When it comes to holiday gift giving it’s hard to determine in advance what’s hot and what’s not, what to stock, and what customers will buy and why. So many sports, so many levels of sport enthusiasts and, as a retailer, how do you figure out what customers will purchase? It is every retail buyers’ greatest challenge and probably keeps them awake at night trying to figure it out and keeping up with the flavor of the month.
Abraham Lincoln was once asked, “Mr. Lincoln, how long should a mans legs be?” To that Lincoln replied, “Long enough to reach the ground.” Everything is relative, continuously changing, and today’s luxury may be tomorrow’s necessity (think about refrigerators and microwaves) and it’s all based on different levels of expertise, ability and passion.
What is a given is that everything in today’s world is lighter, stronger more efficient, works faster, offers more amenities, brings a different wrinkle to the table, and is a flat-out cooler? That’s pretty much true across the spectrum from fishing reels and rods to apparel, shoes, tents, backpacks, electronic devices, and even kayaks (now the rage is outfitting, “tricking” them out for fishing) and paddleboards.
Having said all that, there are a bunch of really neat things available in the marketplace. Some of them are new, some are older but all still command attention. Here is a representative sample spanning different sports.
Coming in October 2014, the Timex Ironman Run X20 GPS is small, comfortable, and water resistant and has an easy to read display menu. It comes with a GPS that provides real-time distance, pace, speed, calories burned along with a stopwatch and 99 lap counter that can be customized to show two or three lines of information. Additional features include a rechargeable Li-Ion battery with a six-hour life (in full GPS mode) and an Indiglo night light. On a pre-order basis, the retail price is $100.
Take shelter from biting wind and stinging cold in the Outdoor Research weather-resistant, windproof Wind Pro Balaclava. The hard-faced fleece fabric sheds weather and conserves warmth and the scooped neck layers with your clothing hold in the heat. It features a contoured shape with the flat-seam construction of Polartec Wind Pro polyester and spandex and weighs 2.9 ounces at a retail price of $42.
The Frogg Toggs Women’s All Purpose Rain Suit in black cherry with black pant brings a hot new versatile style for women along with a great look. The 100 percent waterproof and windproof black cherry jacket is paired with the matching pant for comfortable and dry outdoor activity. The rain suit is constructed from non-woven, waterproof and breathable material featuring an extended length, full-zip and button-front closure, comfort elastic wristbands and shock cord adjustments and retails for $50.
It’s hard to pull a trigger or bait a hook when your fingers are cold and numb. To solve the problem River’s West offers a lightweight, quiet, waterproof fleece hand warmer that clips onto jacket O-Rings or belts around your waste. One size fits most hands and has a zippered pouch for heat pads or accessories. It is available in Mossy Oak and Realtree patterns for $30.
The Simms RipRap Wading Shoe has the look, feel, and function of a hiking shoe but is designed primarily for wading. It’s synthetic waterproof leather construction and perforated foam construction allows it to drain and dry quickly and its StreamTread sole grips slippery rocks. A pair weighs approximately 28.8 ounces and available in sizes 8-13 in D width for $100.
The Survive Outdoors Longer (SOL) waterproof, windproof, heat reflective and breathable Escape Bivy weighs just 8.5 ounces and is rated for 50 degrees. The proprietary fabric allows moisture to escape at the same time it repels rain, snow, and wind all while reflecting back body heat. It offers waterproof seams and a drawstring hood closure with a side zip. Its small size fits easily in a daypack, bicycle bag, or kayak for $50.
Measuring 6 1/2 inches (collapses to 4 1/4 inches) by 2 inches and weighing a maximum of 8.8 ounces with a full candle the Original Candle Lantern is suited for backpacking, mountaineering, or snow camping. The frame holds the glass chimney in place and creates a safe, windproof environment for the flame. The spring-powered candle tube pushes the candle up as it burns (nine hours) keeping the flame burning at a consistent height. It has a carrying handle, hanging bail, twist-lock base, and candle viewing slot and available in aluminum or brass in ten colors. Priced from $20 to $30 at retail.
The new Zojirushi Stainless Mug SM-SA lines are sleeker and 20 percent lighter than its predecessor, weighing only 7 1/4 ounce (16-ounce capacity). Made of 18/8 stainless steel and offering advanced vacuum insulation technology, the bottles keep drinks hot or cold for hours. It features a one-touch flip open lid with a safety lock to prevent the lid from accidentally opening. Available in 12, 16, and 20-ounce capacity in multiple colors. Depending on the size of the bottle, the retail price ranges between $40 and $50.
The Rocky Core Waterproof Hiking Boots deliver versatile performance on the trail. An aggressive rubber outsole provides traction on any terrain; an upper made from a mix of full-grain leather and 900 denier nylon means ultimate durability, and high-abrasion rubber toe and heel guards protect the boot from scuffs and scratches. The Core Hiking Boots are also guaranteed to be waterproof, which means water stays out while airflow remains to keep the foot cool and dry. For added comfort, the Core Hiking Boots have an EVA midsole and EVA removable footbed and retail for $70.
The Ogio All Elements Waterproof Bag is designed for an active lifestyle where keeping gear dry is absolutely necessary. It offers 100 percent waterproof construction and delivers easy access to valuables while ensuring security from the elements. Its backpack styling features a two-way sternum strap and airflow back panel for wearing comfort. The bag includes a strap-containment system to keep straps secure even at high speeds while traveling by bike. It comes in a 360- degree reflective screen print for height and visibility and retails for $125.
The Appy Trails Mark III Tent is a single wall, ultra-light, (less than two pounds) floorless tent that sleeps, one-to-three people. Constructed of T185 waterproof and fire retardant polyester muted green fabric with sealed seems, the tent utilizes two lightweights (different size) poles to insure a stable and tight structure. Setup can be either with the supplied poles, your trekking poles, branches, or suspended from a tree. Features include two vents to eliminate condensation, a vestibule, and zipped door and retails for $100.
The Mountain Smith Sixer Cooler holds a six-pack of your favorite bottles or cans. There is room for extra ice or a freezer pack and the PEVA reflective silver liner insulates and pads the interior contents. Made of 150 denier baby ripstop poly, this 12-ounce cooler has a barrel top zippered closure, haul handle, removable shoulder strap, and rear pocket for koozie storage. A bottle opener is included with a retail price of $22.
Lorpens Coolmax Multisport Ultralight Sock combines Coolmax and nylon yarns, which allow socks to wick moisture away from the foot. Intended for athletes who perform under extreme heat, the sock’s thin, open mesh design and construction reduces bulk in the shoe helping to maintain foot placement within the sock and reducing friction that can cause blisters. The socks are made of 75 percent Coolmax, 15 percent nylon, and 10 percent Lycra for men and women and retail for $11.
Lorpens Lightweight Variable Calf Compression Sleeve is designed specifically to reduce calf muscle vibrations during exercise in warm weather conditions so athletes receive the right amount of compression where needed most. Available for men and women at a retail price of $30.
Not sure about what weather to expect. At least, when it comes to sleeping, cover your bases with Eureka’s Dual Temperature Sleeping Bags. Dual technology works by combining two different amounts of insulation on the front and backsides of the sleeping bag to activate two different temperature ratings in the same bag. Sleep with more insulation on top for added warmth or flip the bag over for less insulation in more moderate temperatures. The bags are constructed of Rteq insulation providing warmth, durability, compression, and comfort in a lightweight and minimal pack size bag. Available in regular and long and in different temperature covering 10/30[degrees], 20/40[degrees] and 30/50[degrees]. Retail price from $109 to $129.
Under Armour Armoursight Power Sunglasses offer up to 20 percent enhanced vision edge-to-edge and exceed the strength of polycarbonate lenses.
Armourfusion frames flex and retain their shape through tough conditions. Combining Titanium, which has the highest strengthto-weight ratio of any metal, with Grilamid, a durable thermoplastic, results in an ultra-lightweight, impact-resistant sunglass frame.
Under Armour Power Sunglasses insure a comfortable and secure fit with scratch and impact protection and exceed ANSI impact standards. MSRP is $100.
The Bushnell Golf Tour V3 Laser Rangefinder allows golfers to know exact yardage up to 1,000 yards with a five-time magnification. This ergonomically designed unit features Jolt technology that provides short vibrating bursts to assure golfers that they have the exact distances to the flag.
The golfer aims the Tour V3 at the flag and the VE JoltTechnology provides short vibrating bursts to reinforce that the Bushnell PinSeeker technology has isolated the target and locked Tour V3 Release onto the flag. The unit in weather proof and comes with a carry case, three volt battery, and two-year warranty with a retail price of $300.
StrongVolt PowerBank Mini USB Battery Packs work with phones, tablets, GPS, or any USB chargeable devices. The 4400mAh PowerBank Mini will charge a smartphone or iPhone about 2.5 times over. It weighs 4 ounces, has an output of 1XUSB 5.5 V, 100 mAh, a lithium ion battery, and a built-in LED light and retails for $30.
ThermaCELL ProFlex Heated Insoles are designed to keep toes and feet warm. The removable, rechargeable battery can be changed in four hours or less with the included wall charger or USB port and lasts up to five hours while the insole remains in the shoe. The insoles are constructed of breathable Polyurethane foam, are lightweight, water resistant, shock absorbent, and work interchangeably with shoes, boots and waders. Available in S-XXLL with a retail price of $179.