More of next year’s gear from the Winter 2015 Outdoor Retailer show.
Patagonia Backcountry Experience: Consider yourself a freeride skier, ski mountaineer, or alpinist? Patagonia’s 2015–16 collection offers designs intended for each pursuit. The stalwart Gore-Tex Pro PowSlayer kit anchors the ski side, while the Recon hybrid soft shell and hard shell layers looks ready made for lapping your favorite backcountry zone. The Kniferidge jacket and pant focuses on the ascent with Polartec Power Shield Pro soft shell for supple range of motion. For climbers, the Refugio jacket employs Gore-Tex C-Knit Backer Technology, which cuts weight to just 15 oz, and the Super Alpine kit deploys Gore-Tex Pro in a streamlined jacket and pant. Fall 2015.
Arc’teryx Procline: The Canadian company also turns to human-powered alpine pursuits with the Procline jacket and pant for ski mountaineering. Three-layer soft shell construction retains weatherproof properties without constricting the user’s movements. Harness and backpack compatible pockets add ultility.
Flylow Genius Jacket and IQ Pant: This independent brand celebrates its 10th anniversary with a Polartec NeoShell setup designed for the modern skier. We’ve found ultra-breathable Neoshell keeps us comfortable when the pace picks up on the skintrack or the bootpack, but it’s weatherproof enough for most outings. This year Flylow adds harness-compatible pockets on both the pants (14 oz) and the jacket (16.5 oz), and a more tailored fit.
Westcomb Subzero: Call it crossover apparel, or function meets fashion. Most outerwear brands are designing lifestyle apparel with technical materials, but Westcomb’s Subzero line of jackets stands out in a crowded category. PrimaLoft Gold insulation combines synthetic fibers (30 percent) and water-repellent goose down (70 percent) that delivers the warmth of a 750-fill down jacket. For Fall 2015, Schoeller, Pertex, and Polartec fabrics add performance to the sleek, urban styles.
Black Diamond PIEPS Pocket: Watch for the first ski-specific outwear from Black Diamond next fall. Attention to detail trickles down to the PIEPS Pocket, included in every pant. Here, a leash attaches to your avalanche beacon, which tucks into a sleeve padded with PORON XRD foam to protect your transceiver from impact damage. Bonus: Better access to your beacon in a rescue scenario, and less of a chance of breaking a rib when you crash and land on your beacon.
Helly Hansen Norviz: Helly Hansen’s new training layers feature an embedded reflective layer. In daylight, it’s invisible. But in headlights (or a camera flash, as seen above), it shines bright for 360-degree reflectivity. Look for Norviz jackets, tights, and longsleeves tops for men and women.
Montane Fireball Verso Pull-On: Reversible layers make economic sense—you get two looks for one price. Montane goes further by engineering two technical layers in a single garment. Here’s how it would work on a ski tour: On the way up, turn the baffled side out. The PrimaLoft Silver Active synthetic insulation is designed to pair with air permeable fabrics. Meaning air moves through the Hypervent backing to keep you from over heating. At the summit, turn the Fireball inside out. Now, the Pertex Quantum ripstop nylon face fabric protects against wind, and PrimaLoft keeps warmth near your body on the descent. Weight and price are noteworthy: 8.6 oz and $149.
New uses for merino wool
super.natural studio sport collection: Outdoor brands have long touted wool’s natural properties (it’s odor-resistant and insulates even when wet). More recently, textile wonks have added synthetic fibers to improve moisture wicking and hold shape over time. The super.natural twist? The brand spins South African merino with polyester to create blended yarns that they claim wick six times faster than all-natural products. Meaning you stay drier and warmer. The modern lines and vibrant colors in the Fall 2015 studio sport collection (see above) transition smoothly from trail to town.
Polartec Power Wool: The textile manufacturer Polartec offers another take on wool/synthetic hybrids. With their new Power Wool offerings they place soft wool next to skin for warmth and comfort, then add a separate, exterior polyester layer to pull moisture away from the body and up durability. The fabric feels like your favorite pair of sweatpants—but the Westcomb base layer we tested on a post-OR ski day kept us dry and comfortable. Partners for Fall 2015 include Arc’Teryx, The North Face, Mammut, and L.L. Bean.
Duckworth Co: This startup sources merino from Montana and makes all of its base layers, midlayers, and outerwear in the United States. But they’re more than a feel-good story—there’s true innovation here. Manufacturers traditionally use a chlorine wash to descale wool fibers. This chemical treatment makes your base layers shrink-resistant and machine-washable. But textile specialist and Duckworth co-founder Graham Stewart just patented a process that uses water to achieve improved results. The benefit to consumers? Price and environmental impact decrease, while durability improves. Stewart also developed a wool and nylon blend that can hold a waffle knit. Look for that application in thermal layers from Duckworth next winter.
Hoka One One Tor Ultra High WP: We’ve spotted backpackers shod in ultra-cush Hokas for years. This makes sense—the oversized but lightweight midsole decreases body fatigue over long distances. At Outdoor Retailer, the brand debuted its first purpose-built hiker, the Tor Ultra High WP ($230). A supportive leather and nylon upper, Vibram outsole, and waterproof eVent membrane make for a trail-ready package.
Under Armour Fat Tire GTX: Hoka’s latest challenger in the oversized-midsole category comes from Under Armour, whose Fat Tire GTX is slated for a Fall 2015 release (look for a trail running version without Gore-Tex this spring). A double dose of foam is designed to deliver a mountain bike’s rolling power, and a new Michelin rubber compound for the Wild Gripper outsole looks capable of delivering serious traction.
Patagonia SnowDrifter Series: Patagonia applied their “everything you need, nothing you don’t” ethos to the new, purpose-built SnowDrifter line. The 20L ($129) features an insulated hydration sleeve; the 30L ($169) offers back panel access and a fleece-lined goggle pocket; and the 40L ($199, above) is a top-loader with a side zip for duffel-like access to the main compartment. All feature extra-large zipper toggles for gloved hands, avy tool pockets, and ski/snowboard carry options.
The North Face Modulator: The North Face Modulator ($999, 4.5lb) is the first transferable ABS airbag unit designed to be used with your whole quiver of gear haulers. (Down to 12 liter packs anyway.) Two pods house the airbags outside the backpack, and a harness integrates with the pack’s shoulder straps. Switch the trigger to your left or right side.
Ortovox Cross Rider Packs: The German avalanche safety company designed a sleek collection of 16, 18, and 20-liter packs for a fall 2015 release. Their compact, close to the body design delivers all the amenities of a backcountry pack without bulk, including back panel access, ski carry solutions, avy tool pockets, hip pockets for snacks, and a helmet carrier.
Stanley Classic Growler and Adventure Vacuum Crockpot: Stanley brings more creature comforts to car camping, tailgating, trailhead recovery, and picnics. The vacuum insulated growler ($50) holds four pints, keeps said beer chilled for 16 hours, and includes a handle to facilitate transport and pouring. Pair that with the crockpot ($65, 3 quarts, keeps food warm up to 18 hours, leak proof) and you’ve got a feast.
Hydro Flask True Pint: You know them for vacuum insulated water bottles. Now Hydro Flask wants to keep your beer cold too. The True Pint ($21.99) is designed with an angled interior wall for a smoother pour and a lip near the bottom to keep pints from getting stuck when you stack them.
Princeton Tec Helix lanterns: Light up camp with the packable Backcountry (red) or Base Camp (green) model. Designed to hang or stand on four folding feet. —Olivia Dwyer