After a really productive first day on the floor, it was hard to expect day two to be as fruitful, but it was. We always manage to find lots of new and interesting gear, actually more than we can handle. It gets mind-boggling sometimes. We run on adrenaline and energy bar samples all day at the show, write our stories till midnight, then get up and repeat it again the next day. It's fun, it’s exciting, and it’s exhausting!
The day's highlights follow, in no particular order.
Black Diamond Z-Poles Utilize Avalanche Probe Technology
The new Black Diamond Z-Pole series for spring 2011 incorporates avalanche pole technology to achieve a remarkably compact and sturdy hiking pole. The poles collapse down to 13-17 inches (33-43 cm, left photo), depending on length, for easy stowage inside a travel bag or backpack. The sections are connected by a cable inside a sheath (center photo). The poles extend by simply pulling outward on the first section to snap the sections into place. They collapse by pressing a button just below the grip (right photo) and pulling the sections apart.
There will be three models within the Z-Pole series: the Ultra Distance is a carbon fiber pole available in four lengths; weight is 8.8 to 9.8 ounces/pair (249-278 g/pair), MSRP US$150; the Distance FL is an adjustable aluminum version in three length ranges, weight is 14 to 16 ounces/pair (397-454 g/pair), MSRP US$120; and the Distance is an aluminum fixed-length version available in four lengths, weight is 11.2 to 13 ounces/pair (318-369 g/pair), MSRP is US$100. Look for a Backpacking Light review of the Ultra Distance pole later this year.
Osprey Flies Super-Light With Hornet
Osprey Packs will introduce the ultra-light Hornet Series in spring/summer 2011. These super-lightweight packs have been stripped down to the essentials for ultra runners, adventure racers, peak baggers or anyone who aspires to move quickly with minimal weight. The Hornet series packs are available in 24L, 36L and 42L capacities and weigh from 1 pound 2 ounces to 1 pound 8 ounces (510-680 g).
The largest of the new Osprey Hornet packs at 46L (2807 in3) is big enough for lightweight backpacking (the photo above is the Hornet 32, but the 46 is identical, only larger).
Features include: hydration sleeve, highly ventilated and supportive Bio-Stretch harness with sliding adjustable sternum strap, super-light spacer mesh vented backpanel with removable foam pad, Bio-Stretch hipbelt with zippered hipbelt pockets and ErgoPull closure, adjustable overskirt compression strap, 7 mm webbing side compression, front stretch mesh pocket, side mesh pockets with InsideOut compression straps, removable zippered top pocket with under lid mesh map pocket and key clip. Color is crimson, sizes are S/M and M/L, weight is 24 oz (680 g), MSRP is $159. This pack is really sweet and carries very well; look for a future Backpacking Light review.
Terra Nova Introduces the 20-Ounce Laser Ultra 1 - the World's Lightest Double-Wall Tent - and the Laser Photon 2, a Two-Person Tent Weighing in at a Record Beating 2 Pounds 1 Ounce
Well, it looks like the tent weight wars are on again with Terra Nova delivering the latest salvos. We have reviewed a few of these hyperlight double-wall tents and have found two consistent issues: too small to be comfortable and poor ventilation. Do these new record-beating tents offer any improvement?
Here it is, the 1 pound 3 ounce (539 g, total weight) Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1 (one-person) the lightest double-wall tent in the world! The weight is definitely impressive, but how much room does it have? Here are the interior measurements: 87 inches (2.21 m) long, 34 inches (86 cm) wide in the center, 29 inches (74 cm) wide at the ends, 34 inches (86 cm) high at the center. Not too bad, fairly roomy digs for one person. It also has an entry vestibule 10 inches (25 cm) wide at the center. Features include: side entry with vestibule, 7.5 mm DAC Scandium alloy poles, fly and floor are their new Ultra fabric 3000 mm, and 1-gram titanium stakes. MSRP is US$700 (ouch!). Available spring 2011.
The shell is Terra Nova’s Ultra fabric, which (ahem) is Cuben Fiber, and a paper thin version at that. Terra Nova has also addressed several issues we raised on our recent reviews of some of their Laser series tents, namely limited space and high condensation. Regarding space, as noted this tent is quite room for one person, so okay there. Regarding condensation, Terra Nova has redesigned the entry door and ends of the tent so they can be raised “quarter open” to enhance ventilation while shedding rain, but still no high vent. Same for the Laser Photon 2 below.
The Terra Nova Laser Photon 2, a two-person tent, is also a record beater at 2 pounds 1 ounce (936 g, total weight). The inside dimensions are 91 inches (2.74 m) long, 41 inches (1.04 m) wide at the center, 35 inches (89 cm) wide at the ends, 37 inches (94 cm) high at the center, 20 inches (51 cm) high at the ends. Looks to be a bit tight for two people, and there is only one entry. Features: one side entry door with vestibule, DAC 7.5 mm Scandium poles, lightweight fabrics, 2-gram stakes, flysheet can be raised at the ends for extra ventilation. MSRP is US$520. Available spring 2011.
The 2 pound 3 ounce (992 g, total weight) Terra Nova Solar Photon 2, is claimed to be the lightest two-person freestanding tent in the world. This tent is a bit roomier: 89 inches (2.26 m) long, 50 inches (1.27 m) wide at the head end, 33 inches (84 cm) wide at the foot end, and height 39 inches (99 cm). Entry is from the end through a roomy vestibule. Because of its high vent, extra room, and end entry, this tent appeals more than the Laser Photon 2 for two people. MSRP is US$440. Available spring 2011.
Big Agnes Introduces a Passel of New Tents, Standouts are the New Fly Creek UL3 and UL4
Thirty-four new tents (!) from Big Agnes, however, the majority of them are heavier car camping type tents. The tents of most interest are the Fly Creek UL 3 and UL4 (three-person and four-person, respectively. Why do I report on these larger tents? Because some readers like to base camp or go on family backpacking trips, and these larger tents are a way to have extra room and still keep your pack weight down to a reasonable level (think: four-person tent with weight less than most two-person tents).
The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3 and UL4 (UL3 shown), available in spring 2011, feature DAC Featherlite NSL poles, ultralight silicone/PU coated nylon ripstop fly and floor 1200 mm, ultralight breathable nylon ripstop and polyester mesh tent body, DAC Twist Clips attach tent body to the pole frame for quick and easy set up, single door and vestibule, four mesh storage pockets, thirteen superlight aluminum J stakes. Specifications UL3: floor length 90 inches (2.29 m), floor width 66 inches (1.68 m) at head, 60 inches (1.52 m) at foot, head height 42 inches (1.07 m) foot height 21 inches (53 cm), total weight 3 pounds 10 ounces (1.64 kg), floor area 39 ft2 m2 (3.62 m2), vestibule area 12.5 ft2 (1.14 m2). MSRP is US$450. Specifications UL4: floor length 90 inches (2.29 m), floor width 86 inches (2.18 m) at head, 72 inches (1.83 cm) at foot, head height 45 inches (1.14 m), foot height 24 inches (61 cm), total weight 4 pounds 9 ounces (2.07 kg), floor area 49.5 ft2 (4.6 m2), vestibule area 17 ft2 (1.58 m2). MSRP is US$500.
Terra Nova Superlite Ultra 20 Pack Weighs Just 3.5 Ounces!
Made of their Ultra fabric (Cuben Fiber), the Terra Nova Ultra 20 Pack is as light as a feather. It has padded shoulder straps and drawcord closure. Weight is 3.5 ounces (100 g), and MSRP is US$130. Available spring 2011.
Spring 2011 Montane Spektr to be the World’s Lightest Super Minimalist eVENT Shell
eVENT jackets have stalled at about 10 ounces (283 g, Integral Designs eVENT Rain Jacket), and we have been waiting a long time for something lighter to appear; here it is! SportHansa will be the U.S. Distributor for Terra Nova, Montane, and other European outdoor gear. And the timing is perfect; included in their catalog is the new Montane Spektr Smock that weighs just 7.4 ounces (210 g).
Features include eVENT three-layer fabric, zip-free, no peak hood, waist cinch. The Tornado roll closure system replaces the front water-resistant zipper, and the jacket is designed to be worn with the Montane Pace Cap. The information on this jacket is incomplete and a bit vague, but we look forward to testing one in the near future so we can give you our evaluation. No MSRP is available at the moment.
Brooks-Range Gives Us What We Asked For - Several Versions of the Alpini Down Jacket for Hikers - Plus Several Other Goodies
In my recent Review of the Brooks-Range Alpini Mountain Anorak, I gave my wish list for revisions that would make it perfect for cold weather backpacking, namely: drop the side zippers, drop the side and cuff Velcro tabs, and correct the sizing. We got all of that and more. In spring 2011 the Brooks-Range Mountain Sweater (sorry no photo available) will be available with a half zip or full zip, hoodless or hooded, and the sizing will be “normal” (it previously ran small). The down has been upgraded to 850+, the cuffs and hem will have a simple elastic binding, and a zippered chest pocket has been added. They did not have a jacket available for us to look at, but my understanding is that the reach-through front pocket has been retained on the half-zip (anorak) version, and the full-zip version has two hand pockets.
New for spring 2011 is the Brooks-Range Cirrus Synthetic Insulated Collection. The garments are insulated with Primaloft One, have a 15 denier Pertex shell, elastic cuffs and hem, and zippered chest pocket. Four versions will be available: half-zip and full-zip, hoodless and hooded. The half-zip anorak will have a reach-through front pocket, and the full-zip version will have two hand pockets. The Brooks-Range workbook says this jacket will have side zips, but we didn’t notice any, so that feature is uncertain at this time. Also, they did not provide us with any weight specifications. MSRPs are US$199 for the Hooded Jacket, US$179 for the hoodless jacket, US$169 for the Hooded Pullover, and US$149 for the Pullover Jacket.
Also new for spring 2011 is the Brooks-Range Alpini Series Sleeping Bags. We reported last summer on their Elephant Foot Bag, which is a half bag to conjoin with their Alpini Mountain Anorak. This is a collection of four mummy-style down sleeping bags featuring 850+ European goose down, an adjustable hood, and lightweight half zipper. The specifications and prices (below) look really good.
- +10F (-12C) Alpini Backcountry Sleeping Bag: 470 grams (16.5 oz) down fill; Regular Weight 26 oz. (756 g), Long Weight: 31 oz. (876 g); MSRP: $287.00
- 5F (-15C) Alpini Sleeping Bag: 510 grams (17 oz) down fill; Regular Weight 28 oz. (796 g), Long Weight 32 oz. (916 g); MSRP: $298.00
- -5F (-20C) Alpini Alps Sleeping Bag: 620 grams (21.8 oz) down fill; Regular Weight 32 oz. (906 g); Long Weight: 36 oz (1026 g); MSRP: $364.00
- -15F(-26C) Alpini Alaskan Sleeping Bag: 735 grams (25.9 oz) down fill; Regular Weight: 36 oz. (1021 g), Long Weight: 40 oz. (1141 g); MSRP: $444.00
New Pacific Outdoor Equipment Sleeping Pads Pack Small and Carry Light
Peak AC Inflatable Pads incorporate Radiant Heat Return (RHR) technology throughout the pad. Four sizes are available, the lightest of which is the Peak Elite AC 2/3 at 10.75 ounces (306 g). Features include: bio-mapped insulation in torso, aluminum nano coating on the inside of the bottom fabric, streamline mummy shape, durable fabrics, women’s specific models with more insulation in the foot end, stuff sack included. Measurements are 48 x 20 x 2.5 inches (122 x 51 x 6.3 cm). MSRP is US$65.
The lightest of the POE Peak Oyl Lite Sleeping Pads is the Uber at 9.4 ounces (261 g). These new three-season sleeping pads for spring 2011 have a die-cut foam core and durable recycled fabrics on top and bottom. Five sizes will be available with weights ranging from 9.4 ounces (261 g) to 21 ounces (584 g). Measurements are 37 x 18 x 1 inches (94 x 45 x 2.5 cm). The R-value is 3.0-4.0. MSRP is US$50.
NEMO Also Introduces Lightweight Self-Inflating Sleeping Pads
This is a good Outdoor Retailer for finding new lightweight sleeping pads. NEMO has been making sleeping pads for a few years, but they are not all that light. The new NEMO ZOR Sleeping Pads for spring 2011 are indeed lightweight. The foam insulation in these pads is die-cut to reduce weight, but the design maintains a layer of insulation throughout the pad.
The NEMO ZOR Short Pad is ¾-length and weighs 10 ounces (300 g). The fabric is 20-denier polyester. Measurements are 48 x 20 x 0.75 inches (122 x 51 x 2 cm). The MSRP is US$80. The size Regular pad measures 72 x 20 x 0.75 inches (183 x 51 x 2 cm), weighs 15 ounces (425 g) and costs US$90.
“Good night John-Boy!”
“Good night Mary-Ellen!”