Deciding to leave the comfort of home for a winter adventure is definitely getting easier.
Thanks to innovative products for any and every type of outdoor activity or sport, the opportunity to play outside — regardless of the weather — can only be enhanced by the gear, clothing and accessories offered by manufacturers.
These toys for adventure seeking adults, children and even pets were on display at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market last week. The Salt Palace was transformed into a winter wonderland for winter lovers as inventors and manufacturers offered retailers and the public a look at what they have in stores this year — and next.
We wandered. We coveted. We compiled a list of those items that were new, innovative, unique and, of course, useful. These items aren't just creative; they're meant to enhance any outdoor experience. And in fact, they might be sufficiently enticing that they'll convince you to leave the warmth and comfort of home for the experiences that only winter in the Rocky Mountains can offer.
Our wish list:
Being comfortable no longer means taking tons of heavy gear. A number of new items on display — and for sale at local retailers — show how creative manufacturers are becoming.
The Cascade Designs Therm-a-Rest sleep systems
I couldn't believe a sleeping bag could fit into what looked like a bag for a pair of gloves. The Haven Top Bag combines a mattress with a sleeping bag that weighs less than two pounds. The EN-certified warmth rating is 20 degrees Fahrenheit and, in addition to being remarkably lightweight, they look good. It is available from www.cascadedesigns.com or other online retailers for $239-$249.95.
Columbia Sportswear's Omni-heat products
While it's now available in coats, gloves and hats, it will be available in base layer clothing in the fall of 2011. The company said the thermal technology, visible on the clothing as silver dots, prevents heat loss by reflecting body heat back at a person. The clothing is made with 50 percent of recycled content. It's soft to the touch and while it will keep you warm when you're standing around, it is also breathable. If you wear it running or hiking, it won't cause you to overheat.
It's available at www.columbia.com, although most of the cute new shirts won't be out until fall.
The Night Ize Night-Dawg lighted LED dog collar
The perfect way to keep track of your dog if you hike or run with your four-legged friend at dawn or twilight. It's a flexible collar that either flashes or just glows steady, and it's visible up to 1,000 feet in the dark. They are available at www.backcountry.com or amazon.com for $12 to $20.
If you love to run or hike with your dog in a variety of places — some that require a leash and some that don't — you may be interested in this handy device. It offers a 3-foot leash made of a super-strong flexible material that retracts into the collar when you want to let your dog run free. It's available online at www.supercollar.com and other Internet retailers for $39.95.
RFID Safe won the 2010 Outdoor Product of the Year award
Not many people are aware that thieves can steal your identity electronically, just by standing near you with the right equipment. Pacsafe specialize in outdoor gear that protects against identity theft and deters thieves that slash bags and steal whatever falls out.
Many of their bags and packs are lined — inside — with eXomesh (a high-tech metal mesh system), as well as locking zippers and slash-resistant straps. The packs and bags come in a variety of sizes and colors and are available at www.pacsafe.com
Yurbuds Ironman Series Earphones
The dilemma of how to listen to music and remain aware of the world around you is solved. These comfortable — they come in different sizes — earbuds are a must-have for anyone who enjoys music while running, hiking or skiing. You can carry on a conversation — without yelling — while listening to the music. The earbuds are specially designed not to fall out and are built to avoid the pain-causing pressure points in ears. Available for $49.99 at cycle and running retail stores, as well as online at www.yurbuds.com. A less expensive and less specialized version is available for $20.
This is the ultimate in multitasking gear. It's a jacket — breathable fabric, pit zips and an iPod loop. It's also got a compartment near the hood that is a detachable tent — only a small shell with mosquito net — but it would protect you in spring or summer weather.
It also contains a detachable sleeping bag in the bottom inside section of the jacket. It's lightweight and, honestly, something you have to see to believe. It's available for $249.99 in various sizes and two colors at www.jakpak.com.
It's been tried before, but this time it might just catch on — automatic shifting on a bicycle. That's because on this beautiful cruiser, the rider can override the auto shift. Also, it uses the power generated by the rider to automatically turn on lights at dusk. Stylish and smart, this innovative bike will be available in March at www.nirve.com, and also at retailers like Mad Dog Cycle in Provo and Ogden and Cottonwood Cycle in Salt Lake County.
Probably one of the simplest innovations at the show. Founder — and avid skateboarder — Ryan Farrelly invented the inline skates when he attached custom-made trucks to his skateboard to speed his journey through the city of San Francisco. He realized the trucks would work without the board, so he took them off and began riding. It didn't take long for others to ask for a pair and the new sport was born.
They provide the freedom of a skateboard with the control and ride of in-line skates. Freeline skates available at www.freelineskates.com for $119.99 to $149.99.
Nuun hydration products
A new package and new flavors will give even the most sensitive taste buds more options for staying hydrated during outdoor adventures. five new flavors — lemon tea, tropical, fruit punch, strawberry lemonade and grape — are available at REI, running stores and cycle shops. They're all flavorful without being overwhelming and the best aspect is they offer electrolytes without all the sugar.