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Outdoor Retailer: Outdoor trend alert

Outdoor Retailer draws to a close today. While our coverage directly from the show will wind down, we'll be turning our attention back to bringing you backcountry gear reviews and informative gear and outdoor skill articles, some of which will be based on what we've seen this past week. In the meantime, here are a few observations from walking the Outdoor Retailer show floor. 

1. Baselayers: You already knew they mattered. Now there's no excuse for not wearing decent ones. It seems like everyone has a line (or five) of baselayers. Cloudveil introduced their first baselayers at the show, joining the ranks of PolarMax, Smartwool, Patagonia, Columbia, Ibex, Sherpa Adventure Gear, Duofold, Champion, The North Face, and too many others to mention.

2. Socks: Maybe it's because we wear socks every day, even if we're not in the backcountry. Or maybe it's because socks are relatively cheap compared to most outdoor gear, but there is a veritable technical sock explosion going on (Smartwool, Point6, Teko, Goodhew, Darn Tough, Thorlos, Bridgedale, Fox River, Lorpen, Swiftwick...). Merino wool seems to be the favored material, but I also saw socks made from bamboo, lambswool, alpaca, and recycled poly, among others.

3. Zone/core comfort. Whatever it was called, there was an emphasis on core or zone comfort. What does that mean? Companies like GoLite, Mountain Hardwear, and Sierra Designs use different materials in different body zonal areas for better temperature control and movement. For example, a piece might have insulation or a heavier fabric in your core area, and a thin, stretchy material from arm pits down your sides, where you're likely to heat up and sweat and not want to be restricted.

4. Aluminum: While aluminum water bottles got a bad rap last year for previously having liners made with BPA, aluminum is making a resurgence in unexpected places with its promise to reflect back users' body heat and increase warmth. It can be found on sleeping pads and in the very shiny liners of mid layers, shells, and even hats from Columbia. The Everest-bound Champion Super Suit, also includes a metallicized foil membrane.

5. Oh, and be warned, the '80s are coming back in a variety of clothing and pack styles and color combos, like in CamelBak's Pit Boss shown here. Cue up the Van Halen.


Beware the hype. Aluminum reflector layers are nothing new. Moonstone had a line of parkas and sleeping bags with the stuff well over 20 years ago. Radiant barriers test well in the lab and perform poorly in the real world. The boosted ratings are bogus. Also issues about durability and breathabiity, or the lack thereof.

Also, Aerogel has not worked well in clothing. Burton tried it five years ago but it was a flop. Lots of issues make it a poor choice for that application. Hope the Everest boys take backup gear.

I think the most important part is the colors returning to 80s style. Now people will think I have all new hi-tech gear instead of old hi-tech gear. Giggle

Jim S

Yikes, not the 80's... That is one ugly pack! :0

Does a Sierra cup come with the retro packs?


I have a sierra cup if you'd like to buy it.

Jim S

I though maybe there would be a few Sierra Cups amongst the Trailspace community.

Thanks but I have one!

Hi, Clyde. Welcome to Trailspace. You're right that things seem to go around in cycles. It will be interesting to know how the Super Suit fares on Everest. If anyone has used the POE sleeping pads with aerogel, I'd be curious to hear what they thought.

Trout, I still use a Sierra cup too, though I also use like the Guyout Squishy bowls, because they're easy to clean.

Jim, I was also thinking that anyone who hung on to a pack with a super bright color combo (like bright green and purple) from 20 years ago will have the chance to wear it and look trendy.

FYI.... I love my 15 year old Sierra cup! And I have an old purple North Face Bag! So I'm cool too! ;)

Huh? Sierra cup....Am I really missing something here I may enjoy? C'mon, throw a dog a bone aye?

Double insulated stainless steel "cup" in my case, could be different for other people...

Here's a picture of the Evernew Titanium Sierra Style Cup. There are others still being made too.

My sierra cup is old enough to be made of stainless rather than aluminum or titanium. That said, the sierra cup is more of a 1970's thing, the funky pack colors were a 1980's thing; I think some decades are getting mixed up.

I think some decades are getting mixed up.

Luckily, you don't need to worry about the decade, Alan. Retro/vintage/heritage/whatever, it's all cool (or so they say).

On a tangential note, one interesting thing I learned at OR was that Woolrich has thousands of different historical plaids in their archives that they consult when designing new clothes. The company recently hired an archivist.

Clyde, I am delighted to add my welcome to your signing on to Trailspace. Your many years of expertise will be a great addition. Were you at the Show this time? If so, sorry I missed you, but I will be at the Summer show, so we can visit then.

You are right about the reflective aluminum sheets not being all that great. From time to time, I haul out a "Space Blanket", just to see if it keeps heat in. They do cut the wind, but still don't do well in keeping warm. On the other hand, I find they work pretty well when keeping the camera cool on sunny days (black body, absorbs lots of solar heat). One advantage the superlong Canon lenses have over the superlong Nikon lenses is that they are white, while Nikon's are black - it does make a difference (I have had pretty much all Nikon gear for the past 45 years).

Marmot model 40 deep winter coat. $475. 20 years ago and guaranteed to keeo you dry in extreme wet weather. There's a bit of delamination but Marmot has nothing besides an 8,000 meter park to replace it with. They would no doubt be the same NEW colors though...

Jim S

Very nice, Jim!

Lol. I actually have 1 of these. I always referred to it as "that metal cup thingy." Wow....

I'm turning 21 years old next month and have already gone through a lot of gear changes in my lifetime but the one thing I still consistently use is my Sierra Cup. I'm not sure why but the simplicity of it keeps me coming back (it's definitely not the insulation). It's funny though how such a seemingly indistinct piece of gear got so many people to comment on this thread...

It's funny though how such a seemingly indistinct piece of gear got so many people to comment on this thread...

The hallmark of good design!

If its not broke...Don't fix it! I think a lot of people are far too worried about weight these days, than the quality!

That Marmot you have up reminds me of a Serac down jacket I had some years back....

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