A 14 ounce self contained canister stove system that employs an integrated heat exchanging unit to squeeze 12 liters of boiled water out of a 3.5 oz net weight fuel canister. The manufacturer claims a boil time of 90 seconds for two cups. Did they do it?
The hype surrounding yesterday’s exciting, press-rich release of the 12-ounce ACR Electronics TerraFix 406 Personal Locator Beacon was quieted today by the more humble presence of the McMurdo FastFind Personal Locator Beacon. Already approved by the FCC as of July 1, with simpler activation, a more comfortable form factor, and yes, quite a bit less weight!
The Integral Designs’ eVENT MK1 Lite is attracting a lot of attention at the Winter Market, and is being measured head-to-head with Black Diamond’s EPIC First Light. Neither has been on the market long enough to make an objective statement about their performance, but we’ve had the MK1 Lite in the field long enough to know that eVENT is a marked improvement in breathability over Integral Designs’ TegralTex fabric. The US Army Natick Lab has published data suggesting that eVENT beats EPIC in terms of breathability, and we all know that EPIC is notoriously ‘leaky’ when it wets out. Initial usage reports from other sources about the First Light indicate positive performance, but we’ll reserve a fair comparison pending completion of our review. Expect some battles to be waged this spring between these two products.
The Lightest Freestanding Tent on the Market…?
Sierra Designs Lightning
Or so says the marketing copy writers at Sierra Designs about their new Lightning double wall tent. The tent is light for a freestanding double wall tent – we won’t argue that point. It weighs 3 lb 15 oz for the body, fly, poles, and four tent stakes. the Sierra Designs Lightning (MSRP $249) offers 30 square feet of rectangular floor space with 10 square feet of vestibule storage. Technology shines in the Sierra Designs Lightning with Easton’s latest offering in the Easton Graflite Carbon Poles, which claim 20-25% weight savings than standard Easton 0.340 aluminum poles and multi-layer wrapped construction that increases strength over previous carbon poles from Easton.
Does Sierra Designs make good on their claim to have the lightest freestanding tent? Nope, sorry guys – you’ll have to settle for third place. Check out the Big Agnes Seedhouse line.
Big Agnes Seedhouse Superlight Tents
Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1
Big Agnes introduces a pair of new tents that they call ‘crazy light’ and it’s hard to argue that claim. The Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1 is a 20 square foot freestanding solo tent with a rectangular footprint that weighs only 2 lb 8 oz. Its bigger, but not much heavier, brother (the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2), weighs only 3 lb 3 oz but offers 28 square feet of floor space and 5.5 square feet of vestibule space. Big Agnes achieves the light weight without using carbon poles – the Seedhouse SL series tents use 8.84 mm Easton DAC Featherlite poles, polyurethane and silicone-coated 30D nylon bathtub floor and rain fly, and an all-mesh inner body.
Big Agnes Lost Dog
The Big Agnes Lost Dog (18 oz regular, 20 oz large) uses Primaloft Sport insulation in their signature top bag design in a warm weather overbag rated to 50 degrees F that provides big room (for big guys, of course, with this semi-rectangular design). And for little big guys, the Big Agnes Little Red gives kids a 15-degree rated top bag for little campers less than 48 inches tall. The Big Agnes Little Red uses a short-staple fill Big Agnes calls M3 and costs only $89.
Western Mountaineering upgrades existing fabrics in their microfiber-shelled bags with a lightweight 20d microfiber taffeta (“Microlite XP”) that saves 4-8 ounces per bag with a 400 thread count fabric. To see the weight savings of the new microfiber, consider that the Western Mountaineering Dakota Super Microfiber (7.5″ of loft and -5 degree F rating) now weighs only 2 lb 13 oz.
The new Western Mountaineering AlpinLite, modeled after the popular Western Mountaineering UltraLite, offers more girth (64″/55″/39″) while retaining 5″ of loft and weighing only 1 lb 15 oz. And, don’t forget about the Western Mountaineering VersaLite Super, which has been upgraded to a 10 degree F rating, 6 inches of loft, and still weighs only 2 lbs.
One Watt LED Headlamps
More one-watt LED headlamps are trickling into the market this year.
Mountain Green 1-Watt LED Headlamp
Essential Gear and Mountain Green both offer 1-watt LED headlamps that weigh about five ounces and are powered by two 123 lithium photo batteries (Essential Gear) and 3xAAA batteries (Mountain Green).
Essential Gear LED Headlamp
Princeton Tec Corona
Another new headlamp, the Princeton Tec Corona, takes a different approach: eight wide angle LED’s powered by 3xAA batteries result in a terrific flood pattern for task lighting and medium range navigation for 40 to 500 hours. The Princeton Tec Corona weighs about 8 ounces and offers two power levels (low and high, with voltage regulation) while selecting 1, 3, 5, or 8 LED’s at a time.
The Moonstone Cirrus Jacket has been revived – sort of. The Moonstone Ultralight Cirrus Jacket weighs 13.4 ounces, has a 15d nylon ripstop shell (1.4 oz), and is filled with 80g DuPont ThermoLite Micro. The Cirrus line includes a women’s version, and standard (not ultralight) Cirrus Jackets – a 26 ounce hooded version for men and a 17 ounce jacket for women.
Patagonia joins Lowe Alpine with body mapping base layer technology (see yesterday’s dispatch) with body-mapped Midweight Stretch Capilene. Patagonia Capilene gets a new and possibly less smelly little sis – the Patagonia Axuawool base layer garments have a wool inner face in a predominantly Capilene construction (6 oz per sq yd, 74% polyester, 16% wool, 10% stretch synthetic fibers). In reviews of previous blends, “a little wool is usually not enough” so don’t expect an odor management miracle. The Patagonia R2 fabric seems to be getting lighter, or so they say – it’s 20% more compressible. Reported garment weights, including 13 oz for the jacket and 8 oz for the vest, are not appreciably different from their older cousins. Patagonia has a short term exclusive on the fabric that gives them two more seasons to try to put it in garments that actually do weigh less. Also new from Patagonia is the Patagonia Down Sweater, which weighs only 10 oz, is filled with 700 fill power down, and uses a 15d nylon.
Ibex is offering wool liner gloves, a lofty woven wool vest, and a ribbed zip-t made with 4.5 oz per square yard fabric that brings the shirt weight down into the 6-7 ounce range. Icebreaker Merino purchased lots of floor space this year and has plenty of products to keep lifestyle retailers entertained, but we had a hard time sorting through things to understand its technical vision, a stark contrast to Smartwool, who is reviving their technical base layer apparel line with easily understandable product stories – Microweight, Lightweight, Midweight, and their most styled option that hit the market with great success last year, Versaweight (which actually lies between light and midweight). Look for the Microweight wool category to evolve over the next few years as Smartwool builds upon boxer and t-shirt core pieces released at this Winter Market.
An Icelandic company, 66° North, has a simple message to the American ultralight community: “Iceland is cold. Iceland is wet. We like to be warm and dry. What the hell is wrong with you people?” Fortunately, they haven’t left us out of their product focus, and they give us a great rain jacket. The 66° North Glymer Jacket is an eVENT shell with mesh-backed torso (core) vents. This is the only hooded and well-vented jacket that we know of using eVENT fabric. The jacket has all the features one would normally want as well as large inside storage pockets. We expect its weight to fall in the 16 to 18 oz (450 to 500g) range. Lighter rainwear using Entrant DT fabric also caught our eye, as did wool base layers and Powershield soft shells.
Ibex Windfront Briefs
Ibex Windfront Brief. Keeps willy wind chill to a minimum with an ultralight willy wind shirt face and a cozy willy wool interior. Sorry, we couldnt’ resist.
Squeaky Cheeks. Yep, those cheeks. Keep’em from squeakin’ with this absorbent cornstarch and clay powder with a touch of slippery little elm bark thrown in for chafe comfort. Comes in a convenient and highly entertaining five-ounce SANITARY SQUEEZE pouch which, we’ll uhhh, review later.
Deuter 250,000 cubic inch Alpine Ultralight Pack for Big German Guys, 122 lbs