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Best Travel Gear at the Summer Outdoor Retailer Market

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I spent the week at the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, a biannual event of the latest and greatest outdoor gear and apparel in the world.  With more than 1000 exhibitors strutting their new products on the tradeshow floor and more happy hour parties than I can remember, it was one whirlwind week!

Between bruising my bum in a Climashield tug-of-war contest, catching the finals of the Unified Bouldering Championship, and scoring a sneak peak of 127 hours – a film about Aron Ralston’s narrow escape (cutting his arm off) when he was being pinned by a boulder in a remote Utah slot canyon,  I managed to check out a ton of new gear.

I spent the first day checking out the best new travel backpacks on the market.  Practically every gear company that makes packs for travel is releasing backpacks with TSA compliant laptop sleeves.  I was blown away with the things these companies come up with for streamlining the airport security line.

I spent the second day recovering from the first by trying out every single travel size hammock on the tradeshow floor.  I combed the floor for the most inventive travel accessories – not necessarily essentials but the products that are designed to make the outdoors and travel just a bit more fun.

The third day was back down to business with a look at all the new iPhone/iPod travel accessories.  I was pretty impressed by all the solar powered products hitting the market, some ingeniously designed packs, and hardcore waterproof cases and bags.

In the coming months I will be testing out some of these new products firsthand and offering more in depth reviews on the site as well as giving away loads of new gear to our devoted readers.

Here are some of the best new travel items I saw on the tradeshow floor – some are available now but others won’t be available until 2011.

Eagle Creek Eco-Friendly Packs

A popular them of this summer’s Outdoor Retailer show were organic fabrics, recycled polyesters, and other sustainable materials.  Eagle Creek, one of the top makers of travel gear, is introducing a new line of travel bags made from 100% recycled nylon and polyester.

By choosing to use 100% post-consumer polyester and nylon, Eagle Creek estimates it can keep over 440,000 used plastic bottles a year out of landfills and keep over 23 metric tons of nylon out of landfills.

With these new environmental standards, Eagle Creek is not compromising durability and versatility, but releasing a line of rugged packs designed for the modern world traveler.

The Eagle Creek Travese Pro is a lightweight wheeled upright bag with a zipoff daypack that has a TSA compliant laptop case.  Eagle Creek shaved off a pound of their popular Switchback model and created lightweight bag for hauling gear in muddy and wet conditions – the Hybrid Hauler – all made with 100% recycled fabrics.  Expect to see this new eco-friendly Eagle Creek line in stores and online in January 2011.

Thule Crossover Travel Bags

Thule, a household name in racks, carriers, and storage units for vehicles, has recently released a line of travel bags designed for the outdoor enthusiast and adventure traveler.  In keeping with Thule’s vision, these bags are designed to carry and protect gear.

Thule’s Crossover Collection bags all feature a unique crush-proof compartment for your goggles, sunglasses, iPod or other fragile gear, sturdy aluminum hardware, water-resistant fabrics, and plenty of pockets and organization features to keep you well organized on the train, plane, or bike.

From backpacks and duffels to rolling backpacks and rolling duffels, you can look forward to seeing some reviews of Thule’s Crossover bags on Travel Gear Blog.

Vibram Five Fingers

Vibram just may be taking over the world and I am totally okay with that.  After reading Born to Run, I have too hopped on the barefoot bandwagon.

Truth is Vibrams might just be the next best travel shoe.  Vibrams are lightweight (only around 6 ounces), wash easily, and offer you a more “deeper connection with your surroundings.”  Who doesn’t want to be more connected while traveling?

The KSO Trek and Treksport are extremely breathable and versatile and offer incredible traction over varied terrain.  These lightweight, easily portable shoes are the best travel shoes in Vibram’s lineup.  Vibram is also premiering a children’s collection this spring so kids can have the same benefits from cruising barefoot as Vibram’s adult customers.

Ex Officio Lacy Lu and Sol Col

ExOfficio isn’t just about the “17 countries. 6 weeks” and “One pair of underwear” thing, these makers of the ultimate travel underwear also make high performance clothing for the world traveler.

ExOfficio has literally thought of everything the independent traveler needs to stay comfy and well protected around the globe, form built-in UV protection and bug repellant materials to quick drying and wrinkle free fabrics.  Now they will be releasing their Sol Col line of clothing next spring, which will keep the wearer cooler since the fabric is made from a unique ingredient that has a natural cooling effect.

I have to admit that the real reason I was drawn to the Ex Officio booth were all the models in underwear, but then I did find out about their new Lacy Lu line.  Sure Ex Officio underwear are practical but they didn’t have any real aesthetic appeal until the Lacy Lu.  These underwear have all the same quick drying, wash easily in a sink features but with a more feminine appeal.

[Photo courtesy of Mike The Mountain]