attended the Kickoff last Saturday (4/28). the Kickoff is always fun, lots of gearheads & hikers and lots of fun talk about places & gear. plus the latest offerings from most of the big names in cottage gear! ULA, Six Moon, Titanium Goat, TarpTent and Gossamer Gear were all there.
Got to see a prototype GG solo shelter made out of Cuben (the for-sale models won't be Cuben, though), and so i got to TOUCH Cuben for the first time. it's actually really cool stuff. too bad it's so flippin' expensive.
Also got to see the ULA Arctic pack (looks sweet) as well as the yet-to-be-released Ohm pack. The Ohm looked like a slightly larger Amp, with some external stays. The stays were probably carbon, but Brian was pretty busy the whole time i was there and i forgot to ask him. He and Josh Leavitt from Titanium Goat have developed an electric bear bag that they were playing video of and had on display. it looks promising, but of course it's new and who knows how well it will play out in the field.
lots of homemade gear on display too, and multiple options for desert hiking were discussed - ways to rig up a GoLite Chrome Dome (looked like a very popular choice this year), water belts, etc.
At the "gear inventions" contest there were some neat entries, but possibly the coolest of all was a guy who has built a movable-joint carbon fiber frame and then simply wraps gear around his Bearikade Expedition (which he also carries some gear inside of). He also had a roll-out shade that is very promising, but he made it out of silnylon and i haven't found sil to be very good sun protection.
i had a ton of fun and met at least one other BPL forum user - Anitra Kass, who will be hiking the CDT this year and who was a volunteer at the fundraising silent auction. hi Anitra!