Every year, the brands that make the best outdoor gear, the shops that sell that gear, and the media brands (like us) who cover the latest and greatest, gather in Denver to see what’s new for next year at the annual Outdoor Retailer Summer Market show. The industry gathering celebrates the love of being outdoors, and offers a chance to see what’s coming.
This year, however, that gathering happened online. It was right up there with Zoom weddings or Microsoft Teams cocktail parties. The barriers to in-person meetings did not stop the outdoor world’s heritage brands (and startups alike) from creating problem-solving, fun-enhancing, safety-increasing gear that you’ll see in stores and on websites in spring 2021. So, here’s a sneak peek at the best of what is to come in year ahead that we can’t wait to get to—and when we can get our hands on these new releases to test them outside, where they belong.
Scarpa Mojito Bio
The Mojito Bio has the classic mountain-inspired style of the original Mojito. And Scarpa’s first 100-percent biodegradable shoe is also one of the first fully biodegradable hiking shoes to hit market. At the end of its life, 85 percent of this shoe will decompose after 450 days in a landfill. The rest takes a little longer, but it will eventually disappear.
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Americans throw away at least 300 million pairs of shoes each year, and shoe soles can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. So, creating something that breaks down fast will make a difference. The Mojito Bio is made with a cushioning sugarcane-based EVA midsole, and a biodegradable, natural rubber sole. The body of the shoe is a super-breathable, bamboo-derived fiber knit. Stretch lining and laces are also bamboo-based. All other components have a vegetable base and the pieces are assembled with water-based, non-polluting adhesives. The shoes’ packaging is also recycled, of course. [$179; scarpa.com]
Kokatat x dewerstone Life Short 2.0
Northern California-based Kokatat made the Life Short 2.0 in collaboration with U.K.-based lifestyle brand dewerstone to fit exceptionally, and to move easily with every paddle stroke you take. The shorts use a four-way stretch polyester from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles, combined with a surf leash-inspired closure system that’s both infinitely adjustable and secure. The closure lies flat to prevent chafing and catching under sprayskirts or on surfboards. Both men’s and women’s shorts have five waves around the left thigh to celebrate Kokatat’s 50th Anniversary. [$79; kokatat.com]
SOL Fuel-Free Lighter
Ditch the disposable lighter. SOL’s rechargeable Fuel-Free lighter is a windproof, waterproof, rechargeable electric fire starter that reduces the risk of burning yourself. It lights from any direction and is less susceptible to wind and weather. It also won’t end up in the trash once you’ve burned the fuel. The lighter uses plasma technology—utilizing a high-voltage current passing between two nodes—to ignite a flame. A single charge fires it up 45 times, no butane required. That charge also powers a three-setting flashlight in the lighter’s base for up to four hours. Included with the lighter: a 3-foot tinder cord to get your campfire going. [$25; surviveoutdoorslonger.com]
For beach chilling, a low table to holds your drinks while you kick back on a towel or blanket. But standard seating for campsite happy hour is usually higher and requires an elevated surface to support wings and watermelon, s’more supplies and drinks. This high-tech heat-stabilized nylon tabletop transforms from low to high and back with removable legs. Open, it’s 15”x 19”, and can be adjusted to 4” high or 16” high. And when the party is over, it packs small enough to fit in a laptop sleeve. The legs fold and nest into the underside of the tabletop. At 4 pounds, 8 ounces, it holds up to 100 pounds. [$150; nemoequipment.com]
Big Agnes Goosenest Inflatable Cot
Get off the cold, hard, uneven ground with Big Agnes’ air chamber cot. Traditional cots don’t work well on uneven ground, plus they’re cumbersome. The lightweight, packable Goosenest has an air-filled platform for stability on any surface. The perimeter tubes keep you 8 inches off the ground and comfortably cradled in the middle of the cot. And the surface of the cot wraps over any sleeping pad. It’s made with aviation-grade TPU for strength and puncture resistance. An internal antimicrobial treatment keeps the cot mold- and mildew-free long-term. [$150; bigagnes.com]
Granite Gear Perimeter Pack
The ultralight, multi-day 35L, and 50L Perimeter Packs are highly adjustable, designed to fit a huge range of body sizes and types to welcome people of all shapes and sizes into outdoors. In addition to torso length adjustability and waist-belt adjustability, Perimeter Packs have shoulder-width adjustment with regular and wide settings along vertical daisy-chained webbing. The suspension system uses a spring steel rod outline to give the pack ergonomic form. It works in tandem with a backboard core to disperse weight effectively while providing anchor points for the adjustable shoulders, at 3 pounds and 3.1 pounds, in regular and long. [$200 and $220; granitegear.com]
This premium, portable, ultra-durable hand grinder lets caffeine-fueled outdoor enthusiasts have an upgraded coffee experience anywhere. Made from aircraft-grade aluminum, the Java has 30 grind settings to choose from, so you can achieve the perfect bean for your preferred brew method. The stainless steel blades provide a consistent grind, and they stay sharp and efficient over time. Blades and handle turn on the highest-grade ball bearings on the market for the smoothest grinding possible. The dual-purpose carabiner-clip handle extends when you need extra leverage, at 6” x 2” and 12.5 ounces. [$145; vssl.com]
Black Diamond Capitan MIPS
Stay safer when you’re climbing and mountaineering with Black Diamond’s bomber, ultra-durable helmet. The Capitan MIPS has added coverage on the sides and back, as well as MIPS, to absorb rotational impacts. Its two-piece ABS shell construction is sleek, with EPP foam and an EPS foam puck, which meets the proposed UIAA increased side- and back-protection requirements. A low-profile suspension system dials in the fit, oversized side vents keep air flowing inside, while integrated headlamp clips (with an elastic keeper on the back) secure your light when a day in the mountains stretches into the night—at 285-295 grams. [$100; blackdiamondequipment.com]
Cocktail caddy, mobile bar, and picnic basket, Rovr’s Keeper takes the party on the road. The waterproof TPU Keeper tote carries everything you need for lakeside happy hour, from beverages to snacks and utensils, in compartments. The high-density foam-lined tote’s dividers are moveable so you can choose how much space to allocate for wine, liquor, mixers, utensils, and snacks, and keep them all appropriately snug and organized. In the center, a three-pound vacuum-sealed ice bucket cools the bag contents, while keeping ice fresh for drinks on the rocks. The molded base grips on all surfaces, including slippery boat decks, and the waterproof bag is easy to rinse clean if you spill the margarita mix. [$140; rovrproducts.com]
From the designer behind DU/ER Denim, Volcanxx temperature-regulating active lifestyle tees are made with volcano-sand infused fabric designed for performance and comfort. The recycled poly shirts, with antibacterial silver, adapt to your body to keep you more comfortable when temperature and weather conditions change. Instead of managing sweat once you’re already overheated, Volcanxx claims it will keep you from sweating in the first place by keeping you 30 percent cooler. And instead of managing cold with extra layers of clothing, the Volcanxx shirt claims to keep your body 38 percent warmer. We’ve heard similar claims before, and we’re looking forward to seeing if this shirt delivers. Available in long sleeve and short sleeve. [$70-$75; ModernNature.co]
CRKT Hirin Limited Edition Folding Knife
Built by designer Dew Hara of Seki, Japan, this knife features perfectly balanced cutouts in the spear point blade and handle. Hara, who produced this knife in Maniago, Italy, was a web developer who spent much of his childhood enthralled with Japanese anime. But his family’s knife-designing roots run deep and he eventually followed in the footsteps of his world-famous father Koji Hara, and began designing knives. The Hirin has a 3.39-inch Böhler M390 steel blade with a two-tone titanium handle. It opens with a fast operating flipper on ball-bearing pivots for instantaneous blade deployment. Closed, the 5.9-ounce knife is 5.26 inches. Open, it’s 8.69 inches. [$250; crkt.com]
— Check out our Top 10 from last year’s OR Summer Market show, plus rundowns of the best new climbing, trail running, backpacking and women’s gear, as well as the best gear under $100.
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