Ambassador of The Stoke Life

Companies are doing incredible things in the outdoor world, like making sunnies from fishing nets. Photo: Costa Del Mar

The Inertia

Things at Outdoor Retailer have been a little different since the entity moved its entire operation to Denver. For one, there’s another show. Winter has essentially been split into two separate events, one in November and another coming up at the end of this month.

From where I sit, it’s been a really good thing for the industry: more networking equals more connections, more ideas, and more creative partnerships. It is a win-win for all.

At the November show, OR introduced the Innovation Awards, a cool way to look at what’s happening in the ever-evolving outdoor world and recognize a few of its amazing customers. With the second winter show breathing down our necks, I thought I’d share some of the winners after an elite panel of judges spanning the worlds of outdoor education, product development, retail, brand marketing, and entrepreneurship reviewed the submissions based on design, concept, sustainability, functionality, and impact.

In short, I was surrounded by people much smarter than me. Here are a few of my favorite products that won big (be sure and check them out if you’re back in Denver January 29-31):


Overall Winner, PrimaLoft Bio:

PrimaLoft took one for the Earth. Primaloft Bio is the first synthetic insulation that is 100 percent biodegradable and 100 percent recycled. “We wanted to solve the end of life for our garments,” PrimaLoft President and CEO Mike Joyce told SNEWS, “And we wanted to do so in a compelling, true, distinct way.” Leaving behind only organic components as it disappears (water, methane, carbon dioxide, biomass), Bio was almost completely broken down after a year while traditional polyester was still in its original forms after testing.

The Black Diamond Jet Force Avalanche Pack is the best bag you hope you never have to use.

The Black Diamond Jet Force Pro Avalanche Pack

Black Diamond Jet Force Pro

Its innovation you hope you never use but Black Diamond won for its Jet Force Pro, a more svelte avalanche airbag system that’s Bluetooth capable, and features a new, re-arranged modular system for ultimate efficiency in the backcountry. And that’s something you can surely use even if you don’t need it in an emergency.

Costa Del Mar Sunglasses

Costa Del Mar is doing rad things. Its line of sunnies made from recycled fishing nets is genius. The nets are collected, turned into pellets which are then molded into frames, then fitted with premium lenses to make for a great sunglass. In the process, they’re turning crap in our oceans into something awesome. Big win!


Cake: Kalk Electric Motorbike

What? Silent, powerful, friendly on the environment for those of us who like to braaap! but kind of feel guilty about it. The Cake Kalk, made by a super innovative Swedish company, is perfect for getting out in the backcountry without the smelly exhaust and over-use of fossil fuels. The fully-electric Kalk isn’t something you’d think of seeing at OR, but good on the trade show for recognizing a company trying to change things.




This has nothing to do with product innovation, but it’s the only wall of donuts I have ever seen. The Strafe Outerwear booth at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market was awesome! See the full list of winners, here.












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