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OR Winter Market full of new gadgets

by Andrew Kirk, Of The Park Record

Chinese companies were not hard to find at the 2010 OutdoorRetailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City this week, many filling large booths.

One large room was reserved for vendors proudly displaying, "Made in China" banners offering fabrics, sleeping bags, underwear and back packs. It was also hard to go anywhere in the voluminous Salt Palace Convention Center without hearing Korean spoken by vendors and buyers alike.

The market has always been international with its Scandinavian Village housing several Nordic brands and various companies selling products from South America. With so many businesses attending, it isn’t hard to find innovative items from all over the world that catch the eye.

Philip Li from Hong Kong was at the market showing off Sun Republic backpacks and shoulder bags. Each bag sports a large, shiny, orange square that converts sunlight into electricity for recharging batteries. He estimated the average backpack could charge an iPhone in seven hours in full sunlight. Unlike similar products that are stiff and heavy, Sun Republic bags were not noticeably different from other bags in size, weight, or design aside from the orange square. Li said the bags sell wholesale for around $33.

Another example of an innovative product is the StreetStrider, an elliptical cycle that can exceed 25 miles an hour. Resembling a stand-up bicycle, the StreetStrider uses the same motion as a home-fitness elliptical machine, engaging the arms and legs simultaneously. Featured on "The Biggest Loser" television show, StreetStrider is promoting the $1,500 bike as a fun way to get in shape.

The market also has plenty of low-tech but equally creative items, like Demerit Wear patches and Tee-shirts. Demerit Wear, a company out of Ann Arbor, Mich., makes merit badges like those worn on Boy or Girl Scout sashes that celebrate the mistakes in life.

Your dad set up the tent in a flood plain? Burn the dinner? Get sunburned? Now you can buy him his own "demerit" badges to celebrate the occasion. Your teenager a brat? Buy demerit badges for the boot they got on their car, the time they stole your credit card or the time they ran out of gas and needed rescuing. For lighter humor, there are patches for skiing spills, golf goofs and other foibles. These products are all about helping you turn life’s lemons into lemonade keepsakes.


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