Gear Reviews

ORA 2018

ORA 2018

Outdoor Retailer Australia 2018

We managed to get down to the ORA (Outdoor Retailer Australia show) for a day, to check out the new products that will be hitting our shelves in the next few months.

It was our second year at the ORA show and ran from the 17th – 19th June at Hordern Pavilion and Royal Hall of Industries, Moore Park Sydney. Although a little quieter than last year, there were still plenty of interesting brands and products on display.

We didn’t shoot everything as some items are still a little hush, hush, but we managed to snap a few that the exhibitors were comfortable for us to share.

Hoka One One

Hoka One One produce incredibly lightweight and technical hiking and trail running shoes. It was the first time I’d actually got up close to this brand and was blown away. The shoes offer the same levels of technical features as you’d expect from an alpine boot but using different materials and technology, they are so much lighter and less cumbersome.

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Hoka One One and their latest ultra mountain runner. Photo:©Richard McGibbon
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Hoka One One offer a hiking boot that can match any high alpine boot on the market, but at about half the weight. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

 

Marmot

Marmot has been around since 1974 and is a well-known brand in the outdoors scene. There were a few key items that caught out attention on their stand this year, but the star for us was what Marmot are calling their Ultra-Light rain jacket.  We like to call it the Uber-Ultra Rain Jacket because it weighs in at under 300grams!

 

Marmot's Bantamweight ultra, ultra light waterproof jacket is off the charts! Photo: ©Richard McGibbonMarmot's Bantamweight ultra, ultra light waterproof jacket is off the charts! Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
The beautifully designed Macchia jackets.  Photo: ©Richard McGibbonThe beautifully designed Macchia jackets. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
Marmot have really stepped up their range this year with a featherless, down style jacket.. Photo: ©Richard McGibbonMarmot have really stepped up their range this year with a featherless, down style jacket.. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Otter Box

Otter Box are best known for their number one selling smartphone cases, so we were excited to discover that they have now just launched a range of cooler cases. The cases come in a soft and hard version and a number of different size specifications. Each case has a set of add-ons to that you clip to the case, such as bottle opener, waterproof pouch, small cutting table and a side table and can keep items cold for up to 10 days!

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The new range of outdoor cooler cases from Otter Box. Photo:©Richard McGibbon
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What we really liked was the backpack version, which immediately frees up your hands to carry other gear. Photo:©Richard McGibbon

Injinji

Although they still give me the creeps, the Injinji socks do offer something over traditional socks. The Injinji socks helps reduce excess toe rubbing which can lead to blisters, by wrapping each individual toe, just like a glove. Their latest designs have a certain Australian flair to them.

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Injinji have released an exciting and colourful new range. Check out the Aussie prints! Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Spibelt

Spibelt offers a discreet and convenient way to carry your phone, keys, credit cards, and ID while running or on the go. The belts stretch to accommodate a large number of goods. We were surprised. We can see these move into the MTB scene at some stage. There is an opportunity here. We did drop a few design hints to the exhibitor, hopefully, it sunk in.

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Ingenious running belts that can expand to fit a huge amount of gear. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

TOPO

TOPO make a range of very comfortable trail running shoes. The design is similar to the Altra shoe, with a wide toe box area allowing your feet to splay out naturally, rather than crammed into a narrow shape, which most running shoe manufacturers are still developing. This reduces foot fatigue and plants your foot in a much more natural and logical position.

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The TOPO men’s and women’s range. TOPO offer one of the lightest fully waterproof trail running shoes in the world! Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
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The men’s TOPO “Terraventure”. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Ultimate Direction

Ultimate Direction are well known in the trail running world for creating highly functional and lightweight running packs and vests. The Marathon Vest will be one of their lightest and adjustable running vests coming out soon. This was a sample version, so the final product may look slightly different. Be sure to stay tuned for this release!

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The latest and greatest from Ultimate Direction. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
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Stay tuned for the release of this beauty! Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Power Buddy

Power Buddy are going to be launching a range of silent, mobile lithium power stations. They will feature a dozen different output ports built-in, including 240V AC, Cigarette Lighter, Quick Charge USB, Type C and 12 volt DC to run and charge multiple devices while off the grid. These are so powerful that they will pretty much blow all other power banks on the market, out of the stratosphere.

We had a great chat with the creator of these models and are very excited to see the launch of these into the market, later this year. We’ll be running a test and review on these, so stay tuned!

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One of the latest Power Buddy power stations, almost ready to hit the shelves. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Adrenalin

Adrenalin is an Australian brand based on the Northern Beaches. They have been making, among other things, very high-quality wetsuits and thermal-wear for years. This year they have released a thermal jacket using their 2P technology. The jacket has outstanding breathable and wind resistance qualities, ideal for not only coastal activities but any outdoor adventure. From what we saw and felt of this product, we can safely say it will be a highly sought after piece of kit. Get in touch with them to find out more.

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The thermal and wind resistant jacket from Adrenalin. Photo:©Richard McGibbon

So iLL

So iLL have moved the indoor climbing industry out of the dreary, cold warehouse walls and into the sizzle of unchartered terrains. They have a unique blend of fashion, art and climbing all mixed into one. Their design, brand and ethos are inspiring. They are a truly exciting brand worth checking out if you haven’t already.

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Bring on the bling! Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
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So iLL approach/fashion shoe. Achingly cool. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Sierra Designs

Sierra Designs are a massive outdoor company and have been on the scene for many years. They offer a range of entry-level products all the way up to the extreme end for the more experienced and hardcore adventurers out there.

We particularly liked their new Cloud 800 zipperless sleeping bag that has a fold over flap on the entry section, instead of the, sometimes, claustrophobic zip. This is a hybrid mix of a mummy and quilt design, giving you freedom to open up if you begin to overheat. The toe box also has a cooling down feature, with a small slit where you can slip your feet out of.

In addition to these two features, the bag also has small flaps on the rear so you can attach it securely to your sleeping mat, stopping it from slipping off. We also really liked the Australian colours.

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The Cloud 800 zipperless bag. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Gregory Packs

We don’t often see the Gregory brand out on the Australian trails, so we were happy to check out some of their latest packs. Gregory knows a thing or two about good pack design and we’ve always appreciated their elegant and ‘essential only’ design features.

Gregory doesn’t only focus on hiking activities, they also offer a range of packs for mountain biking as well. Check out their Endo and Avos range.

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Gregory, elegant and highly functional packs. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
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Gregory have an exciting new range for 2019. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

OzTrail

OzTrail always has a large presence at these shows and although I generally just do a quick glance over what they have, this year, however, I noticed a change in their display. It seems there have been some changes in the business and this has opened up some new verticals.

One of these was a 4K video product, which to me, looks like a GoPro but with the OzTrail branding. In terms of price point, that wasn’t discussed but it would need to be competitive to go up against the other major brands who have been in this sector for quite some time. Stay tuned!

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Oztrail is taking on the giants in the adventure mini camera sector. Photo:©Richard McGibbon
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OzTrail’s 4K adventure camera. Photo:©Richard McGibbon

Conclusions

All in all, it was a good show with a lot of interesting brands and products on display. It was much quieter than last year and we weren’t sure why this was. I think it could do with a bit of a revamp to be honest, a new location, fresh approach and some more marketing pre-event wouldn’t go amiss.

If you’re in the outdoor industry or are interested to see what goes on, then this is one you should have on your list. For more information, check out the ORA website.

Jason Lorch

Author: Jason Lorch

Born and grew up in Wales but now a fully fledged Aussie. A passionate mountain biker, hiker and general nature addict. I’m also a bit of a muso and enjoy a good craft beer every now and again (probably too often).

I hope what we do here at Tyres and Soles will inspire people to get out there and experience first hand, the natural wonders that surround them.

So, pump up those tyres, don your favourite boots. Grab a mate, a partner, a pet… and head out into nature. But tell us all about it when you get back.

Chief editor at Tyres and Soles.

Follow @tyresandsoles
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