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Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '07 (Monday Edition)


Submitted by vegastradguy on 2007-01-29 | Last Modified on 2007-02-02

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.   Votes: 2 | Comments: 7 | Views: 7019

by John Wilder


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Blog for Monday, January 29, 2007:

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Taking back the world....
Patagonia

Taking back the world....

Welcome back, fellow gear lovers, to the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market! The last two days have been fairly busy for me, and today looks like its going to keep the trend going- despite the lower level of buzz for new products going around. At any rate, lets get rolling and see if we can show you guys the latest and greatest from today’s appointments.

By the way, if you’re wondering about that picture, scroll down to Patagonia’s section to find out more!

Metolius

We started off the day by meeting up with Chris from Metolius, who was very excited to show us the new line for this coming fall. Metolius seems to be on a rampage of making new stuff and improving their old stuff- lots to talk about with them.

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Chris is looking especially good in this fall's Metolius Helmet!
J. Wilder

Chris is looking especially good in this fall's Metolius Helmet!

When you think bombproof, what brand immediately pops into your mind? Well, where else would you rather have something bombproof than on top of your head? That’s right, Metolius is getting into the helmet market. It’s polycarbonate with a full foam interior, it’s got a pinch style adjustment in the rear (better than the dial at first glance), and best of all- no fruity colors! Just kidding, sort of. When this helmet goes to market, the color above will be your only option- a nicely matte gray so you don’t look like a total NOOB at the crag. It’s also one size fits all, and the chin strap actually looks like it doesn’t suck! It retails at about $70, doesn’t weigh a ton, and should be in stores by late summer.

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Shiny goodness from Metolius!
J. Wilder

Shiny goodness from Metolius!

Well, I talked about these both briefly at the last show, and here they are in production quality- the new ultralight curve nust and the medium Supercam. Both of these will hit the stores in April. I asked Chris how the Kevlar cord is holding up and he tells me that he’s gotten two cams back where the cord popped out of the lobe and both of them were glue issues on early production models- the cord itself is holding up great and the process overall has gotten to a point that Metolius is really happy with it.

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Blue is better!
J. Wilder

Blue is better!

Metolius is also offering up a new crash pad for the fall called the Sketch Pad- its 42” x 32” x 3”, billed a circuit pad or a great youth pad due to its small size. Dual density (2” open, 1” closed), blue, and $109- look for it in July.

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Metolius's best kept secret- and now editor's choice!
J. Wilder

Metolius's best kept secret- and now editor's choice!

So, here’s a pack that Metolius has been making for about 15 years and apparently no one even knew it- the Crag Station. It just won an Editor’s Choice award, and now Metolius is updating it for Fall ’07- look for water resistant zips, a tuckable harness, and some trick pockets. Standard features include a duffel opening and carry option, as well as an burnt orange or all black color scheme. It clocks in at 2800 cubic inches and retails at $130.

Other items of note include Metolius Offsets which hit stores March 15th (backcountrygear.com will get some before this). Also look for block chalk from Metolius in addition to the Fine Grind Superchalk. The powergrips and prusiks from last show are also on shelves now for $20, so check ‘em out.

Mountain Hardwear

After thanking Chris for his time, we headed of to visit Mountain Hardwear. Mountain Hardwear, like most apparel companies, is working hard to not only lighten its products up but also to look for new and better fabrics to use in its line.

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Stretchable and waterproof?
J. Wilder

Stretchable and waterproof?

Behold, Mountain Hardwear’s answer to folks who hate non-stretchable, non-breathable rain wear. The Cork jacket is 100% waterproof and made of a waterproof trico fabric (the mesh lining used in most rain jackets)- not only does it only way a mere 7oz, but it also stretches like Schoeller if you can believe it. The key to the stretch lies in the fabric itself but also in Mountain Hardwear’s Z-Weld seams which allow the fabric to stretch in any direction even at the seams. Look for it this fall and for it to retail around $200.

MH’s Transition top is 100% waterproof and is made with Gore N2S (Next to skin) fabric. It’s meant to be worn either directly over the skin or with just a light wicking base layer underneath. Rumor has it that you can wear this in freezing temps just over a t-shirt and be totally comfortable during your morning run. I’ll be talking to MH about getting this awesome little piece for a review for sure!

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Furry, fashionable, and Gore?????
J. Wilder

Furry, fashionable, and Gore?????

Finally, I just couldn’t resist asking about this furry piece of technology- the Mynx jacket for the ladies. Not only can you now be furry and fashionable, but you can also be weatherproof- this jacket is 100% windproof due to its Gore Windstopper lining. Fabulous!

Merrell

After talking the folks at Mountain Hardwear, I raced clear across the Salt Palace (and I do mean clear across) to meet with Emily at Merrell footwear. This year, Merrell is introducing some cool new trail running shoes as well as an apparel line to go with the shoes that its selling.

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Merell's Trail lineup!
J. Wilder

Merell's Trail lineup!

Meet the Resolution, Cruise Control, and Overdrive- Merrell’s trail lineup for the fall of ’07. The Resoluton is a waterproof winter shoe that has a polartec lining and is fleeced lined (cozy!). The trailspring suspension system has larger tubes to allow for compression in the cold weather. The Cruise Control is for those folks who over-pronate(sp) and has better motion control and stability. There is an option gaiter available for this shoe. Finally, the Overdrive (a shoe currently available), is being released this fall in a waterproof Gore version.

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J. Wilder

This July, Merrell also launches its clothing line. I stopped in and met with Nicole and company to talk more about the line. The overall theme seems to be in line with many other manufacturers- functional but fashionable. Now you don’t have to be the dirt bag at the bar after your day at the crag. The line features a good lineup of fabrics- their Universal collection features Gore’s new pro-shell and seems to be making lots of folks happy. The Merino half zip is of course a Merino Wool piece that they’re billing as more of a shirt rather than a base layer (compared to most other folks who use it for their base layers). The Engage is a slick faced fleece which looks pretty snazzy and could be popular among climbers- I like the slick face look…something about it just draws me in. Look for the collection in July and look for it to retail in a decent price range.

After we finished up at Merrell, Emily and I headed over to meet up with Whitney at Patagonia Footwear- a brand new company with some cool stuff to show us.

Patagonia Footwear

Separate from Patagonia (but same parent company), Patagonia Footwear is launching this year with a complete lineup of casual footwear and outdoor footwear utilizing Wolverine’s commitment to shoes and Patagonia’s commitment to the earth. Their overall commitment is to bring you the best product they can while causing the least amount of harm to the environment.

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Vegen or not, both are good for the earth!
J. Wilder

Vegen or not, both are good for the earth!

Meet the Huck and the Finn. The Finn (blue) is a vegen friendly synthetic approach shoe that is lightweight and has a solid toe rand. The Vibram sole is made of their Ecostep sole, which is basically the scraps from their other soles remolded and reused. The Huckleberry (grey) is the leather version of this shoe, but do not despair, the leather come from a whole use process, so they are not just killing the cow for the skin- every part of that cow is being used in a productive way.

Overall, Whitney and I talked about the environmentally friendly nature of the line. Their leather comes from tannery’s that have found a way to tan leather without producing vast amounts of harmful waste as well as re-using many of the chemicals. Whitney tells me that you can literally drink the waste water from the new ISO 14001 tanning process- something that was not even an option before. Look for this process to start becoming more of a standard throughout the industry.

After talking with Whitney, I headed off for a quick lunch break and a vigorous typing session that I’m finishing up right now before my next meeting in twenty minutes with Dave Simpson at Scarpa and then Gregory.

Scarpa

About a year ago, climbing shoe legend Heinz Mariacher joined forces with Scarpa to develop a line of shoes that would be developed they way Heinz wanted the shoes developed. As a result, the new line came about very quickly- about 8 months of work for 6 brand new shoes, all of which feature a radically different school of thought in how a climbing shoe works.


The new shoe lineup from Scarpa and Heinz Mariacher.

The initial focus behind this line is performance- Scarpa found that its already solid lineup of shoes was lacking in the high end performance range, and these shoes, Scarpa feels, fill the void nicely. The Mago (far right) is the king of the performance shoes and features a new way of supporting the foot. This shoe and the three to its left have no midsoles- instead, they have a ‘X’ shaped set of rands that slingshot underneath the foot and up the side- a system that Scarpa calls X-Tension. This is used instead of a slingshot rand to support the foot and work with it instead of shoving the foot as far into the shoe as possible. These shoes are designed for precision work at the high end of the sport- overhangs with delicate footwork, but Scarpa tells me that any strong climber will get a good amount of use out of them. The leftmost shoes in the picture- the Spectro and the Sphinx (mens and womens), are also aggressive and downturned, but not to the extent the other four are. They feature a midsole along with a bridging rand which ties the front and back of the shoe to the midsole. These shoes are for more vertical and technical terrain and would be more suited to climbers that crank a bit below the higher end of the spectrum. Look for all six models in stores by the end of next month.

One note about resoling- due to the complex nature of the rand, a note about resoling these shoes. Scarpa tells me that a standard resole is no problem, but if you’re the kind of climber that climbs till the rands blow, make sure that you get a rand patch, not an entire new rand- new rands are not an option with this shoe- should you need a new rand, you’ll need a new shoe. Other than that, though, these shoes should be easily resoled.


Scarpa’s GSB system and the new boot that features it- the Freney XT.

The other big news for Scarpa is an addition to their line of boots that feature their revolutionary GSB crampon system- the Freney XT. You can find more details on this system in yesterdays blog under Grivel- Scarpa has designed this system as a universal crampon system that its hoping will become an industry standard. Right now, though, Grivel seem to be the only folks offering it, but it seems like a really amazing idea for crampons. Don’t let this stop you from buying this boot for another crampon, though, it still features a lip for a regular crampon.

After we finished up at Scarpa, Dave and I headed down to Gregory Packs to look at their latest offerings.

Gregory Packs

I haven’t paid much attention to Gregory before this, and it looks like I ought to be ashamed of myself- this pack lineup looks like another great option for folks who are just getting into climbing and need a solid pack without breaking the bank.


The Gregory Z-Series, the larger packs are out now, the smaller ones are due in June.

The Z-Series is Gregory’s latest offering. The Z35 features a roll-top with strap on clips for a rope (see photo) and, most importantly, the JetStream suspension. This is basically a frame sheet that arcs away from the back and transfers the load to the lumbar region. A vertical mesh sheet runs down against the back to complete the look and create a nice open area for the back to breathe. The smaller Z packs (the 30 and 20) feature this system as well as the JetStream DTS (dynamic transfer system)- which is a pair of steel rods that curve down the back and cross at different points and effectively stiffen the pack as it gets heavier. These packs start at $100 and go up to $160, making them a good entry level pack worth looking at.

Princeton Tec

After finishing up with Dave, I headed off to meet with Sean Leslie, who reps for a few companies with some really fun products. First up was Princeton Tec, a venerable headlamp company. New for them this year is the Apex Pro- a smaller version of the Apex- a powerful LED headlamp.


The Apex Pro can be seen on the upper left of the set of lamps there (sorry for the lack of good photography, I was getting tired at this point!). It weights 5oz and runs on those powerful little CR123 lithium batteries. It has an 80m spot and 35hrs of burn time- but unlike some other LED lamps, Princeton Tec’s have a constant burn- they don’t dim over time. This lamp retails for $90- expect to see it in time for the fall season.

Buff

You know, I always walk by some of those trendy apparel booths and never really take a second look. Another point against me. Sean introduced me to the Buff at this show-


Wacky colors and lots of uses- it’s the Buff!

A really fun piece of apparel, and incredibly useful and versatile, I was immediately hooked. The Buff is basically a seamless microfiber tube of cloth that can function in a variety of ways- a beanie, balaclava, scarf, pirate cap (my favorite!), as well as a camera or sunglass bag. The best part is that it comes in a variety of colors (including black for those who are not as expressive) and an instruction manual. It compresses to the size of a Clif bar (or smaller) and there’s even a UV Buff available that blocks 95% of UV rays! It retails for $18.50 and is out now.

Ryders Sunglasses



Raise your hand if you’ve every dropped a pair of $150 Oakleys off a 400’ cliff. Or is that just me? Well, regardless, climbers are hard on sunglasses, and most of us are resigned to buying those crappy 4/$20 sets in the mall and hating life. Enter Ryders- these are high quality shades at a decent price. They feature polycarbonate lenses and nylon frames, are ridiculously light, and fit great. They even come in shapes that I don’t look terrible in, which is pretty much all sunglasses except for two pairs up until now…check ‘em out- they retail between $40 and $50 (I didn’t say cheap, I said decent price!).

Patagonia


Patagonia’s new Common Threads program is another huge step toward being more environmentally friendly!

The big news this season at Patagonia, besides Timmy running around in his underwear, is the enhancement of the Common Threads program. Patagonia is now recycling all Polartec fleece garments- this includes both Patagonia Polartec as well as Brand X’s Polartec- they don’t care who made it- if it’s Polartec, recycle it through them! (This is why Timmy is running around in his underwear spreading the good news—and you thought this was all business!) In addition, if you’ve got any Patagonia t-shirt, its also eligible for recycling.

The best part about this program is that its not just lip service. Patagonia is now producing high quality garments that are made up of mostly recycled materials! For example, the Primo jacket (US Ski Patrol’s jacket of choice) is made of 100% recycled material. The Micropuff we all know and love? 90% Recycled shell, 50% lining, and 40% insulation! The R1 and R2- 60% recycled. How cool is this? I’d just like to go on record and say a big Thank You to Patagonia for having the vision to do their part to help out the environment. This is such great news and I, for one, will definitely be buying (and recycling!) more Patagonia gear.

Cascade Designs

Parent company of MSR, Thermarest, and SealLine, Cascade Designs didn’t have any new stuff to show off at this show, but they did have a ton to say about their three biggest releases that they think climbers are going to love.


First up, the Reactor, the stove that everyone is talking about- this slick pressure regulated, radiant heat stove redefines how we think about canister stoves. Unlike most stoves, it runs on radiant heat supplied by 100% primary air, which basically means that the pot gets to sit directly on top of the unit, creating a windresistant cooking environment (see right side of photo- notice no gap under the pot). It also has a nice heat exchanger built into the pot (middle). Most impressive though is the pressure regulator- at 7psi, the stove burns at this pressure when the can is full or when its empty- which means a lot of things. First- fuel efficiency- the first burn is about 30 seconds shorter than the last out of 22 burns per canister (1L boil = 1 burn). Second- performance in the cold- low pressure, doesn’t matter! Third- performance at altitude- again, no problems! This stove is cool folks- while I was at the show the demo guys boiled three liters of water with the reactor while their own pocket rocket struggled to warm a single liter. (Conditions: canister in an ice water bath and a gentle breeze from a fan). Impressive. $140 retail, and its out in April.


Ever punctured a Thermarest and found yourself sleeping on a deflated mat? In the winter? Bummer. Well, Thermarest wants to change that- introducing the Toughskin mattress- a 1.5 inch thick Thermarest pad, .10 inches of which are closed cell foam laminated to the bottom of the pad. This cool feature will, according to Thermarest, prevent punctures most of the time. How do they know, you ask? 30 years of servicing and repairing Thermarest pads have told them that 95% of punctures are caused by things .125” long or less- which means .10” should prevent most punctures. As an added bonus, it has a 5.2 R value, making it one of the warmest pads Thermarest sells. The pad retails for between $99 and $120 and is available now.


This is a neat offering- the Urban Tote from SealLine. It’s a waterproof tote with a roll top (see above) that hides away in the bag if you don’t need it and expands the capacity and protects your stuff when you do. The entire bag is waterproof- radio frequency welded seams and a roll top ensure this. It’s currently available in two sizes- small (16L) and large (33L) (and possibly a medium, I forgot to ask), and retails between $60 and $70. Currently its available in two colors, orange and gray, but by July- red, blue, and green will be offered.

Kelty

I almost wept with relief when I met up with Scott at Kelty- my last appointment of the day and second last for the show and I find myself dragging pretty bad, but Scott’s got some stuff to cheer me up.



First up, a pair of lightweight (sub 4lbs) giant packs from Kelty- the Soar (orange) and the Nimble (blue) are Kelty’s entry into the lightweight category. The biggest versions of the packs clock in at 5200 cubic inches and have a solid harness system and waistbelt despite their light weight. Retail at $230 and in stores now.


The new lineup- from right to left increase in both prices and features.

This is the new lineup of Outdoor Tech daypacks from Kelty. They range from 1500 cubic inches to 2000 cubic inches and retail from $50 to $70, the have lots of cool features including laptop sleeves and electronics pockets on top with headphone ports. These look like they’d make a great sport pack or a day pack for around town.


For the hardcore car camper!

So, I hear lots of climbers talk and talk about how they have this awesome super lightweight stove and all these cool tricks to shave weight. Then I see that same climber hanging out in Jtree lighting up his pocket rocket and digging through his milkcrate of food on the tailgate of his truck. Ultralight camping at its finest. Enter Kelty- how about the Binto Bar- a free standing platform with three ‘Bintos’ and a FDA approved food preparation surface? How perfect is that for getting your food ready when you’re out there roughing it in Jtree? It retails for $120 (or $90 if you don’t want the food prep area) and is in stores soon.

Okay, so that just about wraps it up- and I tell ya, I am dog tired after three days of seemingly unending meetings. I saw lots of cool stuff and am really excited about a lot of the stuff coming out this fall…so, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it!

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7 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

 thomasribiere
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 2007-01-30
4 out of 5 stars The Reactor seems nice though expensive. Does it work with standard gaz canister, if yes which ones (I'm not sure I have understood this part)? The struggle when I travel outside of France is to find my Camping Gaz canisters, even if their availability has improved over the years, especially in the US.
 vegastradguy
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 2007-01-30
MSR recommends using their canister (the big red canister is available pretty much anywhere in the US), but it'll work with others- its just a standard screw on canister. I'll be honest and say that I havent travelled enough to know whether canisters from other countries will work on this stove- but it'll be a question of screw on capability, not fuel. Any Isobutane mix will do ya.
 daniellebo
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 2007-01-30
I just travelled through south america, the MSR type canisters with the standard screw is pretty easy to find in chile and argentina. Just FYI
 olympicmtnboy
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 2007-01-31
So when are they gonna make the Reactor hanging so I can buy one instead of the new version Jetboil?
 e_wire
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 2007-02-01
What's happening with the next article about the north face gear??? Was suppose to be there several days ago... Nice job guys. This is really cool.
 vegastradguy
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 2007-02-02
ah, sorry- TNF actually cancelled their appointment- i'll edit the article to reflect this. sorry!

oh, and i asked about the hanging reactor- and like jetboil, the stove is new so expect improvements and addtions in the future.
 holyhell
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 2007-04-05
TNF??????? do you even climb or are you some high school wanna be outdoorsy fag go get some patagonia dude

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