A holiday wish list for 2009 | ParkRecord.com

A holiday wish list for 2009

by Andrew Kirk, OF THE RECORD STAFF

A collage of promotional materials from the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. Photo by David Ryder/Park Record

It’s not too early to be dreaming of next Christmas, and you’ll want to after attending this year’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market at the Salt Palace this weekend.

Amidst the hiking shoes, tents and skis there are a lot of unique products for humans, dogs and adventure animals.

Considering the economy, industry experts are predicting people will look for inexpensive ways to recreate outside in 2009.

Shred, glide and slide

Why settle for gravity when you can have wind on your side? On a given day, people kite skiing or boarding can be found a few miles south of Silver Summit. If that looks like the sport for you, HQ Kites & Designs USA has a line of Powerkites made for gliding on snow, water and land. Based in Chesapeake, Va., the company also has many products for playing on the beach.

If gravity works just fine for you, the Hammerhead by Cherrymax Sleds is for people who like speed. An elevated canvas for lying on attached to a steering bar capable of turning 60 degrees allows the sled to "carve like a snowboard" and "bombs lines like a ski."

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The sled is fit for racing and at high speeds resembles a steerable Skeleton sled. Made of many of the same materials as a snowshoe, the sled is lightweight and durable.

Mountain Boy Sledworks creates models that are a little more traditional and made to look good enough to hang on the wall. Flyers, slaloms, toboggans and kick sleds all made of wood (mostly birch and willow) are designed to be used, but are attractive enough to make you cry Rosebud.

Gadgets

The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market is a great place to see widgets, gadgets and gizmos for making outdoor recreation more enjoyable.

Solio chargers use solar power to create, and store energy for cell phones, cameras, iPods, GPS units and MP3 players. The device is about the size and shape of a pear and folds open to create a flower-like fan for collecting the sun. It charges almost anything smaller than a laptop.

It can also be used as a simple battery by being plugged in at night if no outdoor excursions are planned.

Bob Dixon didn’t see any need to reinvent the wheel to make outdoor adventures easier.

The Dixon Rollerpack has a waist band on one side and a big wheel on the other. A hiker can drag their gear behind them like a travois, pulling it with the hips instead of carrying it on the back. He claims it cuts the weight in half. A ski attachment is available. For difficult terrain, the wheel can come off and straps go on to become a framed pack.

The clumsiness of snowshoes is hard to forgive until they’re needed. That’s how Deb Kreutzer got the idea of collapsible shoes. Similar to a kite, small poles can be extended and canvas stretched out to create a durable walking surface. The shoes collapse and fit into a bag no bigger than one for a small tent.

If you’re a fan of Burt’s Bees products, check out the W.S. Badger Company out of Gilsum, N.H. Badger Balm and similar products are totally organic.

For dogs

If Fido gets nervous at the sight of your new travois, you can reassure him with a variety of gear for helping dogs have a good time.

Ruffwear sells coats and boots for playing in the snow, and life jackets for swimming.

If you want your pet’s jacket to be as high-tech as your own, D-FA from New Zealand uses Hydrotex fabric and is designed to stay snug near important muscles and organs but loose underneath.

Katie’s Bumpers is a company by Jill Nazimek that produces dog toys made from fire hose material. These discs, bumpers and fetch toys are colorful, durable and perfect for playing outside on all terrain and in all types of weather.

Mutts It To Ya is a St. George tee-shirt company that wants you to look as good as your dog while playing outside. The cartoon-like drawings feature cute mutts leading adventurous lives with plenty of word-play slogans. You’ll go "mutts" for these designs.

Fashion

A greater emphasis on fashion has been an ongoing trend in the outdoor garment and footwear industries. Maura Lansford, OR Winter Market spokesperson, said active, middle-age white males are many companies’ target consumer. Fashion is a way to attract more female customers.

If a woman feels good wearing outdoor clothing, she’ll be more interested in getting out and playing in it.

Knowing what women want, many companies at the Winter Market got creative with boots.

Kamik from Canada and Bogs from Oregon are two that have infused colorful patterns and designs onto boots and galoshes. When your jacket hides that cute blouse, why not show your style with your feet?

MukLuks Slipper Sox by Reliable of Milwaukee sport "bold patterns, bright colors and complete comfort," boasts a flier. If flamboyant footwear is what you’re after, but you need something flexible and breathable, these sock boots are the thing.

If you want a new look but are just fine with the boots you have, check out Boot Chic. Local Kim O’Connor was tired of trying to match cool pants with good ski boots. She created flare-bottomed articles that slip over the boot to provide faux fur patterns and other stand-out designs to a winter outfit. Use them to cover up unsightly footwear or base an outfit around them.

Nomadic Traders has a large selection of garments appropriate for the office or the theater that are thick and warm. The clothing is designed to look like any other popular women’s apparel, but is made with the material of a thick sweater or overcoat.

Sherpani from Boulder, Colo. has a large variety of handbags and backpacks that display the owner’s love of fun and good taste but also look indestructible. Take it shopping, or with you to compete on Survivor.

Not everyone at the Winter Market offering edgy fashions was targeting women. Utilikilts from Seattle, Wash. makes and sells kilts for men that resemble cargo pants, Dockers, tuxedo pants and Carhartt work wear. These aren’t costumes, Utilikilts envisions men being able to wear a kilt anywhere and anytime they’d wear pants.

DAKINE has gloves for men and women who want to look cool hitting the slopes. The "Method" series brings the style shredders have come to expect from snowboarding gear to the hands.

Tie dye, illustrations and abstract expressionist art are all available in high-quality gloves.

But for clothes that are warm and fashionable, the Scandinavians have us beat. Several vendors in the Scandinavian Village offer several varieties of tasteful Norwegian sweaters. Dale Norway offers fleece-lined sweaters to look good and keep really warm. Icelandic Design has sweaters, and matching hats, gloves and other accessories.

Bergans of Norway has coats and jackets with subtle but attractive designs. Nearby, Craft of Scandinavia has outdoor wear that is chic – almost space age – with clean, crisp colors that stand out in comparison to the drab or gaudy designs of much snow gear.