3 Top Trends for Winter Gear and Clothing

In January we ventured to Salt Lake City to roam the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show and search for the coolest outdoor and travel gear hitting shelves next winter. Here are a few things to watch for in the fall…

A Wooly World

Wool clothing seemed to blanket Winter Market this year.

Bergans Akeleie

Bergans Akeleie

Out on the show floor, we could hardly count the number of fabric and clothing companies with a wool story, including the introduction of “Combat Wool.” OK, it’s not exactly made for battle, but Cordura’s new fabric blends Merino wool and nylon to create a fabric that’s comfortable but more durable than standard wool. We can expect companies to use Combat Wool for all sorts of things, from baselayers to socks.

While Cordura is mixing wool and nylon, Bergan’s of Norway has blended 80 percent wool and 20 percent polyester to create the Akeleie Baselayer Half Zip ($75). While the polyester layer against the skin wicks moisture, the wool retains more air for better insulation.

Polartec is blending wool and synthetic fibers in its Power Wool fabric, which you’ll find in Westcomb’s new Luminous Top for women and Nova Top for men. Power Wool combines ultra-fine Merino wool and synthetic fibers to wick moisture, reduce odors, regulate temperature and also dry quicker than traditional wool.

Throughout the show we definitely noticed more apparel companies using wool as insulation inside synthetic jackets. An example is the Smartwool Propulsion 60 Jacket, which is insulated with 60-gram SmartLoft Merino wool, while the exterior is made of polyester coated with a water-repellent finish.

Kari Traa Rose

Kari Traa Rose

There’s also a Made-in-the-U.S.A. story surrounding wool. In the past we’ve reported on the sock company Farm to Feet, which uses only wool produced in the United States. This winter, Polarmax launched new Wool 1.0 baselayers that have wool sourced from sheep in Montana.

While wool clothing is clearly popular, there haven’t been many companies creating wool garments specifically for younger consumers. But that’s changing thanks to a relatively new company, Kari Traa (named for the Norwegian freestyle skier), which designs baselayers for women in their twenties. A best seller is the great looking (and very soft) Rose top made with 100-gram Merino wool.

Another change we’re seeing is the introduction of less expensive wool clothing. For example, Coldpruf offers Merino wool baselayers for $60-$64, including midweight pieces like the Quest, as well as silkweight tops.


Travel is gaining steam

At Outdoor Retailer we saw plenty of cool stuff from companies that focus on adventure travel, such as ExOfficio, which is introducing women’s Sportmesh underwear. (We love the men’s version — click here to read our review). Also, Eagle Creek showed us a collection of new anti-theft bags, including the Roaming Backpack ($80) and Catch All Courier ($85), which have RFID-blocking pockets, lockable zippers and toggle closures on main compartments.

Osprey

Osprey Ozone

While we expect such awesomeness from longtime adventure travel companies, we’ve also seen that travel is more of a focus for companies that didn’t originally focus on the category.

Osprey continues to up its game with travel products, and we can’t wait to try their new Ozone bags with the High Road LT chassis. Featuring frames and bases made of lightweight aluminum, some Ozone bags weigh less than 5 pounds. Three models (80 liters, 46 liters and 36 liters) have all the bells and whistles you’d expect, plus high-quality details like large wheels with sealed bearings to provide a smooth ride over rough ground.

The Patagonia black hole duffel has become a classic piece of adventure travel luggage. In fall 2015, the Black Hole duffel line will be upgraded with lighter fabric that’s still super tough. The new bags will be armored with 15-ounce 900-denier ripstop polyester that has a TPU-film laminate and DWR finish to keep your goods dry. It will come in four sizes: 45 liters ($99); 60 liters ($129); 90 liters ($149); and 120 liters ($169).

Granite Gear has recently made adventure travel a priority, and this winter it expanded its packable duffel collection to include lightweight, wheeled versions. The 32-inch bag ($89.99) and 36-inche bag ($99.99) have reinforced handles, backpack straps and sternum straps, and pack down into cubes about the size of a small loaf of bread.

Grand Trunk Duffel

Grand Trunk Duffel

In the past couple of years, Grand Trunk has repositioned itself as a maker of adventure travel products and focused on producing stuff that’s extremely durable. We checked out the company’s compression pack cubes that are made with burly 600-denier water-resistant nylon and waterproof YKK zippers. The 7.2-ounce Weekender bag ($59.99) includes straps and buckles that allow you to compress it from 8.3 liters to 4.3 liters.


More Alternatives to Old School Down

Within that past couple of years we’ve seen the introduction of water-resistant down. This year, companies are rolling out even more versions of the stuff, as well as insulation that blends down and synthetic fibers to improve performance. For example, Montane showed us the Hi-Q Luxe Jacket, which contains PrimaLoft Luxe, a synthetic insulation that mimics down.

Montane Hi-Q Luxe

Montane Hi-Q Luxe

For fall 2015, Bergan’s of Norway will debut the Eggen Insulated Jacket made with Primaloft Silver, an insulation that is 60 percent down and 40 percent synthetic fibers. Basically, it gives you the insulating properties of down and the moisture-wicking capabilities of a synthetic material.

Columbia has retooled its Titanium line to feature jackets with TurboDown, including the Heatzone 1000 Hooded Jacket ($450). The interior of the jacket has a sheet of synthetic material that’s formed into a wave pattern with alternating baffles. To reduce heat loss, the company doesn’t stitch the baffles, because that would create holes in the fabric. Once the baffles are formed, synthetic down is blown between them to create loft in the material and retain heat.

While companies are dreaming up ways to improve down, they’re also working to ensure that it’s sourced in a responsible way. The outdoor industry is working to create a standard for cruelty-free down, but various companies have set up competing standards. While Patagonia created the Traceable Down Standard, other organizations, including The North Face, Textile Exchange and Control Union, created the Responsible Down Standard. Plus, other companies have their own policies. To learn more, click here to read the feature story in OR trade show daily newspaper, The Daily Exposure.

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