Wow, what a show! A plethora of new gear, an exciting deep water solo comp, and then we topped it all off with a couple days at the City of Rocks! As usual it was a whirlwind of old friends, new friends and of course, lots of gear. The big trend these days is manufacturers who are expanding their product offerings in order to capitalize on brand loyalty. For example, Black Diamond and Sportiva continue to develop their clothing lines, and Petzl is now offering a full line of ropes, with 8 different models. This means more and more high quality products on the market, though it’s become more about which brand you prefer over actual product performance.
Rarely do you see something truly innovative at the show, as game changers like sticky rubber, a Gri Gri or leashless ice tools can only come around so often. Add to that the fact that most innovative products are not readily embraced by the climbing public immediately, making them a risky choice for manufactures and retailers a like. In order for something new to really take off, a brand has to be willing to stand by their product, even if it’s shunned at first. I remember when everyone thought leashless ice tools were a gimmick for the comp crowds, and now they are the standard, with beginners being taught to use them from day one.
This year’s show did have some innovative product, however, though it will remain to be seen how they catch on with the masses. For those who are out there living and breathing climbing, there’s sure to be some things that catch your eye. There’s a lot of info here, so in order of priority, we’ll show you the most stand out products first, followed by other notable and new equipment, then shoes. So sit back with a cup of coffee and get your gear dork on.
(the things you’ll want for sure)
Millet had probably the most innovative climbing product at the show, with the Opposite TRX 9/10, an 80 meter rope where 50 meters are 10mm thick, and the remaining 30 meters are 9mm thick. The idea is that you can use the thicker side for projecting, top roping, anything that is more abusive on the rope, and then flip over to the skinny side for the send. At $300, it will be cheaper than owning two ropes of different diameters, and should appeal to the sport cragging crowd. It’ll be really interesting to see if this one takes off, it certainly represented the most outside the box thinking we saw at the show.
Black Diamond unveiled their anticipated b (MSRP $69.95), which add offset cams to the existing X4 design. These are the first double/stacked axle offset cams on the market, but the feature I think really makes them standout are the anodized cams. I use offsets all the time when climbing granite, but it takes a moment to look and see which ones are the small/big side. With color coding, it means you can quickly know which cams are which and get that thing in the crack sooner. Also from BD were harness upgrades to the Ozone, Aura and Chaos, along with the Magnetron Vaporlock (MSRP $27.95). I’ve stayed away from the existing magnetron ‘biners, as they are too big/heavy for my tastes, but this one is only 2 oz. We also got to check out some of their new apparel for Spring/Summer 2014, including the resurrected BVD jacket and pants, and the Access Hybrid Hoody, which combines PrimaLoft and Schoeller into a highly functional and warm jacket.
Patagonia is introducing a line of technical packs that were designed with with input from the likes of Kelly Cordes, Steve House and Josh Wharton. They did away with standard top lid design, opting instead for a roll style closure that is really slick, eliminating weight while still retaining functionality. The Ascentionist (MSRP $149/35L) packs are offered in 25, 35, and 45 liter versions. They also had the Alpine Houdini, a 6.5 oz waterproof version of their popular super light pullover.
La Sportiva is seeking to address the stinky climbing shoe problem with the introduction of three shoes (HydroGym (MSRP $109), OxyGym (MSRP $99), NitroGym) that feature washable uppers, meaning you can toss them in the washing machine once they get stinky, and they come out so fresh and so clean. They are claiming this will allow the shoes to be resoled 7 to 9 times over the course of their life, making them an economical choice for those who spend a lot of time in their climbing shoes. They are also offering a women’s version of the popular Solution (MSRP $175). Several new approach shoes rounded out the footwear offerings. Their clothing line moves into technical climbing apparel for next year, and it looks really slick. Functional cuts and designs and stylish colors, I think this will become popular. Think a more Euro version of Prana and you’ll have a pretty good picture of what the clothing line looks like.
Most folks out at the crag are rocking some kind of in between pitches footwear, whether that be sandals, Sanuk’s, or what have you. Salewa is introducing a new shoe that aims to bridge the gap between approach and hang out with the Capsico (MSRP $110) (and lighter Heel Hook version), which features a closure system that keeps them secure for the hike to the cliff, but then it rotates forward and they transform into cozy slip on shoes that will protect your feet while giving them a break from the rigors of your current project. These looked super cool and I can’t wait to test them out.
While it might seem small, the new Karstop Evo from Camp is the best quickdraw system we’ve seen. It firmly holds the rope end carabiner in place, and is built into the draw, so there is no way to accidentally set them up. These were developed before the unfortunate accident involving Tito Traversa, but they certainly take away the possibility of not attaching the carabiner properly. They’ll be standard on every quickdraw Camp makes moving forward.
I like rope bags, but outside of a place like Rifle, I don’t like walking to a cliff with a big bag dangling off my neck. You can usually stuff it into your pack, assuming your bag ‘s big enough, but for those who find themselves doing this often, the new Trango Cord Trapper (MSRP $16) should be appealing. It’s a simple rope tarp that rolls up and closes shut with two secure buckles. There were other new products here as well, including the Phase quickdraws and trad draws, and the Rock Prodigy Training Center hangboard, inspired by the Anderson brothers and the training book they will be publishing.
Edelrid brings us the world smallest diameter rope, the 8.6mm Corbie, which strangely didn’t feel crazy small in hand. They also have a women’s version of the Orion harness, the Solaris, which utilizes a unique two buckle design to adjust to the unique and varying shapes of women’s hips. This is the first harness we’ve seen that really seeks to address the fact that not all body types are the same.
The Arc’teryx (#1019) Alpha FL (MSRP $199/30L) was designed with extensive athlete feedback, offering an alpine climbing workhorse that weighs in at a scant 610 grams for the 35L version, thanks to the Advanced Composite Construction (AC2) that uses an incredibly lightweight yet bombproof fabric, and eliminating a top lid, opting instead for a roll top closure. Holding this pack at the show it was hard to believe it could work well, but early reports are that it is indeed an amazing bag. The Aperture (MSRP $29) chalkbag utilizes a unique twisting closure system that seals the bag and prevents any chalk from spilling out into your pack, no matter how much gear you pile on top of it. A small touch but it address something everyone who climbs has dealt with, and we’re curious to see how well it works.
(more things you’ll probably want)
There was a slew of new product from Petzl, with the biggest news being their revamped rope line, which gets rid of the current models and replace them with a full line of ropes, including a 7.7, 8.2, 8.5, 9.2, 9.5, 9.8, 10.1 and 10.3. The 9.5 Arial (MSRP $230-$290) looks great and seems poised to become quite popular. The Djinn is a new pricepoint carabiner that aims to offer a more affordable entry into the Petzl brand, with the complete quickdraw coming in at $16.95. The ProTraxion gets some upgrades, and there are some fancy new rope bags, including the messenger bag style KAB (MSRP $49.95) . The Meteor gets lighter, as well as some improved venting. There’s also a new screwlock version of the Spirit (MSRP $15.95).
Metolius is introducing a 000 TCU, with a range from .26” to .4”. Rated to 5 kN, it’s a nice aid climbing piece, or maybe something you get in for some peace of mind. They’re also bringing out a new cragging pack, the Freerider (MSRP $129) with haul bag durability but a nice suspension system that looks to carry well. There’s also a new rope bag, the Vortex (MSRP $49), and the Alpine PAS, a lighter version of their popular Personal Anchor System.
Wild Country has the Helium II, a lighter and improved version of the Helium, as well as the Pro Guide Lite (MSRP $29.95), which has a larger carabiner hole for lowering the second.
Mammut has a pants version of their integrated harness/shorts, which we’re told has been getting positive feedback from athletes and others that have used them. They’ve also redesigned their core ‘biners and quickdraws, along with some harness upgrades. Their entire softshell line got updated to the latest version of Windstopper, which is more abrasion resistant. And lastly their Infinity Classic (MSRP $149.95/60m) is an affordable, lightweight rope that’s perfect for those looking to get their first sub 9.8 cord.
Omega has a cool new nut tool (yep, that’s not a typo, a “cool” nut tool) that looks to make getting cams unstuck easier. Excited to test this out and see how it works.
The Atmos is an 11oz hardshell from Rab that retails for $215. With Pertex Shield 3 layer fabric and a helmet compatible hood, it offers an affordable bombproof shell. The Ventus is a shirt-like pullover that will be perfect for taking the edge off on long routes.
Outdoor Research has two new technical climbing packs, the Hoist and Elevator. The Hand Brake gloves will be a half-finger version that uses leather with split suede overlays in high friction areas. And the Astroman shirt and burly Ascendent pant look like great cragging options. In shells, the Helium HD combines waterproofness and functionality in a 9.1 oz package, with hand pockets, pit zips and an adjustable hood.
(fun things for your feet)
Five Ten is bringing back the Anasazi Pink (MSRP $150), with an improved heel cup and a new, stiffer midsole, which will replace the Verde and Blanco. The Guide (MSRP $145) is a new all day shoe built on the Anasazi last. And the Guide Tennie Mid (MSRP $140) promises to be an all around approach shoe workhorse. They’ve also got some fun new sandals with the super sticky Mi6 rubber.
Scarpa has the new Techno X (MSRP $145), a redesign of their all day trad shoe. It’s a flat lasted shoe, for comfort, but the bi-tension active rands give it more power than you would expect. We got to test these on a post-OR trip to City of Rocks, and they were right at home on the techy granite there. With increased rubber coverage in the toe box they took longer to break in than I would have guessed, but these are destined to become popular with the multipitch crowd. Also coming out is the Stix (MSRP $149), their lightest slipper for high end climbing.
Evolv is introducing the Nexxo (MSRP $145), the latest in their Sharma series. A high performance slipper, it features their “love bump” construction, along with synthetic leather in the front for performance and the real stuff in the back for comfort. The Addict SC (MSRP $115) offers the convenience of a slipper with performance to handle a variety of terrain.
Keeping with the theme, Tenaya also has a new high end slipper, the Oasi. I got to try them on at the show and they were incredibly comfortable right out of the box. A 3.5mm XS Grip outsole and highly sensitive midsole promise to make this one of the most comfortable high performance slippers on the market.
A huge thanks to all the reps, friends and companies we met with, see you all next time!
Below is a gallery of more images from the show, including larger sizes of what is in the above post. Enjoy.