Editor’s Note: This article was opened to the public on July 22, 2010. To subscribe and see Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 articles as they are published, click here.
Tired of zip baggies that quickly wear out (failed zips, punctured plastic and blown seams), only to be thrown into the trash? Pacific Outdoor Equipment introduces Pneumo ZIP bags. These reusable bags are far more durable, lightening the load on the environment, depending on how many baggies you go through. They are also more reliable at keeping your gear safe and dry. Pneumo ZIP bags are constructed of light waterproof fabric with a strong zip seal. A clear TPU fabric window allows you to see contents while keeping weight down. They come in four sizes and four colors (orange, green, blue and red). POE also makes a Map Case using the same construction, but with the front TPU window the entire size of the bag, 35.5 x 40.6 cm, 74 g (2.6 oz).
|Pneumo ZIP Specifications|
|0.5 L||20 x 16.5||14 g (0.5 oz)|
|1.0 L||20 x 24||26 g (0.9 oz)|
|3.75 L||28 x 30.5||43 g (1.5 oz)|
|7.5 L||35.5 x 40.6||51 g (1.8 oz)|
ZipVac has a line of reusable, self-vacuum-pack bags. The bags are a very light triple-layer material with an industrial double-zip and a vacuum valve. They are microwaveable, dishwasher safe, and should stand up to many uses. A kit comes with an assortment of bag sizes and a small pump (at 1.4 oz, it is light enough to carry into the field to re-vacuum-pack the bags after use). Oxygen impermeable, ZipVac bags keep food fresher and transmit no odor (a help to keep from attracting rodents, birds, and bears to your food). We tested this with a smelly curry backpacking dinner and didn’t notice any odor-transfer to our other meals (or our pack). We see value in the vacuum bags for keeping food much fresher in the backcountry, especially for cured meats, cheeses, and breads (they have a dedicated bread/fillet bag). We usually take a full loaf of bread backpacking and are excited to see how much longer it will keep moist and fresh.
|Volume||Size (in)||Weight (oz)|
|Quart||7 x 7.5||0.3|
|Gallon||10.5 x 11||0.6|
|Fillet||9 x 18.5||0.7|
|Jumbo||13.5 x 13.5||0.9|
Finally, an easy way to keep those fuel canisters out of landfills and hazardous waste centers! JetBoil displayed a small stainless tool that looked a lot like a modified can opener of old. The tool threads onto the valve of a fuel canister and releases the unused propane/butane. Press down on the tool, and it punctures the canister just like a can opener. The canister is now safe and ready to be recycled.
JetBoil introduced a slight re-design of their Personal Cooking System (PCS); it has a new burner, a temperature indicator gel on the pot sleeve (the curved strips to the right of “JETBOIL,” a stabilizer stand (orange), and comes in a lot of cool colors.
|Pacific Outdoor Equipment introduced an insulated, three-season, lightweight air mattress/pad, the Ether Elite 6. This appears to be a competing technology to the Cascade Designs Neo-Air pads. On paper, the Ether Elite 6 and Neo-Air have similar thickness, weights, and insulating values. Their technologies to achieve a high R Value for an air mattress differ significantly. It will be hard to compare them directly until both are available side-by-side for lab controlled R Value testing. The Ether Elite is 2.5 inches thick, comes in two sizes (20 x 48 inches at 10.75 ounces or 20 x 72 inches at 14.0 ounces), with an estimated R value range from 2.0 to 4.0. It’s made of 33 denier fabric on the top and bottom and has a light layer of thermal insulation, “Zonal Air Loft Thermo insulation," strategically located in the torso area just under the surface of the top fabric layer of the pad (right photo).|
|The new Western Mountaineering Flash Pants (left) weigh approximately 6 ounces and have no side zips. Based on comments received at the show, WM will probably put a reinforced material on the seat rather than on the knees (as is pictured) but the weight will remain the same, and MSRP is $140.00. The Flight Pants (right) weigh approximately 11 ounces and have full side zips with Gore Windstopper in the seat and forward legs from the knee down. They have an adjustable hook and loop closure at the bottom, and MSRP is $175.00. Both pants are scheduled to be available in October 2009.|
|The standard Western Mountaineering Down Booties (left) weigh about 6 ounces per pair and offer more warmth to weight compared to many other down booties the market. A 30 denier nylon shell fabric is treated with a DWR finish. The bottom is a Tough-Tex material outer sole with a good insulation layer in the sole for years of use without compression damage. MSRP is $65.00. The Expedition Booties (right) weigh about 7.25 ounces per pair and have a Gore Windstopper shell material that extends above the insulated bootie to just below the knee. The insulation stops at the same place on the leg as the standard bootie, and the heel has an extended cup of the sole insulation material. Tough-Tex is on the sole of this bootie as well, and they will be available in red and black. MSRP is $90.00. Both booties are scheduled to be available in October 2009.|
|I have jammed and broken just about every make and design of trekking pole locks. I’ve come to expect poles to misbehave in the field. One of the most frustrating things is that the lock is inside the pole. If it jams, you cannot easily (if ever) open the pole to access the locking mechanism. This makes them extremely difficult, if not impossible, to repair in the field. Leki introduces their new Speedlock external lever locking system, which they claim is “the most powerful external [locking] system in the world.” What I like most is that all parts of the mechanism are externally accessible and adjustable. The system is simple in design and easily understood. Even if the locking system jams or gets out of adjustment, it should be fairly simple to repair or adjust in the field. The Speedlock system adds about 1.8 oz over Leki’s internal pole locks, increasing the standard Carbonlite AERGON poles from 12.8 oz/pair to 14.6 oz/pair once equipped. There is no increase in price, so MSRP for the poles with external lock remains $180.|
At the Open Air Demo, we saw a New Balance (NB) employee wearing a pair of bright orange trail running shoes that looked very light. They turned out to be prototypes of a new super light, unconstructed trail shoe, the NB 100. NB is developing the shoe in conjunction with a couple of ultra runners. The shoe design is not final, but the NB employee said to expect a shoe weight between 8.0 to 9.5 ounces per shoe. If so, they would compete with Inov-8 and END in extremely light trail footwear. Expected availability: late 2009.
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Natural High has new packets of organic, freeze dried fruit snacks. There are five fruits: Apple, Blueberry, Banana, Strawberry, and Mango. We hope this will create some competition with JustTomatoes.com in freeze dried fruits. The price for this stuff has always seemed incredibly high, although 1 oz of freeze dried blueberries is made from over 6 ounces of fresh blueberries. MSRP: $4.50 per 1.0 oz packet.