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New tech tops the best products at Outdoor Retailer Show, plus crew leader training with RMFI 

click to enlarge The Cake electric bike from Kalk of Sweden. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • The Cake electric bike from Kalk of Sweden.

After many years in Salt Lake City, the Outdoor Retailer show, which showcases anything and everything outdoor recreation, moved to Denver this year. I've had the show on my radar for quite a while, and excited to find the truly new and updated.

I couldn't see everything there was to see at the show, it took up all levels of the Colorado Convention Center, but here are my highlights.

Cool wearable tech: I love wrist watches, especially multipurpose watches — I feel naked if there isn't one on my wrist. I also like outdoor tech — I never hike without a GPS loaded with topographic maps so I can track where I've been and see what's nearby or plot a route. As such, Casio's ProTrek  WSD-F20 watch struck me as an impressive device. Incorporating a multi-layer color and monochrome LCD screen, the watch features GPS capable of displaying detailed, color topo maps, and has AndroidWear 2.0, allowing it to sync with Android phone apps. Users can read text messages, or answer phone calls, and it doesn't need a cell signal for mapping, meaning it's able to function as a standalone device.  At $500, the ProTrek sounds a bit pricey, but it's price isn't too far off from high-end handheld GPS units.

Two-wheel tech: The Kalk electric bike from Sweden-based Cake is more motorcycle than bicycle, it's capable of running for about two hours at speeds of up to 50 mph, and weighs only 150lbs. Cake's only producing 50 of these in the first run, with a price tag of $14,000 (with a required $1,000 deposit).  While avid mountain bikers may not want to buy something they can't actually pedal — or this expensive — the Kalk's super lightweight construction and electrical technology in both the motor and battery will likely transfer to advancements in electrically assisted pedal bikes.

Drinkable tech: LifeStraw, known for its portable water filters that let you literally suck water out of almost source through a oversized drinking straw (and live to tell about it), has broadened its product line. LifeStraw not only manufactures individual use filter straws, but filter systems built into bottles, gravity systems and more as well. The company also offers a $35 adaptor kit allowing you to use their system in almost any other water bottle. If you're like me and have a large collection of water bottles, this will give those spare bottles a renewed purpose. And maybe keep your significant other from getting rid of them when you're not looking.

Updated maps: National Geographic's Trails Illustrated maps are a staple in the outdoor recreation community. Their "100 series" of maps cover most of Colorado, though, until now, they haven't been updated in a while. The entire 100 series is being updated and should be available in about a year. Trails Illustrated is also producing entirely new maps, including a Colorado 14er series showing the route(s) to the summits of our state's tallest peaks. The Colorado Backpacker series from TI will feature multi-day backpacking loops, and will also include elevation profiles. Lastly, a special map series just for the Colorado Trail is in the works as well. Formatted more like a book than a large, fold out map, the Colorado Trail series will focus on the route and features along the way.

There was much more to see, including old favorites like clothing from Filson and Columbia, footwear from Keen and packs from Mountainsmith, but these were my favorites.

Crew Leader Training

The Rocky Mountain Field Institute has announced that applications are being accepted for it's 2018 Crew Leader training. This is excellent training for any one who wants to know how to build and repair trails, and contribute to the overall trails experience in the Pikes Peak region. Click here for more information and to sign up.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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