OR Show WM 2014 in the eyes of a Minimalist

This was my first visit to Salt Lake City and to Outdoor Retailer.

 Given that I normally spend much of my time alone it was a bit overwhelming. Coming from Port Angeles it was a shock to go into the city and find people walking the street with brand new fresh out of the factory puffy jackets, jeans and dress shoes.  It was eye-opening to say the least.  After the full experience was over I came away realizing how important it is to me to support small, innovative and passionate businesses.  Don't go after a product just because you recognize the name. It seems to me that most of the larger companies have lost sight of what created the outdoor industry to begin with: the outdoors.  Let’s do our part to direct the market back to the outdoors-man, not just what looks good in our closet space.  I know that I can go to my local Goodwill and outfit someone completely for a long trek really inexpensively, and after all it is the GETTING OUT that counts.

 Here are a few items that caught my eye in the world of minimal footwear and photography.

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2014
A calm morning at OR Show Winter Market, before the crowds arrive. 

ZEM gear
  I have been hearing about this company for some time so it was nice to put my hands on a pair and check out the attention to detail in the design.  They have broadened their footwear selection since coming onto the minimal market a few years back and now offer a variety of different models. 

Luna Sandals
 I was disappointed to hear that they will be transitioning out of the Leadville sole pattern which I have grown to love and have had really good luck with.  Don't know Luna?  They are made a few hours from me in Seattle, WA.  They are local to me, have some interesting new concepts and are continually evolving.

Luna Sandals
This is a prototype/concept sole from Luna Sandals that is currently nameless.  It is still in the testing phase and it will be interesting to see what evolves out of this aggressive lug design.

Luna Sandals Tech Strap
This is what Luna is calling their Tech Strap (shown in red, but only currently available in black).  Designed to help alleviate the pressure between your toes while descending, aid in keeping the foot secure to the footbed and assisting the heel from falling. 

Xero Shoes
 This small company, formerly known as Invisible Shoes, has been on the market for some time. They have since redirected their brand and are releasing some new designs.  Their Sensori Venture model is currently available and has a surprisingly comfortable lacing system, but the fit and weight of the sole takes some getting used to compared to other Huarache designs I've worn in the past.  They are lightweight - around 7 oz per sandal.  Personally I can see myself trimming the heel cup off and perhaps the lace end protectors  also in order to cut some weight,  after they get fully adjusted of course.

Xero Shoes Sensori Cloud
The Xero Shoes Sensori Cloud is not currently on the market, but features a EVA footbed. 

 This company features a zero drop (neutral from heel to toe) shoe for those that don’t want to let go of a cushioned ride but still want to have the postural benefits of being barefoot.  They have a wide variety of tread patterns and designs but for OR were really pushing their Olympus model which while anything but minimalist is still neutral. Think of them as a Hoka like shoe but with zero drop.   Judging how busy their booth was I can see them capturing the market of walkers and runners that went too minimal too fast and ended up getting hurt.  Long live the natural walking movement!

Altra Zero Drop Olympus
Altra Zero Drop:  Olympus - linked from main site. 

Shoe Repair
 To extend the life my Five Fingers I am going to try applying some Gear Aid Freesole.  This would be applied to high wear areas of footwear and should make them last longer.  I have high hopes that this will help save me hundreds of dollars in minimal footwear. I will report back how it works after some testing. This is not a new product but it caught my eye none the less.

Cellphone & Helmet Cam Tripods
 Joby has been around for some time with their popular Gorillapod, but what caught my eye was a more minimal approach for those that don't want to carry the burden of photography equipment or are just interested in social media.  A cellphone is something people have on them anyways.  Why not up the image quality, shoot self timer or HD video without any shake effect?!  They also have a full line of helmet cam tripod and clamps, options as well.  

Joby Smartphone Tripod
Minimal tripod for most smartphones.  

Adapt your smartphone to a Gorillapod or standard tripod. 

Peak Design - Camera Mounts
 This company has really blossomed since their days of Kickstarter fundraising campaign.  I have seen them many times on social media channels but never in person.  It was nice to talk with the folks and learn about their product, which they are very passionate about.  I was especially interested in mounting the Gopro to my backpack, in order to get rid of the Chesty Mount completely.  I can see this being equally beneficial for someone with a small point-and-shoot type camera.   

Peak Designs
Peak Design - P.O.V. Kit:  Mount a Gopro or small point-and-shoot camera, right to your backpack.