This article has been broken into 3 parts.
- Part 1 which covers clothing.
- Part 2 which covers gear and accessories.
- Part 3 which covers skiing accessories.
The new Mountain Raid Jacket & PA 1.0 (1/2 bag) Sleep System from OMM.
After walking past stand after stand of ski fashion wear and other generally mediocre offerings one begins to glaze over a bit. The fact of the matter is, there is precious little at ISPO of serious interest to the SUL minimalist. Thankfully, OMM was there to lift us briefly from our torpitude. Half bags are not new of course, they’ve been around for ages, but what with OMM being a British firm this will hopefully make them easier to come by in Europe. The shell is 22 g/m2 ripstop nylon whilst the insulation is Primaloft GOLD 80/100 g in the jacket and 60/40 g in the half bag. OMM have added a set of interconnects to both jacket and half bag so that they stay together better whilst sleeping:
A bit more minimalist!
The jacket weighs 13.7 oz (390 g) and the sleep system weighs 8.3 oz (235 g). Unfortunately, OMM does not retail in the states at this time, but they would definitely like to. The owner said he had a box of samples ready to send over anytime; it’s just a question of who’s going to sell it to general public once it’s been reviewed. There’s no point whipping up interest via BPL if there’s no stock in the USA. If you are retailer who is interested in selling OMM gear and reasonably well connected or willing to connect with BPL, then OMM would love to hear from you.
There were one or two other items that may interest the minimalist:
Edelrid’s Rap Line II 6.5 mm with dynamic reserve.
Edelrid’s new Rap Line is intended for mountaineers who save weight by using a thin static rope for glacier travel and rappelling etc. instead of a full rope. The Rap Line II behaves like a standard static rope up to loads of 5kN, but under shock load, the static internal aramid structure tears whilst the polyamide structure holds the fall. This gives the rope a dynamic character and allows it to withstand 2 of the 12 required standard falls on the basis of twin rope tests pursuant to EN892. At 25 g/m, it is also very light. With so much to see, you inevitably miss something you should have had a good look at. As I was having a last look at the awards hall on my way out on Saturday I noticed this:
The Kovea Alpine EZY ECO, refillable gas stove.
Well, it’s certainly not SUL, but the technology may be of interest to some. In all honesty, there was not much point going to the stand and talking to the rep. I emailed them afterwards and there was still very little information forthcoming; so no weight as yet. Everything I know about it is written on the card in the photo basically. It’s a refillable stove that takes isobutane fuel and supposedly reduces waste on the trail by obviating the need to carry refill cartridges. I can’t help but ask myself, what happens when you run out of fuel? Go home and refill it? Carry the re-fill equipment with you? On the other hand, I think I’ll let Roger have his say before being too negative, you never know what he, or indeed some other ingenious reader, might be able to turn it into. On a more conventional note, Optimus was showing off their new Polaris Optifuel multi-fuel stove;
One jet for every fuel.
Readers familiar with Optimus will immediately recognise the old Nova stove modified for multi-fuel use. I had a Nova many moons ago and it did good service, although knowing what I know now, I would take a different stove in some of those situations. That’s not to criticize the Nova in any way: Lindal valve butane cartridges are more widely available today than they were in 2003. The Polaris Optifuel is certainly about as versatile as any stove can be. Altogether, it weighs 16.8 oz (475 g), which is on the heavy side. With white gas the output is 4200 watts and with butane it is 3300. At $300 they are certainly not cheap, but with a bullish dollar they may still appeal to some readers. Optimus has changed the connector on the pump assembly, although they may have done this sometime ago; I haven’t used a pump type stove of any description in quite a while. The old Nova sliding hose coupler was a neat design, my only problem was that when (carefully) using petroleum ether (pentane & hexane) as a fuel, the ether was of such a low viscosity it would wash the lubricant out of the coupler to the point where the coupler would not close correctly when the hose was disconnected. As a result it would dribble fuel everywhere till I could fiddle it and get it closed. I solved the problem by carrying round an eye dropper with some sewing machine oil in it. The new coupling system makes anything like that impossible. Optimus is part of Katadyn group, so on the same stand was to be found this:
The Katadyn Gravity Camp 6 L water filter.
Gravity feed water filters were arguably developed by BPL readers. You will be pleased to know the 10 L version took gold at the ISPO 2015 awards.
Paramo has been trying a few new ideas recently. Readers will probably remember my review of the Bora Smock fleece and windproof last year. Whilst Paramo gear is not particularly light, their new poncho is probably the lightest item of rain gear in their collection:
A new direction?
The poncho is so new I could not find any info on it in the press pack; I seem to remember being told the weight is about 12 oz (350 g). If you look carefully at the photo, you may just be able to see the seam where the pump liner is sewn in over the shoulders. Paramo has introduced a new mesh based liner in some of their garments that is more breathable than the old felty fleece type liner. The Poncho uses this liner over the shoulders to keep moisture off the torso, whilst using the lightweight water repellent fabric they use in products like the Vista Jacket for the shell. There are plenty of poppers round the edges to keep the two halves together, but no tie-outs for pitching it as a shelter. Of course, Paramo strongly encourages owners to modify the poncho in whatever way they see fit. Whilst the material is not 100% waterproof like silnylon, it may work well together with a bivi bag (a popular combination amongst BPL readers). I don’t use a poncho myself, so Roger stepped up to put this piece through its paces; sample on its way…
Something else I think Roger will be particularly interested in is this:
As we all know, Roger is quite fond of Baladéo / Deejo knives, at least the ultra-minimal ones! So needless to say, when I emailed a photo of this he was eager to get his hands on one. Traditionally, folding knives are riveted together, making them a quite a challenge for the home builder to replicate. Baladéo has got around this by using screws and stand-offs to produce something that anyone can build with very basic tools. Of course, if you have a well stocked metal workshop, then Baladéo strongly encourages builders to use the parts they provide as the basis for much more elaborate creations. This is another item that is so new it is not in the press pack, but in this case we can say the knife is as light as you make it. Not everyone is a fan of the grade of steel Deejo uses. To be sure, there are harder grades to be had, but the owner of Deejo said that he was focussing on serviceability in the field, rather than high quality steels; and then there’s the cost of course. As to the ins and outs of different grades of steel: that I leave to the comments section below, I’m no expert myself. Baladéo had another new ultralight knife on display:
The Papagayo Skinny from Baladéo.
The Papagayo Skinny is in a similar vein to the Deejo (Baladéo spin off company) knives Roger reviewed last year. Without the orange lanyard it weighs 1.3 oz (37 g). I gave mine a few minutes on a DMT extra fine sharpening stone (approx. 1200 grit) and it sharpened up nicely. Not quite razor sharp, but it will live nicely in my paragliding harness as an emergency line knife. The serrated section may be useful when sawing small bits of wood, although some users may prefer a straight blade, again, that I leave to the comments section. A fuller review may well be pending.
Anyone who has been climbing and had to shout ‘ON BELAY’ at the top of their voice into a howling gale to their partner below may well have had occasion to contemplate the benefits of a radio. I think in certain circumstances they definitely do have their benefits, although they are certainly not essential for the average hiker. BCA has brought out a robust looking UHF radio called the BC Link:
The BC Link with attached ‘Smart Mic’ speaker mic.
The unit uses a range of UHF channels giving better coverage than the 8 basic PMR 446 channels, and it is waterproof to IP56 standard. It weighs 12 oz (340 g) including the speaker mic unit and costs $223. Being from BCA, the radio is aimed primarily at off-piste skiers and ski mountaineers. Having had an amateur radio license for well over 10 years now, I suppose I am a more than a little spoilt for radios, so PMR and GMRS radios don’t do much for me to be honest. Imported radios from Wouxun and Baofeng cost less than a third the price of the BC Link; have well over 10 times the effective radiated power (depending on what antenna you use) and cover a huge range of frequencies. OK, so if you want something waterproof you have to pay a lot more, but for that extra you usually get something waterproof to IP57. My advice to anyone contemplating buying a radio is get the entry level ham radio license, it really is a box ticking exercise requiring minimal study, and it opens the door to a huge range of frequencies (including global shortwave communications). You can even use the radios on PMR and GMRS channels provided the output power is set within legal limits and the radio is certified for operation in that area. To be fair, the BC Link does interface nicely with BCA’s rucksacks:
The BC Link with speaker mic routed down the shoulder strap.
I am a little biased when it comes to handheld transceivers. As far as PMR goes it’s a nice looking unit and clearly better than some cheap and nasty walkie-talkie, but you should be aware, there can be big differences in performance that are not always apparent from the outside.
A little more controversial is the apparent success of Primus Winter Gas cartridges with ‘Vapour Mesh’ technology:
The awards are rolling in it seems.
Readers will probably remember that I reported on Primus Winter Gas Cartridges last year, and the general consensus was not positive to say the least. With vague epithets like ‘Seriously good stuff!’ floating round the internet, you could be forgiven for thinking some reviewers have been inhaling it rather than cooking with it. Well, in such circumstances one doesn’t like to go on. BPL has proffered its professional opinion, and I’m sure I speak for all the staff when I say that Primus is more than welcome to take out a forum membership and set the record straight below. Perhaps it is a telling sign that in general only the cottage industry in the USA is happy to interact with the public via the BPL platform. It’s a shame really, Primus makes some nice gear that is popular with many readers and I hope this, ahem, difference of opinion, does not put anyone off buying Primus gear. Just to show there’s no hard feelings here’s one of their latest offerings:
Yes, it’s made out of titanium.
The Primus Stove Paw Ti weighs only 2 oz (55 g) and interfaces with most Primus stoves like the OmniLite and Express Spider. It works OK with non Primus stoves as well. You can just make out the hinges that allow the three parts to fold into one. OK, at $67 it’s not cheap, but titanium rarely is. I seem to remember reading many years ago about how a new industrial process was going to reduce the price of titanium to about that of normal steel. Ten years later, and Ti is still eye wateringly expensive.
Goal Zero had some new Lithium Ion battery chargers on show. For multi day trekking the Venture 30 is probably the best of the bunch:
7800 mAh and waterproof to IP X6.
The Venture 30 weighs 8.8 oz (250 g); is solar ready and according to Goal Zero it will charge in 8-16 hours using one of their Nomad 7 solar panels. I find most solar panels are not good enough to charge early morning and late evening, and when on a hike and fly trip most paraglider pilots want to be in the air at midday, precisely the time when the solar panels work best. For that reason, I don’t bother with panels. I would probably use the Venture 30 myself, but I already have other power packs. For single day use the Flip 10 and Flip 20 from Goal Zero look promising, the Flip 10 is below:
The Goal Zero Flip 10.
The Flip 10 takes my Galaxy Note 2 from 17% to about 94%, so it gives me that bit extra I need to extend my flights past 100 km. Most paraglider pilots use a small external battery like this for XC flights. That being said, I think many people will prefer the more rugged and more waterproof Powermonkey Explorer 2:
6000 mAh and waterproof to IP 67!
The card points out that the unit can withstand the weight of a Land Rover, but I ask myself if this is entirely unique among batteries. Certainly it is fully waterproof. For what it’s worth, Brunton had brought along their redesigned Resync charger:
The Brunton Resync 3000.
You may well scoff at the solar panel on the back of the charger. Personally, I have come to terms with them over the years. As long as the unit doesn’t cost any more, then I like the idea of getting more for nothing, even if it doesn’t do all that much; maybe it’s the Yorkshire man in me.