Outdoor Retailer Winter Market came to Salt Lake City at the end of January. While there, we noticed a few companies and products that were out of the ordinary. Some of their products aren’t revolutionary, while others are. These are just a sampling of the products that stood out as top notch.
Pearl Izumi & eVENT Fabrics
Pearl Izumi has long-offered some of the best cycling clothing in the industry. This year, they are introducing some new products to expand their reach into the running and outdoor market in general.
They have come out with a new running shoe line that was designed entirely in-house and they have teamed up with eVENT Fabrics to push the limits of breathability in functional, technical outerwear.
As we looked at the their lightweight shell, the Allegro Jacket, I commented that it didn’t have any pit zips. “We don’t put any pit zips in the jackets because they don’t need them,” said Todd Posley, National Sales Manger for Pearl Izumi. I was skeptical until we paid a visit to the eVENT booth later. Back to the jacket… this jacket is the epitome of a trail running, cross-country skiing, backcountry skiing or mountain biking jacket. It fits snug without alot of bulk and offers two high chest pockets.
One of the coolest features of the Pearl Izumi Allegro Jacket was the see-thru watch window in the left sleeve of the jacket. I tried it on and, bam!, it was the first time I could see what time it was without taking my gloves off or pulling the sleeve up. What an awesome feature!
Jim Lenox at eVENT Fabrics was kind enough to pass us along a couple of pairs of eVENT Fabric gloves that have been used on a handful of backcountry trips. With every pair of Gore-Tex gloves I’ve ever work hiking, I’ve had to take them off because they get all hot and soggy–Not with eVENT! You can keep the gloves on while skinning or hiking and they don’t overheat and they don’t trap moisture either. Simply put, eVENT has put the breathable back into the waterproof/breathable equation.
Look for eVENT fabrics in Pearl Izumi, Salomon, Lowe Alpine, ScottUSA, SOS, Timberland and other manufacturers soon.
Honey Stinger Energy Bars & Gels
These guys have really come up with an interesting delivery method to energy gels. The majority of energy gels are delivered using a brown rice base, but Steamboat, Colorado-based EN-R-G Foods, Inc. uses a natural gel to deliver their energy gel packets–honey!
According to Honey Stinger, everything “starts with pure honey (made by bees, not factories), and adds B vitamins to help absorb proteins and fats; and breakdown carbohydrates into glucose to provide energy and improve recovery.” Another benefit of using honey is that it is naturally low on the glycemic index–low GI foods allow your to maintain energy levels, not spike and crash. It is also a natural antioxidant.
I have used Honey Stinger head-to-head against Clif Shots and GU. While I do find the honey to be a bit strong, it does go down with about the same amount of bitter beer face as any other energy gel. What is nice is the new banana flavor gel, which goes down great.
New for 2003 are the Honey Stinger Energy Bars. My personal favorite is the Peanut Butter ‘n Honey, which, in my opinion, tastes better than any other energy bar out there. The bit of honey really adds to the flavor of this new bar.
Look for Honey Stinger energy bars and gels at your local store. But, if you don’t find them, ask your local retailer to get with the program and start selling this stuff, or buy it directly through HoneyStinger.com.
KINeSYS Spray-on Sunscreen
Ok, first of all, husband and wife tandem, Jeff and Josie are about the coolest people you’ll ever meet. On top of that they also make some of the easiest to use and most effective sunscreens on the market today.
The first time I met KINeSYS CEO Jeff Kletter was near the end of the first day of OR Summer Market 2002. Everyone was dragging and ready to go home, but not Jeff. As we passed by his booth, he made us laugh so hard that we had to see what was up. I thought to myself, “Man, this guy must be on something to be this excited about sunscreen.”
I didn’t get a chance to use the sunscreen until Interbike 2002 in Blue Diamond, NV. The sun beats down pretty hard in the Nevada desert and my good pal Jeff was preaching the word of protection, protection, protection from harmful UV rays. He basically ran me down, held my bike and sprayed my face and arms with the sunscreen. It goes on very easy, isn’t oily and doesn’t need to be rubbed in. It’s the ultimate sports sunscreen.
On top of all that, the stuff worked! I left the Outdoor Demo after 8 hours of nuclear sun without even the slightest sunburn. Kudos to KINeSYS and Jeff Kletter–this stuff rocks!
Fox River Socks
Socks… well… socks are arguably the most underrated piece of equipment we all use everyday–not just for sports. Can you remember the last time you put on a pair of socks that just made your feet feel like they were in heaven? You can’t… well, you haven’t tried on any Fox River socks lately, have you?
Truthfully speaking, for most people, the socks they wear are nothing fancier than a bag of tube socks from Target. The problem with the mass-produced socks is they don’t fit well, don’t use brand-name fibers and fabrics and they don’t wick away moisture properly.
Enter Fox River socks. They are not only some of the nicest people you’ll meet, but their socks speak for themselves.
New this year is the OXT line. Models in this line are meant for high-performance backpacking, mountaineering, mountain biking or trail running. Using ISOLWOOL 50/50 merino wool and polyproplyene blend, these socks dry 20-25% faster than merino wool socks. They are also much more wear resistant. But, all the tech stuff aside–these things feel so nice next to the skin and perform unlike any sock I’ve ever worn. Extremely wicking and extremely soft against the skin.
Being a huge fan of quarter socks, I’ve been using the OXT Wick Dry Off Road Quarter socks for a few weeks now and absolutely love them.
Don’t keep kidding yourself into thinking socks are socks because they aren’t. The second you slip into a pair of Fox River socks, you will be sold on high-quality socks for life!