The Outdoor Trade Show 2023 happened recently, and we were there! Please read on to find out more about our visit to the UK’s premier outdoor trade show…..and our pick of some fantastic upcoming products.
The Outdoor Trade Show is important. It gives manufacturers and brands a chance to share news and information about their upcoming products. It also offers retailers and media the opportunity to learn about upcoming products and share that information with the outdoor community.
We’ve been visiting the show for several years and it is always a highlight of our calendar. There is always a very positive atmosphere and so much to see. Infact, as fun as it is, we always come back exhausted. So much chatting!!
This year was no exception and we had a packed round of meetings with a host of brands. We also always make the opportunity to wander around and explore some brands we aren’t familiar with. All in all, this year’s was about the best show we remember.
Sharing details on every new product would create a very lengthy account. So, we’ve narrowed it down to key items we really liked the look of. We focussed our choices on innovations, products created with an emphasis on sustainability and items that offer great value. We hope you enjoy our selection.
Ocun Twist Tech Eco Harness
We were really really impressed with this! Ocun have produced a fully featured harness with 82% recycled or bio based materials. Recycled materials are used for the webbing, foam padding and gear loops while bio based Dyneema is used for the tie in loop. Infact, it is only the safety critical threads, login decal, rear buckle and stainless steel closure buckle that are made from virgin materials. A really big leap forward for harness construction. Well done Ocun. The harness will be available Spring 24 and retails for a very competitive £79.95.
Pits & Bits Waterless Cleaners
We had a lengthy chat with the team from Waterless Ltd and a detailed demo of their Pits & Bits waterless cleaners. We can very highly recommend it. These products are made in Swansea in a facility using fully sustainable manufacture methods. We were particularly keen to test their towel off shampoo and body wash. These products are clever. You simply rub some of the liquid onto your skin (or into your hair for the shampoo) and then towel off. The liquid removes dirt, sweat, odours or even blood. Your skin is also left feeling extremely refreshed. We are big fans of anything that helps eradicate wipes and these seem to fit the bill really well. A great travel or off the beaten track option.
We explored Nemo’s sleeping bags, inflatable mattresses and some lovely new duffel bags. As always, they create great quality products with extremely innovative designs. However, we have chosen to highlight the quirky Moonlite Elite reclining camp chair. This is a really clever design. It is said to offer the same comfort as their Moonlite chair, but at a carry comfy weight of only 526 grams. It has a patent pending suspension system but is also designed to offer durability and reliability. Wilderness camping has never been so comfortable!
Nikwax have been setting sustainability standards for cleaning and proofing products for decades. We always love catching up with the team and exclusively use their products on all our technical garments. Their products remain the same for the coming season, but they continue their drive to clear and transparent information for consumers. Their labels, as well as being colour coded, now also
As long term users of Aku products, we always take time to talk through new products with them. This year, we also got a chance to talk with Aku’s CSR manager Giulio Piccin (full details on that conversation are here). As always, Aku have some great new products and new technologies while also setting the standard for sustainability.
We had a lot to choose from, but are highlighting the Aku Flyrock Mid Gtx. This is a great looking mid boot that will tick the boxes for loads of mountain adventures. The Flyrock’s have a grippy Vibram Traction Lug sole with Megagrip. They also feature Aku’s Erica Natural Stride technology and their Dual Fit System lacing technology. We have previously tested the Aku Rock DFS GTX which featured some of these technologies. That review is available to read here. We reckon the Flyrock will be just as happy on a via ferrata as on a day’s hillwalking or scrambling. It looks like a great all around choice.
Torq Nutrition Products
Torq are a British company who produce high quality nutrition products. Their range includes hydration drinks and snack bars. They have been favoured by athletes for a long time and we had a fascinating chat with owner Matt at the show. Just a few minutes talking to him and you will realise he is extremely knowledgable about the products he manufactures.
Recently they have started manufacturing a range of products focussed on more general outdoor users and we tested their Explore Breakfast at the show. We also took some to use at bivvies on our recent Alps trip. We really rate these products. They are extremely tasty and have high amounts of protein and carbs. The meals also have a high calorie content which makes them perfect for adventure users. They can also, and this is a crucial one for us, easily be made with cold water. Matt mixed one up with cold water and a few minutes later they were ready to eat. In the Alps, as one example, this was extremely useful as it allowed us to preserve precious gas. A great product.
HydroFlask Coffee Press
HydroFlask have been our go to for on the go drink ware and water bottles for years. We are also delighted they have supported our Pick & Play events since they began. They produce the finest quality products, but also do so much to protect the natural environment. Each year they bring out a range of new colour schemes and the options for the upcoming year are great. However, our highlighted HydroFlask product for the coming season is their Coffee Press. We’ve actually wondered why they haven’t produced a press before as it fits so well within their range. No problem though – they have now. As always, the press looks set to be the perfect campsite companion and we are really looking forward to testing one as soon as they become available.
Osprey are another brand we have worked with for many years and we are big fans of their packs and travel luggage. They are industry leaders in both pack design and sustainability. In recent years they have also focussed on a range of climbing oriented packs and one we tested recently was the superb Talon Pro 20. Please check this review out here. In line with this, we loved the look of some of their more vertical adventure focussed new season offerings. Our highlighted product is the Talon Pro 30. We previously reviewed a Talon Pro 20 and loved it (that review is here). But the new version looks like the sort of pack that hits the sweet spot for so many adventures. In particular, the stripped down and uncluttered styling is ideal for the mountains, but Osprey have still managed to include the essential features needed.
Also, a mention for the Tempest Velocity 20. This is a great looking adventure pack that features a running vest style front closure. It looks like it will be perfect for fast and light mountain and trail missions.
Zamberlan are a leading footwear manufacturer who have actually have been making boots and mountain footwear for over 90 years. They focus on comfort, performance and durability. They are also passionate about sustainable manufacture. For the coming season they have lots of innovations and we loved the features on some of their high end walking and mountaineering boots. As avid users of BOA technology, we also really look forward to seeing them used more on these boots. The 9000 Zarathrusta GTX RR BOA, for example, looks like a great winter mountaineering boot. If you aren’t so familiar with the BOA system, we discuss it in detail in our reviews of the Scarpa Run Kalibra G running shoes here and the Adidas Terrex Agravic Pro running shoes here.
But, our focus product is their Salathe Trek GTX RR Mids. We use mid height footwear for more than anything else. They hit a sweet spot between light weight, weatherproofness and performance on technical ground. With that in mind, the Salathe looks like it will be a superb performer for so many adventures. It also happens to be a fantastic looking boot in many lovely colours. The technical sole ensures this will be the ideal scrambling and via ferrata shoe, but the GoreTex liner and deeply lugged sole will also make it a trusted walking companion. Zamberlan have even included an embedded RECCO reflector. A really excellent addition to the Zamberlan family.
The drive towards sustainability was everywhere at the show. It is great to see the innovative ways manufacturers are trying to minimise the impact of their product production. With that in mind, we were intrigued by the Silva Terra compass. We’ve been using plastic silva compasses since we began exploring the outdoors and, we must admit, never given too much thought to the way the materials are made. Silva have! The Terra Expedition S (pictured) features a case, grip ring and graduation ring made from recycled polypropylene plus natural hemp fibres. Even the lanyard is made from recycled material. The result, says Silva, is 90% less carbon emissions.
Darn Tough Socks
The OTS Darn Tough stand was positioned right next to the Zamberlan crew and this is ideal – we can’t think of a better sock to stick inside your boots. As always, the Darn Tough crew are fantastic fun to chat too and the stand is a sea of vibrant colours. But behind all that is the usual Darn Tough innovation and careful attention to quality and performance. As a family business ourselves we also always really appreciate that Darn Tough are still a family business too. For the coming season Darn Tough have some lovely new styles available. As an example, the female focussed designs are a taste of what’s available. Just to also say, the Darn Tough guarantee is simply amazing!
Kayland are a Spanish mountain focussed footwear manufacturer that have been manufacturing since 1971. They describe mountaineering as being in their DNA. They have a comprehensive range of products and it was great to chat through their range. Of particular focus for us was their very stylish Stellar GTX Nubuck mountaineering boot. This has a unbuckle upper with Goretex lining and Vibram Stellar sole. It looks like it will be a great mountaineering boot, but we were also really taken by the weight. These boots feel extremely light. This is because Kayland have used a honeycomb internal construction to save material and so, save weight. We look forward to testing some of these in the coming season.
LEKI poles had lots to talk to us about. They always do. We continue to enjoy a great relationship with this flagship pole manufacturer and our recent reviews of the Sherpa Strong and FX.One Ultralite are examples of the great products they are producing. But, one observation that could be made of their high end products is their correspondingly high end price tag. LEKI are addressing that for the coming season with a selection of affordable and yet well specced multi-purpose options. They look like being the usual excellent LEKI quality, but at a great price point.
LEKI also discussed their amazing hemp pole project. Yes. Really. Poles made out of sustainable hemp! You can imagine the amount of R&D that goes into such a new development and bravo to LEKI for investing their resources into this. We will report on this as we learn more, but understand only 250 pairs of poles will be made initially so imagine we will be somewhere down the list for getting some for review!
Sprayway have been producing great quality and excellent value products for many decades. They are also a company local to us and it is always great to highlight home grown manufacturers. We had a great chat with the team and there were lots of products we really liked. We’ve had to choose a couple, and so welcome to the Rooke and Hafren.
The Hafren will be new for SS24 and we like both the look and functionality of this hard shell layer. It is super light and designed to offer high breathability alongside weather protection. This will surely tick the boxes for many great adventures. We also look this earthy colour.
We also really liked the Rooke Midlayer. Midlayer tops are probably our most used garments and the Rooke, as well as looking great, is a simple and functional top that will serve you well whether on two legs or two wheels. This is actually a SS23 garment and so is available now. It also offers great value at £55.
Oboz are an American footwear manufacturer with a focus on performance, quality and sustainability. We have some history with the company having previously tested their Bridger winter boots. Please check out that review here.
Our focus product from their current range is the Katabatic Low B-Dry Waterproof. This is part of a Katabatic range which Oboz have focussed on ‘moving fast on trails’. The shoes feature the lightest and softest midsole ever used in an Oboz shoe and this is paired with a grippy lugged outsole. The upper is constructed from highly breathable mesh. They look well suited to a wide range of adventures and we are currently testing a pair for an upcoming review. We also really value the Oboz focus on sustainability. Their footwear comes with details on the recycled content of each element of the product and they plant a tree for every pair of footwear sold.