Aspen Times Weekly: ‘Best in Show’ |

Aspen Times Weekly: ‘Best in Show’

by Stephen Regenold

Last week, I previewed products from the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, a twice-annual event in Utah. After spending three days at the trade show, these items stood out as some of the most innovative and unique, a “best in show” list of outdoor gear coming to market in 2016.

Mega Headlamp: At 2,000 lumens, it is brighter than most car headlights. The XEO from LED Lenser was built for biking at night, skiing after dark, and other nocturnal adventures where a normal headlamp won’t cut it. To manage the inevitable heat build-up that comes from all that light, there’s an air intake chamber on front — as you bike, run, or ski, air gets “scooped” into the vent, cooling the LED unit.

‘Customizable Warmth:’ A high-quality down bag serves as the base for the Thylacine system from Kammok. From there, a camper can add or remove layers (sold separately) to use a single bag in many temps and seasons, from 30 degrees to zero F. The company markets the Thylacine as “the last sleeping bag you’ll ever need.”

Best Water Filter Made: The MSR Guardian Purifier is unique to the world of pump-based units because of a new kind of filter so small it eliminates viruses. It is touted to remove every biological threat, including viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. It cleans itself, “flushing” the filter with 10 percent of the water you pump. Finally, a hard-to-break plastic case is touted to withstand 300 pounds of force for mishaps in the outback.

Mini Lantern” This little workhorse of a lantern packs a lot of power into an 8-ounce package. With a runtime of more than 500 hours on its low setting, you can likely plan on an entire summer of camping without a recharge. Called the Goal Zero Lighthouse MINI, the light does double duty as a battery pack through a USB output on the front that can recharge a camera or a phone.

Sleep On Wet Ground: The Moonwalk sleeping bag from NEMO has an impermeable “bathtub” floor, meaning you can lay on wet grass, mud, or other surfaces without getting wet or damaging the bag. The lightweight design weighs 2 pounds, 2 ounces, and it is rated for nights down to 30 degrees.

Big Water Packrafts: Two brands debuted the category’s first lightweight, self-bailing packrafts. Aire and Kokopelli designed boats that pack up small but can navigate big whitewater. Instead of taking in water, the rafts “bail” the excess water via the floor, letting the crafts remain lighter and more maneuverable in fast river currents.

Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at