Outdoor Retailer Summer Market '08 - Day 2
by John Wilder
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Ah, another day, another 500 appointments for your trusty gear editor! It’s the start of day 2 of the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market and I’ve got a pretty varied schedule today, some climbing, some clothing, and some miscellany. Anyway, after a nice a fancy breakfast consisting of a bagel and a piece of fruit, I headed off to meet up with the folks from
New England Ropes
I stopped in to see New England Ropes to thank them for their prompt and awesome handling of the recall of their ropes. In case you haven’t heard, you can read more about it here: click for article. I asked what the actual cause of the recall was and the answer was- during routine testing of the lines in question, they weren’t passing the UIAA drop test- they were only making it through 4 falls. After talking with their suppliers, they found out that one of the suppliers of their raw materials had an issue with their product, but couldn’t pinpoint how long they have had the issue- so New England decided to pull all the ropes they had used that material in and replace them with new ones using new materials. Bravo to NE Ropes for their handling on the issue!
A couple of further notes on the subject. First, all new ropes issued by NE Ropes have either a red or a light blue tracer line on the sheath of the rope to signify it is one of the new ropes that does pass the UIAA test. Second, if you have one of these ropes, you need to return it to NE Ropes! In return, you get a new rope- and if you don’t want the particular rope you returned, that’s fine, they’ll give you another from their line. Finally, the used ropes are being recycled into art by NE Ropes! How cool is that?
Right next to NE Ropes is Edelrid, so I slipped over there to chat with Mark Cole, who showed me the new Zap-o-Mat, a new belay device based on the old Sirius TRE, but with some significant differences. First, this thing looks a lot more like a tube device than the TRE did- and its much more intuitive to load. Second is that is has an adjustable tension button (the green button) on the lever that can be used to maintain positive control of the rope depending on the diameter. The device is out now and retails around $84, due to the exchange rate. If the dollar manages to gain some ground, you can expect this price to drop. Also, Edelrid is developing a double rope version of this device….which I think could be pretty cool!
|The zapomat on Edelrids very cool display ropes!|
Also, Edelrid has the awesome Madillo- a helmet that folds flat! This is something I could really go for- I hate trying to stuff a helmet into my packs. Hate it. Which is why I rarely climb with a helmet. Yeah, I know, but whatever, if I die, they’ll just send j_ung back to the show! At any rate, its pricey at $130, but I think for those of us who hate to deal with the bulk of a helmet, this might just be the answer.
|Folding helmets- who would have thought?|
Gregory is a pretty cool pack company, so I met up with their rep, Dave, and talked about whats new for them for spring 2009. First up is their new Bio-Sync line. While it isn’t designed for climbers per se, this pack has a very cool harness design. It comes from the pack not being designed around load transfer, but instead around the movement of the body. The resulting packs- the Diablo specifically, are potential leader packs in a big way. The harness literally twists and turns with your body, giving freedom of movement a whole new meaning….some creative work with a knife could turn this cyclists pack into a cool leader pack (pockets and a fat waist belt aren’t exactly climber friendly.) Look for it in the spring retailing at $59 for the 6L Diablo (the Dipsea is the women’s version).
|Little, low profile…a leader’s pack in the making?|
|A cool little front/top loader from Gregory- the Jade 35.|
Also coming this spring is the Jade and Z series of packs. Noteable is the 35L model which has a cool front loading window that allows access to the pack without digging through from the top. The vented back panel is also a nice touch…sweaty backs make for sad climbers! Also, look for the Alpinisto 50 to get some new colors and refined a little bit (easy access lid).
After we finished up talking with Gregory, Dave walked with me over to his other client…
|The new Force series.|
Here’s the latest and greatest from Scarpa, the…Force series shoe. Based on the new V-tension system developed for the Feroce shoe (now available after a much delayed launch and re-development period), this tension system actually pulls in the heel when you step on the front of the shoe, storing energy and giving you more power. The force is a flat Velcro slipper with no midsole. It fills the all-day, performance, trad, comfortable niche part of the line. It will retail for $125 and should hit stores in the spring.
|The entry level shoe- the Veloce.|
Also new this spring will be the Veloce- an entry level shoe that’s similar to the Force, but a little less specific and not designed with as much performance in mind. It’s a solid beginner/entry level shoe that costs $109 and will be available in the spring. I should note that Scarpa has really gone to bat over the last couple of years on their shoe line and it shows. I’ve been trying out the Techno (look for a review soon), but my initial impressions of it are that it is a very nice and well built shoe. I really like the heel tightening system on the shoe- easy on, easy off, but once laced, they are secure as can be.
After talking with Scarpa, I snuck over to Primus and Origo to check out what they have going on. Primus has been doing some pretty cool (and very underappreciated) things with stoves over the last year or two, so I was excited to check out what they had to offer this year.
|The new Eta Packlite- a nice addition to the Eta line.|
So the new stoves are the Eta Packlite, a nice touch on the Eta line. The Eta Power was a nice group cooking system, and the Eta express was a nice little stove, but was definitely a competitor to the Jetboil in its modeling, so they really needed a more all-purpose, but packable stove, and the Eta Packlite fills this niche. Non-stick pan is included, colander in the lid, and the whole thing packs down nicely. Priced at $125 for the kit, it should do well. Also new this year is the Ti-Lite, a titanium pot on a tiny little stove, it is a standard stand stove, fits into the pot nicely, and will price at $165.
|Super high mountaineering quality, not a super-high price.|
Origo also has some cool watches to check out if you’re a watch person. I’m not usually a watch guy, but I’ll be the first to say that I’ve always thought Suunto was a little on the over-priced side. These guys prove it- their watches provide the same functionality at a fraction of the price. Well-built, too…definitely worth checking out!
Kelty is a fairly family friendly type of company these days, but they still make a solid pack for the outdoors, and it comes in at a pretty decent price point. This year, Kelty is releasing the Forecast and Prospect sleeping bag series. The best part about these bags? They come in at a value price point, and they have 100% recycled liners and shells in them. Very awesome! The zippers are also recycled (55% content), with the Prospect being down filled and the Forecast being synthetic (Climashield Green- 60% recycled). All in all, very cool bags. The Prospect 20 retails at $220, the Forecast 20 hits at $149.95 and they arrive in the spring.
|Good price, good mission- the recycled Forecast bag.|
|New 4-season tents!|
Also new this season are the Maruader and Foxhole 4-season tents. The Foxhole is a 2 pole tent, the Marauder is a 5- pole. They range in weight from 7lbs (Foxhole 2) to 9lbs 7oz (Marauder 3) and retail in the $400 range. Highlighted features include lighter overall weight and welded seams throughout with some stitching in critical spots. Also, if you like Kelty for lifestyle stuff, look for a wide selection arriving in the spring!
Last year, Wild Country ended production of the fabled Forged Friend, bringing an end to the original cam….but rumors were flying that they might have something new, and it was….not a new cam, but it was a whole new line-up of some shiny shiny carabiners!. Thanks to the success of the Helium, they’ve developed three new carabiners on the same body as the Helium- the Nitro, the Astro, and the Neon. The Nitro is essentially a notched version of the Helium, but lighter (31g) and cheaper ($7.50). The Astro is a Neutrino sized Nitro, very light (27g) and feels like a Helium! It will cost $8.00 and arrive in the spring with the Nitro and the Neon. The Neon is the coolest of them all, sporting a Helium body and a screwgate, this 40g locker is second only to the superfly in weight and comes in at a great price of $11.95.
Wild Country also had some other cool toys to show me including their new helmets- the Alpine Shield and the 360. The 360 is a very cool helmet that is designed to withstand side and back impacts as well as top impacts. The best part? It’ll cost $50 when it comes out in the spring! The other helmet, the Alpine Shield is a wild looking helmet- it is a standard polystyrene helmet with, get this, a bolt on polycarbonate shield that goes on top of the helmet for added protection! The foam helmets are cool because they’re light, but any significant impact and they’re done. With the additional shield, this helmet gives you two helmets for the price of one, and lets you choose the level of protection you want! Also, it comes at a very reasonable price of $80.00, and it won an Outdoor Industry Award in the design category at the European outdoor show!
|A wild looking helmet!|
Also, look for chalk from Wild Country this year, as well as new crash pads ranging in size from a small little ‘launch pad’ to a standard sized pad.
Since I was at the Excalibur booth anyway (WC’s and DMM’s stateside distributor), I popped over to the DMM side to check out the new brassies and other shiny things that DMM is releasing this spring. So, yes, the bronze offsets are coming folks- in the Spring. I got a ‘we swear’ three times from DMM so, there you have it- they’re coming. A couple of notes on them- in honor of Hugh Banner, the bronze offsets will retain their famous HB stamp and sizing. The only adjustment is the plastic sleeve around the clipping loop is going away and will be bare wire- sizing/anodization will be on the new swage. Also new in the spring are Immaculate Marginal Protection- aka, the I.M.P. stopper- these micros are sized like the famous R.P.s and will be available in the spring as well.
|They return, and they keep the famous ‘HB’.|
|Double slung hexes? What?|
So check out the Torque Nuts- these are aggressive camming hexes that will be available in 4 sizes in the spring and perhaps most notably- check out the slings on them. Yes, they are double slung- so they carry short and extend out long. Lengthened, the sling is about the same length as a WC hex. Nice touch, guys- nice touch. In other news, all of the lockers are going to I-Beam construction with a keylock nose. For the Boa, this means a 25% weight reduction. Perhaps coolest of all, though, is the new Shadow Secure. Not quite a locker, not quite a regular carabiner, this straight gate carabiner has a switch at the base of the gate enabling the user to ‘secure’ the gate with one finger after clipping it. Ideal use? Pro that you would use a locker on or, perhaps most likely, on a screamer- very cool and fairly light at 44g.
|The small gold piece at the base of the gate is the switch to secure the gate.|
After chatting up DMM and Wild Country, I headed over to see my favorite French company, Petzl. This summer, they’re debuting a few new things including:
|What, no blue and gold????|
That’s right, bye bye Blue and Gold ascenders, oh how we will miss thee! The new versions are black and silver and feature a recessed trigger, a new cam angle (smoother push up the rope), and more durable teeth. The new cam/trigger assembly will also find its way onto the Basic and the Croll. Also new for the spring are a Crevasse Rescue Kit (includes a minitraxion, a ti-bloc, pulley, 2 carabiners, slings, and instructions- all for $150.00), a standard tube belay device called the Verso that is a Reverso without the hang-hole (57g makes it VERY light) and, last but not least, the new Attache 3D (not replacing the Attache), 28g lighter than the Attache (50g, making it very light for a full sized HMS carabiner).
|An all in one kit...|
Finally, look for lots of new colors on various products- the Hirundos harness and various ropes. Speaking of which I also asked after the Zephyr and Petzl says that the failure rate is within acceptable ranges and they are continuing to look at it on a case by case basis. Also, look for a couple of new things in the lights- a whistle will now be included on the e-lite and various other items like chalkbags, and the new Myo RXP is a programmable headlamp with 3 settings and 10 light levels per setting. It also features regulated light and an integrated SOS flashing mode. It will retail at $99 and be available in January.
After talking with Eric for a bit, I took a short break and then headed over to meet up with Boo Turner at Bridgedale socks. So, I got a pair of these at the last show that I’ve been wearing for the last couple of months and it seems weird to even say it, but they are far and away the most comfortable sock I have ever worn. They make a whole range of socks, obviously, and even better they have a (blank) warranty on them! This year, they have the new bamboo sock line, which has an amazing back story.
|Bamboo? Yes, Bamboo! So soft!|
So, Bridgedale is parterning with biologists who have figured out how to ensure a future mass supply of bamboo here in the united states. Bamboo eats up 4x the CO2 that normal trees do, emit more oxygen, grow exponentially faster, and are self-sustaining forever if you don’t clear cut them. I talked with the folks who developed it and they told me that the bamboo plant can be harvested in 5 years (compared to decades for trees) and that over 90% of the plant is used for materials, making it very efficient. Once woven into fabric, the resulting material is naturally antibacterial (no pesticides are needed to sustain the plant!) and it will keep you cooler than cotton! How cool is that? The folks who are developing the bamboo plant are starting up a pilot program in the Mississippi delta region in January…exciting stuff indeed!
After we stopped at Bridgedale, we headed over to Oboz, a new company that debuted at the last show and have some more things to show off at the summer market.
|Another topo on your foot- this one for the Wind River range.|
Oboz is putting out several new shoes for the spring, including the Valhalla, a very cool looking light hiker, and the Wind River, a nice boot with variable lug depth (to assist cleaning) and the topo to the Wind River range embedded on the sole of the boot!
At the last show, I really wanted to emphasize how great it was that so many companies were going the extra mile to stay green. Well, here’s one that has been doing that since day one and continues to do it every day. Whitney Connor (my favorite shoe person!), walked me through the line for this coming season.
|Very cool looking approach shoe- the Karakoram.|
|An all around shoe inspired by a younger Chouinard.|
Lots of new things for this season, most importantly, the Karakoram approach shoe. This is Patagonia’s first attempt at an approach shoe, and it looks really cool so far. It has Vibrams Idrogrip rubber on the sole, and a polyurethane coated leather upper. The polyurethane coating definitely makes this a cool-weather shoe, as the shoe wont breathe as much as others, but the mesh lining inside will help wick moisture. It also features the polycork/natural fiber footbed…Patagonia is trying to stay green when they can! Look for the shoe on Feb 15th at $110.00. Also new in the line is the Boaris shoe- and aside from the totally cool logo, it features a wider outsole, self cleaning lugs (I looked for the little scrubbers but couldn’t find them!), and pig skin panels (water and stain resistant naturally)- these are an all around shoe, do whatever you want in them, including hunting pigs….provided they don’t hunt you back!
|The Water line.|
Like to play in the water? Check out the new water line! They’re all vegan friendly, which is always a good thing. The Tide Swing features drainage points throughout the outsole and mesh sides (including micromesh on the interior to keep out debris). The Izzak features buckle adjustments and drainage holes in the toe box to keep water from pooling. Very cool. A couple of in-line updates- the Maui series is getting a couple of new shoes sans fleece for those warm spring days. Also, if you’re the proud owner of any of the Outside In shoes Patagonia sells, know that you can now get replacement parts for them! Don’t buy a whole new pair if one part or another has been damaged- get in touch with them and they’ll get you new parts!
Another great shoe company, Merrell makes some awesome all around shoes, and this year they’ve got some fast and light stuff to show us.
|Paragon (left) and Cadence (right) series.|
The Paragon series is getting two new camo shoes- same technology, sexy new colors. They’re very light (10oz) and run at about $90 and are designed as a trail running shoe. The Cadence series is more of a hybrid shoe that would probably work out as a nice crag/short approach/ go out later shoe- they’re $125 and feature a road designed sole with a shortened midfoot and other adjustments for offroad adventures as well as a DWR coating and a 4 way gusseted tongue. Cool looking, to be sure!
Mammut Bouldering Comp
So, every summer, they have the Mammut Bouldering Series up on the roof of a parking garage, and I never go because I have to huddle up in my room to write. Not this year, I made some time to check out the women’s series and the first part of the men’s. Highlights included a problem (#3) that none of the women could finish, but Alex Johnson came closest and also pulled off the win by flashing the final problem (#4). Lisa Rands did well, as did Alex Puccio and other contestants including some hometown favorites. Also, everyone’s favorite powerhouse Chris Sharma showed up and powered his way through the first problem by moving so fast that we all almost missed him flashing it! Some highlights from the comp:
|Lisa attempting #3 in style.|
|Another female contestant showing us how its done on the steep #4.|
|Sharma flying for the finishing hold on the first problem.|
|Alex Johnson winning the women’s division.|
Well, that’s about it for Day 2 of the show- one more day to go, and then I’m outta here!
5 Comments Add a Comment
|Great reports vtg. thanks for the huge and detailed effort that goes into preparing these reports. good work!|
First, all new ropes issued by NE Ropes have either a red or a light blue tracer line on the sheath of the rope to signify it is one of the new ropes that does pass the UIAA test. Second, if you have one of these ropes, you need to return it to NE Ropes!
did you mean that the red or light blue line indicates the rope does NOT pass the UIAA test? or the reverse of that?
|if the tracer line is in the rope, then it does pass the UIAA test.|
|ah, i should make a correction. i didnt stay for the final results, so i reported incorrectly that Alex Johnson won the division. It turns out that after tallying points, Alex Puccio won the division, with Johnson coming in second. My apologies!|
yay bamboo socks!
My wife and I each had a pair on our recent road trip - we'd routinely wear them for a week straight and they don't get stinky! They've held up really well, too - 6 months of heavy use and they look new.