2013 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market Highlights

Generally, the Winter Outdoor Retailer trade show is pretty slow as far as climbing is concerned. You do get to play with all the gear that we saw in the summer, and which will be coming out in the coming months, which is fun. That being said, there’s always a handful of new products, as well as a slew of new apparel designed for alpine and ice climbing, and this show was no different. Usually, there are some stand out trends, and the top three this time around were body mapping, Gore Pro, and neon. In fact, there was so much neon that it appears the 80’s have made a full comeback. Can’t wait to see if there is some new Lycra at the summer show. But on to the goods.

At Five Ten, the Team VXi is the new flagship slipper in the line, with the MI6 rubber, which if you forgot, was developed by Charles Cole at Five Ten for the Mission Impossible movie where Tom Cruise needed some rubber that would stick to glass. Featherlight, these look like they are about as close as you can get to having your feet wrapped in a thin layer of sticky rubber. (And yes, they are neon green.) Both the men’s and women’s Blackwings get a minor redesign, as well as the Rogue slipper and a new lace up version. And of course the much touted Stonelands will be hitting stores soon, keep an eye out for these.

Trango seems to be back on track after a couple of stagnant years. Most notably are a new line of ropes (in neon colors), made in the US, which will include 8.1’s, a 9.4, 9.9 and 10.2. There’s also the Phase carabiners, weighing in at 30g, with corresponding quickdraws and alpine draws as well. Lastly, they are disturbing EuroTape, which the crack fiends out there know as one of the best choices for a place like Indian Creek.

Rab had the usual assortment of awesomeness, including the Strata Jacket, which utilizes Polartec Alpha, a new breathable insulation created for US Special Forces and now unleashed on the public. The idea is to create a layer that will keep you warm, but you don’t have to take off when you start climbing or heading up hill. It’ll be really fun to play around with this, looking forward to seeing how well it really works, as “breathable insulation” has been a holy grail of sorts for some time now.

Though it lacked any bells and whistles, Petzl had a new product that may have been the most functional thing I saw the entire show: an ice screw sharpener. It very simply solves an issue that ice climbers have always just dealt with, either letting their screws get progressively more dull until they are retired, or forking over the not-insignificant-amount-per-screw to have them done “professionally.” Now, with the new LIM’ICE device, you simply pop in the screw, and with minimal effort you have a freshie, ready to go. Say goodbye to those empty promises to God while you are getting pumped trying to fire in that painfully dull screw twenty feet above your last one. Also at Petzl, they’ve redesigned their screws into the Laser Speed line, and then added an aluminum version that’s 30% lighter. With steel teeth, but an aluminum body, these offer an incredible weight savings. Plus they’re orange, which is always fun.

The big news at Black Diamond was the launch of their apparel line, and the revamping of their entire ski line. The skis are now being made in a brand new factory at the Black Diamond campus in China. Fritschi also has a new tech binding, and for ice climbers, the Xenos harness gets updated.

Sportiva continues to expand their apparel line with addition of a super light hardshell, and a stylish fleece-primaloft hybrid piece. They also have apparently upped their shoe production capabilities, which will hopefully eliminate all the supply issues that have plagues the brand the last two years. I was also told the No Edge concept will be developed further in the future. I didn’t get a sense of what that will look like exactly, but personally I’m hoping for a lace up version of the Futura.

Evolv has the Addict, their answer to the Five Ten Mocassym. Millet has a cozy looking belay parka. Metolius has a new hex that’s 10% lighter, and they’re also introducing a 8.9mm rope. Sterling had a slew of new neon colors for their existing ropes.

Arc’teryx had some nice new alpine climbing gear utilizing Gore Pro fabric, including the Alpha SV bibs. The Cerium  jacket takes down insulation into the 21st century, utilizing Down Composite Mapping, which places synthetic insulation in places where the jacket would typically get wet, like the hood, collar and cuffs, and down is used in the core for warmth. The Nuclei is a lightweight, synthetic hoody that’ll be a great year round belay jacket.

The most interesting thing from Mammut also featured the Polartec Alpha breathable insulation, the Eigerjoch Light jacket, with 80g of insulation and Pertex Quantum to block the wind. For the skiers, they had some really cool stuff going on with airbag systems, great to see this technology moving forward at a rapid clip. It may not be too far off that this becomes standard equipment for backcountry travelers.

At Outdoor Research, the standout was the Maximus Jacket, which has been fully redesigned using Gore Pro Shell, which they claim is 28 percent more breathable but just as durable and weatherproof. The Floodlight Jacket is their take on the issue of waterproofing down. Instead of treating the insulation, they simply encase the down in a waterproof shell. Simple and elegant, this looks to be a fantastic jacket. And the for the light is right crowd, they have parred down the Lodestar to the Speedstar Jacket, ideal for high output activities in cold climates. Several new gloves and upgrades to existing products rounded things out.

Thanks to everyone for a quick, but awesome, trip to SLC.

One Response to 2013 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market Highlights

  1. Wow, that evolv slipper is a near exact copy of the moccasym. i assume that it’s for steph davis…

    Evolv slipper February 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm
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