M Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2011 – Part 1: Lightweight Shelters and Sleep Gear
by Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl
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The Outdoor Retailer trade show never disappoints. For gear lovers it's Heaven on Earth - endless eye candy, excitement, and enthusiasm. For outdoor writers seeking new lightweight and ultralight gear, it's a treasure hunt to find the most fascinating gear of interest to our readers.
This year we are taking a different approach with our OR coverage, writing our articles back at home after a good night's sleep. Previously we put in 18-hour days, roaming the show during the day and writing late into the night. Amazingly, we put out some good coverage, in spite of limited time and consciousness. With this new approach, our coverage may be delayed a few days, but hopefully the organization and depth will be better.
This year we were joined by Damien and Renee Tougas, who are new writers for Backpacking Light. As you notice from Damien's recent articles on barefoot running shoes, that's one of his specialties. His other areas of expertise and interest are electronics and family camping, and he will focus on those topics in his article. Janet and I will produce several articles covering equipment, apparel, hiking footwear, and accessories. We found a ton of eclectic items in our search and will feature as many of them as we can.
Most of the gear we report on are evolutionary improvements on existing gear, where gear is made better by incorporating new materials, technologies, and designs. Revolutionary new gear only turns up once in awhile. The outdoor industry is really driving hard to develop new and better products, and weight reduction is part of the equation. We are now seeing more and more sub-4-pound two-person tents, several in the sub-3-pound range, and this time some in the sub-2-pound range. We are finding lighter sleeping bags, packs, shelters, footwear, and apparel - everything just keeps getting better and lighter.
- Sleep Gear
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