Another summer trade show has come and gone, and what a whirlwind it was. We were packed with appointments, and saw a mind boggling amount of new things. As I’ve lamented before, there is little happening in the way of major innovations, but there was no lack of fun stuff, and the march towards everything getting lighter and stronger continues at a relentless pace. We had a great time catching up with friends far and wide, and even got some cragging in at Big Cottonwood with the crew from Outdoor Research and Verde PR. Here’s a look at just about everything we saw, gear junkies, prepare to get your fix…
The rumors are true, Aliens are back and they’ll be coming to the US in September through Fixe. They will be available in about a dozen select retailers across the country, you will NOT be able to get them online. Look for more info coming soon at fixehardware.com.
Lots of new stuff here, including backpacking-specific packs that incorporate the ergoACTIV technology, a whole slew of trekking poles and some headlamp upgrades featuring the updated Icon, now 200 lumens (the old was 90!). Ice fiends will no dobut be drawn to the Stinger, a stainless steel mono point crampon. The Oz gets the same treatment as the HoodWire, offering keylock functionality while retaining the same weight.
And then there’s the Magnetron, which was indeed pretty cool to play with. Nothing groundbreaking, though the technology is fun, and it’s stronger than traditional screwgate biners. Patience will be key here, though, as it’s not going to be out until Fall 2012. The Tracer helmet gets replaced by the Vector, weighing in at a scant 8.5 oz, and there are three new harnesses, the Flight and Siren for the sport crowd, and the Focus for trad. They offer updated, techy features at more reasonable prices than you’ll get on the higher end models (69.95 and 79.95, respectively).
The new Speedlite 30 is a great looking summit pack, weighing in at less than 2lbs, and retailing for $99.
This was a new company for us to check out, and I was really impressed. A couple highlights: For one, they’ve developed a new manufacturing process for creating bi-pattern ropes, which has allowed them to cut the cost significantly. They’ve got a fancy new rope bag called the Caddy, which holds the rope in the middle of the tarp with a bucket-like depression. And a new helmet that really cradles the back of your head better than any model I’ve seen out there, even unbuckled it wont fall off. Parents will be psyched about the new kids harness, a few folks were even trying to buy them at the show for their kids! You could feel a lot of psyche with these guys and I’d say they are one of the brands to watch for some cool things coming down the pipe in the future.
This is one company that always seems to be looking for new innovations, and ways to improve their existing products. First, the upgrades: The Defy and Elektra get lace-up versions, the Prime gets a lace-up version, as well as 3 straps on the velcro, and the Pontas gets some minor tweaks. For new stuff, trad daddies were swooning over the Astroman, a shoe designed from the ground up by none other than Peter Croft himself. This all leather shoe has a retro look, and will compete with the likes of the TC Pro and other high end trad shoes. (We’re hoping to get it down to the Creek this winter for some hands on testing and report back.) And for women, and men with low volume feet, there’s the Shaman LV. They also have two new approach shoes, the Bolt and Captain, which we’ll hopefully be testing as part of our upcoming approach shoe review.
It was a pretty quiet this show for these guys, but they do have an updated Team shoe that’s supposed to be easier to get on, and the Descent looks like a stylish new approach shoe. We were saddened to learn the Super Moc isn’t going to be in the line next year, guess the market was just too small.
Sadly my beloved Serac is going away, but it’s being replaced by the Savant, which looks to be an improvement in every sense, and is available in 38,48, or 58 liter sizes.
To celebrate their 150th anniversary, not only have they launched an ambitious goal to put 150 teams on 150 different summits, but they are also offering two limited edition ropes: the Golden Rope, and the Swiss Rope, both 9.5′s (the gold one actually sparkles!) The El Cap helmet brings some much needed style to the world of climbing helmets, and the Zephyr Altitude is an extremely lightweight alpine climbing harness.
But perhaps the most interesting thing they’ve got going is the introduction of the 9.8 Transformer rope, made of “transfer” yarns that are usually discarded because of their mixture of colors. The result is less waste from the rope making process, and a unique rope pattern that changes every meter. They are also using this process with their Transformer slings. Some companies talk a lot about being green, others simply make it happen, very cool to see.
I’ve always admired Metolius as a company, they make high quality gear, much of which is still manufactured in the USA (unlike most of their competitors). Their Safer by Design philosophy has produced some great products, but their harnesses seemed to be getting left behind recently as other companies moved towards lighter and lighter models. This has all changed with the new SafeTech Comp and Trad harnesses, with upgraded, lightweight materials, speed buckles, and the usual features you expect from the SafeTech line. They’ve also got a new helmet coming out, super light, and it’s orange taboot!
Having long left the “gaiter and dorky hat people” moniker in the dust, these guys are putting out high quality clothing, and at an impressive rate. The highlight of the spring line is the Axiom Jacket, a technical piece featuring Gore’s Active Shell fabric, which blends the performance of a soft and hard shell into one lightweight package (13.5oz). The Helium 2 is lighter version of its predecessor, which clocks in at a measly 6.5 oz. The Mithrilite is a spring and summer alpine climbing soft shell with a waterproof laminate, and the popular Ferrosi line gets a windshirt, which could easily become that one layer you always keep in your pack.
The Cragmaster is a new, no frills approach shoe that harkens back to a simpler time, but with modern materials. The lacing system looks to provide an excellent fit, and EVA footbed and insole should provide excellent cushioning.
A couple fun things here. The Lynx is a new crampon that you can modify and adjust in every capacity you could want. The Reverso 4 is a lighter version of the previous device, which happens to be our personal favorite for mulitpitch routes. And the Micro Traxion will be replacing the Mini Traxion with a better pulley system, plus it’s lighter and stronger.
A few new headlamps here, including the 200 lumen Apex, sure to give the new BD Icon a run for its money. They also have a unique design-your-own-headlamp program, called the Spectrum, where you can pick from a multitude of different colors for different components to make your own custom Fuel or Remix headlamp.
Rab had the usual assortment of getting-ever-lighter technical apparel. I’d bet these guys will be the first to bring us a waterproof breathable shell that weight -1 oz. I don’t know how, but my bets are on them. New this spring is the Volt, a 13oz technical climbing shell, the Spark, a technical shell that clocks in at only 9 ounces, and the Pulse, a 7oz fully waterproof rig. For soft shell aficionados there’s the Scimitar, basically a hooded version of the Sawtooh jacket. They’ve also got a new sleeping bag, the Infinity, an eleven ounce, zero degree down bag that utilizes vertical baffles to provide better insulation.
First up were two new alpine climbing boots, the Rebel GTX Carbon, designed with input from Ueli Steck, and the Maverick GTX, a similar but beefier version. The Gecko Guide remains their high end approach shoe, but for those who want something a little less stout, they will be offering up the Crux. It looks to be a solid performer at a very reasonable price ($99).
The big news on the climbing front is the Boostic, a shoe that’s as much a work of art as it is an engineering marvel. Conceived in the mind of master shoe designer Heinz Mariacher, this shoe combines an aggressive shape, strategic use of Lorica and leather in key locations, and XS Edge rubber to bring one of the most technological advanced shoes out there to market.
I really dig Sportiva. In the race to put out the next great product, they are like the turtle, slow and steady. Rarely do they have a slew of new product on display, but what they have is often well thought out, and adds something legit to their already robust line. On the rock shoe front, they present the Futura. Picture the Solution and the Speedster having a kid. It’s got the same sole as the Speedster, with no edge, but the closure of the Solution. Looks to be a steep climbing weapon. In the approach category, they’ve got a mid top Boulder X, with Gore-Tex, and the Xlporer and Hyper GTX, more all arounders that should be popular. And the Vertical K looks to be the next best super light approach shoe for long routes that you’ll be walking off of.
Prana had a great selection of new digs, including the popular Mojo short updated with the Chakara fabric, offering incredible freedom of movement. Osprey has a new quiver of one pack, the Kestrel, in a variety of sizes from 28 to 68L. Sterling had a bling new rope color for the Nano, peachy orange. Big Agnes is touting an incredibly thick and plush sleeping pad sure to please the car camping crowd. Julbo has some lightweight sunglasses that look great for both rock and ice, thanks to the photochromatic lenses. We also saw great stuff from Sanuk, Stanley, Native, Mountain Khaki and others. What a show!
View a complete gallery of shots from the summer show: