DENVER — The annual Outdoor Retailer Snow Show was ever the display of gear and apparel both smart and, well, weird.

Five things that caught our eye in the packed halls of the Colorado Convention Center:


Gobi Heat

Heated clothing was a noticeable trend at the show, with small, blinking lights on the chest of jackets appearing like chargers. So it was with Gobi Heat, the Utah-based company promising the warmth of the desert in the frigid cold.

A pocket inside the jacket stores the battery, which can be controlled for heat up to 140 degrees. Gobi also makes toasty vests, gloves, beanies, base layers and socks.

“Check this out,” an exhibitor said, leading us to a prototype: heated camp chairs.



Seen those parents keeping their quick-to-flee kids in check by leashes attached to backpacks? Apparently, it works for kids learning to snowboard.

So says Sylvain Matte, the Canadian who named his concept, MDX, after his 12-year-old son Maddox. Matte was looking for a better way to teach his boy to shred. He thought of the backpack handle as a way to pick up the fallen boarder-in-training, and a retractable bungee cord leash a way to keep downhill speed in check.

“A game-changer,” Matte calls his $89 product.


Navatex boots

“Get a grip” is the motto of Navatex, the Quebec-based company that sells boots doing just that.

In Italy, there’s a patent on spike-equipped pieces of plastic that flip and twist from their inner-sole caves to provide quick traction on ice. Navatex has bought the rights to the technology and combined it with their stylish, affordable footwear ($50-$200).

Out walking the dog in snow? Flip and switch. Walking home from a meetup on an icy night? Flip and switch.


Oru Kayak’s Inlet

Anton Willis was living in a small apartment in San Francisco. His kayak wasn’t going to fit.

Then he came across the power of origami.

That was the story told to famous investors on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in 2013. At Outdoor Retailer, the latest design was up for the Innovation Awards.

The Inlet starts about the size of a guitar case and in less than five minutes folds into a 10-foot, 20-pound kayak made of sturdy, double-layered polypropylene. The first shipments for the $849 boats are planned for June.


Osprey’s avalanche safety pack

Cortez-based Osprey is jumping into avalanche safety and turning eyes. The Soelden/Sopris Pro, combined with the Alpride airbag, was considered a showstopper by industry magazines.

When it comes to serious adventure, Osprey has made itself known for best-in-class backpacks. Soelden/Sopris is gender-specific, built for comfort and durability — 32-liter for men, 30 for women. A lever on a strap activates a top-of-the-line airbag. A front panel is for avy safety kits, the back frame for carrying skis.


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