The day before the start of the Summer Outdoor Retailer is always busy. Most attendees (a mix of U.S. retailers, gear reps, and journalists) flood Salt Lake City, priming for the chaos of the more than 1,000 gear manufacturers who takes over the Salt Palace Convention Center. Go time: Aug 2 at 9 am.m. Others come to Utah a day early to attend Open Air Demo Day at Jordanelle State Park to paddle, bike, run, and hike with some of the new outdoor gear. We sent one fearless editor/tester/writer/gear-goddess with The North Face on a long hike to check out their latest-and-greatest day-hiking products slated for spring 2013, while others headed to The Canyons to test their legs on their new downhill mountain bike park—and put some tried-and-true gear to the test.
<!–more–>During the hot, three-hour ride on the lift-accessed trail system, the Columbia Omni-Freeze Zero continued to perform remarkably well in the hot Park City sun. (My sun-burnt,now-pink skin? Not so much.) The Freeze Degree Short-Sleeved Crew shirt felt refreshingly cool against my skin; we’ll get our hands on some Mountain Hardwear Cool.Q ZERO product (their equivalent of the same technology) soon and will let you know how it performs. Otherwise, a few tried-and-true products continued to hold their own on the tacky double- and single-track trails at The Canyons, including the Arc’Teryx Aeros 14 Day Pack, and Five Ten’s Maltese Falcon. Two side notes on the Maltese: 1) Clip-ins are overkill for downhill; go with a sticky, flat-bottom shoe like the Impact. 2) Last week a guide who regularly works trips in Moab said the Maltese is the best shoe for that terrain due to Five Ten’s Stealth rubber, which sticks to the slickrock in ways that could save true embarrassment.
More from the floor of Outdoor Retailer coming soon.
As for mountain biking at The Canyons? As with most of Park City, it’s truly epic. Trails like Mid-Mountain (which starts at Deer Valley and funnels to the mid-mountain base of The Canyons) offers iconic single-track through aspen groves, with stunning views of Park City and the surrounding mountains, while the new lift-service, gravity-fed routes are in remarkably strong, smooth-flowing condition for trails that are one year old this month. And the guided tours and one-on-one lessens also help bring the so-called extreme elements of mountain biking into an approachable experience that is certain to convert a few to life-long riding—and that’s something we at Gearzilla fully support.