The Outdoor Trade Show is a great big gear fest where the brands that market the clothing, equipment and gadgets used by fans of the great outdoors display their new wares to retailers in the hope of persuading them to stock them on their shelves.
We took a stroll to the rolling Warwickshire countryside to take a peek at some of the more interesting items you might be shelling out for in the coming months.
First port of call was Snugpak, the West Yorkshire rarity that actually manufactures sleeping bags and clothing in the UK. The company has a big following in the military and many of its lines are in camouflage colours – not the sort of gear beloved of hillwalkers and climbers who would rather be seen by that rescue helicopter rather than blending into the countryside.
Its new generation of SJ insulated jackets come in reassuringly visible silver, blue and red. It uses Snugpak’s own Softie Premier insulation and all are warm, windproof and water resistant.
The top of the range SJ-9, which will retail at £140, is aimed at winter users or those stationary for prolonged periods. It features an insulated hood.
The SJ-6, at £120, has a roll-away hood and is aimed at temperatures down to –5C. The SJ-3 will hit the shops at £100 and Snugpak says it will keep users warm down to about zero degrees, and is sold as a jacket aimed at summer and spring users.
And if you insist, all three can also be had in camouflage too.
KEEN’s Clearwater CNX is a hybrid sandal with built-in toe protection and is a step back to its 10-year-old roots 10 with a fresh approach to lightweight footwear.
At less than 285g, the model comes in both men’s and women’s versions, with washable polyester webbing upper, PU midsole with a 4mm drop, and metatomical toe ridge in the footbed. The outsole has multi-directional flex grooves with razor siping for enhanced traction on slick surfaces.
With its dynamic bungee lace system, the Clearwater CNX is an easy-on-easy-off water sandal and is perfect for a playful romp along the river or shore.
Contigo is a newcomer to the UK, with a range of bottles and mugs.
Distributed in Britain by Dublin-based John Thompson, the Randolph insulated mug has the company’s Autoseal system which enables one-handed sipping action either left- or right-handed.
The lever on the lid is pressed to allow drinking and the mug is sealed immediately when the lever is released.
There is even a mini-reservoir on the lid to allow tea to be slurped. It’s spillproof, leakproof and its insulation is claimed to keep hot drinks at the right temperature for four hours, with cool drinks having a 12-hour limit before they warm up.
The Randolph will retail for £27.99.
Other items in the range are the Autoseal kids’ mug, the Addison Autospout Hydration Bottle and the Autoseal Kangeroo Water Bottle with a storage compartment to keep your cards, money or keys in.
The bottles and mugs are free of BPA, a material that has led to health scares in some reports.
While a big percentage of outdoor clothing and equipment is produced in the Far East, it was to Richmond, the Yorkshire Dales town familiar to all those who have trodden Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk, we looked for our second UK produced item.
Alt-Berg is about as traditional a company as you’ll find in the outdoor industry. Its Richmond factory makes about 100 pairs of non-standard and made-to-measure boots a week, while its sister works in Treviso, Italy, turns out 800 pairs of standard footwear.
The company was founded in the North Yorkshire town in 1989 and its founder Mike Sheehan still works in both the British factory and the Italian one as senior bootmaker.
In its catalogue, you won’t find bright primary colours nor plastic bits everywhere, just sturdy looking brown boots, the staple of the company for the last 23 years.
A big selling point of its Mallerstang, Tethera and Fremington models is that they are available in five width fittings.
Their two new styles, the Malham and Yan Tan, have been designed around its new A-Forme last.
For such a traditional boot maker, the Yan Tan – one, two in shepherd’s counting dialect – is as revolutionary as it gets. Made from 2.4mm full-grain water-repellent Nubuck model, with woven polyester and Kevlar reinforcement, the boot has a Sympatex waterproof and breathable lining.
The olive and black footwear has a Vibram Masai sole with micro midlayer and protective rubber toe rand.
It has been designed around the A-Forme last, two years in development, which has a narrow heel and waist, a medium-plus width asymmetric forefoot and increased toe spring and a pair will tip the scales at 658g.
It will retail for £170 and its more traditional cousin the Malham, on the same last but in full-grain 2mm nappone leather, will cost £160.
Corsica-born Aurora Tyas is an inveterate traveller, and on her trips round some of the less salubrious parts of the world, she encountered a hygiene problem: how to keep fresh in the underwear department.
This delicate subject exercised her mind after the globetrotter, now based in the UK, faced the prospect of changing knickers in less than ideal conditions.
Her solution, unveiled at the Destination show earlier this year, was Pop & Go Knickers.
The undies come in cotton or Quick Dry wicking fabric and their innovative design means you can unclip the panties and remove them without exposing yourself to the gaze of strangers.
Putting a fresh pair on means just lowering jeans or trouser a little way so they can be slid into position.
Aurora says they are ideal in the grotty hole-in-the-floor type of toilet where you don’t want to drop your trousers fully to the floor; in male-dominated Alpine huts; or even just within a sleeping bag so you don’t have to do acrobatics to remove and replace the panties.
The Pop & Go Knickers were one of the finalists in the Novel Award at the Outdoor Trade Show and come with their own carrying pouch for when you’ve taken them off.
The undies come in sizes 6 to 18.
Northern Ireland-based Stanley Russell can talk the talk. And if his new garments are as revolutionary as he claims, there will be quite a few people walking the walk in them.
Stanley’s APT Fabrics has a background in developing fabrics for military and emergency services use and his Aclimatise range is his first move into the outdoors market.
He says he has the world’s first thermo-regulating, waterproof, breathable and windproof fleece.
At its heart is an outer fabric laminated to a breathable polyurethane membrane incorporating 30 per cent aluminium.
A durable water repellent is added to the outer fabric and the result, he says, means it has been possible to wear only a thin t-shirt under an Aclimatise fleece in Antarctic conditions of –30C.
The fabric outperforms the leading best-selling membrane, he claims and all the garments are made in the UK.
The fabric is also UK-manufactured but the laminating process takes place in mainland Europe because, Stanley says, there is no-one in Britain who can do it.
He says Aclimatise works well in warm conditions too, and when outdoor enthusiasts are working hard on the hills and mountains, with only a 2-degree rise in temperature possible in most situations.
His minimum garment order is one, meaning he can deal with specialist requests.
The range currently includes men’s and women’s Seahawk fleeces, weighing 750g and 700g respectively, men’s Goshawk waterproof jacket at 750g and the Osprey waterproof jacket, again weighing 750g for the men’s model. The women’s version tips the scales at 600g.
Aclimatise garments are not yet in the shops, but if we believe Stanley Russell’s pitch, they could be taking the walking and climbing world by storm.
We’ll update you on more novel gear soon with our next update from the Outdoor Trade Show.