GEAR SHOP: Outdoor Retailer 2018

OR Highlights: 10 Best Samples

Our bags always come back a little heavier from every Outdoor Retailer (OR) show. This is because they’re usually loaded down with a variety of new sample items to check out: trail foods and drink mixes, sunscreens and bug repellents, hiking socks and assorted small gadgets. (The big stuff—apparel, tents, bags, etc.—usually comes later.) This year, airport security got quite the assortment to rifle through in our carryon. Here’s a few of our favorite items we picked up at this year’s show. You can look forward to seeing more in-depth reviews of these items in upcoming gear reviews and taste-off features.

1. All Good: Freeze Relief

As hikers, we all probably rely a little too much on the classic Vitamin I (ibuprofen). Unfortunately, recent studies have indicated that ibuprofen can actually do more harm than good. As an alternative to ibuprofen, All Good, Herbal Freeze pain relief spray uses a combination of arnica (a natural, homeopathic herb), St. John’s wort, balsam poplar extract and menthol to penetrate sore muscles and relieve aches and pains. The 1.2-ounce bottle is a bit bulky, but if it works it may be worth packing along to help relieve sore legs, back and shoulders.

2. Cusa Tea: Spicy Does It

Earlier this year, our Trail Foods Taste-Off team went nuts for Cusa organic, unsweetened teas (see here). These easy, instant tea mixes come in tiny packets that are just added to water, and come in refreshing flavors like black-lemon, green, and green-mango. They’re great both hot and cold. Now Cusa is adding a Spicy Chai to their flavor assortment and it’s just as spicy-good as it is refreshing. So good, we may not be sharing these with our next Taste-Off team. Don’t wait for our official review—just go get some!

3. Four Points: Trail Energy

There’s no shortage of new and innovative energy foods on display at OR every year. Some are pretty good, others … not so much. This time, some of our faves came from Four Points, a small Denver-based company that combines real foods packed with protein, carbs, good fats and fiber into tasty bars like Alpine Apple Pie, Trailhead Gingerbread and Mountain Mocha Espresso. Plus all their bars are gluten-free with no preservatives or added sugars. We’ll be choosing our faves in our next Trail Foods Taste-Off.

4. Good To-Go: New Meals

We love Good To-Go backpacking meals. Made in small batches in Maine, they require a little more cook time, but offer some great flavor varieties. They even have gluten-free and vegan options. Next year, Good To-Go will be adding two new meals: Kale and White Bean Stew and New England Corn Chowder. We got our hands on some early samples of these new dishes which we’ll be taste-testing out on the trail later this summer. Then we’ll get them into our next Trail Foods Taste-Off roundup with our full rundown.

5. Lander: No Extremes

These days, we all take our smartphones out on trail with us. And there’s no shortage of case options for protecting them from the elements and accidental drops. Where the Lander Moab Thermoline case goes above and beyond is also protecting it’s precious cargo from extreme high and low temperatures in order to preserve battery life. Crafted to withstand the rugged outdoor environment, and featuring a textured surface for better handling, we’ll be swapping out our regular phone case to see just how effective this device is. Results coming soon.

6. SAXX Underwear: Get Loose

Dudes, have you tried SAXX performance underwear? If not, what are you waiting for? We’ve been wearing these on walks, hikes and rides for years and they’re awesome. We especially like the Quest 2.0 boxer briefs—a top pick in last year’s PCT Hiker’s Gift Guide. This year at OR, we picked up a pair of the new Loose Cannon Boxers. These lightweight underwear feature SAXX’ unique ballpark pouch, along with their proven odor resistance and superior breathability, in a more relaxed style. You gotta check these out.

7. Thermacell: Bug Off!

We really could have used this on the PCT in Oregon last month, where we got eaten alive by millions of annoying buggers. The Thermacell Backpacker mosquito repellent device weighs just 4 ounces and attaches to any can of ISO fuel. When activated, it produces a 15-square-foot mosquito-free area by emitting an odorless repellant that mimics the chrysanthemum flower—hated by mossies. We’ll be putting this to the test, as 4 ounces is nothing if it helps us stay bug-free and preserve our sanity in camp.

8. Tinkle Belle: Take a Stand

This one’s for you ladies. No more baring your bum to scratchy shrubs and hungry mosquitoes. With the Tinkle Belle, you can stay standing with your pants up when nature calls. This lightweight, reusable, antimicrobial device is anatomically shaped to the female form for easy use without leaking or collapsing. It even helps you minimize toilet paper use, which means less mess and trash to pack out! We grabbed one for our lady trail tester who will be putting it to use this summer and reporting back to us. Look for her feedback soon.

9. Trails Illustrated: Your Next Thru-Hike

National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated maps are some of the most detailed and up-to-date hiking maps available. Recently added to their library is the complete 175-mile Tahoe Rim Trail. This lightweight map booklet features 12 highly detailed trail maps, as well as area and section info, elevation profiles, resupply locations and local wilderness regulations. We’re adding this one to our to-do list. We also got the lowdown on a very special set of maps coming soon that will appeal to PCT hikers. Stay tuned for more info on that later this year!

10. Yumbutter: Squeezable Superfood

We love nut butters. They’re packed with protein, calories and long-burning hiking fuel. We found a few new varieties with Yumbutter’s Cashew Superfood and Inergy Almond. The first is a powerhouse of cashews, chia, hemp, gogi berries and coconut sugar, while the second is a blend of almonds, maca, L-theanine (good for reducing stress and improving sleep) and Himalayan salt. We sampled these at the show and thought they were great. We’ll be sharing these with our tasting team in our next Trail Foods Taste-Off.

NEXT UP: Outdoor Retailer 2018 – Top Gear Picks

Next week, we’ll be posting some of our top picks in new gear from some of our favorite brands. On our list are a couple pretty amazing new tents, an update to a classic stove, an awesome ultralight wind shell and some sweet new trail treads, as well as a few other honorable mentions.

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1 thought on “Outdoor Retailer 2018: 10 Best Samples”

  1. I used the thermacell last year with great results. We used it while cooking and eating dinner then moved it while setting up our tent. No mossies in our tent and dinner was enjoyable. Definitely going with us this year!

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