Another full day on the show floor, another full list of interesting items.
There are a lot of interesting creatures wandering around OR to attract attendees to their favorite products; fortunately this bear was friendly.
Speaking of bears, this item will interest a lot of our readers who hike where bear canisters are required. A small company named Camp 4 Outdoors will be introducing a new bear canister concept this summer called the Bearier 700 (less than 2 lb/0.91 kg, about US$110). The canister looks like a big plastic bubble, which opens up at the middle into two halves. Each half (lower right) has a mesh skirt to keep food from falling out, and to allow hikers to split up the load on the trail. The volume of the current model is 700 cubic inches (11.5 L) and an extender called the Grub Hub is in the works to extend the volume to 1000 cubic inches (16.4 L). Camp 4 is in the process of getting the Bearier approved and hopes to have it on the market by May 2011. Compared to the carbon fiber Bearikade canister, the Bearier will weigh about the same and cost about half as much. The production model will not be clear as shown, so bears won’t be able to see what’s inside.
While passing by the SteriPen booth again we noticed the SteriPen FitsAll Filter (2.3 oz/24 g, US$15). It’s a prefilter and bottle adapter in one. As a prefilter it takes out suspended sediments to allow the ultraviolet light from the SteriPen to work more effectively, and it’s also an adapter to mate the SteriPen to various bottles that have a small opening. One of the limitations I found while testing the SteriPen is it doesn’t work very with with bottles with a small opening, like soda bottles. The FitsAll Filter fits all SteriPens and allows water to be treated in almost any bottle simply by inverting the bottle. However, the weight is a little high, almost the same as the new SteriPen Freedom we reported on, so for me it would be more appealing if it were lighter. Available now.
At the Sierra Designs booth we were shown a must-have product, the Gnar Skirt (4.5 oz/128 g, US$99) insulated with 650 fill down. I’m sure everyone has frozen their tu-tu at one time or another, so here’s the prefect prevention. It’s unisex and comes in three sizes. Perhaps readers can suggest some really good multi-purpose uses for this innovative new product for fall 2011. Of course one fashionable use is suggested by the photo of the model on the right. It should go well with the Outdoor Research Transcendent Beanie we featured in our Day 1 coverage.
Leki will also have collapsible trekking poles for fall 2011. The line will have three models, and the lightest is the Carbon 4 (top, 7.4 oz/210 g, $230) which is a four-section pole that telescopes down to 21.7 inches (55 cm). The next lightest is the three section aluminum Micro Stick (bottom right, 8.8 oz, 250 g, US$150) which collapse down to 15.4 inches (39 cm). The first two sections of the Micro Stick telescope with a joint lock. All the poles in this series have an extended handle and Leki’s Aergon XL grip, and available lengths will be 110, 120, and 130 cm. Leki will also have a Camera Adapter for the Aergon Grip (bottom left, US$20) available when the poles come out in spring 2011.
At Lorpen (a Spanish sock maker) we found the Extreme Expedition Sock (no weight available, US$50) which utilized Lorpen’s Tri-Layer woven system which uses different materials for different applications; for the Extreme Expedition Sock, the layering is two layers of Polartec Stretch fabric sandwiching Primaloft Footwear Insulation. The socks are left and right foot specific to fit the anatomical shape of the feet, and are claimed to be on the cutting edge of warmth technology in a sock.
Fenix is a lighting company started by four Chinese electrical engineers in China, and they are marketing their high-tech lighting in the US. All of their lights are waterproof to 8 feet (2.44 m), ANSI certified, and very bright for their weight. Some standouts suitable for backpacking are the LD01 (right, 0.5 oz/14 g, US$40) which uses one AAA battery, has a hat clip, puts out 72 lumens, and has three brightness levels. Another standout is the HL20 (left, 1.8 oz/51 g, US$42, which puts out 105 lumens, has four brightness levels, and comes with a diffuser for camp use. These are really superb lights and BPL lighting specialist Rick Dreher is working on reviews for spring publication.
Easton Mountain Products continues to crank out interesting products that include carbon fiber components. New for fall 2011 is the CTR 65 Trekking and Ski Pole (1.12 lb/0.51 kg per pair, US$110) which are two-piece telescoping carbon fiber poles with some really secure locks that can be operated with gloves on. They will come with a standard trekking tip and a large ski basket and will have Easton’s Ionfoam extended grip. These are a bit heavy by trekking pole standards, but they need to be sturdy for skiing.
In fall 2011 Easton will also be rolling out their Vo2 Racing Snowshoe (24 oz/680 g per shoe, US$299). We include them because of their innovation, as explained in the video below. The frame is two-piece aluminum alloy, the deck is carbon fiber, and the front forged aluminum crampon is split and articulated. They have direct-connect bindings, meaning the shoe of the racer’s choice is screwed to the binding from the bottom; a thin plate under the insole anchors the screws. Easton engineers found that racers were taking the bindings off other brands of snowshoes and cobbling a similar-type binding, so they worked with that approach to save weight.
Finally, Easton will be introducing a lightweight Expedition Tent (about 7 lb 13 oz/3.54 kg, US$599 with carbon poles) available in fall 2011. That is a good weight for a bomber four-season tent. The double-wall tent (yet to be named) will feature Easton’s stiff FX carbon poles, two-person capacity, two end doors with vestibules (large capacity cooking vestibule on one end), and large top vents adjustable from the inside. A version with aluminum poles will sell for US$479. Easton hinted that they will be introducing several new tents at summer OR.
Canada Goose is a Canadian company that normally sells bomber down apparel for extreme cold. We got a tip that they are introducing (of all things) an 8-ounce (227-g) down jacket. We checked it out and found the hoodless Hybridge Lite Jacket (10.1 oz/286 g for size L, US$415). It’s insulated with 800 fill down and has 23 g/m2 nylon shell fabric. The underarms are Power Stretch fleece and it has two zippered hand pockets. The jacket has a trim fit in the body but the sleeve and back lengths are plenty long. Holy chicken feathers, this jacket is expensive! Available July 2011.
Saucony is coming out with a lightweight trail runner called the Outlaw Mid (10.1 oz/286 g per shoe, US$110) in June 2011. The Outlaw features heel and toe protection, a gaiter hook, a slipper cup at the rear, and a padded lace tongue. The shoe is water resistant-breathable but it’s not seam sealed, and has only 4 millimeters of heel lift, so it is nearly neutral. It comes in only a standard (D) width.
While on the subject of trail running shoes, at Treksta we found the Evolution 2 and Evolution Mid. The difference in Treksta shoes is their NestFit – the last is shaped like feet (right photo, Treksta last on the left compared to a typical last on the right); what a revolutionary concept! They have a snug heel cup and extra room in the toe box, much like the Montrail shoes used to have with their IntegralFit. Both shoes are fairly neutral with moderate stiffness; the Evolution 2 weighs 13.9 oz (394 g) per shoe and the MSRP is US$115, and the Evolution Mid weighs 15.7 oz (445 g) per shoe and the MSRP is US$140. Both are available now.
Gore-Tex Active Shell jackets we have found so far weigh in the 13-14 oz (369-397 g) range. We finally found a lighter one, the Mammut Felsturn Half-Zip (10.2 oz/289 g for size men’s Large, US$390). As the name implies, it’s a pullover and has pit zips, one chest pocket, an attached adjustable hood, dropped tail, and elastic hem and cuffs. More on Gore Active Shell in a separate article; looks like these high-end jackets are getting pricier than ever.
We have tested a number of trail traction devices over the years. Some are shoes that have studs in the outsole, or even a removable outsole, but that gets pretty complex and heavy and has limited versatility. Most of the slip-ons work well but they are pretty heavy to pack (around 6-8 oz/170-227 g). At Korkers we found some lighter and less expensive ones, the Polartrax (2.7 oz/77 g each, US$15) available in three sizes and the Polartrax Ultra (3.7 oz/105 g each, US$25) which adjusts to fit any boot. They have studs on the bottom rather than chains and spikes, so the tradeoff is less traction.
Several manufacturers are introducing Touch Screen Gloves for fall 2011. These gloves have a pad made of a special material on the tips of the index finger and thumb, so you can operate a smart phone, tablet, or ATM machine with gloves on. The lightest ones we found are the Manzella Sprint Touch Tip (right, US$20) and Manzella Power Stretch Touch Tip (left, US$30). Both are very light because they are four-way stretch fleece with a smooth exterior. Both also have a gripper palm and will be available in men’s and women’s sizes.
Finally we stopped at the OutDry booth for a demonstration of their technology. OutDry is now owned by Columbia. Instead of a waterproof-breathable booty sewn into waterproof boots, the OutDry membrane is laminated to the shoe’s upper in three dimensions before the shoe is assembled. See here for a video of the process. This demonstration video (below) compares the waterproofness of a Gore-Tex boot with an OutDry lined boot. The weights of the dry shoes are measured, then the shoes are placed in a pan of water inside a large centrifuge and spun at 250 rpm for 10 minutes. The shoes are removed and re-weighed. The OutDry lined shoes gained 1.3 oz (37 g) of water, while the Gore-Tex shoes gained 4.6 oz (130 g) of water. It looks like OutDry works, but don’t expect much breathability.
That’s it for another day and evening of OR coverage. We will be back on the floor tomorrow for the final day of the show and hope to round up another batch of interesting gear.
Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl