Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '08 - Day 1
by John Wilder
Click on any image for a larger view.
|The Winter Market opens to a bustling crowd, despite the frigid temperatures outside.|
Well folks, it’s that time of year again, rockclimbing.com is in Salt Lake City to bring you the latest and greatest gear news. As the winter show is somewhat more subdued than the rowdy summer show (mostly due to less gear being shown off), I thought I would change up the format of the blog a bit this year. We’ll get to all the gear goodies in a minute, but first I want to touch on some really amazing folks doing some real good in the community.
First and foremost, I wanted to give some press to the Yosemite Fund - this year, Royal Robbins is being generous enough to donate part of their booth area for the Yosemite Fund to raise money. Last year, the Yosemite Fund gave over $4 million in grants for projects in Yosemite National Park - projects that may have otherwise gone unfunded by the federal government. You can find out more at www.yosemitefund.org
Also on the good deeds list is Malcolm Daly and friends with their new project - Paradox Sports, whose mission it is to provide ‘inspiration, opportunities, and adaptive equipment to the disabled community in order to pursue a life of excellence through human-powered outdoor sports.’ A good example of this is Malcolm working with Evolv and a prosthetics company to manufacture an artificial climbing foot and shoe to go with it. You can find out more about Paradox and what their goals are at www.paradoxsports.org
Finally, I’d like to again let people know about Sterling Rope company’s recycling program. If you have an old rope, no matter who made it, rather than throw it away, send it to Sterling. They’ll take any rope you’ve got and recycle it to make other nylon goods for consumer consumption. Reduce, re-use, and recycle folks - lets all do our part. Find out more at: www.sterlingrope.com
Well, now that we’ve talked about all the good deeds that folks are doing, let’s talk about some gear, shall we?
As with previous shows, Big Agnes is expanding their line again. This time they’re introducing a whole new series - the Divide series. It features 7 new bags - 3 synthetic and 4 down, ranging from a svelte 17oz 40 degree summer bag all the way up to the Hahn’s Peak - a burly 2 lb 15oz -20 degree bag.
Also featured this year is a new lineup of tents - including the expedition weight Mine Mountain Series- available in a 2 person (5lbs trail weight) and 3 person (7lb 7oz trail weight). The tents feature DAC Featherlite poles- which feature eco-friendly anodizing. They also have the hub feature on the poles, reducing the number of poles required for tent set-up. They also feature Cordura in the floor and fly, making them fairly burly tents at a not so burly weight. They’ve also added to a single person tent to their successful Emerald Mountain series, as well as an all new series- the Copper Mountain Ultralight Series. At the time of this writing, the Copper Spur UL 3 (4lbs 3oz) just won the Backpacker Magazine Editor’s Choice Award.
|The new Royal Flush Expedition tent from Big Agnes.|
Speaking of awards, the Cyclone SL- the little kit that turns your Big Agnes Pad into a cozy camp chair also won a Backpacker Magazine Editor’s Choice Award. This 6oz kit retails at about $40 and is out now while the rest of the stuff should be available around summer time.
|Backpacker Magazine loved it, and so did I after checking it out at the show.|
Ah, Metolius. It seems like every time I come to this booth, I get to see a bunch of new stuff I didn’t expect, along with some that I did. So, lots of news for you here. Of course, everyone wants to know about these:
|Here they are- notice the short sling- this was done to keep the overall length approximately the same as the rest of the Metolius line-up. Anything longer and they would have hung too low...|
So, here’s the skinny. They’re coming, and coming very soon. Expect the bigger sizes to be available first, and the smaller sizes (purple and grey) to come a bit later, but both should be available by late Spring. To get a little more perspective on the cam, Doug (the big kahuna at Metolius) took some time out of his schedule to talk with me a little more about the cam.
The cams have some pretty radical features from Metolius and have been refined even further than when I saw them last, although their appearance is largely the same. They will feature the same size line-up as Metolius other cams up to #6 (thin hands for those not familiar). The explanation for the ‘spring’ just below the head (only present on the smallest 4 units is that they needed to bring the top of the trigger assembly away from the head of the cam, otherwise it could interfere with the placement of the unit. It also allows the unit to bend nicely without it being too sloppy feeling. Metolius also mentioned that the reason they used cables in the trigger assembly rather than the CCH metal sheath was that if the sheath was flexible enough to bend nicely, it wasn’t tough enough for them- twist the sheath a bit and it fell apart. If they used a thicker sheath, it wouldn’t bend the way they wanted it to, and so the cables came about. The nice touch on them is they are oriented in a way that they do not affect the cam in a vertical placement- and once the trigger assembly is retracted, it would only affect a very deep horizontal placement. Metolius also took their lobes and shaved some thickness off in the smaller units (yellow and below) in order to achieve a narrower head width, which resulted in a more versatile cam. Doug tells me that they are comparable in head width to the C3, but since I don’t have any with me at the show, you’ll have to wait until I get the review up! As for price, the Master Cam clocks in a $54.95 for sizes 00-2 and $59.95 for sizes 3-6.
|The Yellow #2 next to the Orange #3 unit, notice the radical difference in the thickness of the cam lobes.|
As usual, Metolius had some other neat goodies to show us. First up, the Porta-Cord rope bag- I showcased this at the last show, and its out now and in 6 weeks, you can get on in blue or grey if you don’t like black!
|Colors are fun!|
Metolius is also finally finished with their helmet. As with most things Metolius, this thing is bomber- not only does it have awesome top of the head protection, but they also extended the protection down the sides and back of the helmet as well, giving the climber a bit more security for those odd falls that may risk head injury. It features a pinch style size adjustment in the back as well as a very comfortable fit that, once sized correctly, almost doesn’t need the chin strap. The Safe-Tech helmet arrives this spring and retails at $67.95 and comes in grey.
Also, it’s my sad duty to report that Metolius will no longer be making the Cheap Bastard crash pad. Instead, they’ve gone ahead and developed a brand new pad called the Stomp, featuring a basic 400D Nylon shell and 4” of foam to protect your ankles. Now, most times we think with a new name comes a new, higher price- but no, Metolius wouldn’t do that, so instead they dropped the price slightly and you can get your Stomp pad sometime in March.
|Metolius is really going for the cool colors lately - Orange and Blue.|
Finally, I wanted to touch base on the new Monster 9.2mm rope- I had mentioned at the last show that it would only be available in longer lengths (70m and 100m, if I recall). After further consideration, Metolius has decided to change that decision and the rope will be available in three lengths: 60m, 70m, and 100m. It’s still an expensive rope, though- the 60m retails at $220.00 and will be available in March.
Well, Sterling is doing it again- the new Fusion 9.5 is coming, it just passed its tests and Sterling is ramping up production on them. This time, they’ve also added a little flare to the new rope with a unique scattered sheath pattern, something never before done in a rope- the unique blending of 3 colors into a unique pattern along the rope. They combine the yarns at an early stage to create a unique pattern on each rope. I managed to completely space getting the specs on the rope and the price due to the fact that JB was feeding me an awesome sandwich at the time, so I’ll have to swing back tomorrow and update you then. Sorry!
|Check the new colors: Earth Green, Wind Blue, and Fire Red!|
JB also touched base with me on their other new rope, the 9.2 Nano- which is getting great feedback all around, especially on its endurance (relative to its size, its still a skinny rope and should be treated as such). He also showed me the new color- purple!!! Look for this one pretty soon, as well as a bi-color version of the Nano, which should arrive in stores later on this year. Not a bad start to 2008 for Sterling, who is celebrating its 15th year in business!
While I always stop by Trango to check in with Mal, I’ve actually never really gotten to report on anything new from them- they’ve been pretty quiet over the last couple of years, instead focusing on their relationship with PMI and Flashed as well as developing new stuff they won’t tell me about! Well, this time, I get to break the news, check out what Trango is dropping in February:
That’s right, Trango has a new line of keylock carabiners. It’s called the Smooth line and it features 5 new carabiners- a straight and bent gate (40g), a wire-gate (36.5g, no keylock), an HMS carabiner (83g) and a small locker (48g). They’re also at a nice price point- the straight gate should be in the $8-9 range, and the HMS comes in at $15 or so.
So, in between meetings, I was cruising around the climber’s ranch and I noticed that the competition boulder that has been present at the last three shows had a ‘For Sale’ sign on it. I thought to myself--- really? How much? So I wandered over to the Walltopia booth and asked. Turns out, for the low low price of $29,900.00, you can have your very own 15’ tall boulder (complete with holds and a connecting arch)! Sweet! This Bulgarian based wall company is also partnered with HRT holds, which will be releasing some radical polyurethane holds within the next year or so (look for pictures and details in future OR blogs).
|A nice car or a giant free standing boulder? Decisions, decisions.|
|Not only a cool product, but it comes in a cool package.|
So, I love my Buffs, absolutely love them. I wear them all the time when climbing- they wick well and they are UV rated, which means I can keep my head cancer free while climbing. Sweet. Anyway, I stopped by to see what’s new, and this year, Buff will be adding Polygiene to the entire line- basically, using silver and salts, they incorporate the Polygiene into the fabric itself, basically creating a fabric that is resistant to odor causing bacteria. Cool, huh? Now you can sweat all day into your Buff and not stink! Anyway, check out www.buff.us for more info on their products!
I really like the folks at Royal Robbins, and it’s not just because they’re great people and fun to work with. It’s also because they actually make really functional stuff, despite its very urban look. The biggest news, in my mind, about Royal Robbins this year is that they are moving almost all of their clothing to a solid UPF rating (usually 40 and up)- in case you didn’t know, unless it says otherwise, your outdoor clothing isn’t protecting you from UV rays very well- so while you may not get burnt, you are getting UV exposure. So, it’s good to see a company thinking about that when they are designing clothing. They’re also keeping their prices fairly reasonable- they have a new down vest- the Get Down, will a microsuede exterior, corduroy interior, and 600 fill down that will retail at $85.00. Nice. Expect all their new stuff, including a very snazzy women’s jacket (the Mera) to arrive in stores in July.
|The new Get Down vest is on the right - looks expensive, but it isn’t!|
|Girls will like this jacket, I think. It’s waterproof and fashionable.|
All of Primus cool stoves (the Eta series) are hitting stores now, but they’re also introducing a pair of new lanterns that I skimmed over at the last show, so I figured I should touch on them here.
|The Micronlantern (left) and the EasyLight Duo - two new additions to the Primus lineup.|
The lanterns will arrive in stores any time now, if they’re not already available. They’re very bright for their size and have very long burn times- 12-24 hours depending on conditions. They’re also really quiet- I couldn’t hear the one they had on display, despite it being at a fairly bright setting.
|The Primus headlamp line-up, the newest one is on top, the PrimeLite Race.|
So, I think Primus may have the new title for furthest effective throw on a headlamp- Mammuts impressive 105m throw looks pale in comparison to the Primus’s new Race with its 200m throw. It has three levels of brightness, and like Mammut, it also turns on at its lowest, so as not to blind you with its ridiculously strong light. It retails at $80 and detaches from its headband and can be attached to your handlebars on your bike with an extra kit ($10). It also comes with a neat little translucent pouch that creates a lantern effect if you hang it up in your tent.
I finished the day by checking out a pair of new watches from Origo- a new company that builds watches for mountaineers, among others. The Granite Peak series has pair of new watches to compliment its original. They have all the same features, just different construction materials- one is black stainless steel, the other is titanium. The Titanium watch is $90 more, but from feel alone, weighs less than half of its stainless brothers. The watches feature Altimeter, Barometer, Digital compass with declination, forecasts, and much more. Check them out at www.origowatch.com
Well, that’s it. I’ll try to remember to stop by Sterling for pictures and specs for you guys, and if I don’t, I apologize. Tomorrow’s day is a bit busier, expect updates from DMM, BD, Mountain Hardwear, Flashed, Cilogear, and more!
10 Comments Add a Comment
|looks great! I cant wait for the next two|
Thanks for the initial info. That kind of info can make a difference when you are standing in a store choosing between two similar items.
But man, Malcolm's initiative is awesome. Watching that venture grow throughout the industry is going to be really exciting. Accessible adventures.....I had more than a few depressed teens recovering from the big C who thought they would not be able to participate in outdoor adventure activities d/t limited equipments. Hospital staff were typically clueless, and honestly, reinforced the worst-case scenario. I'm going to make sure the folks at the local peds unit know about this!
|Good stuff. Wish I could be there.|
|does primus have a manufactures website? i did a google search and all i could come up with is retail stores (ie. rei, backcountry, etc.)|
|I heard that REI announced at the show that they will be making rain gear with eVent (via GetOutdoors blog). If you can, find out what the price point is going to be, and any other info.|
|i heard about that at the end of the day today (thursday)- i'll see if i can find out anything about it......|
|Sweet. Going tomorrow and giving me something to look forward to.|
|just a heads up- the drop date for Trango's new carabiners is actually this month, not july- so look for them in stores!|
|i was looking for rock shoes|