Highlights From Outdoor Retailer: Summer Market 2019

From apparel to kayaks and skateboards, our picks from the annual exhibition

At this year’s Outdoor Retailer: Summer Market, there was plenty of buzz around all kinds of gear. Whether it be the consensus shift toward sustainability or the CBD boom (the cannabinoid had its own wing this year), the 2019 show had a different feel. Brands—eager to appeal to new consumers, but to also show a sense of accountability—showed less than usual. For instance, The North Face, whose booth is usually bountiful with new products and ambitions, had a relatively sparse space but played host to conversations about sustainability (mentioning their Futurelight fabric, in the process) and the shared responsibility between consumers and brands instead. There was no escaping the shift: if a booth didn’t tout their eco-friendly traits, they seemed behind the pack. Perhaps a sign of the times, attendees were equally eager to hear about the environmentally friendly processes as they were to see the results.

The show accommodated these industry-wide ambitions too, with Nalgene co-sponsoring the initiative to ban single use plastics at the show and handing out reusable bottles to attendees on the first day. Arguably the biggest news came from the show’s smallest booth: an industry-wide Climate Neutral Certification company launched with Peak Design and BioLite as its first two certified brands.

Of course, hype around new products saturates the event, and we found plenty of new favorites from emerging and established brands. Here are some of our product highlights from Outdoor Retailer: Summer Market 2019.

Snow Peak Smokemeister

Snow Peak rejected the “less is more” mantra at their booth, which seemed more like a compound than a convention-scale display. Their space included everything from a fire-accommodating tent to an entirely new collection of clothing—they even handed out sporks with the same sentiment as the Nalgene bottles. But, the biggest news was the brand’s pint-sized smoker, the Smokemeister. Its larger counterpart, the Kojin, caught the eye of plenty, but its little sibling is equally as exciting. The cylindrical contraption stands at just over two feet and boasts three stainless steel internal trays and a catchall at the bottom for wood-chips of your choosing. It’s already available in Japan (and you can find it online now if you’re persistent), but it’s making its way to the US soon, and will retail for $270.

adidas Terrex Free Hiker Parley

The adidas Free Hiker is not a new silhouette (the first iteration dropped back in February) but the brand has improved it for this summer’s OR by constructing the upper out of Parley plastic—the brand’s go-to sustainable yarn made from ocean plastics. This newest iteration, now called the adidas Terrex Free Hiker Parley, is lighter, but more importantly, it falls in line with the rest of their eco-friendly efforts. These sneakers will be available in summer of next year for $200.

Matador Packable Bottle

While reusable water bottles are the obvious alternative to single-use plastics, they’re not always the easiest to pack. We have plenty of favorites in the category, but Matador‘s newest offering is special for a different reason: it can pack down to nearly nothing. The TPU bottle has a zipper closure bottom for easy filling (and cleaning) and a bite-valve to remain spill-proof. In total, the bottle accommodates one liter of liquid but occupies almost no space when empty. It’s estimated to be available in October of this year for $35.

Lander Boulder

This app-controlled lantern can be easy to miss—except for when it’s switched on. As we passed by, it lit up and illuminated an already bright corner of the show floor. Not only can this Lander light brighten up a room (or tent), it can also charge three phones simultaneously. You can dim it, change its color or even hang it from its strap-like anchor. The very functional lantern will be available in September for $100.

Oru Kayaks’ Lake Kayak

Inspired by origami (their first prototype was actually made from paper), Oru crafts kayaks that are highly packable—most of them fold down into their own carrying case, oftentimes to the size of a suitcase. The brand’s goal is to make kayaking and boat ownership more accessible. Their price-points are lower and their boats smaller when folded, but equally as a capable when set up—which usually takes less than five minutes. Their Lake Kayak is no exception. It will be their most affordable release yet (at $850) and it folds down to the size of two briefcases, weighs only 20 pounds and can be set up in three minutes—with no added parts.

FinalStraw 2.0

The now-patented FinalStraw 2.0 is a straw that breaks down into an AirPod-like case. Inside, there is the straw—in two pieces—and a cleaning kit. Measuring out to just two centimeters wide and seven tall, its portability is incomparable. The 2.0 is sturdy, strong and sustainable, and is available for pre-order now for $25.

Nat Geo + Element Collaboration

Collaborations were aplenty this year. But none surprised like Element Skateboards and National Geographic‘s joint effort. From skate decks and T-shirts to jackets and hats, the collection (which is set for FW 2019 but has no specific release date yet) is sleek, modern and beautiful. Element had NatGeo’s full catalog of photography at their disposal and imposed snakes, sharks, ostriches and more on the underside of their skateboards. For the T-shirts, they referenced skate shots alongside black and white images of animals doing similar stunts. The jackets, which the booth staff happily wore, were as well-constructed as any other being presented. There’s little information about the collection as of right now, but stay tuned.

Mystery Ranch’s Forthcoming Releases

The man behind Mystery Ranch, Dana Gleason, has been doing this long enough to see his company change directions multiple times. Now the brand is introducing new fabrics and colors to their existing line of bags—something that’s usually been reserved for their Japan-exclusive releases. Their forthcoming releases will feature TPU and waxed canvas, their mission duffel was upgraded for the show (it now has a sleek TPU outer and a reconfigured weight distribution system) and their line of two-day bags will be available in a variety of monochrome colorways. Between the two, there will also be a Mystery Pop! release, which includes bags in all-black with pops of color. Stay tuned to their site for release dates, which are set for Spring 2020.

Smartwool Intraknit Layers

Using 3D knit-sculpting and body-mapping, Smartwool developed the ultimate base layer, which they previewed at OR. The fabric, which is blended merino sport wool, has antimicrobial properties, significant stretch and is fast-wicking. The base layer, as they explained, is constructed for how our bodies sweat, move and change in temperature. For example, the men’s shirt has fast-wicking merino at the lower back. On the women’s, the merino is woven into the upper back and lower abdomen. On both, the shirts are padded at the elbows and ventilated with interwoven mesh at the armpits. The tops and bottoms will be available this fall, initially exclusively at REI, starting at $120.

Images courtesy of respective brands, hero image courtesy of Outdoor Retailer