If there’s anyone in the world who understands the demands that travelers have on their gear, it’s us. We’ve spent our entire life as a business, researching their needs; it’s not just who we are as a company, but it’s who we are as people (so in a sense, we’re kind of doing all that research for ourselves…but with company money…)
Anyhow, part of that tradition of staying on top of the trends in travel fashion and technology is to attend many tradeshows throughout the year. One of those tradeshows is Outdoor Retailer, a bi-annual event in Salt Lake City dedicated to unveiling the newest, most innovative outdoor and travel products.
Our mission at these shows is to unearth product innovations that not only enhance life on the trail, but on the way to it. Each year, we come back – bellies full of beer and cameras full of megapixels – ready to present to you, the latest and greatest in travel gear. Here’s a shout out to some of those.
Pacsafe's Toursafe AT 21 Carry-on Luggage
The Toursafe AT 21 is a refresh of the Toursafe 21, but with new colors and upgraded components. The slashproof eXomesh remains in all soft side panels and the puncture resistant ToughZip was strengthened, and new to the line are lockable/kissable TSA padlocks to keep the most persistent thieves out. While browsing other luggage brands at the show, we were again reminded of how Pacsafe is truly the authority in secure luggage. It's quite the honor to know you work for the company that carries such a prestigious title.
Salewa's Ramble GTX Approach Shoes
Travelers, if anyone, know the benefits of having an extremely breathable shoe. On some days, it's just not possible to change socks and on some days, there's just no sitting down. So what the Ramble GTX offers is quite ground breaking for people who make a regular habit of leaving their homes for months at a time. The Ramble is the first shoe in the US to feature Gore-Tex's new Surround Membrane technology, which allows the shoe to be waterproof and breathable all the way around (which is nice because your foot sweats on the bottom - not at the sides or the top). The outer sole contains a layer of Kevlar mesh for added breathability and at $150 - it's kind of a game changer for stinkproofing your feet on international flights.
Mountain Khakis' Rendezvous Merino Wool Polo
The MK Rendezvous Merino Wool Polo is - get this - a machine washable wool shirt. It won't shrink, stretch, or implode - instead, it'll just do what merino wool does best, which is not stink. Wool is known for it's properties of shedding dust and moisture, preventing the fabric from clinging onto odors. That's why wool has become so popular with ski baselayers and frankly, in the travel world. The thorn in wool's ankle has always been that it needs to be primped at the dry cleaners, but forget that now - just throw it in the sink with your mesh underwear and dry it over your hotel chair or tarp on your tent. Washable wool - who woulda thought.
Mountainsmith Canine Cube
If you have a dog, chances are that you've either traveled with, or wanted to travel with him/her. Now the trick is figuring out to separate your dog's stuff from yours (slobbery chew toys, unappetizing puppy chow - stuff you don't want to intermix) . Thanks to Mountainsmith and their ingenuity, your dog can now have his/her own luggage. These K9 Cubes are very reasonably sized and contain food and water trays that plop open then collapse, so you can feed your pup on the road and clean up right after. What better way to travel with you best friend?
Gramicci's Tokyo G Climbing Pants
No one’s calling for skinny jeans over here, but a constant head-scratcher is the tendency for brands to craft pant-legs of M.C. Hammer proportions. Enter Gramicci and their new climbing pant, the Tokyo G. “We took the iconic Original G that we are known for, narrowed the leg and lowered the rise,” says Marketing Projects Manager, Kelsey Goodrich. The Tokyo G has a working fly and a built-in belt and gusset. The Men’s version is constructed of heavy-duty Dourada and a lightweight, stretchy rip stop, and the ladies version is lightweight twill enhanced with some extra stretch. The result? Super comfortable pants that actually fit – you won’t look like a kid wearing his father’s clothes – and are also perfect for the crag, or for stretching your legs on a plane.
Keen's Class 6
Here's a pair of shoes that got some serious attention from outdoor gear nuts in Germany. The "Outdoor Award" is one of the most prestigious awards in the entire outdoor and travel industry (actually, Pacsafe picked up a couple Outdoor Awards for 2013). KEEN's Class 6 picked up one of those, and they deserve it because of what these shoes represent. See, the shoe is actually two shoes because of one simple component - the adjustable heel strap. Strap down and it's a shoe. Strap up and it's a sandal. We predict that these hybrid shoes will be the next evolution for both sandals and lightweight shoes and here's why. Travelers hate packing sandy flipflops into luggage but they do so anyway because it's way less bulky than everyday shoes. But no one can leave sandals behind at home, forcing you into a dilemma. But now these shoes are combined into one and convert with the flip of a strap.
GU' Energy's Salted Caramel Gel
These are what we call, Pacsafe staples - because you should always have a few in your Pacsafe. GU's Salted Caramel Gels will keep you fueled while on the road and in the skies. But more significantly, they have the perfect ratio of two teaspoons of salt to three tablespoons of sugar, to keep you from getting dehydrated (remember, it is a lack of sodium that causes most dehydration). As minimalist and weight shaving as we are - these are pretty much as bare bones as calories + electrolytes get. We recommend keeping a few in your, well, Pacsafe.
Kokatat's UPF Shirt
This shirt has the most venting options of any shirt we've ever seen - it can vent through the front zipper, through the cross vent on the back, and it has side vents on the arms. It's particularly great for trekking across sunny muggy areas like Hong Kong, Thailand, and even Dubai, just to name a few. This time of year, the sun is the hottest near the equator and breathable shirts like this are really appreciated when it feels more like a sauna outside, than the great outdoors.
Because we’re not all superheroes who can shun comfort and rehabilitation, right? Moji’s massagers – of which there are three: one to be held in your palm for the shoulders, neck and elsewhere; another baton-like structure for digging in deep in the calves or quads; and a ground-dwelling foot massager that requires almost no effort to experience the bliss that comes from it – are for those days when your miles out hiking add up and come crashing down on you. You get home exhausted and sore, but you still have to make the kids dinner or crank out some work for school or – God forbid – actual work. Moji helps you rehab for when life requires your best performance away from the mountains.
Pearl Izumi's Trail N1
The thing that can’t be denied about Pearl Izumi’s footwear is their continued dedication to superior functionality. (The EDM festival color scheme, on the other hand, is a more subjective topic for debate.) The good folks at Pearl Izumi live and breathe running, and they put their passion into the design of their shoes, and no detail is left unevaluated. The new Trail N1 shoe, as with PI’s entire line this year, comes with a refined midsole crafted, as they put it, “to guide your stride into fluid submission.” You know those people you hear long before you see them running – slapping at the pavement with flat-footed force? That’s not even possible with these, as the midsoles are designed to drive you forward for a more efficient run. The Trail N1, as expected, has enough traction, protection and cushion for rocky, technical terrain and won’t let you down on unforgiving descents.
Native Eyewear's The Highline
Everything we just said about Pearl Izumi can easily be applied to Native Eyewear. The Highline, pictured here, is equipped with what Native bills as the most innovative and advanced polarized lens on the market – that is, they’re super durable, reduce eye strain from glare, heat, and other annoyances, and offer the best UV protection and blue-light filtering technology around. They’re also just damn good-looking – a modernized, sleeker version of Ray Ban’s classic Wayfarer, if you will, but also with a bounty of hip colors to choose from.
Kavu – The Wyatt Shirt
Kavu is an up and coming brand in the travel world. While it's mostly popular with active youth, they have lots of clothes that is very appropriate for travel. The Wyatt shirt features an off centered plaid design with a standup collar that really helps solve the dilemma of bringing comfortable clothes that can worn to events - whether you're lounging at a luau in Kailua or partying on at a rooftop bar in Athens
Thule Roundtrip Elite
This Best of Show award goes to a product that allows you to take your bike on a plane. There's no quicker and more exciting way to explore the cobblestone in Milan or the hills of Taiwan, than on a bike. Traveling with a bike opens up a whole new world of exploration that normally had to be done on foot. And while traveling by foot, public transportation and cab have its benefits, it is now possible to travel to a foreign country with a bike.
The JungleNest from ENO
Hammocks are our preferred method of multi-day outdoor trips because they are lighter, smaller and easier to setup/teardown than tents. Entire continents sleep in these things (name South America) and backpackers are just starting to realize the benefits of traveling with a hammock. The JungleNest is a sleep system that includes mosquito netting for those trekking into the thickets of the Congo, or the rainforests of Irian Jaya. And after a good night's sleep, pack it up into stuff sack that'll take up less room in your Pacsafe than your fancy camera.
Soleus GPS Tour
Soleus watches do everything. Their “GPS Tour” watch, for example, not only tracks your pace/speed, heart rate, calories and distance, but also (among about a dozen other features) has an altimeter, a GPS receiver, interval timers, a compass, and something even cooler: a path finder display, which basically allows you to get desperately lost without any consequences, because it will track your route and plot the way back for you. Among the many sport watch brands out there, unique to Soleus is their style – simple and classy – and ease of use: everything can be operated via four buttons, and that goes for all of their watches.