There’s no end to the wonderful new gear we find at OR. When you love gear, love technology, love innovation, and enjoy seeing your friends in the industry, OR is heaven. But it requires a lot of searching, discipline, and fact-finding, not to mention endurance. Here’s today’s blog of interesting items.
We started out at the GoLite Footwear booth, where we were shown the new NimbleLite trail runner (left shoe, 11.9 oz/337 g per shoe, US$120) and GorgeLite hiker (right shoe, 15.4 oz/437 g per shoe, US$120), both available July 2011. The NimbleLite has GoLite’s BareTech and PreciseFit technologies and no TPU midsole shank, giving it medium flex and torsion control. The GorgeLite has the same technologies plus a midsole shank, making it a stiffer shoe suitable for rougher trails. I personally like GoLite shoes because they fit my wide feet well and are very comfortable to hike in. The PreciseFit system provides three insole attachments (different thicknesses) for the footbox, so you can adjust the toebox volume to your foot size and sock preference.
It's been a couple of years since we focused on lightweight insulated boots, so we are zeroing in on them more at this winter OR, and Baffin has plenty. In their new softshell series we highlight the low-cut Leader (left boot, 14.3 oz/405 g per shoe, US$109), mid-height Zone (middle boot, 21.2 oz/601 g per boot, US$119), and full-height Snosport (right boot, 23.6 oz/669 g per boot, US$129). All of these boots have a softshell upper, polyfill fiber insulation (each fiber has four hollow tubes inside it), reflective foil layer under the insole, triple density EVA midsole, a TPU shank, and an aggressive traction outsole. All are waterproof and rated to -4F/-20C. These boots are made of all synthetic materials, no leather, which we prefer because leather absorbs water to make a boot heavier and cracks when it dries.
More footwear: Adidas will introduce their Outdoor Performance line in fall 2011, which will consist of loads of outdoor footwear and garments. There will be two categories: Light and Fast (high performance), and Super Trekking (more traditional). In the Light and Fast line, we liked the Terrex Fast X FM Mid GTX or Terrex Fast for short (left photo right shoe, 16.8 oz/476 g per boot, US$160) and the AX 1 Mid GTX (right photo, 15.4 oz/437 g per boot, US$100). Both boots will also be available in a low cut with or without a Gore-Tex lining, as shown in the left photo. The Terrex Fast has Adidas’ For-Motion technology at the back of the heel (center photo) for enhanced motion control and downhill comfort; the AX 1 does not have this technology. Both boots are a medium width and will be available in men’s and women’s versions.
In Adidas’ new apparel line for fall 2011 we would highlight the Terrex GTX Active Shell Jacket (13 oz/370 g, US$395). It will be one of the first jackets to be introduced using Gore’s new Active Shell, which is their lightest and most breathable waterproof-breathable fabric. The Terrex has a helmet compatible hood, full-height front zipper, two zippered vented hand pockets, adjustable cuffs, and an elastic hem. The women’s version will have unique removable sleeves. We will provide more information on Gore Active Shell in our article on the emerging waterproof-breathable fabric revolution, to be published as the last article in our OR coverage.
For fall 2011 Salomon will be introducing the XR Crossmax Neutral CS trail runner (10.5 oz/297 g per shoe, US$140), which features a Climashield membrane in the front half of the shoe. The rationale is the front half of the shoe is most likely to get wet and soak through, so they made that part waterproof-breathable to resist wetting, and they omitted the membrane in the back half of the shoe so the shoe will dry out faster. The shoe is neutral, meaning there is no heel lift, and has an aggressive outsole with moderate stiffness, making it suitable for ultralight backpacking on trails. It will be interesting to see how well the partial membrane concept works.
Salomon also will have two lightweight insulated boots coming out for fall 2011. The Elbrus WP (left boot, 18.8 oz/534 g per boot, US$120) features Climatherm insulation, which is a foam insulation that completely surrounds the foot. It has a waterproof bootie inside, but it is not Gore-Tex; the upper is all synthetic. The women’s version is the Sokuyi WP. The Wasatch WP (right boot, 14.8 oz/421 g per boot, US$110), available in men’s and women’s models, is insulated with 400-gram Thinsulate Ultra and is also waterproof. The upper is synthetic plus PU-coated leather. Both boots have an aggressive traction outsole.
SteriPen ultraviolet water treatment devices keep getting lighter. The new Freedom (left photo, Adventurer Opti on the left, Freedom on the right), available in summer 2011, weighs just 2.6 oz (74 g) and will cost around US$120. This one will have an internal Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery which charges with a micro USB cable (right photo) in about 3 hours. The Freedom will treat about 30 liters of water with one charge. To initiate a treatment cycle you simply shake it for about 1.5 seconds. It will only treat 0.5 liter of water at a time, but you can treat 1 liter by giving it two cycles. The rechargeable feature may be a disadvantage where power access is limited, so the battery powered Adventurer Opti may be better in those situations.
At Millet we found the new Trilogy Gore-Tex Active Shell Jacket (14 oz/397 g, US$399) for fall 2011. The Trilogy features Gore’s new Active Shell fabric, a full-height front zipper, pit zips, reinforced shoulders, water resistant zippers, and two large hand pockets. A pattern we are noticing is that Gore Active Shell may be their lightest fabric, but the garments are not their lightest. We have seen Gore-Tex Paclite rainwear in the 8 ounce (227 g) range, which is a lot lighter, but Paclite is not as comfortable to wear as Active Shell.
We reported on the skeletal Klymit X Frame sleeping pad (right) at summer 2010 OR; this summer they will be rolling out the Innertia XL Sleeping Pad (left, 16.8 oz/476 g, US$129) which is longer and wider (25 x 76 in/64 x 193 cm). It’s still a three-season pad, just one that provides more area and comfort for bigger and taller people. It's body mapped just like the X-Frame, with voids to save weight. We plan to include this pad in our lightweight inflatable sleeping pads state of the market article to be published this summer.
Also coming from Klymit is the new Noble Tec argon gas insulated Ularr Jacket (24.7 oz/700 g, US$300) which has vertical chambers completely surrounding the torso and shoulders. According to Klymit, argon gas provides three times more insulation per thickness compared to other insulations. The right photo shows the jacket being inflated (it has a small inflation valve in the left pocket). Three gas cylinders cost US$25 and each cartridge will inflate the jacket about eight times. The inflated jacket looks very high-tech and is quite attractive. Features include a full-height front zipper, pit zips, two zippered hand pockets, two zippered sleeve pockets, attached hood, and waterproof-breathable shell fabric with taped seams.
Big Agnes will introduce their new Helinox trekking pole line in fall 2011. There will be three series in the line: Causeway (bomber poles for general use), Featherlite (fast and light), and Passport (collapsible using avalanche pole technology). All are made of DAC TH72M aluminum alloy; we are most interested in the latter two. The Featherlite (bottom, shown collapsed) will be available in 120- and 135-centimeter lengths, weighing 9.9 and 12.1 oz per pair (282 and 344 g). The Passport (top) will be available in the same lengths with weights of 10.2 and 10.7 oz (288 and 306 g). A powder basket and overside basket will be available for all of the poles.
Big Agnes did not have them on display, but the Fly Creek UL tent series will be expanded to include three- and four-person models in fall 2010. They will have total weights of 3 pounds 10 oz (1.64 kg) and 4 pounds 9 oz (2.07 kg), respectively.
I predict that you will be licking your chops when you read about the ultimate backcountry skiing system from La Sportiva. The shaped RSR Carbon Fiber Race Ski weighs just 24.5 oz (695 g) per ski, the RSR Binding weighs just 6.2 oz (175 g) per ski, and the Stratos Carbon Fiber Boot weighs just 18.8 oz (534 g) per boot. The Stratos Liner adds 5.8 oz (165 g) per boot. The ski is not all that wide, around 100 mm at the tips; I would prefer for it to be a bit wider for better flotation in powder. The cost: don’t ask! (Ok, you know that I will give in and tell you.) The total cost is US$5000 in even numbers; US$1200 for the skis, US$800 for the bindings, and US$3000 for the boots. We can all dream can’t we? Many people spend that much on their bicycle, so why not on a new ski outfit? (Yeah, right, try telling that to your spouse!)
We featured the Patagonia Ultralight Down Shirt (far right, 5.9 oz/167 g) in our OR summer 2010 coverage. For fall 2011 Patagonia will be adding the Ultralight Down Jacket and Hoody (left and center) to the line. These jackets, in men’s and women’s models, will feature 800 fill down and 10 denier shell fabric, and will have a full-height front zipper, two hand pockets, and one chest pocket. The weight for a women’s size medium will be 7.5 oz (213 g). The Ultralight Down Shirt will come in additional colors as shown on the right.
SportHanza is the US distributor for Montane, a UK manufacturer of innovative lightweight outdoor clothing. An exciting new wind shirt from Montane for spring 2011 is the Slipstream GL Jacket (left, 2.3 oz/65 g, US$119) which is made of Pertex Quantum GL (the latest version). I’m modeling a size Medium, which is a little small on me. It has a full-height front zipper, standup collar, and a dropped tail, no pockets or hood. Also coming from Montane in spring 2011 is the minimalist Lite-Speed H2O Jacket (right, 6.3 oz/180 g, US$119) which is constructed of FreeFlow waterproof-breathable fabric, a polyurethane laminate hydrostatic head of 1500 mm. It has a stow-away hood, attached hood with stiffened brim, full-height front zipper, elastic cuffs, and dropped tail with drawcord hem; no pockets.
SportHanza is also the US distributor for Terra Nova gear, also from the UK. For ultralight hikers in warmer climates, the Terra Nova Laser 300 Elite Sleeping Bag is pretty amazing. This 50F/10C rated sleeping bag is insulated with 900 fill down and weighs just 12 oz (330 g). It’s a zipperless mummy bag with an attached hood. The MSRP is US$270.
Finally, we had the pleasure of meeting up with Ron Bell of Mountain Laurel Designs, who was also attending OR. Ron showed us his Superlight Bivy which weighs just 4 oz (113 g) in size medium. It has a 10 denier nylon top with DWR and 0.55 oz/yd2 Cuben Fiber bottom. The cost will be about US$235. Seeing Rons’ gear is a reminder that, indeed, we find innovative and useful gear at OR, but if we want really ultralight gear we need to look among our own brethren, the small companies that tailor to our needs.
And with that closing prayer we will close this daily missive from OR and get a few hours of sleep before we go back tomorrow and do it all over again. Cheers!Will and Janet