We had a little slower pace on day three of the show - fewer appointments and more time to browse. That’s good because we came up with more unexpected discoveries, and also good because we are starting to wear down. There are over 1400 booths at OR, and about 24,000 people in attendance, so it’s a gigantic treasure hunt.
McNett AquaMira Frontier Pro Water Filter Weighs Just 2 Ounces
The Frontier Pro Ultralight Water Filter provides all the benefits of a larger bottle filter in a compact size. The suction (straw-style) filter attaches directly to water bottles or flasks with a 28-mm threaded opening (such as Platypus, Nalgene, or Evernew flasks). To filter water, you tip the bottle or flask and suck water through the filter’s bite valve. Replacement pre-filters lengthen filter life. Filters up to 50 gallons (189 L). Antimicrobial, removes Giardia, Cryptosporidium and E. coli, but not viruses. Weight is 2 ounces (57 g), MSRP is US$24. Available now.
An attached cap keeps the mouthpiece clean (left). The filter screws onto any water container with a standard 28-mm thread (right). A flexible “Integrated Strap Grip” secures cap to filter when not in use and allows for easy cap removal.
The beauty of the Frontier Pro is that it can used on a hydration system by attaching the filter to a Platypus flask, and then attaching a drink tube to the delivery end of the filter, so you can filter water as you drink it. It can also be set up as a gravity feed system in camp by connecting another flask hung above the Frontier Pro attached to a delivery flask.
New Lightweight Jetboil Sōl Personal Cooking System Delivers Four-Season Reliability, the Zip PCS is an Economical/Lightweight Alternative, and the Sumo Cup Has Double the Capacity
Several years ago we were excited when the revolutionary Jetboil integrated personal cooking system came out. It’s definitely convenient and fuel efficient, but it weighs over a pound, so it’s not very lightweight. It’s time to get excited all over again with the new ultra-compact Sōl personal cooking system. At 9 ounces (255 g) for the titanium version and 10.5 ounces (298 g) for the aluminum version, this is more like it. In this true four-season upright canister cooking system, Jetboil introduces advanced Jetboil Thermo-Regulate Burner Technology to deliver consistent heat output down to 15 F (-9 C). The downside is that the cup capacity is a bit smaller than the original Jetboil PCS.
The ultralight Jetboil Sōl Ti Personal Cooking System (left) with a titanium cooking cup weighs in at only 9 ounces (255 g). The all-in-one Sōl design offers all of the features and functionality of Jetboil’s trademark convenient cooking systems, including integrated burner base and 0.8 L FluxRing cooking cup. Companion cups will be available. Specifications: weight: 9 ounces (255 g) titanium/10.5 ounces (300 g) aluminum; volume: 27 fluid ounces (0.8 L); boil time: 2 minutes for 16 fluid ounces (0.5 L); water boiled: 12 L per 100-g fuel canister; dimensions: 4.1 x 6.5 inches (10.4 x 16.5 cm). MSRP for Sōl-Ti US$150, Sōl-Al US$120; MSRP for Companion Cups: titanium US$70, aluminum US$40. Available spring 2011. Another new system, the Jetboil Zip PCS (right), offers simplicity and performance in a no frills design with all the essentials of a Jetboil system at an economical price (MSRP US$70). Features include a 0.8 L hard anodized FluxRing cooking cup with insulating cargo cozy, an adjustable burner, drink through lid with pour spout and strainer, and bottom cover which can double as a measuring cup and bowl. The system weighs 11.75 ounces (333 g). Available spring 2011.
Jetboil is also introducing a larger Sumo Companion Cup that holds more than twice the volume of the Sōl or Zip cups with a 1.8 L FluxRing design. Despite its capacity, the Sumo offers similar fuel efficiency to its smaller companions. The Sumo clips directly onto a compatible Jetboil burner base (i.e. Sōl, Zip, or PCS). The Sumo design is large enough to store a 230 g fuel canister and burner base with room to spare, or an entire Sōl or Zip system with 100 grams of fuel. Other features include an insulating neoprene Cargo Cozy with secure nylon handle, a drink through lid with pour spout and strainer, and bottom cover. The Sumo weighs 14 ounces (397 g), and MSRP is US$50. Available spring 2011.
Many hikers shun using a canister stove because they don’t like the throw-away technology of the fuel canisters, which end up in the landfill. Enter the Jetboil CrunchIt, available in January 2011.
The Jetboil CrunchIt is a tool to puncture fuel canisters so they are safe to recycle. The threaded end of the tool is first screwed onto the fuel canister’s valve; when it seats it releases any fuel left in the canister. Then it is pressed down to puncture the canister, rendering it safe to recycle as tin/steel. The MSRP will be US$6.95, and it will be bundled with certain Jetboil PCS systems in late 2010.
Lowe-Alpine Introduces XL (Extra Long) Sizing in Their Hyperlite Backpack Series
Following the 2010 launch of their Hyperlite models, Nanon and Zepton, the collection will become a larger family of packs with the additions of XL (extra long torso lengths) versions in spring 2011. There will also be a ND (Narrow Dimension) for women. All packs use Dyneema fabric which balances weight, durability, and comfort.
The new Lowe-Alpine men’s Nanon 50:60 XL fits torsos 18-23 inches (46-59 cm). Volume is 60 L (3700 in3), load range is 22-33 lb (10-15 kg), weight is 3 pounds 1 ounce (1.4 kg), MSRP is US$220.
Schoeller Introduces Energear, a New Energy Recovery Technology for Fabrics
Schoeller Energear is a fabric treatment consisting of a specially formulated mineral matrix, which reflects the body’s far-infrared radiation back to the wearer. Other fabric features, such as breathability and weather protection, remain the same.
The reflection of the far-infrared rays is claimed to promote blood circulation and increase oxygen levels in the blood, which can have a number of positive effects on the body: performance enhancement and the prevention of premature fatigue, improved regeneration, faster warm-ups, and increased concentration capacity and general well-being. From a left-brainer’s standpoint, this is starting to sound like magic crystals, so I can’t suppress my skepticism. Perhaps sometime in the future I will get to try out a garment treated with Energear and we will see how much this “specially formulated mineral matrix” contributes to my overall well-being. It couldn’t hurt!
Sierra Designs Launches Backpack Category
Sierra Designs is reinventing backpack performance by addressing the key elements of fit, carry, and ventilation with the new Traverse series backpacks. “Most packs on the market today are designed to either carry heavy loads or weigh next to nothing when empty,” said Sue Edmiston, Sierra Designs marketing director. “We saw a great opportunity to design and build a line of packs that blends weight savings and load carrying into a comfortable mid-weight backpack ideal for the widest range of outdoor enthusiasts.”
The Traverse Series packs include the men’s Revival 65 and Revival 50 (left) as well as the women’s Jubilee 65 and Jubilee 50. Featuring the innovative Fulcrum Suspension system (right) - a molded composite framesheet with a single DAC aluminum stay and a custom forged pivot at the hipbelt- the Traverse Series packs are claimed to provide comfortable load carry, superior ventilation, and excellent range of motion while keeping weight to a minimum. The result is a mid-weight pack ideal for comfortably carrying heavy loads all day long. Available in multiple sizes for a perfect fit and comfortable load carry, all four packs feature the Fulcrum Suspension that keeps the pack closer to the user’s center of gravity for better load carrying.
All Traverse Series packs also include backpanel and shoulder strap ventilation, trekking pole holders, hydration sleeve, integrated bottle opener, and a variety of pockets for small items. A unique ventilation system keeps the pack closer to the user’s body for better balance while allowing air to circulate freely for improved comfort on warm days. The Revival 50 weighs 3 pounds 14 ounces (1.76 kg) and Jubilee 50 weighs 3 pounds 11 ounces (1.67 kg); the Revival 65 weighs 4 pounds (1.81 kg) and Jubilee 65 weighs 3 pounds 13 ounces (1.73 kg). MSRP is US$200 for the Revival/Jubilee 50 and US$240 for the Revival/Jubilee 65. Available spring 2011.
Sierra Designs Introduces the Lightning HT2 and HT3 Double Wall Tents
In their Ultralight Series, a new member for spring 2011 is the rectangular-shaped Lightning HT2 and HT3, replacing the XT2 and XT3. The XT4 remains.
The Sierra Designs HT2 Tent (right) is elegant in its simplicity, with two arch poles anchored to one brow pole across the middle. The HT2 is basically a revision of the XT2 (left) to greatly increase interior volume and make it more solid and stable; notice the difference in the pole configuration. A brow pole across the top anchors to the arch poles with hubs, and to the ends anchor the side entry doors on the mesh inner as well as the side vestibules. The corners have Jake’s feet for easy connecting and tightening. Weight is 3 pounds 14 ounces (1.76 kg), and MSRP is US$279. I like this design because it creates a nearly rectangular tent with lots of interior volume.
Petzl Core Rechargeable Battery Pack and OS Software Enable the User to Select Output Levels
Many LED headlamps require three AAA batteries, and most hikers use disposable batteries. The new Petzl Core Rechargeable Battery Pack fits all headlamps in the Tikka2 and Zipka2 series, as well as future Petzl headlamps.
Available in November 2010, the new Petzl Core Rechargeable Battery Pack snaps into newer Petzl headlamps in place of the usual three AAA batteries. The Core pack is Li-Ion and holds three times the charge of a set of Lithium batteries. The battery pack is good for about 300 charge/discharge cycles, replacing about 900 disposable batteries. The Core battery pack will retail for US$40 and the USB charger is US$25.
The OS Software for the Core battery pack allows the user to select custom brightness levels for a Petzl headlamp. It operates in real time, as shown, where the headlamp is on and the user can see the actual headlamp brightness.
Princeton-Tec Byte: Think Small and Bright
The latest addition to the Princeton-Tec family is the Byte, which is smaller and lighter than the Fuel and Remix, but packs a powerful light thanks to its Maxbright LED.
The diminutive Princeton-Tec Byte weighs just 2.3 ounces (64 g) with batteries, and has 35 Lumens of power from one Maxbright LED. It also has a red ultrabright LED for night vision. It’s powered by two AAA batteries that produce about 96 hours of light. MSRP will be only US$20, and it will be available around November 2010.
ICON Irix and Irix II Headlamps are Powerful and Ergonomically Designed
These new headlamps from first time exhibitor ICON (www.myiconlight.com) have several notable differences from conventional headlamps: they are ergonomically designed with a prominent dial on top where it is easy to operate with one hand, use durable regulated LEDs, are weatherproof, and use one AA battery.
The Irix puts out 5 to 35 Lumens of light with a runtime of 72 hours on one AA battery. This model produces a more diffuse light, which is good for activities around camp. The lamp can also be detached for hand-held use. The weight is 3.5 ounces (99 g), which is a bit high. MSRP is US$29, and it will be available October 2010.
The Irix II puts out 50 Lumens of more directed light which is good for night hiking. Its runtime is about 100 hours on one AA battery. Weight is 3.4 ounces (96 g) and MSRP is US$39. Also available in October 2010.
Darn Tough Vermont Introduces Seamless Toe Socks
Darn Tough Vermont socks are a BPL favorite. Seamless socks are not new, but DTV’s dense 1440 knits per inch plus a seamless toe is new. As a sock is being manufactured, it’s a “tube” at first, open at the toe end. New knitting machines from Italy knit the toe closed from one side to the other like rolling the tips of your fingers together. The finished product has no detectable seam. Pretty cool. This technology will be used on non-terry style socks coming out beginning in spring 2011.
New NEMO OBI Series Tents are Their Lightest Poled Tents
The name makes me think of Star Wars Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi raising the tent using “the Force.” The series consists of the OBI 1P and 2P and OBI Elite 1P and 2P, all double-wall tents. The Elite tents have a 10 denier PU coated high tenacity ripstop nylon fly, the lightest to be found short of Cuben Fiber, and it has a hydrostatic head of 1500, which is pretty impressive. NEMO sets high standards, so it’s a breakthrough that they have found a fabric this light that performs well.
The OBI tents are quite light with minimum weights of 2.3 and 3 pounds (1.04 and 1.36 kg) for the one-person and two-person models, but their fabrics are a bit heavier, so I will focus on the OBI Elite tents which are more remarkable.
The NEMO OBI Elite tents (two-person version shown) are double-wall with minimum weights of 1.9 pounds (0.86 kg) and 2.7 pounds (1.22 kg), respectively. They have a single wish-boned Green-anodized DAC Featherlite NSL pole system, and feature a mesh and 10 denier inner tent, 10 denier nylon fly, and 30 denier 5000 mm nylon floor. The floor area of the 1P is 31 ft2 (2 m2) and vestibule area is 10 ft 2 (0.9 m2), and the 2P has 27 ft2 (2.5 m2) of floor area and 9 ft2 (0.8 m2) of vestibule area. MSRPs are US$400 for the 1P and US$470 for the 2P. Sorry, the 2P has only one side entry door, but the OBI 2P has two doors and two vestibules.
GoLite Footwear Bare-Tech Shoes Combine the Best Aspects of Barefoot Technology and Add Protection, Stability, and Traction
One thing that was everywhere at this Outdoor Retailer is “Barefoot Running” or “Minimalist footwear.” Many footwear manufacturers are rolling out their new “barefoot technology” footwear collection with some pretty elaborate launch spectacles. The whole trend was touched off by Chris McDougall’s book, Born to Run. Minimalist Footwear - Is It Ready for Backpackers?? by Damien Tougas explains the technology and how it might be applied to ultralight backpacking. Look for his feature articles later this summer at Backpacking Light.
GoLite Footwear is introducing a new line of Bare-Tech shoes, but they take a more pragmatic approach to the trend. Their Bare-Tech shoes take the best aspects of “barefoot technology” (neutral last - no heel lift, anatomically contoured footbed, no alternation to natural human gait, undercut heel, asymmetrical upper design), and adds the protection, stability, and traction benefits of class I trail runners. They call this their “Humanistic Design Philosophy.” Frankly, this is something I can more easily buy into for backpacking on anything other than a smooth trail.
As you will notice in the photos below, GoLite footwear has evolved considerably. Gone are some of the outrageous features like the “Trail Claw” outsole, but their Soft Against the Ground approach is retained in all of their shoes.
The GoLite Footwear Carbo Lite (left) and Timber Lite (right) are members of their Fastpacking collection for fall 2010, designed with minimum weight for maximum speed over variable terrain. Both shoes incorporate GoLite’s Bare-Tech design features. The Carbo Lite is ¾-height; the Timber Lite is full-height, waterproof, and weighs 15 ounces per shoe (425 g, men’s 9).
The GoLite Surge Lite Fastpacker is designed to move quickly over varied rugged terrain and will be available in spring 2011. The weight per shoe is 14 ounces (397 g, men’s 9). This shoe also incorporates Bare-Tech features and their new sticky Gecho outsole which literally has 350 contact points.
Yaktrax XTR Extreme Provides Mega Traction on Snow and Ice
Adding to their Walker and Pro detachable traction devices, Yaktrax has developed the XTR Extreme to provide maximum traction on snow and ice, short of crampons.
The Yaktrax XTR Extreme traction device has some mean spikes on the bottom. It has a natural rubber outerband that secures it over the toe and heel of a boot, and stays flexible down to -41 F (-40 C). The steel toe and heel plates resist snow packing. MSRP is US$60.
Finished at 11:30 pm. Tomorrow is the last day.
“Good night John-Boy.”
“Good night Mary Ellen.”