SALT LAKE CITY — The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market has come to town, drawing crowds that have filled Salt Lake City hotels and made it very difficult to get a dinner reservation.
Eighteen-thousand manufacturers and buyers have flocked to the Salt Palace Convention Center to get a look at the latest in winter outdoor recreation gear. The show is bigger than ever before — all the exhibit space sold out early.
There are 800 different brands of items on display, many of which will appear on store shelves in time for next winter.
Smith's Optics is a goggle manufacturer that is based in Idaho, but the goggles are made in Clearfield. The company also makes helmets, and it has solved a long-time problem: goggles and helmets that actually fit well together — and don't fog up!
Greg Randolph holds up a helmet explaining its special design. "It's a system of channels and vents that help pull warm moist air out of the goggle, using the helmet as a vehicle to actually create a vacuum which helps cycle that cool air dry air back into the goggle to keep it from fogging," he said.
A few aisles over is the Tubbs snowshoe display.
Snowshoes have changed over the years. They're now built with composite materials, making them lighter and stronger. Van Brinkerhoff with K2 Sports says snowshoeing is growing in popularity, especially with older adults.
"They ski for a day or two and often they're worn out. So to go for the third day and take a nice snowshoe trip and get out in the wilderness and enjoy the snow and whatnot and do it in a way that's a lot more comfortable," he said. "That's where the growth is occurring."
Perhaps generating the biggest buzz at this year's show is the "electric" clothing from Columbia Sportswear. Jackets, gloves and boots are equipped with rechargeable batteries that activate special material.
"We have three settings: red is on high, amber is on medium, green is on low," said Dean Rurak of Columbia Sportswear.
"There are carbon threads embedded in the fabric. There are no heat elements. It's not rigid, not breakable," he said. "In the outdoor industry, we've used the same technologies for a long time, so people are really excited to see new technologies and new innovation."
The show runs through Sunday afternoon. This is a buyer and seller show, closed to the public.