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Sustainable and Innovative Gear From Outdoor Retailer Snow Show 2022

Outdoor Life
Outdoor Life
 2022-02-02
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Taking place twice a year in Denver, Outdoor Retailer is North America's largest tradeshow in the outdoor industry. Samantha Silverman

The 2022 Outdoor Retailer Snow Show felt the effects of the pandemic this year in terms of vendor attendance, but that doesn’t mean some of the latest and greatest gear didn’t make an appearance. In fact, some smaller and more niche brands were able to take center stage. After spending three days on the show floor, I noticed a trend: not only has gear gotten better, more durable, and higher quality, but also many new products are utilizing recycled materials, non-toxic chemicals and treatments, and other sustainable practices. I think there’s often been a myth that making a product “eco friendly” can diminish the quality of the gear. That may have been the case in the past, but it certainly isn’t now.

Let me take you through my favorite new gear from the 2022 Outdoor Retailer Snow Show, and what you should be looking out for on the market this year.

Cold-Weather Hunting, Fishing, and Hiking

Gobi Heat: Women’s Heated Hunting Gear

The list of the best women’s hunting jackets has been rapidly expanding over the last few years, which is why I was so excited to see Gobi Heat release a heated women’s hunting jacket and vest. You can easily control the heat on the Shadow Women’s Heated Hunting Hoodie and Colorado Women’s Hunting Vest from a button on the front of the jacket. You get up to 10 hours of (lithium ion) battery life on low heat, and 7 and 5 hours on medium and high, respectively. And the jacket and vest heat your whole core, with two heaters in the front, and one in the back.

While I wouldn’t recommend a battery-powered jacket for all activities, if you’re spending a lot of time sitting or laying on a hunt, especially in the winter, that extra warmth can keep you in the field longer, and keep you safe and comfortable in case of an emergency. I tried on the jacket at the show, and it felt pretty mobile. I definitely couldn’t tell weight-wise that there was a heating system built into the jacket. This innovation in women’s hunting options is definitely one to note. MSRP: $199 for each.

OuterU: faceGlove: The Smarter Facemask

There’s no nice way to talk about frozen boogers, so let’s dive right in. A simple but extremely creative design, in my opinion, OuterU’s faceGlove protects your nose and cheeks without covering your nostrils. The nose tip of the faceGlove mini has a wire to fit to your nose, while the faceGlove TS is heat-moldable to your face. For hunters and anglers, this means keeping your face protected from wind burn, not fogging up your sunglasses, and being able to pull up a buff and/or sun hood over your head and chin while keeping your airways free and your whole face still covered. World record holder for 25 Everest summits and 38 summits over 8,000m, Kami Rita Sherpa, has been using faceGlove since 2014, and OuterU has sponsored him since 2021. Although it’s by no means Everest-like conditions, I have already gotten the chance to test the faceGlove for a day at 11,000ft in a chilly 10 degrees, and it does everything a fleece gaiter does, without accumulating little icicles around my mouth and nose.

The heat-moldable faceGlove TS only comes in black for now, but the mini comes in a range of colors, including natural shades; I tested the mini in camo, found it extremely comfortable, and loved the pattern (pictured below). It doesn’t fog up my goggles, either. Especially for high-exertion hunts and hikes, you never want face layers eventually making you colder. MSRP: $27.

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The faceGlove keeps your nose and cheeks warm and protected without condensation building around your face. OuterU

Ignik Hand Warmers

Having Raynauds, I’m always in conflict about whether to use hand warmers or not, given the excess waste created by any single-use product. But the Ignik hand warmers are air activated, meaning once you take one out of the sealable pouch, the air will activate the warmer in 5-10 minutes. And the warmers are 98 percent biodegradable, meaning they’re only made with natural ingredients. The package is also recyclable, and Ignik is a 1% for the Planet company.

As I’ve reiterated throughout my sustainable gear reviews, the word “sustainability” no longer means sacrificing quality for a more eco-conscious product. It’s more and more proving to be the opposite. These hand warmers last for 10 hours, and get hotter (and stay hotter) than competitors.

New, Sustainable Camping and Backpacking Gear

LifeStraw Peak Series

Coming March 2022, LifeStraw is releasing their Peak Series, a backcountry-specific freshwater filtration system. The products in the Peak Series include: the Personal Water Filter Straw (re-designed after 17 years), the 650 ml and 1L Collapsible Squeeze Bottle Water Filter System, the 3L and 8L Gravity Water Filter System, and the 8L Gravity Water Filter + Water Storage Bag (8L systems available in May).

The Peak Series specializes in durability, lightweight portability, ultra compactness, and versatility. What stood out the most to me in visiting LifeStraw’s booth at Snow Show was how many products there are in this series to fit with any kind of frontcountry or backcountry trip. While they’re most known for their straw, I’m really excited to test their squeeze bottle to fill up Nalgenes, and the Gravity Water Filter System + Water Storage Bag for setting up camp. I also watched a live demo of the Peak Series, as seen in the image below, to see how quickly the Peak Series filters dirty freshwater into drinking water.

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The Peak Series Personal Water Filter Straw has universal threading to attach to squeeze bottles. LifeStraw

Ignik Gas Growler

The little green propane bottles are the staple of a lot of people’s camping kitchens, mine included. Ignik’s Gas Growler line has set out to fix that problem. You can’t refill the typical disposable propane bottle (I’ve unsuccessfully tried, so please don’t), but the Gas Growler holds the equivalent of five green bottles and is inexpensive to refill.

This spring/summer, Ignik is expanding on and improving the Gas Growler line with the Gas Growler X and X-Pro. The Gas Growler X (MSRP: $199.99) has twice the capacity of the original, so it’s perfect for longer trips. It includes a durable carrying case, as well as a 4-foot adapter hose. The X-Pro (MSRP: $299.99) takes it even further, made from ultra lightweight aluminum to carry twice as much fuel as the Gas Growler Deluxe, but at the same weight. Each X-Pro tank is made with 50-80% recycled content.

Foothill Fuels: Bio-White Gas

Foothill Fuels

My go-to backpacking stove since I took my first backpacking trip is the MSR WhisperLite, which is a liquid-fueled stove that takes white gas. While a liquid-fueled stove debatably produces less waste than 100g canisters, white gas is not a renewable energy source. So, enter Foothill Bio-White Gas. It’s specifically designed for backpacking (including high altitude), and converts 100% waste vegetable oils into liquid fuel for stoves.

Foothill Fuels sources 100% of their vegetable and agricultural waste from U.S. restaurants and farms, then refines the waste oils to create a low-carbon biofuel. The result is a 50%+ lower carbon output than traditional liquid gas, and a 100% renewable fuel. And, in cold weather, there’s no difference between Bio-White Gas’ performance and conventional white gas.

Poler Stuff: Camo Zonker Napsack

One of the Portland-based company’s signature products is the Napsack, a wearable sleeping bag. The Napsack has zippers for your arms and legs, and easily converts from a sleeping bag to a down layer to sit around the campfire in or stay warm on chilly mornings.

Coming in fall 2022, the Camo Zonker is a 35 degree wearable bag, perfect for three-season camping. It has a 650 down fill, meaning it’s thick, comfortable, and great for car camping. Poler’s Napsacks are comprised of recycled contents, and the Zonker uses certified down, meaning the down they use comes from ethically-treated geese and ducks from certified farms. For their 2023 products, Poler is adding recycled cotton and more recycled products across more of its products.

Innovations in Sustainable Active and Lifestyle Gear

GOT BAG ROLLTOP

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The GOT BAG ROLLTOP is the world’s first backpack made of ocean plastic, and on top of that, it’s probably the most durable backpack I saw at Snow Show. It has a very thick material, with thick, durable straps and outer and inner pockets to keep things organized and dry. The ROLLTOP is treated with an eco-friendly organic polyurethane coating that is extremely waterproof. I have been testing a swatch of GOT BAG fabric for waterproofness and durability, and it holds up just as well to water and abrasion as other hiking daypacks I have.

GOT BAG works with 1,500 fishermen in Indonesia to catch and sort ocean plastics. Usable plastics are then shredded and turned into pellets, which is then turned into yarn to create polyester, a naturally water-repellent fabric.

Using this technology, GOT BAG is currently working on a more technical hiking daypack, so look out for new features like a waist strap and water bottle side pockets that may be included in future models.

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The ROLLTOP is durable and made of 7.7lbs of recycled ocean plastic. GOT BAG

Gear Hugger Multipurpose Lubricant

Gear Hugger

Petroleum-based lubricant is not only toxic to the enviromment, but it can pose health risks. So, enter Gear Hugger, a recently-launched brand that produces an all-purpose, eco-friendly lubricant that they say has more than 1,001 uses. This non-toxic, plant-based lubricant protects against rust and corrosion and dissolves grime. It’s fully free of petroleum, fossil fuels, and PTFEs (a plastic, synthetic compound), and has been submitted to the EPA for Safer Choice Certification. This means that you can use Gear Hugger in places where pets and kids could come in contact with it.

At Snow Show, I met with founder Checo Diaz, who gave me a live demonstration comparing how well a standard petroleum lubricant performs with friction and added weight, versus Gear Hugger. Gear Hugger excelled, whereas petroleum lubricant wore down metal much quicker. After testing Gear Hugger on my mountain bike, road bike, and some squeaky door hinges where I’d typically use my petroleum-based lubricant, I haven’t noticed a difference. That being said, when I really put it to the test, I have every reason to believe this product will be better than the standard option.

Sunski Alpine Collection

Sunski

Sunski, a climate-neutral company, produces polarized sunglasses with recycled frames and uses plastic-free packaging. Their Alpine Collection came out a year and a half ago, and they are soon releasing a new, more feminine style of these popular glasses called the Tera. The Alpine Collection is ideal for bright, reflective environments, such as snow and water. With removable “Sidewings” for peripheral protection, these glasses are great for anglers on bright days, and for hunters and hikers looking to prevent glare on a sunny, snowy day. Their two currently available styles, the Couloir and Treeline, block 100% UVA/UVB/UV400 wavelength, pass the FDA basic impact test, and cost under $100 (which is way less than polarized, fishing- and alpine-specific sunglasses).

Danner Evergreen Collection

Danner

Danner’s Evergreen Collection—coming in fall 2022—is a durable lifestyle shoe made in Oregon. The Douglas (left) and Pine Grove Chukka (right) come in men’s and women’s sizes, and have a waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex Lining. What’s notable about these two styles of boots is that they’re fully recraftable, meaning Danner will restore your boots as needed, making them last a lot longer. Danner has an entire team dedicated to restoring old boots, and they can replace anything from damaged stitching to an entire midsole or outsole. This means you buy one pair of everyday boots, wear them to death, and replace parts as needed, rather than throwing an entire shoe away. Many other brands have a repurposing or recycling program, and I think we will be seeing a lot more companies like Danner investing in the lives of their products as sustainability initiatives grow.

namuk Outdoor Clothing for Kids

namuk is a sustainable kids’ outdoor apparel brand that just made its way to the U.S. from Switzerland. What stood out most to me at the Snow Show was the attention to detail that went into the making of the Neo Primaloft and Glow Primaloft Reversible Jackets.

The Neo Primaloft Jacket is an ultra-lightweight, maximum warmth kids’ jacket (ages 0-12) that it windproof and waterproof, has reflective details to keep kids safe, and is made with 45% recycled PrimaLoft Bio insulation (MSRP $269). The Glow Jacket (MSRP takes namuk’s sustainable initiatives even further. It’s made from 100% post-consumer recycled fiber and uses PFC-free water-repellant coating. They also strive to make their gear last as long as possible, but kids grow. So the brand emphasizes handing jackets down to siblings or other kids to get the full use of the product. If you look on the inside of each jacket, you’ll see multiple tags where each kid can write their name down, and rip it off when it’s time to give the jacket a new home.

The Upshot

Although the 2022 Outdoor Retailer Show was less attended than previous years, it’s clear there’s a trend toward more sustainable outdoor gear hitting the market. Whether it’s plant-based products outperforming gas and petroleum, or recycled plastic proving its durability, there’s something to be said for the newest products being both innovative and eco conscious.

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