Hot Takes from OR+SIA, Part 1

The inaugural Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show comes to a close this weekend, and by most indications appeared to be an overall success for Emerald Exposition. Although a few folks expressed nostalgia for Salt Lake City, most folks were positive about the move to Denver, the convention center was packed with exhibitors, and attendees for the most part crowded the aisles and sessions.

“2017 was wild. 2018 is our new beginning,” said Marisa Nicholson, show director for Outdoor Retailer Thursday morning at the annual OIA Industry Breakfast. “The beginning of a more unified industry as we welcome our friends from the snow sports industry.”

The Inside Outdoor prize wheel attracted more than 2,000 attendees to ‘spin to win.’

Nicholson said more than 11,000 retail buyers had registered for the show, more than 1,000 working media had registered and more than 1,000 brands signed on as exhibitors. All told, estimates were that more than 25,ooo industry members and guest convened at the Colorado Convention Center over the four-day expo (On-Snow Demo takes place today).

And there was plenty for them to see at the event, more than any one person can process or one pair of feet can find. Many of the new products there were on display can be found in our 20-page new product showcase section in the Winter Issue of Inside Outdoor, but here are a few hot takes from the show, which will be followed by more hot takes throughout the week:

Arguably one of the most interesting items at the show was found at the Hydra-Light booth. A passerby might assume it was just another re-chargeable or eco-friendly flashlight, but inside the lights is a rather revolutionary technology. Hydra-Lights, it turns out, run on water (or any water-based liquid), as the HydraCell inside is fully charged after being dipped in a liquid for five seconds. The HydraCell, mind you, is not a “battery,” in that it stores energy, but is more of a miniature “power plant,” in that it produces energy, or power.

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HydraLight’s Fuel Cell gets dipped

The Hydra-light fuel cell utilizes the reaction between magnesium and oxygen, converting the energy from the reaction to usable power. One dip in water enables for 100 hours of continuous use the cell can be charged multiple times. The company estimates it can replace several dozen traditional batteries, but cost only about $10 (the fuel cell only).

Currently offering mostly flashlights, Hydra-Light hope to OEM the fuel cell to other manufacturers of all types of electronic goods from flashlights and portable chargers to drones and remote control cars. The current technology is best for long periods of low output.

reDEW is on the verge of creating jeans that feel and wear like high-quality denim but without the environmental impacts of cotton farming. Zero Cotton is largely made from wood, or more specifically wood pulp. It’s composed of the bio-based materials viscose, lyocell and modal that come from tree pulp, in a mix with post-consumer polyester and Lycra. reDEW has worked in the past with other “no-cotton denims” but has never been as pleased with the results as it is from Zero Cotton. The company’s first Zero Cotton item is a women’s denim short, but reDEW plans to offer a full-length jean after utilizing market feedback on the shorts.

The reDEW Zero Cotton ‘denim’ hort

And is it just me, or does the new Merrell line of running shoes look an awful lot like the running shoes from now-defunct brand Skora, a start-up that failed to successfully penetrate the very tough athletic shoe market several years ago but apparently was ahead of its time? Perhaps some vindication for what was an innovative, quality brand of footwear.

Two on the left, Skora circa 2013; on the right, Merrell Vapor 2018