Last week I went to Salt Lake City and attended the Outdoor Retailer Show. Unlike the larger SHOT show, whose focus is on firearms and accessories, the OR show hits tents, backpacks, boots, and clothing in summer, skiing, snowboarding, and related accessories in winter. As I discovered, there are many crossovers between SHOT and OR. There were quite a few knife (SOG) and light (Surefire) manufacturers at OR. A lot of the gear I saw at OR doesn't appear at SHOT, but is just as applicable to hunters and fishermen as it is to hikers and campers.
The first day was an outdoor demo at Lake Jordanelle, an impoundment east of Salt Lake. Getting off the bus, the first tent I found was occupied by Delorme, where, David DeVore showed me the new Earthmate GPS PN-60w, the world’s first handheld GPS with SPOT satellite communications.
Stanley Thermos and hot water bottles were also there. They were giving away hot water bottles to anyone who could tell a good story about using one of their products.
The beach was party central, with everyone trying out new kayaks, canoes, and surfboards.
Diablo makes some awesome fishing kayaks.
Osagian canoes had a neat square-stern camo canoe that can take a small outboard.
Kelsyus, a tent maker I wasn’t familiar with, had a tent that sets up in less than a minute. Price for this 9×9-foot model was only $300.
The next day, at the Salt Palace, I started making the rounds. The first highlight was a sleek hiking shoe from a three-year-old company, Oboz. This is called the Yellowstone, with “Be Dry” technology. The tread incorporates a map of the area. Price: $435 $145.


Terra Nova is an English company that specializes in super lightweight, high-tech tents. This is the one-person Ultra 1, and it weighs 1 lb. 1 oz. -perfect for long hikes. Price – 7 bills.
GSI makes a ton of backpacking accessories, from pots and pans to coffee makers.
MountainSmith makes packs, sleeping bags, and some cool dog packs- put that puppy to work!
A stable, well-thought-out fishing kayak from Hobie. It’s got ‘mirage drive,’ which means you peddle as well as paddle. A newer, two-person model was also on display. Price for that – $2700.
I’ve always loved Lowa boots. They’re comfortable, stable, and they last. I’ve been beating up a pair of low-cut Renegades for two years; now they’ve got mid-sized Renegade GTXs with leather uppers. $210.
At the Outdoor Research booth, I came upon this lightweight fishing hat. It’s called the SunShower Sombrero. OR is also sending me a BugNet Cap ($34) – I’ll test it and report back.
MSR has revamped much of its tent line – and it’s all good. This is the Backcountry Barn – a roomy two-person tent that goes for $700. MSR also has a neat add-on vestibule that zips onto many of its tents.
Primus, now part of Brunton, just came out with two new lightweight Titanium stoves – $60 and $80.
Jordan Campbell shows off Marmot’s new Precip Jacket. Going for only $99, it’s lightweight, breathable, and water repellant.
Gregory Packs has a Fushion LTS (load transfer system) in seven of its packs. The system includes a curved waistbelt and harness, a stabilized back panel, and a foam lumbar pad to transfer weight onto your hips. This is the Serrac 45, which sells for only $145.
Over at Adventure Medical Kits, soon to be called SOL (Survive Outdoor Longer), the Origin Survival Tool has a compass, knife, LED flashlight, fire starter, signal mirror and rescue whistle, all in a watertight case. Weight? Only 6.1 oz.
I also cruised over to the Wenger booth, where the Evo knife comes with classic-looking Swiss walnut handle. Wenger is also into shoes in a big way now.
I ended my first day at the show at the Arc’teryx booth, where military-inspired high-tech outerwear and base layers are the word. Here’s the Atom LT, featuring stretch paneling and incredible warmth at little weight. I’ve got to get me one of these (to quote Will Smith in “Independence Day”)! Price – an affordable $199.
The next morning, walking to the show, I passed a grassy lot near the Salt Palace, and came upon tent city, where many tentmakers pitched their latest and greatest. Check these out….
First stop day two was Vasque, a quality shoe and boot maker known for lightweight hiking boots. This model, the Bitterroot, seemed right on for F&S readers. Price – $199.
SmartWool is offering light, medium, and heavy base layers, not to mention a monster variety of four-zone socks for any type of climate or hiking situation.
At the Energizer Booth, Brian Gaffney showed me the new Hard Case Professional Area light. It’s only $13, and it’s magnetic. This is perfect for anyone with a hunting camp and no electricity. I could see using it in the outhouse, or sticking it onto the hood of my car when I’m working on the engine.
Jen Taylor from Mountain Khakis told me that MK and Remington recently agreed on a joint clothing venture. Since MK makes some of the toughest (and best looking) outdoor pants, I’m looking forward to seeing what these two companies are going to come up with.
Eureka! has new tents, watches, and a huge new line of dual-ST non-skid sleeping pads. I liked this little table, too, probably because it’s called the Catskill table, where I hunt and fish. It’s only $99, folds up quickly, and has all sorts of utensil bags attached to the sides and ends.
Dayna Panales of Hi-Tec showed me their line of clothing, including the Granite Peak Parka, with removable liner. Price is $199. Hi-Tec also has more great footwear, including the leather hiking boot, Rainier, with an Ion mask waterproofing system. ($220)
At Columbia, Andrea Pallavicini was totally charged about the new Omni-Heat Fishing Parka ($250) and Omni-Heat Bib ($220). With space-blanket-like technology, this gear will keep you warm no matter how cold it is. I know – I tried it steelhead fishing last February in 10-degree weather.
Columbia is also featuring Insect Blocker in much of its clothing.
Hilleberg, from Sweden, has more new lightweight tents, including the Saitaris four-man tent ($800) and the Soulo one-man tent that’s free standing with a vestibule ($560)
I had never heard of KayLan boots before, but their Hunter boot, at $270, really impressed me. I put a pair on, walked around the floor a bit, and the fit was perfect. That’s all thanks to a lacing system that employs grommets on leather fingers. Tighten each before you move up to the next, and your foot and heel are in there like a glove.
Last stop of the show: Fishpond, maker of fishing-specific luggage, plus a ton of well-thought-out-vests for different situations.
Heading home, a rainbow near the Salt Lake Airport–a good way to end my whirlwind tour.