Photo: EB Adventure Photography/Shutterstock

Top Gear Trends for 2012

by Caroline Treadway Aug 24, 2011
Caroline Treadway takes a look at what’s coming next in gear from the recent Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City.

OUTDOOR RETAILER, USUALLY REFERRED TO AS OR, is the world’s largest tradeshow for outdoor gear and equipment. Twice each year, manufacturers, athletes, and vendors get together for demos, movie premieres, product launches, and major interfacing. This summer’s show was all about shedding weight and innovative, eco designs for stylie gear that’s light, fast, and green.

Here’s a round-up of OR’s lightest and greenest for 2012 – from eco climbing ropes to barefoot running “shoes” and outdoor urban chic.


The Mammut Transformer Rope, which hits stores next summer, is an exciting innovation in sustainable sport climbing. The sleek, 9.8 mm, upcycled ropes are made from by-products of the rope-making process previously considered useless called transfer yarns, which leave each rope with its own unique pattern.

Mammut promises all their ropes will be Bluesign-certified (a stringent environmental standard in the industry) by spring 2012. The rope comes in 60 and 70 meters for $199.95 and $219.95 respectively, with Mammut’s Super Dry finish.

So what are you going to belay that hot, new Transformer rope with? The Petzl Grigri 2 of course! Smaller, lighter, and now made to handle skinnier ropes, the Grigri 2 is Petzl’s streamlined take on climbing’s favorite belay device. The Grigri 2 offers greater control, especially for smaller hands. Find belay tips and techniques on Petzl’s web site.

Bouldering and hangboarding

My favorite boulding pad is the Supreme, by Revolution. It’s no surprise the best new bouldering pad comes from Revolution. The Salt Lake City-based company, founded by design-savvy climbers, has always been at the forefront of bouldering and never fails to make life easier on climbers with smarter gear.

The Supreme is super lightweight, and sleek. Two pounds lighter than similar-sized pads on the market, the Supreme features a taco-style fold, longer corner closures to keep your stuff inside the pad, a comfy, padded waistbelt and my favorite, height adjustable shoulder straps, great for shorter climbers. The Mission’s with rugged, stainless steel hooks and a genius flap-style closure system definitely wins the best construction award of the year. For $249.00, say sayonara to heavy, awkward bouldering adventures.

Want to get stronger in style? Try the Crimp Reaper, a new hangboard designed by Jason Kehl, that features a variety of grips from angel-wing pinches to dime-sized edges. This hangboard is guaranteed to get you up your project for $89.00. And looks cool, too, with Kehl’s fresh, innovative design.


Horny Toad, an apparel company based out of Santa Barbara, California, seriously makes the lightest, softest and silkiest layers. I hate taking them off at the end of the day! And in the next few weeks the company will release its newest line made with organic cotton, tencel and their signature Drirelease wicking, odor-fighting fabric – tank tops, tees, long-sleeved shirts, skorts, capris and bottoms for men and women. The company rightfully prides itself on soft, supple layers like those featured with the Swifty Zip Hoodie.

The Dose Jacket is NAU’s answer to the modern lifestyle – clothes you are proud to wear and perfect for a variety of active to evening adventures. Guys, just say no to fleece and style-less techwear! For $275, this super lightweight, waterproof, compressible layer has stretch panels to move with you, whether you’re biking home in the rain or heading into the mountains.

My favorite performance layer on the market is North Face ‘Better Than Naked’ Jacket. It literally feels better than naked, or at least warmer. Extremely lightweight and sturdy, with smart ventilation panels, this jacket will keep you running through rain, wind, snow, whatever you might encounter on your next run. At $129, next year’s version is 10 percent lighter. Wear this and you can just FEEL the ultramarathons coming.

Marmot’s Elan is a super lightweight, compressible trench for women, with a flattering waist belt that makes it more sexy than techy. Made from Marmot’s MemBrain Strata material, the Elan is waterproof, breathable and super stylish. I can’t wait to get my hands on one! I also loved the women’s Brentford in plaid, a fashion-functional, track-inspired jacket you could wear to the crag or the bars.


KEEN, the Portland, Oregon-based company known for their rugged, environmentally-responsible shoes, now makes so much more, but they’re still just as concerned with taking care of the world and the people in it, through a variety of social and community-building initiatives. And they’ve come a long way in terms of style, making super hip, eco shoes and bags for men, women and kids.

KEEN’s newest women’s line rocks. My favorites are the Emerald City sandals – low goddess flats, and the Arcata, KEEN’s answer to Converse, with recycled aluminum eyelets, natural canvas uppers and vulcanized construction, for $70. Out-of-control cool, comfy and stylish. Keep your eyes peeled for them in stores!

Barefoot running is more than a fleeting trend. And it’s not always done barefoot. The popular movement has inspired a flurry of innovation from shoe companies across the board, from Vibram to Fila and my favorite, TrekSta. TrekSta’s newest offering is a barefoot running “shoe” that’s built on the company’s signature NestFit last, which is built from 30,000 scans of the human foot and helps support your feet in their natural position, will provide protection on long runs.


Take out is so out. Lunch boxes are in! Make your lunch at home and bring it with you, just like the old days, but better. The Man Lunch box from Stanley is recycled and recyclable, made with brushed stainless steel from recycled housewares and old plastic. Not just for men!

The relatively new sunglass company Native has exploded onto the shade scene with edgy, hip frames, unique style and ridiculously nice lenses. Try the Chonga in Pearl Swirl, my fave. [Note: This post brought to you in partnership with our friends at KEEN.]

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