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Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '07 (Sunday Edition)


Submitted by vegastradguy on 2007-01-28 | Last Modified on 2007-01-29

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.   Vote: 1 | Comments: 6 | Views: 8134

by John Wilder


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Sunday, January 28, 2007

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Back at the show, its a busy day!
J. Wilder

Back at the show, its a busy day!

Welcome back, fellow gear lovers to day two of the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2007! I got to sleep in a little bit today, which is a good thing because we’ve got a big day ahead and lots of folks to talk to, so let’s get going!

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A tree of helmets!
J. Wilder

A tree of helmets!

Grivel

Per user request, I made a pit stop this morning at the Grivel booth to check out what they’ve got cooking for their ice lineup…and most of it is very innovative and groundbreaking.

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Grivel's new and improved Rambo crampon
J. Wilder

Grivel's new and improved Rambo crampon.

Check out the Grivel Rambo crampon. Some updates on the older version of it- there is a single bolt adjustment for the length along with a front point adjustment bolt. Also included is a reversed point at the midsole for hooking, and Grivel’s antibot system- a ‘bubble’ that moves and keeps snow from building up between the points. There’s also a heel spur included with purchase.

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One of Grivel's new quantum tools
J. Wilder

One of Grivel's new quantum tools.

This is Grivels latest and greatest, the Quantum line- this is the Quantum M tool- this flat aluminum tool is wrapped with carbon fiber to keep very light. The handle will change a bit before production- expect to see this tool in stores for next year’s ice season. The tool clocks in at 472g (compare Grivel’s own Monster tool which weighs 730g!)- I held both the M and the Monster and the M was ridiculously light for such a serious tool.

I’m also going to take this moment to drop a plug for Grivel’s GSB crampon system. I’ll talk about this system more tomorrow, but its basically a very easy, simple slide on system for crampons that Grivel is trying to get folks to start using with their boots. Scarpa is currently using this system on the Freney and a couple of other models. The system is universal- so if it becomes the standard, you wont have to figure out whether or not your boot will work well with your crampon, the system will be like ski bindings—everything will pretty much work with everything else. I’ll try to get a picture of this system tomorrow at my Scarpa interview.

High Sierra Sport Company

Laila at High Sierra was kind enough to sit down with Daniel, Helette and me for a half hour or so and go over the latest innovations in their brand. High Sierra is definitely a company that is focused on being accessible and in a decent price range for the average outdoor enthusiast, but at the same time, they really focus on keeping their stuff feature rich.

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High Sierra's coolest offering this season- the Guide
J. Wilder

High Sierra's coolest offering this season- the Guide.

The coolest pack they had to offer was the Guide, a 3200 or 4000 cubic centimeter clamshell pack that has some really slick features that make it ideal for the beginning climber to get their stuff to the crag and back. The size of the packs harness is adjustable, it has the standard removable hip belt and hydration ports, but one of the features I really liked was the built in rain cover- which is standard on all of their packs. This pack retails around $99 and will be available in March/April.

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A good leader pack, perhaps?
J. Wilder

A good leader pack, perhaps?

They also offer a pretty sweet looking hydration pack- 700 cubic centimeters and called the Kahuna, this cool little pack comes with a stashable waistbelt AND mesh clip on (which looks to be a perfect helmet spot). It also expands out- I’m thinking that its perfect for a leader pack as well as being expandable to become a bigger pack for stashing the rack and the helmet in for the hike down. The retail should be around $60 and it’s also due in March/April.

After Laila got done showing us the line, Daniel and Helette rushed off to a meeting elsewhere while I snuck over to Big Agnes to talk with everyone’s favorite PR consultant- Katie Cavicchio (sp?)!! Katie reps for BD and Big Agnes and she took some time out of her busy schedule to show me Big Agnes spring line-up.

Big Agnes

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eVent and Big Agnes, a match made in heaven!
J. Wilder

eVent and Big Agnes, a match made in heaven!

Behold, Big Agnes introduces a new bivy for this season. This little guy has some innovative features that make it unique for bivy sacks. First is the eVent fabric that it is made of. I spotted this fabric as it was introducing itself at the last show, and I’m excited to see it being introduced into some products at this show. eVent is a waterproof and truly breathable membrane- which makes it ideal for a tightly enclosed bivy sack where lots of condensation is an issue. The sack also features some unique tent poles from DAC called Feather Lite NSC which utilize an anodization process which is much more environmentally friendly than the current process.

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Bamboo, memory foam, and down- the Battle Mountain!
J. Wilder

Bamboo, memory foam, and down- the Battle Mountain!

Second, here’s Big Agnes’ latest sleeping bag- the Battle Mountain. As you may or may not know, up until now, all of Big Agnes’ bags were without insulation on the bottom- requiring you to purchase one of their pads (or one that would fit) that would slide into their unique sleeve on the bottom of the pad. This bag, on the other hand, is a cold weather bag and has a bamboo insulation on the bottom of the bag- in addition to the sleeve for the sleeping pad. Big Agnes feels that bamboo is a great choice for the insulation on the bottom because its very durable, packable, and best of all, still insulates when wet! Worry not, though- this hybrid-down bag still packs down nicely!

In addition to all of that, Big Agnes also now has a memory foam pad available as well as a memory foam upgrade for any current Big Agnes pad, so that you can get an even better nights sleep on one of their pads. How cool is that?

After meeting with Katie, I had some free time before my next scheduled meeting at Gore, so I wandered off to check out this cool little camera called the Digital Hero at GoPro.

GoPro

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The Hero- useable both in its case and outside.
J. Wilder

The Hero- useable both in its case and outside.

Yesterday, when we met up with Julie Evans from Verde, I had noticed she had on a pretty bulky looking wristwatch, which upon my noticing, she promptly lifted up to show me that it was not a watch at all but a camera!

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Tiny, but powerful!
J. Wilder

Tiny, but powerful!

The camera itself is very innovative despite its size. It’s a 3 megapixel camera that takes very high quality images, it also includes a video capability with sound (54 mins worth on a 2gb SD card- the batteries will support 2hrs!). The camera clocks in at 4.5oz and, in its wrist casing (optional), is waterproof to 100’. The really cool thing is the price: $140. Look for it in stores in about two weeks…REI and LL Bean will both be carrying it.

Evolv

As usual, Brian and team at Evolv are kind enough to let the rc.com crew crash at their booth when we’re not traipsing around the show gaping at things. So, I caught Brian and Buck and demanded the lowdown on the Pontas and their other new offering- the updated Athena.


Evolv’s latest and greatest, the Sharma inspired Pontas.

Brian and Buck immediately made the point that the Pontas is not an updated Kaos. This shoe is completely different- and was created based on the design ideas and feedback of Chris Sharma – Sharma wanted to develop a non-stretch synthetic, high performance shoe with strong edging power, a great fitting arch and heel cup that eliminates dead space and fits like a glove and is awesome for aggressive heel-hooking. The extended toe cap allows toe hooking while the grooves on the top of the toe relieve pressure off the big toe knuckle. The shoe, by the way, is out and you can get your pair for $115. Expect a Booty Crew review on this one as soon as we can get it up- this shoe looks sweet!

Although its called the Athena, its really not. Evolv basically took the Pontas and developed it specifically for women and the result is the Athena. This shoe, along with having a different fit specifically for women, has a couple of other features that Evolv included because of feedback from consumers.

See that? That’s a microfiber lining that allows a bit of stretch to the shoe instead of the old Rockstar and Athena canvas lining- also, the perforated synthetic upper will also allow stretch as well. This shoe isn’t designed to stretch much, but enough to give the user some more comfort. Expect the Athena out in April at $109 retail.

On another, more conversational note from Evolv, we got to talking about Trax and he tells me that Trax is a constantly evolving rubber- Evolv is constantly fine-tuning the formular so that the Trax XT keeps getting better and better. Brian tells me the rubber on the production Pontas is the best yet and anticipates even better rubber in the future.

Finally, if you’re in the market for sandals that don’t fall apart, go get yourself a pair of the new Evolv sandals that have a Trax rubber on the bottom and apparently cant be destroyed if the initial testing is any indication. They retail at $29 and I completely forgot to ask when they come out!

Trango

Okay folks, while Trango doesn’t have any new gear to show off, they did have some stuff to talk about, so I sat down with Mal Daly and crew to get their official statement on their ice gear.

The bad news is that Trango is officially pulling out of the ice gear business. With the last two years of product work solely devoted to getting CE cert for the Cinch and the MaxCam development, Trango has had no time to update their ice line which they feel is out of date at this point and not competitive. The good news is that they will be back, but not for a while- the earliest you’ll see Trango ice gear would be for the ‘09/’10 season.

That said, Trango has partnered with some new folks that I mentioned last time- PMI ropes, E-Grips climbing holds, and Flashed Climbing bouldering pads…the latter being my next appointment.

Flashed Climbing


Ronin’s little brother.

Walson Tai is a very smart guy with a bunch of very smart guys working with him- and the result is a bouldering pad that completely rethinks the way bouldering pads are made. At the last show, I talked briefly about this air filled pad, and now I’m happy to say that the pads are finally out- the Ronin is out now and its little brother is due in July.

Although the pad is expensive- $409 each, they are worth it according to Walson. They’ll last three times longer than a standard pad, and more importantly, are much more effective when it comes to energy absorption than a regular pad- in fact, Walson’s testing has shown it to be 24% better at reducing peak g force on the body- and it actually improves the higher you are when you come off! As an added bonus, the Ronin pad packs into a 13” x 13” x 39” tube, which avoids the oversize baggage rules on airlines…no more paying extra to fly with a big pad.

After thanking Walson for his time, I headed over to a little booth in the front of the Salt Palace with two guys in it who spent some years developing a radically new type of cam-

Totem Cam

At first glance, you’re not sure what to think of this smart little unit, but after reading the specs and taking a closer look, you become intrigued. It looks like a cam and acts like a cam, but its got some weird features that make it function completely different from a standard cam.

The cam works like a regular cam in most instances, but its unique clip in points where the trigger is allow it to do some different things when placements start to get dicey. For instance, if you can only get two lobes in, no problem, just clip into one side of the cam- then the other two lobes don’t get loaded if you take the whip. Wicked large flare? Place one of these guys- they’ll protect a 31 degree flare.

The downside? They’re not available anywhere- the ones pictured here are the only ones in existence. That said, I think these cams may just be innovative enough to find a manufacturer and distributor willing to explore their full potential!

Gore


Sometimes you just have to take a photo!

After talking with Walson, I rushed across the main convention center to meet with Cynthia, a rep for Gore- everyones favorite fabric manufacturer. New this year is Gore Proshell a lightweight, abrasion resistant, breathable fabric with 8mm tape on the seams, and is durably waterproof. I handled a new jacket from Mountain Hardwear and it felt pretty impressive. Eider is also using it, along with Arc’teryx, Marmot, OR, and TNF. This highly compressible fabric will start appearing on products this fall.


Gore's latest and greatest.

Gore is looking to get back to its roots as a brand this season, so look for lots more from Gore as the year continues.

After meeting with Cynthia, I sped back across the Salt Palace to the climbing area to meet again with Katie Cavicchio, everyone’s favorite pr rep from Backbone, but this time, we’re going to talk about the stuff folks have asked the most about:

Black Diamond

So, its time for the good stuff. Two new axes and enhanced ice screws are the highlights of BD’s winter line for next season. First up, the Viper and the Cobra:


The Cobra is the black one, the Viper is the orange one.

The Cobra has been updated with a greater shaft clearance- the most for any BD tool. It’s also got a flush grip- which means that its slightly smaller than before, but its flush with the shaft of the tool, making for easier transition between grips. It also comes with a Strike and Fang- 50cm in length and lighter than its predecessor (sorry, I didn’t get the weights from Backbone!), this one looks pretty cool.

The Viper takes another approach to creating the aluminum shaft- the process is called hydro-forming and it uses high pressure water to form and bend the aluminum into the shape BD wants it. The cool thing about this process is that it maintains a uniform thickness in the metal, creating better balance, as well as increased stiffness and a lighter weight overall. Like the Cobra, it comes with a Strike and a Fang, along with an option for a leash. 50cm in length.


The new ice screw lineup and a close up of the new teeth.

Also new for next season is the new BD Express screw- it has four noticeable improvements. The first and most important is improved tooth geometry, which makes starting and screwing easier than before. Second is a larger crank knob- which rumor has it makes it easier for gloved hands to turn. Third is the change from a black hanger to a stainless steel one, which will reduce rust as well as decrease any melt out resulting from a black hanger. Finally, a second clip in point has been added to the hanger, which BD says will make swapping positions at belay easier.

Finally, a quick note about the new NForce ascender- this new ascender from Black Diamond ships very soon- definitely in time for the spring season, but I wanted to quickly mention something about how it works. A normal ascender has slanted teeth and works by biting into the rope as you pull down. With the NForce’s unique moving bars, this unit actually pinches the rope rather than bites it, and has teeth that point directly toward the rope rather than down. The climbers weight actually propels the ascender into the rope, creating a greater holding power. BD also tells me that should you take a fall onto one of these guys, you’re much less likely to shred your line because the teeth are less aggressive and they are not pointing down. Look for a Booty Crew review of these for the summer season.

After all the fun at BD, I thanked Katie for her time and wandered off to find Daniel and Helette so that we could head over to check out Royal Robbins new stuff.

Royal Robbins

Royal Robbins, it goes without saying, is a good brand- like that other brand started by one of America’s great climbers, the Royal Robbins line is one that its founder can be proud of.

The women’s line from RR is pretty fun looking as well as technically useful. All of the products feature moisture wicking properties, and most of their stuff will not shrink after you wash it. Highlights include the Nox jean- a T400 fabric that mixes lycra in with denim, making it lighter and more stretchable. Also, RR has a new Marino Wool shirt called the Shaylen, which is ridiculously soft and antimicrobial. The Tarma (pictured above), is a 600 fill down vest/jacket with a ripstop exterior and its very flat in comparison to most down jackets- you wouldn’t know its 600 fill just by touching it.

In addition to the womens line, there’s some cool stuff for the men as well. My favorites included the Discovery pant (pictured) with a UPF40 (many of their pieces have this high of a sunscreen in them) that are not only good looking but also stretchy and quick drying. The Kaden sweater, although not pictured, looks like your average sweater but upon closer inspection you realize that it’s a tech piece that is waterproof and windproof! Finally, my favorite shirt was the Trailhead, a rugby inspired shirt that looks like a nice midlayer with extra material on the shoulders to help when wearing a pack.

Overall the line is very earthy and there are a lot of other pieces like the Flinn- a ‘green’ shirt made of hemp and organic cotton, the Emmy and Lodge, pants that are waterproof, windproof, fleece lined, and have a Teflon face on them. I’m looking forward to seeing more of RR’s stuff in the future. The stuff you see here will be available for next fall!

Last, but not least, we headed over to my absolute favorite clothing company from Jackson Hole, Wyoming that’s celebrating it’s tenth year in business.

Cloudveil

Celebrating this special anniversary, Cloudveil is introducing a couple of new jackets as well as going back to their old stuff and revitalizing it with new fabrics and new looks. First up is the Koven Plus Jacket-


Cloudveil’s flagship for the Winter Market- the Koven Plus.

Redesigned with new fabrics, this very green jacket has some really cool technology in it. First up is the dark green fabric in the picture above- this is Schoeller’s new C-Change fabric that when warmed up, actually opens up more to allow moisture to escape, but when cooled closes to trap in warmth. The jacket also has an ultrasonic seam on it, eliminating stitching seams- it retails at $440 and expect to see it this fall.


New and sexy for Fall ’07, celebrating 10 years in business, the Cloudveil lineup!

A couple of other jackets worth mentioning are the Mountain Cache and Clouveil’s classic Serendipity. First up is the Mountain Cache, which is a unlined version of the Cache Creek- a great mid-weight jacket. This jacket clocks in at 5.8oz and retails at $80. Finally, the Serendipity, after years of setting the gold standard for softshells, has been resdesigned for the anniversary- the napoleon pockets are still there, but now they are actually less noticeable. Improvements include elastic cuffs rather than the Velcro (the only part on my Serendipity that’s four years old to look its age) as well as an mp3 pocket on the interior of the jacket. Other than that, though, the jacket hasn’t changed much and continues be a Cloudveil standard.

Well, that’s about it for today- the day ended a little early as one of my appointments (Mountain Hardwear) was moved to Monday, so I’m off to relax a little and get some sleep before the final big day of the show. Tomorrow, expect to hear from Metolius, Mountain Hardwear, Merrell, Patagonia, Axis, Scarpa, Gregory, Priceton Tec, Cascade Designs, G3, and Kelty! See you then!

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6 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

 thomasribiere
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 2007-01-29
4 out of 5 stars Hey Vegas!
About the eVent fabric : I bought a pair of moutain shoes last winter, an Italian brand called Kayland, with the eVent fabric inside, and I can tell FIRST HAND that it's BREATHABILITY is EXCELLENt! I'm not satisfied with the boot itself which is too rigid for my feet, but I feel warm in winter and cool in summer because it never gets wet inside, thanks to the eVent layer.
Is there a Kayland booth at the show???
 socialclimber
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 2007-01-29
For more information on Totem cams, take a look at their website http://www.totemcams.com
 j_ung
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 2007-01-29
Ahem... you'll never guess who wants to review Totem Cams when/if they become a production reality. ;)
 macherry
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 2007-01-29
nice reports vegastradguy. Just one question, are the casual shoes still in the evolv lineup, and if so, do the styles remain the same? I like the redisigned evolv athena, the additional stretch will be appreciated
 kricir
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 2007-01-29
I’m a fan of the new BD tools. My main problem with them so far is that the pinky rest on the current tools blocks access to the hole in the spike so you can’t attach a dummy cord for alpine climbing leashless. Looks like they have fixed this.
 vegastradguy
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 2007-01-29
macherry- yeah, the casual shoes are still in the lineup- i didnt cover it at the show because they havent really changed it- the big news for them is the pontas and the athena.

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