Aug 10 2015

Notes from Outdoor Retailer Summer 2015


Front door to the candy store for outdoor aficionados.

Front door to the candy store for outdoor aficionados.

Another Summer Outdoor Retailer show has come and gone. For the second year in a row it was not sweltering hot in Salt Lake City during the first week of August. Whew.

As a backcountry skier there isn’t much product to be dazzled by at the summer show, but there’s always stuff worth checking out, and a few surprises through chance meetings in aisles.

Mystery Ranch

One thing that obviously registered late was the demise of Wary (aka Wari) airbag packs. They actually pulled the plug almost two seasons ago, but it never registered until I was in the Mystery Ranch booth and noticed they didn’t have any airbag packs on display. As soon as I asked why I answered my own question, saying, “ah, but it’s the summer show so they wouldn’t be on display.”

Except that Mystery Ranch had dropped their airbag pack from the line last winter, mostly because they were using the Wary cartridge system. Which begged the question, what about supporting existing customers?

Dana Gleason, founder and chief designer said, “We bought up all their remaining inventory so we have plenty of cartridges to provide existing customers.”

In case you don’t have a spare cartridge, contact Mystery Ranch post haste. Even if they do have a decent stock, now that Wary is gone, stock is limited. Don’t forget to test your airbag system at least once a year, if not more. Having a spare makes this procedure more convenient, and thus more likely.

As to why Wary folded, Gleason speculated that they made the wrong call to focus on an airbag vest, while the market was asking for airbag packs. Indeed, that was why I didn’t notice they were already gone. It is worth noting he also thought the Scott system, with higher pressure and cheaper, disposable cartridges would prove superior in the long run. We shall see.


With a little photoshop enhancement you can see the plug where the metal insert used to be.

With a little photoshop enhancement you can see the plug where the metal insert used to be.

Not only did Scarpa drop the TX from their offering of NTN telemark boots, but they will no longer offer the TX-Pro with a tech fitting on the heel. Although it is possible to use an NTN boot with tech fittings in a 2-pin tech binding, unless the sole of the boot is supported under the bellows it is probable the boot will disconnect from the heel pins while skiing. To eliminate that possibility new TX-Pro boots will ship with a plastic plug in place of the tech insert at the heel so it cannot be used with a tech binding, thus eliminating the possibility of that happening. Not, at least, without modifying the boot (and voiding any liability Scarpa might have if you get hurt). If you want to be able to switch between tele and alpine modes with the same boot, in the future you’ll either have to order a separate pair of heel inserts, or cannibalize them from another pair of boots.

Wild Zora

In the food department there wasn’t a lot new. I’ve made it a habit to sample all the freeze dried stuff to see what’s coming that is worth knowing about for future overnighters where light is right. Again, Backpacker’s Pantry had the best ad hoc lunch entrees, with their Persian Peach Stew w/chicken taking the prize, IMO.

Wild Zora: Healthy mix of meat blended with veggies and fruit.

Wild Zora: Healthy mix of meat blended with veggies and fruit.

There was also a new jerky company worth mentioning, Wild Zora. Zora’s wild idea was to change the basic formula from being seasoned, dried meat to a mix of meat and veggies. As she says in a promo card, “we like jerky…but jerky can be too tough, too salty, and is often made with added sugar and nitrites or other additives. Wild Zora Meat & Veggie Bars include a balance of grass-fed or naturally raised meats humanely raised without added hormones, mixed with organic veggies and a small amount of organic fruit.” I like the premise, but I think if you try ‘em you’ll agree, they taste even better. My take home sample lasted all of two minutes.

© 2015