Best New Gear from Winter Outdoor Retailer 2013

The great gear bonanza that is Winter Outdoor Retailer took place last week, bringing together every outdoor gear maker imaginable to showcase their latest, greatest, and most innovative offerings for the upcoming season. Here's what caught my attention this time.

MontBell debuted the first down garment that uses 1,000-fill power down—the 5.2-ounce Plasma Jacket—a remarkable feat given that 1,000-fill down is the highest fill power that the folks at the International Down and Feathers Laboratory (which test down samples for many major gear companies) ever see.

In the never-ending (and essentially impossible) effort to replicate the incredible compression and warmth-to-weight qualities of goose down, The North Face debuted its new synthetic Thermoball insulation, which is composed of zillions of miniature fuzzy balls. The North Face claims it's 15 percent warmer than any other synthetic insulation out there. Not to be outdone, Polartec loudly trumpeted its new Alpha insulation, which it claims is much more breathable than other synthetics. 

MSR highlighted its new Trigger Release trekking poles, which can be adjusted one-handed—a plus in dicey scrambling or other exposed situations.

Visopticals had its Popticals (right), sunglasses that fold together into an ultra-compact package.

To capitalize on the growing interest in compression clothing, a new exhibitor this year—Vim & Vigr —showcased its line of compression socks, perhaps the first entry in a growing category of compression socks that come in fashionable colors and patterns instead of boring old black or white.

Petzl had an updated line of new products on display, including new versions of its Laser ice screws, which cut weight by 30 percent thanks to an aluminum shaft, and—more notably—the LIM'ICE ice screw sharpener, a simple, do-it-yourself tool for honing ice screws.

Leatherman showed off its Hail+ snowboard tool (right), another slickly designed accessory that nests a Style PS multi-tool inside.

Patagonia offered a Capilene 4 Expedition Weight One-Piece Suit, a full-body version of its always excellent line of Capilene baselayers. You can check it out on the Outdoor Retailer Gear Preview from GearJunkie, along with some other wild "future" gear.

And lastly, LifeStraw was highlighting its filter-while-you-drink product, which is now making the leap from humanitarian efforts in developing countries to the world of outdoor enthusiasts.

You can check out more of the happenings from the show, plus scads more new products, by browsing the OR show dailies, which are given out on each day of the four-day event.

“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.