The Outdoor Retailer 2004 Winter Market is only a few days away. With the introduction of hundreds of new products and technologies, we are getting excited to once again report to our readers about what’s coming in Fall 2004. For now, we’ll give you a few sneak peeks that you may find interesting, featuring gear from Marmot, GoLite, Essential Gear, Princeton Tec, Suunto, Smartwool, and Bemis.
Headlamps & Gadgets
Essential Gear Ultralight 1-Watt LED Headlamp. Essential Gear gets into the headlamp game with a 1-watt LED headlamp. Cool feature: the adjustable dimmer switch allows you to tune brightness and battery life to suit. An adjustable head strap and lighting angle keep its function on par with other 1-watt LED headlamps. Powered by two 123 3V lithium batteries, the light weighs in as the lightest 1-watt LED headlamp on the market: 3.5 ounces!
Princeton Tec Corona. The Princeton Tec Corona LED headlamp features eight (white) wide-angle LED’s, switchable between 8, 5, 3, or 1 light. The result: what may possibly be the best area light available, and optimally suitable for task lighting and short-to-mid-range navigation.
ACR Electronics TerraFix 406 Personal Locator Beacon. We’re all aware of the utility of a PLB, right? They are getting lighter and smaller, like everything else, which is a good thing. The ACR TerraFix 406 comes in a smaller, half-pound package that allows users to broadcast critical GPS coordinates to orbiting satellites, providing SAR crews with exact latitude and longitude coordinates in the event of an emergency.
Suunto T6. If you’ve almost collected enough pennies to buy a heart rate monitor, hold off. The T6 records every heartbeat during a workout, enabling further analysis of body functions including EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), a numerical value of oxygen deficit describing the accumulation of fatigue. Physiology geek, are you? The T6 may be your ticket.
Base Layer Clothing
Lighter Merino. Yet even lighter merino wool is here. The Smartwool Microweight Fitted T provides an ultralight foundation to any layering system. We’ve been testing microweight for a few months and are pleased with its initial performance. Look for this category to mature into more styles suitable for backpacking long johns and long sleeve shirts.
Muscle Compression Base Layers. The new Marmot Symbio collection is upping the ante in the highly competitive base layer market. Capitalizing on the wave of new research validating the enhanced physiological performance and reduced muscle strain as a result of muscle compression, the Marmot Symbio line blends the compressive properties of Lycra with the thermoregulation properties of Merino wool in a series of well-contoured base layer tops and bottoms. The look – think Spiderman (or Catwoman) or a French nordic skier, but with more tempered colors and natural fibers.
More (Ho-Hum) "Antibacterial" Base Layers. The use of elemental silver in synthetic base layer garments is nothing new. Manufacturers are jumping on the silver bandwagon left and right, quoting ancient customs of Romans, Egyptians, Chinese emperors, Druids, and American settlers, as well as new silver technologies used in infection control in the biomedical (as device coatings) and wound care (as topic treatments) fields as evidence that somehow, silver on a base layer garment can prevent it from getting stinky. The claim: antimicrobial agents in clothing can destroy the bacteria that ferment our sweat and cause the stink. The reality: it doesn’t work for very long. Sweat oils foul microniches on the textile surface, providing a happy breeding ground for bacteria, and they eventually do their thing anyways. Our research: elemental silver-treated textiles are only marginally effective at halting odor control during sustained (several day) periods of physical activity. Are silver treated textiles a pipe dream? Maybe. Maybe not. Time will tell. But they aren’t quite there yet. So, for now, "ho-hum" and check out merino wool garments if you really want to avoid the stink.
Glow in the Dark Jackets? The Marmot Alpinist collection fuses Gore and Novatech technologies in the $750 Marmot Phenomenon EL Jacket, using Gore-Tex XCR (3-layer) fabric with electroluminescent side panels for safety, identification, and convenience in inclement weather. Outerwear that lights up? "Gee whiz, that’s neat" can only take you so far. You’re still stuck with a heavy, overbuilt jacket for most backcountry endeavors, and the electroluminescent panels still remain heavier than a keychain LED light. Do we really need tail lights on every backcountry visitor? Hopefully, the answer is "no" but the fabric has obvious implications for alpinists, search and rescue personnel, and ski patrollers. Don’t hang up your headlamps just yet, but keep on eye our for this technology to evolve and be incorporated into lighter fabrics.
Gold Standard of Everyman WPB Jackets Increases Performance. The Marmot PreCip collection continues to evolve with new fabric for Fall 2004. Increased breathability (by 50%), stable prices, and a dozen color options keeps the PreCip setting the standard for solid-performing, lightweight rainwear at a great price ($99 for the PreCip Jacket).
Full Featured Rainwear: 12 oz. Lightweight rainwear is a dime a dozen, so it seems. However, to keep the weight down, manufacturers skimp on features. That is why the Marmot PreCip, which was nearly the first to market as a full-featured waterproof-breathable shell for $99, has grabbed such a substantial market share. The new GoLite Revelation Jacket offers a similar feature set but skimps on length and has to break through the new product brand identity wall. At $199.99, it’s not going to break any price records, but it’s a meaningful entry into the waterproof-breathable jacket market.
GoLite Revelation Jacket. 2-layer waterproof-breathable rain jacket. Extended arm length, short torso, semi-fitted. Two-way full front zip with double storm flap, two-way watertight pit zips, 2 chest pockets with watertight welded zippers and mesh pockets for core venting, adjustable hood and stand-up collar, hem draw cords, elasticized Velcro cuffs. 12 oz (size L). $199.99.
Synthetic Insulating Apparel
GoLite jumps on the ultralight synthetic high loft bandwagon with the new GoLite Whisper Jacket and GoLite Rumor Vest. Filled with Primaloft PL1 and weighing 9 oz (vest) and 15 oz (jacket), the new pieces are sure to find their place in the kits of their existing customer base. However, with lighter and similarly warm alternatives from Bergaus, Rab, MEC, and Patagonia, grabbing additional market share will be a challenge.
GoLite Whisper Jacket. 1.8 oz (60 g) Primaloft One (PL1)-insulated half-zip pullover with 30d ripstop nylon shell and 20d polyester lining. Zippered chest pocket, draft flap, stand up collar, elasticized hem draw cords, elasticized cuffs with adjustable Velcro tabs. Semi-fitted. 15 oz (size L). $139.99.
GoLite Rumor Vest. 1.8 oz (60 g) Primaloft One (PL1)-insulated half-zip pullover with 30d ripstop nylon shell and 20d polyester lining. Zippered chest pocket, draft flap, stand up collar, elasticized hem draw cords, elasticized cuffs with adjustable Velcro tabs. Semi-fitted. 9 oz (size L). $99.99.
Down Insulating Apparel
Our lukewarm response to GoLite’s initial down apparel program is now long forgotten: look for the GoLite Cumulus Down Sweater and GoLite Cirrus Down Vest to become more serious players, alongside similar garments from Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends.
GoLite Cumulus Down Sweater. 800 fill down jacket with 15d polyester shell and 20d polyester lining. Full zip front, down-filled stiffened draft flap, stand up collar, elsatic hem and cuffs. 12 oz (size L). $199.99.
GoLite Cirrus Down Vest. 800 fill down vest with 15d polyester shell and 20d polyester lining. Full zip front, down-filled stiffened draft flap, stand up collar, elsatic hem and cuffs. 7 oz (size L). $129.99.
Soft Shell Apparel
GoLite has successfully managed to bring the Schoeller jacket price tag to less than $200 for a full-featured jacket with the GoLite Karma. A head-to-head competitor with the Cloudveil Serendipity, the GoLite Karma is lighter and appeals to a wider range of, uh, body types than the fitted Serendipity. At $50 cheaper, it’s definitely worth a look.
GoLite Karma Jacket. Schoeller Dryskin Extreme / 3XDRY soft shell jacket. Full zip front, fleece-lined chin guard, two front handwarmer pockets with mesh pocket bags, hem draw cords, and elasticized Velcro cuffs. Relaxed fit. 16 oz (size L). $199.99.
Powershield Lite Gets Lighter. Riding on the coattails of the Apex-award winning GoLite Kinetic Jacket, the GoLite Momentum Jacket ditches the vest-jacket hybrid design of the Kinetic and becomes a far more serious player in the soft shell market. With an exceptional fit and lighter in both weight and price than their hottest competitor, the Arc’Teryx Gamma MX Jacket, the GoLite Momentum Jacket will turn some heads as it brings serious soft shell performance into the realistic weight range to be considered by even hardcore lightweight backpackers.
GoLite Momentum Jacket. Polartec Power Shield Lite full zip jacket. Two large watertight welded chest pockets, full watertight front zip with internal draft flap, elasticized hem drawcords, elasticized Velcro cuffs, stand up collar. Semi-Fitted. 13 oz (Size L), $249.99.
We’ve been trying out the new GoLite ski packs this winter. The GoLite Delirium (photo) has a set of features that will whet the appetite of the gear-laden backcountry winter alpinist, including the ability to organize dual ice tools, crampons, a shovel, and skis. With the same suspension as the GoLite Vision, GoLite Infinity, and GoLite Continuum backpacks, the GoLite Delirium provides a comfortable carry with all of that hardware. Time will tell whether its strategic Hypalon reinforcements will withstand sustained abrasion from ski edges and crampon rails, but our first looks indicates that all is well and yes, a winter backcountry pack can indeed be built for less than three pounds.
GoLite Delirium Backpack. Lightweight backpack for backcountry skiing, mountaineering/alpinism, and other winter/snow sports. SilLite HG main body and hip belt pockets, X-Pac composite fabric in front pockets and bottom, Arrowhead Cordura ripstop front pockets, 420d Cordura side panels. Zippered rear-loading pack, GoLite Unlimited suspension system, thermoformed hip belt with two gusseted hip belt pockets, side-access front pocket, ice axe loops with Velcro retention straps, floating top lid with Hypalon crampon patch, zippered pocket with stretch sealing panel, 3-liter insulated hydration sleeve, Hypalon/webbing ski sleeves/compression straps, shovel sleeve, watertight zippers, daisy chain, sternum strap, haul loop. 2 lb 10 oz (size M). 2450 cu. in. $199.99.
GoLite Powder8. Back- and front-country day skiing and ski touring pack. Arrowhead Cordura ripstop nylon body, X-Pac composite fabric in front pockets, side panels, and bottom. SilLite HG in hip belt pockets and harness. Zippered rear-loading main compartment, contoured air-channel mesh back and padded shoulder straps, webbing hip belt, two gusseted hip belt pockets, dual side-access front pocket with pocket dams, dual ice axe loops with Velcro retention straps, 3-liter insulated hydration sleeve, Hypalon and webbing ski sleeves, zippered shovel/accessory pocket, watertight zippers, daisy chain, sternum strap, security key clip, haul loop. 1 lb 10 oz (size M). 1450 cu. in. $99.99.
Fabrics and Technologies
Bemis Sew-Free. Bemis Sew-Free is an adhesive film that eliminates stitching during the garment manufacturing process. Allowing manufacturers to bond fabrics and components in one step will reduce labor and equipment (but probably not your cost) while producing seams that are stronger and less bulky that conventional sewn seams. Don’t expect to have this product available in the mainstream do-it-yourself community, but start keeping your eye out for more outdoor performance clothing with low-bulk seams in the near future.