OR Winter Market 2017

I’m not sure that my pedometer is accurate, but I am sure it’s accurate to say that it takes many steps to see all of the awesome products that congregate twice a year in Salt Lake City, UT; where the outdoor industry hosts Outdoor Retailer. This is the event where exhibitors come from all over the world to reveal their new products, and showcase their existing products for retailers and industry media. The Winter Market obviously caters to skiing, snowboarding, and other snowsports—but there are hundreds of products on display that can be used year round.

I walked the miles of red carpet looking for gear that would be of interest to the American adventurist, so please let me know in the comments if there are things that you want me to focus on for the summer show. Now, without further adieu, here are the products that will be lightening your wallet in the coming months.

Adventure Medical Kits

Adventure Medical Kits (AMK) has reintroduced their Mountain Series of medical kits, which set the standard for backcountry medicine when they were originally introduced 20 years ago. Each kit is organized by type of injury, and AMK makes refill kits for each compartment, making the restocking process a snap.

Beyond Clothing

Beyond Clothing is the brainchild of some of the fine folks that played a key part in the development of the Protective Combat Uniform (PCU) program for the US Military. Utilizing top shelf American materials (yes, everything is USA made), Beyond offers a complete layering system that will keep you comfortable no matter what mother nature throws at you.

Big Agnes

How do you make an ultra-light sleeping bag even lighter without cutting down on insulation or compromising durability? Simple. You take the zipper out. Big Agnes has replaced the zipper with a clip system that allows you to close the bag up just like a zippered bag when you want it, and open it up when temps do not require full mummy mode. If you’ve ever caught or broken a lightweight zipper, you need to check out Big Agnes’ new zipper-less bags.

Black Diamond

Black Diamond’s latest update to their awesome LED headlamps packs even more lumens into many of their range of proven models.

Cascade Designs

MSR’s new four-season tents look great and I’m hoping that I’ll get to put one to the test this winter. The Advance Pro 2 is designed for aggressive alpine missions and can be easily setup be one person in technical terrain. The Access Series brings vestibules and other great features to the game and comes in a one, two, and three person version.

Darn Tough

Socks with a warranty—It’s a thing. If you manage to wear out a pair of Darn Toughs, simply send the worn out pair in and Darn Tough will send you a new pair. Their line covers everything from Ski socks to lightweight running socks.


Garmin recently acquired Delorme, and they’ve been busy updating the InReach series of satellite communicators and many of their native products. New to the Explorer+ is a TOPO map, making the navigation functionality of the device much more useful. Maps are also making an appearance on the new Fenix 5 series of watches which pack an insane amount of capability into a lightweight watch.

Goal Zero

I’m really excited to get my hands on Goal Zero’s new generation of Yeti Solar Generators. Lead batteries are out, and higher-capacity Lithium Ion batteries feeding much more powerful AC inverters are in. There’s also the Fuel, a 2000-watt gasoline generator that I’m told is Honda-quiet. Other new goodies include the Boulder 100 and Boulder 50 rigid panels.

Groove Ring

Silicone wedding bands are a great option for folks who find themselves scratching and wearing their metal wedding bands down during abrasive activities, and they provide several safety advantages. Groove Ring takes these benefits a step further by allowing the skin under the ring to breathe, which drastically increases comfort.


New from Helinox is the Chair Zero, a sub-one-pound collapsible chair that will hold folks up to 250 pounds.


Hydroflask now offers their proven double-wall insulation in a bottle and cup designed specifically for folks who want to bring wine into the field. The new products feature insulated, food-safe lids that won’t impact the flavor or characteristics of your wine.


Known for their awesome trekking poles, Leki now makes the XS Lite Table that will allow you to set a beverage anywhere on the table’s surface without gambling on whether or not said beverage will tip over as soon as you look away (because: it’s not fabric).

Mountain Smith

Mountain Smith partnered up with renown lensman Chris Burkard to develop the T.A.N. (Tough As Nails) series of camera bags. Three sizes of camera cubes are great for packing your kit into a larger pack that you already own, and there are two complete packs if you want an all-in-one solution for carrying your gear.


New from Osprey is a comprehensive line of products to help you organize your kit for travel, and a line of bomber luggage. According to the Osprey, the new luggage has passed the ‘bags keep their contents dry when placed on a roof rack and driven in the rain test.’

Sea to Summit

Sea to Summit makes everything from collapsible cookware to inflatable pillows, and about 5 million things in between. Their offerings are very well thought out and very innovative. They recently launched a hammock that weighs 4.9 ounces, yet holds 300 pounds. Their new luggage allows you to configure the carrying handles as a backpack, shoulder sling, or as traditional handles.


Not only does cork do a great job of keeping bottles closed, but it turns out it is also a great material to recycle and make footbeds and shoes out of. SOLE’s new cork-based products offer several advantages over their EVA predecessors. According to all of their professional athlete testers, the cork footbeds work better than EVA footbeds.


UST has created a lighter that doesn’t create a flame. Instead, the TekFire lighter arcs a current between two poles to set things on fire. The unit is powered by a Lithium-Ion battery and charges from a USB port. UST Survival offers a comprehensive line of survival products and kits.

Western Mountaineering

Western Mountaineering makes some of the most highly regarded down products on the market. Their offerings are known for their outstanding performance and very long lifespan. Western has started having the folks who build their products sign them—just like a hand built motor from AMG.


I am a firm believer in the mantra that “the best camera is the one that you have with you” and the fact that you don’t have to have thousands of dollars of camera gear to be able to capture meaningful content. In fact, some of my favorite photos and videos that I’ve captured have been with a $500 GoPro. To that end, I always have at least a GoPro with me when I’m out on an adventure. So when 3D Robotics created Solo, the world’s first “smart drone” that was designed to fly my GoPro around, I knew that one of the cameras I always have with me was going to get a great deal more functional.

Thanks to Solo, I can pop my GoPro off of my helmet, and in a few minutes have it following 100 feet behind as I ride my adventure bike down an endless dirt road. When I reach the peak of a mountain, I can have Solo orbit me in a shot that would have traditionally required a full size helicopter. With a drone you can capture all sorts of amazing content previously impossible without a Hollywood film crew running on a blank check.

flying-solo solo-backpack-climber

Everything that you need to operate Solo, including up to seven flight batteries, fits in a durable, padded backpack that can go just about anywhere you can. When it’s time to fly, setup takes just a few minutes, and a few taps on your device (smartphone or tablet). You only need to install your GoPro into Solo’s three-axis gimbal, which stabilizes the camera, and install the propellers. Then, power on Solo and its controller, and connect everything. As soon as Solo obtains a GPS fix, you’re ready to fly.

takeoff solo-in-flight-2

In the air, Solo’s performance can be set from “Very Slow” to “Very Fast” so that you can learn to fly with Solo’s movement speed limited, and gradually raise it up as you gain confidence in flying. One of the greatest features for new pilots is the pause button. Just like your DVR, if at any time you hit the pause button in flight, Solo will stop moving and hover in place. If you hold down the pause button, Solo will retrace its flight path as long as you have a GPS fix. So if you accidentally fly behind a tree, Solo can rewind itself back out from behind said tree. Solo also has return to home, and a press of a button will bring Solo right back to where it took off.

camera-mode smart-shots-menu

cable-cam-setup follow-me video-view

Flying a drone isn’t too complicated, but getting great cinematic-looking shots can be a challenge. Thankfully, Solo makes capturing great looking content easier with its built-in smart shots. With just a few taps in the Solo app you can configure Solo to follow you around, orbit around you while you’re in place or moving, and a number of other shots that are all done autonomously. Solo does the flying and filming so you can focus on your ride, drive, paddle, or whatever adventure you happen to be getting into. The days of setting up a camera on a tripod, riding or driving past it, and then having to go pick it up are history. With Solo you can setup a moving shot, or just fly it to a cool composition, and let Solo hover in place while you move through the frame.

the-annoying-thing waiting-for-gps

Solo isn’t without fault however, there are a few quirks worth mentioning. All of the smart shots and even hovering in place are largely dependent on a strong (strong meaning low Horizontal Dilution Of Precision or HDOP) GPS fix. Yet, the GPS module in Solo can only receive signals from the United States GPS constellation, and not the Russian GLONASS constellation. What this means is that sometimes Solo can take a few minutes to acquire a sufficient GPS fix to fly with. Other drone manufactures (DJI, I’m looking at you) use both the GPS and GLONASS constellations for their receivers, so they tend to acquire a GPS fix faster, and hold it better (again, in terms of HDOP). In real world use this isn’t a deal-breaker, but waiting for a GPS fix before you fly can get old pretty quickly. The other thing, and this is something that other folks who have reviewed Solo have pointed out, is that the transmission range is nowhere near as good as some of the other drone manufactures out there (such as DJI Lightbridge). Yet, in my experience, Solo will easily go far enough away from you that you’re not going to be able to see it with your naked eye. And believe me, there are all kinds of cool shots that you can get without needing to fly that far away from yourself.


alta-campsite waterskier-followme

Drones have completely changed the way that I document my adventures. Having Solo in your backpack is like having an entire Hollywood studio at your command wherever you happen to be. With Solo, you can replicate and create all kinds of mind-blowing camera moves, and take advantage of perspectives and compositions that were never before possible. Solo stands to become an even better flying camera if the rumored GoPro Hero 5 works with the Solo gimbal. There is an entire line of Made For Solo accessories that let you expand the function of your drone in new and exciting ways. For a drone that fits everything you need into a backpack, uses a proven camera that many folks will already have, and allows even new pilots to pull off awesome cinematic shots with smart shots, Solo is a great piece of kit for any adventurist.


For more information on Solo, visit 3drobotics.com. Note: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires all drones operated in the United States to be registered. To register your drone and to get educated please visit: faa.gov/uas.