Gear Lust in Utah
Ice-climbing tools! Hummer footwear! How to shop for outdoor gadgets you don't need.
The Bottle Belt: Colorado businessmen Lon Black and Alex Hearn have created a twin-loop strap that fits around your Nalgene water bottle, letting you easily attach it to a backpack using a carabineer. Critics point out that Nalgene bottles come with a plastic lid-loop that serves the same function, but the Bottle Belt press kit scoffs at that: "Bottle flops around immensely—irritating!"
Hummer Footwear: Jordan Saliman has licensed the rights to make shoes and boots in the spirit of GM's popular Arnoldmobile. "These are top-tier integrity shoes," Saliman says. "We don't go into stack-'em-high, let-'em-fly retailers." Made with features like Himalayan yak leather and manikin-flesh-colored nubbly soles, Hummer models include the Backfire, Mudflaps, Hubcap, Hitch, and Lugnut.
Tugz: You know when you're skiing and you're being driven crazy by those cords that hold your eyeglasses on? No? Well, the makers of Tugz Cordless Eyewear Retainers say it's a problem, so they've designed teeny neoprene wedges that fit behind your ears and keep your glasses on. Available in "Hiker's Orange" and "Bicycle's Green."
I closed out my O.R. experience with something I'd been saving: a visit to conference room 151D, an eerie space housing forlorn Asian companies. In the back corner I stumbled upon my personal Best of Show: "ITI: Foremost Meat Processor Supplier from China!"
This Shanghai-based company makes sausage grinders, but they also produce a line of sturdy cast-iron camp cookware. Marketing manager Sam Liu eagerly showed me the wares, at one point holding up a small, rectangular cast-iron grate with two fixed rings in the center.
"What is this?" I asked. "Does it sit on a grill?"
"Well, what then?"
"It is just the thing," he said, "for your cold beer and turkey!"
Ah, at last. Thank goodness somebody covered that base.