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Alpine / January 15, 2017

Outdoor Retailer: The snow demos

Written by: Kevin Linderman

It’s not that we weren’t excited to attend the Outdoor Retailer Winter Show in Salt Lake City last week. But before spending a few days on the conference floor hob-nobbing with industry folks, we thought it seemed important to… you know… get outdoors.  

So we hit up nearby Solitude Mountain, where dozens of outdoor brands allowed conference-goers to test their wares in true winter conditions. It had been a very snowy week, so there were fresh tracks to be had all over the mountain.

The Demo had a backcountry theme, so several snowshoe vendors were there to pitch their perspectives on the sport. Mainstays like MSR were there of course (they demoed the Ascent and Evo models), but we also got to see several lesser-known brands. Yukon Charlie’s Airlift Emergency Inflatable Snowshoes, for example, were “floating” around all over the place.

 

Dozens of vendors turned out to show off their wares.

So many snowshoes to demo... so little time.

Scarpa, Solomon and DPS were there to demo their backcountry boots and skis. Those folks who really wanted to test these out could join the guides from Utah Mountain Adventures for a two-hour backcountry tour. Alpine skis were available for rent from the ski lodge.

I had the opportunity to test Julbo’s new Aerospace Goggles on the mountain. Julbo’s proprietary “Superflow” system came in handy in the relatively warm weather, and the goggles stayed almost completely fog-free. The Julbo NXT lens adjusted nicely to the cloudy conditions, so I was able to see terrain that might have been masked altogether by lesser goggles.

Another highlight came from Arva, which used the show as a North American debut for its Reactor Systems backpack line.

Long well known among backcountry skiers for its avalanche beacons, Arva is a company that places safety first. The company’s airbag backpacks reflect a new trend in the backcountry world: they keep skiers afloat in avalanches with a quick-deploy airbag. Just pull a small handle near the shoulder strap, and a one-time canister will fire and fill the bag in seconds.

It’s not a new technology (airbag backpacks have been in the U.S. market for a few years now), but Alva’s packs are lighter and slicker-looking than most airbag packs.

After some solid turns on the mountain, we returned to a demo area with a large fire, a large assortment of Uinta beers, and a table full of Yeti ramblers filled with hot coffee or cocoa.

All in all, it was a solid day on a great mountain… with some top-tier brands putting their best feet forward. And the price was right, of course.

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about the author

Kevin Linderman

Kevin Linderman is the founder and Chief Adventure Officer for Shoulders of Giants. Kevin has spent his entire professional career in and around the field of information technology, but has always been an avid outdoor enthusiast and a seeker of knowledge.

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