The final day of the show is a shorter day, ending at 3:00 pm. Attendance is lower as people leave to get home in time for the weekend, and we enjoy the thinner crowds. When 3:00 rolls around, it’s amazing to see how quickly the booths come down and everything is cleared out.
Here are our finds from the final day of the show.
Meet the 3.2-Ounce Powermonkey, a Portable Solar Charger to Power Up iPods, Cell Phones, and More
This deviates from backpacking a bit, but since so many people carry electronic gadgets nowadays, I thought this would be of interest. Whether you are backpacking in a remote location or just forgot your charger on a business trip, there are few things as frustrating as listening to a mobile device beep at you or flash a warning icon as it loses battery power and shuts down. The Powermonkey-eXplorer combination (the eXplorer is a 2.4-ounce/68-g storage device) is capable of holding enough power to provide an additional 96 hours of standby time on mobile phones, 40 hours of playtime for iPods, 48 usage hours on PDAs and 6 hours on MP3 or MP4 players. Equipped with compact solar panels, the Powermonkey-eXplorer can also be used to charge your devices directly from the sun.
The Powermonkey-eXplorer is a combo unit. The Solarmonkey solar collector weighs 3.2 ounces (91 g), and the eXplorer storage unit weighs 2.4 ounces (68 g). You can use the solar panels of the Solarmonkey to charge your devices and the eXplorer to hold a charge so you don’t always have to get out the panels when your device needs some juice. Designed for lightweight versatility, the Powermonkey-eXplorer is water resistant and comes with an included Velcro strap so it can be attached for sun exposure on a backpack to charge devices while you are on the go. The Solarmonkey will also power up under incandescent light such as a regular table lamp. MSRP is US$130. Available now.
New Balance Introduces a Versatile Insulated Boot
New Balance will enter the insulated boot category this fall with the debut of the NB 1000. It’s waterproof and insulated with 200 gram Primaloft. A special feature of this new boot is its Vibram Ice Trek outsole, which provides maximum grip on snow and ice and in extreme cold. The 1000 is gaiter compatible and has a heel counter that is snowshoe compatible. Weight 15.4 ounces/boot (437 g, men’s size 9), 12.4 ounces/boot (352 g, women’s size 7). MSRP US$100, available October 2010.
Baladéo Introduces 22- and 34-Gram Knives to Establish Itself in the Ultra Lightweight Knife Category
Based on the growing demand for lighter and lighter equipment, the French company Baladéo launches two lightweight pocket knives that do not compromise the essential functionality expected from a fine blade: a flawless edge, a safety catch, easy accessibility, and an excellent grip.
22 Grams and 34 Grams are the weights and the names of the Baladéo knives. They are 9 and 11 centimeters (3.5 and 4.3 inches) in length respectively. The design has been optimized to save every possible gram while maintaining optimal functionality and esthetics. The blade is claimed to be impeccably sharp. The angle of the blade, known as "chiseled", presents no risk in the closed position: the only sharp edge remains snug against the plate of the knife. An integrated belt clip on the handle allows the knife to be clipped to a bag, belt, or pocket. Made of 100% stainless steel, the knife offers exceptional resistance to oxidation, even in humid conditions.
Takeya Debuts Fashionable/Functional Eco-Friendly Glass
Just when we think we have seen every possible spin on water bottles (including one that reminds you that its time to drink), there comes a new one, this time glass water bottles with a silicone sheath. The product information does not say anything about their being break-proof!
Takeya Glass Water Bottles will be available in several sizes with colorful silicone jackets that feature see-through windows for checking fluid levels. The patented silicone jackets also provide a soft, non-slip grip and protection from accidental breakage, unless you drop it. They are derived from Takeya Japan’s extensive expertise in producing silicone accessories for popular video game consoles worldwide. Both the silicone jackets and water bottles are dishwasher safe. Absolutely no BPAs or flavor contaminants. The weight for the 1L size is just 2 pounds 7 ounces (1.1 kg). Just kidding!
Sole Exhale Slipper Provides Comfort and Insulation Après’ Sport
As the name implies, Sole makes insoles and footwear that mold to your unique feet perfectly. The EVA footbed contours to your unique foot shape without losing its supportive structure. The shaped, EVA phylon midsole ensures that the orthopedic shape is maintained once the footbed layer contours to your feet.
The Sole Exhale Slipper is a comfortable, warm slipper designed to be worn after the heavy ski boots or hiking boots come off your tired feet. The footbeds heat or pressure mold to the shape of your feet. The upper is insulated and has a ripstop nylon shell with DWR. Polygiene helps combat foot odor. Available fall 2010 in men’s and women’s sizes for US$75.
ZebraLight Puts Out 200 Lumens, Weighs 2.1 Ounces (Got your attention?)
This small company exhibiting in a far corner of the Outdoor Retailer show has developed the world’s brightest single AA battery all aluminum headlamp. There are several models shown on their website at www.zebralight.com, but the one that caught our eye is the H51, which runs on one AA battery.
The ZebraLight H51 Headlamp has light outputs from 0.2 to 200 Lumens and runtimes ranging from 19 days to 0.9 hour at those brightnesses. The weight without battery is 2.1 ounces (59 g). We asked about the beam width and were told it has a fairly wide beam, 80 degrees. The ZebraLight is made with a precision machined unibody casing from premium grade Alcoa aluminum bar stock. Its heat sinking design bonds the LED board directly to the unibody aluminum casing, providing unblocked thermal paths to over 94% of the surface area. MSRP is US$64; available September 2010.
5.3-Ounce Soto Muka Liquid Fuel Stove Does Not Require Priming, Does Not Flare Up, and Does Not Clog When Burning Gasoline
If all these claims are true, the Soto liquid fuel stove could make using a white gas stove much more appealing. The stove burns liquid fuel that is blended with air when ignited, so it starts like a canister stove (no flaring) and burns with a blue flame right after igniting. It’s also claimed to be able to burn unleaded gasoline without creating sludge deposits in the generator. It has a thin flexible fuel line.
The Soto Muka Stove (sorry, we were not allowed to take a photo because patents are still pending) burns white gas or unleaded gasoline, and is claimed to light directly without priming, not flare up, and burn right away with a blue flame. If that’s all true, a liquid fuel stove just got a lot friendlier. The claimed weight is 5.3 ounces (150 g) without the fuel bottle pump. The claimed weight for the pump is 0.73 ounce (21 g), but it seemed to be heavier than that. We did not weigh the stove to verify the weights.
Sawyer Hollow Fiber Membrane Water Filter Weighs 1.7 Ounces, Will Filter 1,000,000 Gallons; Anyone Want to Test That?
This is not a brand new product, and there has been quite a bit of discussion about it on the Backpacking Light forums, but (to my knowledge) it has not formally gotten onto our radar screen. Sawyer mentioned that they expected a lot more excitement over this filter, but to date it has not seen much exposure in the media. The specifications look great: its very lightweight, it filters down to 0.1 micron, it’s easily backflushed on a home faucet to restore it so it will filter up to a million gallons, and it’s versatile (can be used in a filter bottle, inline on a hydration pack, on a home faucet, or a simple ultralight setup with a short straw.
The Sawyer Hollow Fiber Membrane Water Filter model SP149 is sold as a four-way water treatment system, so it can be used as a filter bottle (shown), inline in a hydration system, at home attached to a faucet, or ultralight with a short hose to act as a straw. The filter itself weighs just 1.7 ounces (48.2 g), as a filter bottle system it weighs 5.4 ounces (153 g), and as an ultralight straw it weighs 1.9 ounces (54 g). MSRP is US$55.
Sawyer’s Hollow Fiber Membrane Filter is derived from technology used in medical dialysis equipment. Its 0.1 micron micro fibrous tubes are claimed to be absolute, meaning they don’t vary. Because the filter can be cleaned by backwashing, Sawyer claims there is no end to its useful life, so they guarantee the filter for life! So, why isn’t this the most popular water filter in the world?? I guess we need to test it to find out if it has any shortcomings… Readers, please weigh in on this!
DriDucks Emergency Poncho Weighs 2.8 Ounces, Costs US$3.99!!
If you’re looking for a really lightweight and really inexpensive rainwear alternative, look no further. Although it’s sold as an emergency poncho, we looked right past that. This is a pretty darn nice, fairly durable, ultralight poncho. It’s not perfect of course, for example there are no snaps to close the sides, no hood adjustment, and it’s not longer on the backside to cover a pack, but what do you want for four bucks?
The DriDucks Emergency Poncho is made of a very lightweight and fairly durable ProPore-like fabric. It has an attached hood, but there are no closures or adjustments. Measurements are 44 inches wide x 40 inches long (112 x 102 cm) when on. The weight is 2.8 ounces (79 g), and MSRP is US$4.
For hikers who want a more durable and featured alternative, DriDucks also has the UltraLite2 Poncho with waterproof-breathable fabric, side snaps, drawstring hood, and sealed seams. It’s made of the same fabric (ProPore) as regular DriDucks. The weight is 8.2 ounces (232 g) and MSRP is US$12.
Rab Infinity Down Parka and Cirrus Pull-on
New for fall 2010, the Rab Infinity Down Parka is insulated with 210 grams of 850+ fill-power European goose down, a first for Rab, and the shell is 10 denier Pertex Quantum GL, which is the newer lighter version. It has a Lycra-edged down-filled attached hood, hand warmer pockets and hem drawcord with two adjustors. Men’s and women’s versions are available. The weight is 18 ounces (510 g), and MSRP is US$280.
The Rab Cirrus Pull-on, modeled by Brad Groves, is hoodless with a half zipper, and available men’s and women’s models. The fabric is 15 denier Pertex Quantum. The Weight without a hood is 3 ounces (85 g), US$85; the hooded version with a full height zipper is the Rab Cirrus Wind-Top; it weighs 5 ounces (142 g), and MSRP is US$110. Available spring 2011.
Cyclops Micro Mini LED Clip Light
In the handy widget department, we found this really bright clip-on light. The Cyclops Micro has five LEDs, weighs 0.4 ounce (11.4 g), and costs US$10. I know, someone is going to scream that it weighs twice as much as a Photon, and is not rechargeable like the Photon ReX, but it is lightweight, inexpensive, bright, and clips onto a hat brim to free your hands. It makes a good camp light or provides plenty of light for a midnight trip to the bushes. It has a built-in 15 degree tilt downward, but the tilt is not adjustable.
It’s a Wrap!
The Outdoor Retailer Summer 2010 Trade Show is over, and this completes our coverage of individual gear items of interest. Overall, it was a very good show, and we feel successful in finding plenty of good gear items to write about.
Some interesting trends emerged in this OR:
Barefoot Technology Shoes – It seemed like every shoe manufacturer is rolling out a new line of minimalist running shoes. They were everywhere! So, it looks like the manufacturers like the concept; one thing for sure is that they’re capitalizing on the idea! We asked a number of people, including ultra runners, what they thought of these shoes, and everyone was skeptical. All felt that going directly to these shoes, without a transition, is a recipe for injuries. Many felt that it’s a current fad, and will evolve to more mature and lasting technologies. So, right now the technology is like electric cars; the manufacturers are rolling them out, but no one is really sure how well the technology will be adopted.
Sleeping Pads – Several new lightweight sleeping pads surfaced this time, from companies of all sizes. Just a few years ago, we had a relatively limited selection of lightweight pads; we will have quite a few by next year. The gear testers will provide us with some data on how well they perform and end users will determine which ones are their favorites.
Manufacturers Understand What Lightweight Is – Finally, after years of calling 5-pound tents “ultralight,” most manufacturers are dropping the hype (a little of it, anyway) and are developing truly lightweight products in certain categories. They know that lightweight backpacking gear is a growth area, and are developing competitive products in categories like canister stoves, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, tents, packs, rainwear, windwear, water treatments and filters, water containers, baselayers, insulated clothing, handwear, headwear, etc. No one manufacturer produces lightweight versions of everything, rather it’s a hunt and pick situation where the end user needs to research the alternatives and choose the best one.
The Number of Small Companies Making Lightweight and Ultralight Gear is Multiplying and Getting More Competitive – At this stage, I would say the increasing number of online sellers is a really a good sign, and any serious competition does not really exist yet. In general, their products are sufficiently different that they are not directly competing with each other. Rather, they offer hikers more choices so they can match their individual preferences and needs.