience math, physics, and AI technology in a cutting-edge and inspiring way.
I got to play with it for a few minutes and I can say it was truly a blast.
Alongside the Robomaster, the new Tello drone is aimed at the education crowd. Learning basic programming through games is at the heart of the Tello. Drone swarm programming and AI application development are also part of the Tello’s mission.
DJI appears poised to make a strong push into the autonomous programming world. Cool stuff.
Learn more at DJI.com
GoPro recently introduced the GoPro Max, and it’s a true leap forward in the action camera category. The Max gives you the ability to do a lot of different things: you can shoot traditional HERO style footage, capture truly remarkable 360-degree footage in 6k and even utilize the front-facing camera and mic to generate near studio-quality vlogs…all with what was some seriously impressive image stabilization. The in-app editing capabilities were not only intuitive but DEEP. If you need to let your inner-Spielberg out, this is the cam for it.
Learn more at GoPro.com
Arbor has always championed sustainability, but they’re making an even bigger push in 2020 with their “Forest to Forest” effort. Championing a cyclical process from harvest to restoration, Arbor is doing its part to not only make awesome snow-sports equipment but do it as stewards of the environment.
Arbor is also expanding its footwear offerings for 2020. With 4 distinct lines, (Around Town, On the Move, Off-Road and In Deep), Arbor is getting serious about extending their brand beyond snowboards and bindings. The look and feel of all their upcoming apparel are very much in line with the overall tone of their brand…very natural, in both color and materials used.
Learn more at ArborCollective.com
Salomon is a heavy-hitter in the snow-sports world, and that doesn’t look to be changing in 2020 based on their offering at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show. With new and updated pro models on the way using new polymers and coatings, Salomon’s snowboarding efforts appear poised for more success.
There appears to be a concerted push on the women’s side of the sport as well. With new pro models, boot and binding options and some new and pretty awesome color combinations, the female side of the business seems ready to make a splash in 2020.
Learn more at Salomon.com
Kask is an Italian helmet manufacturer that specializes in snow sport, cycling, and equestrian helmets. They’re known for protection in an uber-stylish manner, and that looks to be alive and well in 2020.
If you like functional bling, the Piuma line is your go-to. Integrated visors, merino wool liners, chrome-look accents, and metallic finishes are all on the menu here. Get some!
Learn more at Kask.com
Truma is a U.S.-based portable fridge/freezer manufacturer and their products need to be seen in person to get the full impact. Functional, Smart (you can control them with your phone!), efficient and durable, their portable fridge/freezers would be a legit addition to any off-grid endeavor.
Available in 36 liters, 105 liters and every size in between, there’s one for every adventure.
Learn more at Truma.net
Mystery Ranch is a serious player in the bag/pack world with a rich history in the outdoor space. Born from the ashes of Dana Design back in the 90’s, Mystery Ranch came to fruition in 2000 and has built some of the most functional and durable packs on the market. Catering to outdoor enthusiasts, military, law enforcement, and the hunting crowd, Mystery Ranch understands the needs of their target audiences while also incorporating some serious innovation along the way.
Their 3-zip design feature has evolved the way you’re able to access gear in the backcountry.
New colorways, expanded hip pack offerings and innovative fabrics are just a few things on tap for 2020.
Learn more at MysteryRanch.com
Scarpa is an Italian, family-owned, outdoor sports footwear company that’s been around since 1938. So yeah, they know their sh!t. If you’re familiar with Scarpa, you likely know they’re a major player in both the climbing and trekking footwear space. For 2020, however, they’re making a push for softer, less technical looking styles that can bridge the gap between trail and town.
New for fall 2020 is a line of fast and light mid-height boots and shoes. After handling these new shoes, I think Scarpa’s on to something with these bad boys. Aimed squarely at the space occupied by the venerable Salomon X Ultra series, Scarpa’s new offering looks like it should hold its own nicely. Lightweight, grippy with a great fit and good looks to boot, it appears they’re on the right path.
Scarpa is also softening the looks of some of their technical footwear to bridge into a more lifestyle-friendly category while still maintaining the technical functionality they’re known for.
Learn more at Scarpa.com
La Sportiva is another Italian footwear manufacturer (apparently the Italians know what they’re doing when it comes to feet) innovating in 2020. With the use of Gore Infinium, revised Boa implementation, 3-layer fit systems, revised crampon compatibility, and unique tread patterns, La Sportiva is gettin’ after it in a big way.
New offerings are on tap for the trail crowd as well. Trail runners and hikers with revised materials, colorways, lacing systems, and weight reductions all round out the offering from the trail mountaineering side of the coin.
Learn more at LaSportiva.com
HeadSweats is another manufacturer making a harder push for sustainability. Integrating Repreve recycled fibers (fibers made from recycled plastic bottles) into some of their products is a new innovation on their part that will pay benefits to our planet.
The new crumple visor will be extremely lightweight and packable, but will still bring the moisture transfer and sweat management that we’ve come to expect from HeadSweats. The use of new materials and more breathable mesh help with adding some function to this new line as well.
HeadSweats’ new TruckAir Hats will take the technical trucker to a new level. Lightweight, uber-thin materials, laser cut venting, enhanced breathability and the same moisture management behind the curtain all point to a hat that should do well with the trail running, Ironman, endurance sports crowd.
Learn more at HeadSweats.com
Cake is a Swedish manufacturer of electric, modular, utility bikes. Crazy cool stuff! So if you need a utility bike and you’d like to reduce your carbon footprint, get some Cake.
Learn more at RideCake.com
Craft is a Swedish brand that got its start in base layers back in the 1970’s. These days, Craft is still heavily vested in the base layer game, but they’ve expanded well beyond that into outwear, running, cycling, snow sports, and lifestyle wear and beyond.
For 2020, Craft is infusing its line of technical and lifestyle clothing with body-mapped zones, variable ventilation and insulation zones as well as some pretty wicked styling. And much like many of the other clothing brands at the show, Craft is expanding their women’s lines as well as creating more pieces that can bridge the gap between technical and lifestyle.
Marrying bolder patterns and colors with functional, technical details seems to be the center of the bulls-eye for 2020, and Craft is doing its part to bring the heat.
Craft is adding some interesting details to many of their functional pieces…this jacket glows the dark!
Not to ignore their core business, Craft has evolved their base layers to not only be more functional with mapped ventilation and insulation zones based on gender but also adding some pretty awesome style that can cross the technical-lifestyle divide.
Learn more at CraftSports.us
Founded in 1962, Sorel helped define the functional winter boot category. Their pac boots became synonymous with winter and helped elevate the company to icon status. Over the past 10 or 15 years, Sorel’s business has evolved dramatically, however. What was once known as a male-dominated, functional, winter footwear brand, has now become a women-first sportswear company. According to the rep I spoke with, Sorel’s business is now nearly 80% women…and it shows in the offering they brought to Outdoor Retailer Snow Show.
The Joan of Arctic boot set the tone for many of the women’s styles we’re seeing for 2020. Variants on the Joan, new colors and materials, boundary-pushing designs and altogether new styles are on tap for 2020.
The tomboy look has made its way into the Sorel lineup for 2020
Sorel is doing a killer job of marrying “super cute” with “baller performance”.
Boots with the fur!
Learn more at Sorel.com
For 2020, Adidas is expanding upon its popular Terrex series of hiking and trail running shoes and gear. Adding more winter options as well are exploring new materials, Adidas is really pushing the definition of the hiking boot. Adding features like stretchy interior liners, running shoe-esque cushioning, revised lacing systems, and more forgiving and flexible stability platforms, Adidas seems to have found the sweet spot between running shoe and hiking boot.
The new Free Hiker has the comfort of a highly cushioned running shoe with just enough ankle stability to be a fast packer. We’ll have a long term review of the Free Hiker coming up soon!
Adidas’ relatively recent purchase of 5.10 has brought their same level of boundary redefining thinking to the mountain bike footwear category. Unique materials, hybrid construction, inner boot/shoe layers, and redefined styles are on tap, and quite honestly, they look killer to boot (yep, I went there.)!
Learn more at Adidas.com
If you know Hi-Tec, you think of their functional light hikers that were popular back in the 1990’s and seemed to be standard issue on many college campuses. For 2020 at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show, much like soooo many of the brands we’re talking about, Hi-Tec is redefining much of their footwear line to bridge the gap between function and fashion. Adding more retro running styles and also infusing some serious cushion, (think Hoka-esque), while pumping in some fresh color treatments, Hi-Tec is launching themselves into the 2020’s with boatloads of flair.
Hi-Tec’s revised line of hikers not only look fresh, but connect back to their well-loved styles of the 90’s while still feeling very 2020.
Retro runners are all the rage, and Hi-Tec isn’t missing that boat.
Learn more at Hi-Tec.com