Even on the heels of the massive Outdoor Retailer trade show in June, the comparably small Big Gear Show in August surprised us with some fresh, eye-catching concepts in gear.
The Big Gear Show was a new event for outdoor industry brands, retailers, and media in 2021. In 2022, it returned to Park City, Utah, in August for another round of exclusive gear previews, on-trail and on-water demos, and panels with various industry leaders.
In less than 30 minutes, I went from trying on Costa polarized sunglass models to paddling three different SUPs, testing out a pack, to chatting with climbers. The gear world was my oyster.
Jump on a SUP, sit in this chair, take this bike for a spin. Stand in the wind, rain, shade, or sun (the boots of inclement weather were actually a bonus, as I could really get to testing). At the Big Gear Show, not only do exhibitors have the product on hand, but most are keen to get it in your hands, or on your feet.
When it comes to testing yet-to-be-released 2023 gear, one of the best applications at the Big Gear Show was the fact that this gear, and all of us gear nerds, were outside. Here are our highlights from the show this year.
Product Debuts at the Big Gear Show
I must’ve heard at least five times from brands: “We are so happy to be here, because this [insert product/inventory] just arrived a week ago.” Or, “We didn’t have samples on hand at OR, but we have them now!”
For all those brands affected by shipping and manufacturing delays, the second chance to show gear to vendors, retailers, and media at the Big Gear Show was a big bonus. And that boils down to a positive for us as well. We have the most recent pulse on gear we plan to research, test, or share with you, the audience.
Yakima Major Shady 270 Awning (Spring 2023)
Yakima already makes a SlimShady (6.5-foot and 8-foot variety awnings), but the MajorShady is a big step up.
The awning offers 80 square feet and 270 degrees of coverage, and it still packs down fairly compact. Support poles are included, and you can amp up the shade space even further with Major Shady walls that zip on for more protection from weather, or for privacy.
Grand Trunk Compass 360 Stool (Available Now)
Sometimes it’s nice to have a chair with a back, but sometimes it’s nice to have a quick, packable place to perch.
Grand Trunk’s new Compass 360 stool has a seat height of 15 inches, a single joint that offers 360-degree swivel action, and even an under-the-seat pocket. Yeah, it’s maybe just a camp stool, but we can see lots of great applications for the 360-degree swivel (bike mechanics, fishing, backcountry cooking, and more).
White Duck Outdoors Canvas Chairs (2023)
Hunting-focused brand White Duck Outdoors is expanding from canvas tents to canvas camp furniture in 2023. Highlights of the collection will be these low-seated canvas chairs, made with 100% 18-ounce canvas with a seat height of 13.4 inches. They’ll retail for $139 — and they look and feel great.
Uncharted Supply Co. Park Pack (Available Now)
We got a chance to test the newly released Uncharted Supply Park Pack firsthand on an early morning train run outside Park City. This lumbar pack is stellar in terms of fit and does a great job keeping the weight distributed and close to your back.
If you aren’t using up the full 2.8 L of storage — perfect for a wallet, first-aid kit, phone, layer jacket, and Fido’s essentials — you can cinch down the bottom straps to make sure the pack stays put.
The lumbar material against the back is quality, and the entire pack is waterproof. And who can forget the two water bottle holsters on Molle straps that you can custom configure? For mountain biking and trail running (and probably more), this pack has lots of potential. MSRP is $149 with a 5-ounce, 30-piece triage kit included.
Red Paddle Co. 8’10” Compact SUP (February 2023)
Red Paddle Co. wasted no time expanding its Compact SUP lineup this past year, with the addition of the 2022 12-foot Compact. In February 2023, the 8’10” will join the 12-foot, 11-foot, and 9’6″ compact.
This SUP is as small as they get, with a surf-style design and lots of upgrades.
The paddleboard will have carbon battens along the side rails for rigidity, removable grab handles, and screwlock twin fins. MSRP as of now will be $1,649 for the full package (five-piece paddle and travel bag included).
More Gear That Caught Our Eye
POC Omne Ultra Bikepacking Helmet (2023)
POC’s new focus on the gravel genre is most apparent in its spring 2023 Omne Ultra helmet. The Omne Ultra Mips aims to “make everything individual.” Helmet features include strap and Velcro attachment points to add patches, an ID or medical patch, a rain cover, and more. It has the same ventilation design as the Omne Airan EPS liner, and PC shell.
SeaSucker Pallavinci Ski Rack (Available October 2022)
SeaSucker has quickly moved from the marine accessory market for boats, to the vehicle accessory market. Its newest products include bike rack bars, as well as this Pallavinci Ski Rack ($399). The vacuum-mounted rack has gotten a big redesign and can carry snowboards (up to four), skis (or up to two), and poles. It’s made of HDPE and includes the two carriers and retention cords for securing your gear. The new rack will launch on October 1, 2022.
Peak Refuel Hydration (Available Now)
Gnarly Nutrition, Tailwind Nutrition, Scratch Labs, Honey Stinger, Nuun — there is a gaggle of performance nutrition brands on the market that already make hydration mixes. And now a backcountry food brand is joining the party.
Peak Refuel has somehow made the shift from elk ragu and breakfast skills to refreshing, nutritious, zero-sugar drink blends. All three are caffeinated with the addition of yerba mate. Our favorite by far was the Fresh Melon, but the Mountain Berry proved a popular choice with show-goers too.
CamelBak Trailrun Vest (Spring 2023)
Designed to be a light and fast option, the new Trailrun from CamelBak will hit shelves in February 2023 ($100). The vest has a 10L carry capacity, attachment points for trekking poles, a body-mapped fit for the women’s version, two included flasks, a recycled 70-denier nylon fabric, and more. And it weighs just 8 ounces.
Some gear at the show was new, some we’d already heard about or seen … still, much of this gear won’t be out until 2023. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled.