Outdoor Retailer’s annual Summer Market usually fills the Colorado Convention Center in Denver with every sort of gadget, gear and good imaginable for the outdoors. But like so much else in the world, the outdoor industry’s largest annual trade show was forced to cancel by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not to be deterred, 40 outdoor lifestyle and gear brands congregated digitally — over Zoom, of course — for the Reveal global media conference at the end of April. We joined in to get a first look at gear to watch for as retailers begin to reopen and we get outside for adventure, even if it’s close to home.
Brands featured new and upcoming products fit for long bicycle trips and ski ascents to strolls around the corner to get coffee. Among the presenting companies, many impressed us with strong values surrounding sustainability and social change. When you’re shopping for your next fleece, backpack, sunglasses or even bike helmet, keep these innovative companies in mind and ask for them at your favorite local outdoor store. You’ll get quality products, and you just might help change the world a little bit at a time. Here are some of the companies and products we’re most excited about.
Himalayan yaks? Yep, Himalayan yaks. Kora has developed yak wool, which has been used for centuries by Himalayan nomads, into technical outdoor base layers. The company sources wool predominately through the Kegawa Herders’ Cooperative and pledges to buy all the communities’ wool for more than market price. By working intimately within its supply chain, Kora aims to support and protect the Himalayan plateau and its people, while also ensuring quality and ethical sourcing.
Gear Pick: The Shola 230 baselayer comes in zip and crewneck for women and men.
This small outdoor apparel company is dedicated to minimalism and sustainability and uses recycled and sustainable materials whenever possible. The goal is durable, versatile clothing that lasts longer and lets you own less. With two Kickstarter product release campaigns since 2018, the company exceeded its presale goals by 1,268%. The name LIVSN is a shortened version of the Swedish word livsnjutare, roughly translated “one who loves life deeply; an enjoyer of life.”
Gear Pick: Flex Canvas Pants blend durability and versatility for the trailhead or the pub.
The funky patched designs and vibrant colors are Cotopaxi’s recognizable staple; they’re the result of using recycled fabric remnants and letting workers arrange them by personal preference. The company’s “Do Good” motto is more than talk. Cotopaxi is a certified B Corporation, which means it is legally required and accountable to consider its impact on workers, suppliers, communities, customers and the environment. As a result, it donates 1% of revenue towards alleviating poverty. Cotopaxi’s Do Good Discount also allows medical staff, students, nonprofit workers, military and first responders to receive 20% off one item per day.
Gear Pick: Cotopaxi’s Allpa 42 travel pack provides ample organization and storage space, including a laptop pocket, all in a bag that can fit as carry-on.
The NewZealand-based apparel company prides itself on using natural merino wool fibers and dyes. Icebreaker sources its wool from the Southern Alps and proves its dedication to sustainability and transparency by giving customers an inside look at its supply chain through online interactive maps of wool partners and factories. Their Merino growers and factory producers also adhere to strict welfare standards for their workers, sheep and sheep dogs.
Gear Pick: To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Icebreaker has teamed up with climate activist and artist Justin Brice Guariglia to create the XXV line, available now, and the JBG line coming in the fall.
The Morlin Family has been making outdoor shoes for six generations in Montebelluna, Italy, where they claim the first hiking boots were produced in the 20th century. Naglev stands for “Natural Glocal Evolution” — glocal, as in “Think global; act local.” Naglev’s UNICO shoe serves as a crossover between hiking boot and urban footwear. The shoes are 100% handmade with eco-friendly materials, such as coconut fiber in the footbed to absorb moisture.
Gear Pick: The styling UNICO shoe.
After losing a close friend to a biking accident, Gloria Hwang set out to create an urban bike helmet company that would erase the “uncool” stigma surrounding helmets. Thousand Helmets has created all sorts of gadgets to accomplish this goal, including a secret poplock that allows you to lock your helmet to your bike instead of having to lug it around. The Los Angeles-based company is helping to keep the planet safe as well. While you protect your noggin, Thousand dedicates 1% of sales to environmental nonprofits through 1% for the Planet.
Gear Pick: The soon-to-release Chapter Series will feature magnetic, removable, rechargeable taillights to keep you visible for commutes and night rides.
While spending time volunteering in the National Parks, co-founders Keith Eshelman and Sevag Kazanci noticed a lack of resources going toward the lands they loved. So they created Parks Project. A portion of every purchase goes to specific backlogged projects in the National Parks. The company partners directly with conservancies to help identify, fund and put in volunteer hours toward the parks’ most pressing issues. Product lines have helped fund climate change research in Joshua Tree National Park and have restored 78 kilometers of trail in Yosemite National Park, to name a few.
Gear Pick: The funky Rocky Mountain Trippy Boxy Women’s Tee partners with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy to help fund and outfit the conservation corps.
Cool shades with California zest. It all started with a trip to Australia, a stint selling salsa bowls, then a successful Kickstarter campaign that launched Sunski into being. A mighty team of nine run this sunglass company, with an environmental mission at the forefront. Sunski is a member of 1% for the Planet and is certified carbon neutral. If that isn’t enough, the glasses are made from recycled plastics and the packaging is fully recyclable — no single-use plastic here, folks!
Gear Pick: Sunski’s Treeline glasses provide ample coverage for mountain pursuits with removable magnetic sunshields.