Outdoor Retailer Winter 2016 Climbing Report

I only had a short window to get up to the Winter OR show this year, but it was a good trip, and I got to check out much of the new stuff that’ll be coming out next fall/winter. A few observations that stood out from this show: Breathable insulation is now mainstream, with Black Diamond and Arc’teryx making their first entries in this category, and Patagonia, Outdoor Research and others continuing to refine their current offerings and develop new ones. Black Diamond and Petzl are making big pushes into the ski mountaineering world, with lighter and more durable products for this category. Also it seemed like many brands didn’t have much in the way of new products, and it felt substantially more low key in this regard when compared with years past. No idea what to attribute this to, but others noticed this as well.


The Alpha SV Jacket ($750) is their signature hard shell, and next year it’s lighter and more durable. The Proton AR is an air permeable (their term for breathable insulation) insulating piece designed for maximum comfort while on the go.


The new Procline boot was turning heads, and for good reason. For those who spend their time in the alpine, this could be a major tool in their quiver. It was designed to climb rock and ice as well as ski. I got to try a pair on, and it was outrageously light. I suspect the serious alpine aficionados out there will be drooling all over these. There are two liner options, one with improved downhill performance in mind. The carbon shell version is $1000, the regular version is $750. The Alpine Start has a more in depth look here.


Black Diamond

The Couloir has been redesigned, now using the same technology as the Solution (Spring 2016) to create an ultra light yet functional package for ski mo folks.


The First Light Hoody is their first foray into the breathable insulation realm, and uses Primaloft Silver Active. Of all the new clothing this was the one they were most excited about. The Helio shell is their lightest three layer storm shell.


A new line of ski packs, the Cirque series (available in 30, 35 and 45 liter versions), feature clean lines and user friendly touches that should also appeal to climbers looking for a do-it-all bag.



The Ultimate Alpine SO Hoody Jacket ($295) features the new Gore Light Rain Resistance Fabric, which is a strong step towards a fully weatherproof soft shell. Windproof, and waterproof in a light rain, this will be ideal on those days you need a jacket that’s highly breathable but will still keep you dry if you encounter some minor precip.



The Ultra Light Master Cam design gets an offset version, available in late summer. They will cost the same as the current Master Cam Offsets.



Montane is a well respected brand in the UK that is slowly but surely pushing into the US market. The coolest thing here was the Hi-Q Luxe Pro Pull On ($214), a hybrid that uses Primaloft Gold insulation and Polartec fleece in a pullover design. It also uses a two-way zipper, which I don’t remember ever seeing on a climbing pullover, though I know they use them in other sports. For winter climbing, this thing looks sweet.


The Featherlite Down Pro Pull-On ($329) uses micro baffle construction for improved warmth. The PERTEX® Quantum CS-10 face fabric is highly abrasion resistant, and this piece also uses a two way zipper for better venting and interior access.


The North Face

The Ice Project ($229) pack gets some upgrades. They also had two new jackets, the Morph and Premonition, that use engineered woven down which eliminates baffles for a warmer package at the same weight.


Outdoor Research

Big news here is a new glove manufacturing process. The current industry standard uses a 2D design, but their new process is the first to use 3D modeling to create a glove that better matches the actual shape of the human hand. This is good news for ice climbers, and the new Project ($135) offers an ideal mix of dexterity and warmth. I tried on a pair and will be psyched to get them out on the ice next season.


The Razoredge ($235) uses a Ventia stretch softshell outer and Primaloft Silver Active paired with a Pertex Microlight lining to create a jacket that can withstand harsh conditions but still keep you warm and venting moisture while you move.


The Perch Belay Parka ($325) uses Primaloft Gold with a Pertex Endurance shell. It can be quickly stuffed into a unique pouch and easily clipped to your harness in between pitches. Also nice to see two big internal pockets on this for stashing gloves, skins, climbing shoes, etc.


The Capstone ($500) is a new heated glove, offering up to 8 hours of powered heat. Three different settings, Primaloft Silver insulation, and touch screen friendly leather round out the features.


The Patagonia Nano Storm ($450) takes the popular Nano Air and marries it with an H2No shell for a jacket that does double duty as a storm shell and belay parka. Big pit zips mean you can dump heat quickly, and the supple outer fabric had a nice feel. This was way cooler in person than it at first sounds and will be really interesting to see how it performs.


The Refugitive pant (15 oz, $429) is a Gore C-Knit hard shell in a light package with a more relaxed fit in the leg. All the Nano jackets will now be using Primaloft Eco, made from 55% recycled polyester. The new Nano Bivy Pullover is 12 ounces and $219. For those who like to stay organized, the Black Hole Cubes offer a durable, bombproof option for keeping everything sorted, or use them on their own.


A big story here was that they have found a source for recycled down in Europe and are starting to use this in several of their down pieces for Fall 2016. You’ll be able to find this in the Down Snap-T Pullovers, Down Vests and Down Shirts.


Their new Reactik+ headlamp features reactive lighting and comes Bluetooth enabled, allowing you to easily modify the power output via an app on your smartphone. The Leopard is an aluminum crampon, with heel and toe plates connected via a dyneema cord, weighing in at only 330 grams. They are easily adjustable, and for those worried about durability, Uli Steck used these on his 82 summits project and the metal was more worn than the cord.


There is also the Irvis Hybrid, with steel front points and aluminum heel plate.


The Ride is the lightest all-steel technical mountaineering axe on the market.


Two new harnesses, the Altitude, which uses the same technology as the Sitta, and weighs 150g ($79.95) and the Tour, which uses traditional construction and weighs 200g ($59.95).



The Instinct ($169) gets upgraded, now with synthetic uppers to help retain it’s shape and fit over time. The toe box has a lower profile for improved performance in pockets, a new heel based on the Instinct VS and a 2/3 sole round out the new features.


There’s also a new women’s version of the Vapor lace ($159).


The Drago ($200) was briefly mentioned at the last show, but it’s coming out in the fall. Similar to the Furia, it uses the Instinct VS heel, synthetic uppers, and the front is full wrapped in XS Grip 2 rubber. It’s designed for getting maximum power out of your toes, and will likely be more of a bouldering shoe.



Goodbye Cinch, hello Vergo. While still in development, I got a sneak peak at Trango’s new assisted braking device, and it looks promising. Designed from the ground up, Trango brought in folks who have PhD’s in ergonomics to help make this as functional and intuitive as possible. Retail is likely to be around $99. Look for more on this in the coming months.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to meet with me, see you in the summer!

One Response to Outdoor Retailer Winter 2016 Climbing Report

  1. Patagonia Nanostorm would be ideal right now.

    Julius Grisette January 31, 2016 at 5:18 pm
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