The Outdoor Retailer trade show has a reputation for being the place where outdoor gear, apparel and accessory makers go to show off their newest innovations just before they become available to the public.
This year’s show is no different. While fewer exhibitors may be attending this week’s event at the Salt Palace Convention Center, they’ve brought with them some pretty big ideas. Some of the products are more sustainable or environmentally friendly than their predecessors — like WoolAid bandages, which won the OR Product of the Year award Wednesday for using a wool product to replace a plastic one. Others solve traditional problems through new technology or by making products for people whose shapes or identities fall outside what is considered the outdoorsy “norm.” And still others are unique in their simplicity and authenticity.
Since the show isn’t open to the public, the Salt Lake Tribune did some scouting and found five innovative products you just might want to keep on your radar.
Milo Action Communicator • Keeping in contact with buddies or loved ones while running around in the wilderness is important, but can be a pain. Walkie-Talkies have long been the answer, but having to dig one out of your jacket pocket every time you need to check in on little Timmy, Tommy and Tammy, as well as big John, can get pretty annoying. The Milo Action Communicator seems to solve that problem and several others.
The Milo provides a voice-controlled, touchless, open channel of communication among six devices (soon to be expanded to 12, CEO Peter Celinski said) without requiring you to download an app. When you talk, the others will automatically hear what you are saying. But if you get tired of listening to someone yammer on, you can always just ask the device to mute them.
Several similar devices are coming onto the market right now, but what sets the Milo apart is that it’s about the size of a silver dollar and can clip onto anything, not just a helmet or watch. So, you can use it for mountain biking as well as days on the slopes or even as a baby monitor. It’s waterproof up to 10 feet as well, so go ahead and take it on that surfing or swimming expedition. It recharges via a USB-C connection. And though right now it’s not music compatible, Celinski promised it will be within a few months.
Cost: $249 at okmilo.com
SheFly Go Free legging • If anything about a man inspires envy in a woman, it’s likely that they can evacuate their bladder in the wilderness without first having to almost entirely disrobe. If these leggings work as advertised, that won’t be a point of resentment anymore.
SheFly, an entirely woman owned and operated company, equipped these leggings with a zipper that slices through the nether region. It can be opened as much or little as possible to allow a woman to relieve herself without exposing herself to the elements or inadvertently mooning anyone.
SheFly, which was started in 2018 and is based in Gunnison, Colo., can pair the OR Innovation Award the leggings won this year with the one their pants won last year.
Cost: The leggings aren’t on the market yet, but the pants costs $168 and are available at sheflyapparel.com
Paka jacket • One surefire way to attract attention at the OR show is to bring a pet. Yet while dogs aplenty roam the trade show floor (on leash, of course), no animal has attracted as much attention on the showroom floor than the two alpacas that Paka has next to its booth.
Jackets stuffed with the fur of those cute camelids and their brethren have created only slightly less hubbub.
Paka, which sprouted out of a trip founder Kris Cody took to Peru in 2015, claims the PakaFill in its alpaca fur-filled jackets makes them twice as warm as the next warmest jacket with synthetic insulation. Neither does the fur shed plastic microfibers when washed nor require killing any animals, which can’t be said of most synthetic or down-filled products, respectively.
Plus its presence means more pets, of all kinds, on the OR show floor.
Cost: $329 for a jacket at pakaapparel.com
Land District electric motorcycle • It’s a bike. It’s a motorcycle. It’s a scrambler. It’s the Land District electric motorcycle.
This electric vehicle comes with four settings: e-bike, moped, motorcycle and performance motorcycle. Lock into the first two on the app on your phone, and you can take it on a bike path or in the bike lane, no motorcycle license required. Unlock the last two levels and you zip along at more than 70 mph.
Each of the two batteries that come standard has about a 40-mile range, but they can be swapped out for a single battery with a 120-mile range. Plus, since it’s electric, it only weighs between 180-200 pounds, making it easier to pick up off the ground than a standard motorcycle in the same class, which typically would weigh twice as much.
Land, which is based in Cleveland, formed in 2020 and started releasing production in 2022. It offers both a street and off-road model.
Cost: $7,800 to $12,500 at landmoto.io
Allred Custom Skiworks • Without a doubt, we’re saving the best for last with this Pleasant Grove-based custom ski maker. Just listen to this: Chad Allred’s ski-making process begins a year before he even gets an order. The Pleasant Grove native starts by culling the forest floors of the Uinta Mountains for fallen aspen and pine trees. He cuts and mills the planks himself, then lets them cure for about a year. Then when an order does come in, he planes and shapes the skis to the customer’s specifications. A silicone material called RevTech applied between the wood slats reduces chatter.
Once the skis are ready to be ridden, Allred can add any graphic design his customer wants, even one they’ve drawn up themselves. A pair he had on display at OR featured Delicate Arch and another was wrapped in animal print.
Perhaps the coolest and most unique aspect of this process is Allred’s palliative touch. A physical therapist for more than 20 years and counting, he can shape and adjust skis to help offset common issues, like knee or hip pain. Eventually, he’d like to expand his side hustle out of his home into a thriving brick-and-mortar building.
Cost: $700-$1,100 at allredskis.com