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Best New Travel Gear at the 2011 Winter Outdoor Retailer Show

I once again headed to the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, a twice yearly event showcasing the latest and greatest outdoor gear and apparel in the world. The trade show floor was bustling with more than 1000 exhibitors proudly displaying their new products and I weeded through the masses to scout out the best new travel gear before it hits the shelves.

Here are some of the best travel gear items I saw on the trade show floor, some are available now, but some you will have to wait for. You can also check out other trade show attendees best of posts to see what others found to be the best gear at the show.


Topping the list for coolest thing seen at the Winter Outdoor Retailers Show is the crazy versatile outwear by LOKI. All good travelers know that the secret to efficient packing is choosing items that have multiple functions and that is why you will all love LOKI. Named after the shape changing God of Mischief in Norse mythology, LOKI gear morphs into other gear to suit your needs.

LOKI jackets have built-in face shields and mitts that are totally unnoticeable when not in use, but can then be deployed when weather necessitates it. I am always losing my mittens so it would be great to have them built in and ready at a moment’s notice. Many of their lightweight jackets convert into a backpack that rides on your shoulders, not around your waist like many other convertible jackets. The backpack also doubles nicely as a pillow during backcountry camping trips.

You can find LOKI gear at Amazon and at LOKI.

ETON Scorpion

Speaking of mutli-functioning gear, ETON is turning out some stellar multi-function digital radios. Not only an AM/FM receiver, the ETON Scorpion has a built-in LED flashlight and a USB charger so you can charge your cell phone or iPod out in the woods. An audio line also lets you play your mp3 player through the radio’s speakers.

To power the device you can either turn the hand crank or sit the device out in the sun and let the mini solar panel do the work. A battery charger indicator lets you know how much power you have remaining. Great for emergencies or any outdoor adventure that takes you far away from an electrical outlet, the Scorpion also has a handy bottle opener and nifty built-in carabiner so you can easily attach the unit to your pack.

Hydro Flask Filtration System

I’ve previously raved about the Hyrdo Flask – I never imagined that a water bottle could be this incredible. The Hydro Flask seriously keeps hot liquids hot for 12 hours and cold liquids cold for 24 hours and you can switch back and forth between coffee and water and not have any coffee funk in your water.

Now they’re stepping it up even more with the new Hydro Flask Filtration System, which is a Hydro Flask equipped with a built-in filtration system that filters out chlorine, pollutants, metals, sediments, microbes and other pollutants. The system will be available for purchase on their website soon. One important thing to note is the filtration system is only intended for free flowing water like streams or the tap, but the company did say they are working on a similar system meant to treat stagnant water, which would be perfect for backpack trips.

Hydro Flask participates in Five Percent Back, so you can feel good about your purchase knowing that 5% of the gross profit from each bottle can go to the charity of your choice.

Magellan Tough Case

Although I haven’t personally stepped on the iPhone train, I am totally amazed by all the super techy gadgets available for the iPhone. Well if I had an iPhone, I would pick up a Magellan Tough Case for sure. The Tough Case not only protects your iPhone from the elements but enhances GPS capabilities and transfers power to your iPhone or iPod to double the battery life of the device.

The waterproof and shock resistant case offers access to the touch screen, hard buttons, and audio jack so you can fully interact with the device. This case is perfect for the outdoor adventurer who wants to enjoy their iPhone in the outdoors without having to worry about damaging it from the elements. The current Magellan Tough Case is only compatible with the iPhone3G, 3GS, and iPod Touch (2nd generation).

Briggs & Riley BRX Exchange Duffel

There is no shortage of carry-on bags that convert into backpacks on the market, but none quite like this. The Briggs & Riley BRX Exchange Duffel easily switches from duffel to backpack complete with lumbar support, padded straps, and a sternum strap. Most convertible packs I’ve tried on are horribly uncomfortable, but not this baby – it felt as good as my Keen Newport Daypack. It is no wonder the Exchange Duffel received a National Geographic Gear of the Year Award in 2010.

In the coming months, Briggs & Riley is adding two new bags to their rugged BRX collection including the Excursion Field Bag perfect for carrying an iPad or Nook and the Excursion Messenger Bag designed for laptops up to 15.6 inches. The bags feature a water-resistant top, anti-scratch construction, and a unique lift strap that literally lifts up your device so you don’t have to go reaching down into your bag for it. The new Excursion bags will be available in stores and online in Many 2011.

[Photo courtesy of Stig Nygaard]