Editor's Note: Read all the articles in this series:
- February 6, 2011 dispatch: International Delights
- February 7, 2011 dispatch: Powered By Nutella
- February 8, 2011 dispatch: A Smorgasbord of Worldly Flavors
- February 9, 2011 dispatch: Technical Treats (this article)
Since ISPO is a winter trade show, the focus is on snow and ice activities, as well as garments that insulate and protect. By now you may have had your fill of down jackets and 7-ounce smocks. So today we bring you some of the more technical gear from the show. Unfortunately, we did not discover anything new in lightweight shelters. We hope you find something interesting in the following run-down of stoves, shovels, poles, crampons, harnesses, and more!
The Japanese stove company Soto has made a splash in the backpacking world with their cold-weather worthy OD-1R Micro Regulator Canister Stove (74g/2.6oz). However, they have a new product that may cause many backpackers to rethink their opinion of the liquid fuel stove.
The good people at Soto gave us a full demonstration of the new OD-1NP Muka Stove, due to hit shelves in March. The stove atomizes liquid fuel, so there is no need for priming (there’s not even a priming cup!). Flame control and simmering is actually possible. There is an air release button to eliminate fuel from the fuel line, used when turning the stove off. Flame control is on the pump, which minimizes the risk of hand injuries. The pump is mostly made of aluminum, has a pressure indicator, an emergency stop button, and other innovations. The stove burns all types of fuels, burns with less soot, is lighter and packs smaller, and has a more stable pot support than the standard liquid fuel stove. Basically, it fixes all of the common gripes about liquid fuel stoves. We wouldn’t have believed this if we didn’t spend 25 minutes learning about and playing with the stove, which was burning unleaded auto gasoline!
The stove weighs 160g/5.6oz, and the pump weighs 160g/5.6oz. The pump is only compatible with Soto fuel bottles, which are also new and have been specifically designed for this stove. The cost in the US will be US$150; prices elsewhere will vary. Photos of the actual stove were not allowed.
Speaking of stoves: Providus is an 83-year-old manufacturing company in Italy that was displaying a few of their camping items, like lightweight aluminum canteens, aluminum stoves and... the world’s lightest canister stove?
The FM300G is a 90g/3.2oz aluminum stove that looks like a lot of other stoves on the market. Almost hidden in the display case was a titanium version (pictured above) of the FM300G that weighs 63g/2.2oz. The display case was sealed, so we couldn’t take a closer look at the stove. Cost, availability and details were unavailable, even after multiple inquiries. We are waiting to receive the product catalogue through e-mail.
This Italian company focuses on ski racing gear.
For ski racers, Dynafit will be making the Broad Peak Ski Poles (190g/6.7oz per pole). These are adjustable, two-section, all carbon poles with baskets and wrist straps. These pretty pieces will set you back 500€ (US$684) per pair when they become available next fall.
The Broad Peak will use Dynafit’s newly developed Safety Snap. To adjust pole length, flip open the lever and slide to the newly desired height until you feel a divot, then close the lever. The poles have slight indentations every few centimeters and the Safety Snap aligns with these indentations to provide 100% slip-free security. So, it’s a discrete adjustment, not continuous like Black Diamond’s Flick Lock.
Fizan is an Italian company that has been making poles since 1947. They were the first manufacturer to make aluminum ski poles, and they still make a wide variety of trekking and skiing poles in their factory in northern Italy.
Fizan claims that the Compact are the lightest three-section telescopic poles in the world at 158g/5.57oz per pole. These trekking poles have EVA grips, carbide tips, neoprene wrist straps and removable 50mm baskets. The poles use very thin 7001 aluminum and adjust from 58-132cm. Fizan poles are available in 30 countries, including most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, parts of South East Asia, and Kazakhstan. But not the US. The cost is 60-70€ (US$82-96.
Founded in 1818 and located at the foot of Mt. Blanc, Grivel is one of the oldest mountaineering brands and is well-known around the world. What may not be so well-known is the great efforts of the company to protect the environment. Grivel’s entire factory roof is covered with 7000m² of solar panels and is able to produce more energy than it consumes.
We wrote about the Climbing Technology ASD ice axe and shovel combo on Day 1 of ISPO. A fellow BPL reader brought our attention to the Steel Blade (398g/14oz), which is similar in concept and has been on the market for two years. Lighter snow shovels may exist, but this versatile design is notable for three things. First, the shovel can be used with a regular Grivel ice axe (above right) or a standard handle (above left). Second, the shovel blade can be effectively used without a handle (above center). Third, the shovel is made from plastic, but has a steel blade (hence the name). Using plastic in the shovel body saves weight and allows for more intricate forms. The steel blade cuts into hardened snow better than plastic or aluminum. The Steel Blade retails for 45€ (US$70).
This Austrian company manufactures snow sport equipment like avalanche shovels, ski skins, and packs.
Another shovel variation: the X-Light Shovel (weight unknown) has a novel feature in that the handle can be easily and securely inserted into the blade (top right). This would be handy when digging snow caves and quinzees. This shovel is available now throughout Europe for around 50€ (US$68).
Arva is a French company that specializes in avalanche safety equipment.
The Snow Pure Light (295g/10.4oz) shovel has a carbon fiber shaft and polypropylene blade. This shovel is ISMF certified and will be available in September for 70€ (US$96). Arva products are available in 34 countries, including most of Europe, parts of South America, India, New Zealand, Canada, and the US (through Wasatch Ski Distribution).
The Snow Pure Light is reinforced with aluminum pieces on the blade and on the back where it connects with the shaft. The shaft is 44cm and the total length of the shovel is 59cm.
Continuing with our carbon fiber theme, we came across the company GV Snowshoes, which has been making snowshoes in Quebec, Canada for 50 years.
The Carbon Tech Snowshoe has a one-piece frame and Entech deck. The snowshoes have been around for a few years, but this newest version has moved to an all-carbon frame, with the addition of a front toe stopper and padding on the front straps to reduce foot pressure. It also features buckles made from only two molded pieces of polycarbonate material that is 40% lighter. There is a heel lifter too. All components are tested to work down to -50C/-58F. The 20x61cm/8x24in version is 2130g/4.69lb and the 20x73cm/8x29in model is 2240g/4.94lb. These sell for US$280, CAN$300, or 350€. These snowshoes are widely available in Europe and Canada, and in the US through Cabela’s.
Our search for ultralight technical gear led us back to our friends at CAMP.
The Race 290 (290g/10.2oz per pair) are super minimalist 10-point crampons that require Dynafit-compatible ski boots. These aluminum wonders are color coded to be easily distinguished from each other - orange is left foot, black is right foot. The removable anti-bot plate is included and weighs a few extra grams. These will be available in September for 143€ (US$196).
The Race 290 uses webbing instead of a metal bar to connect the front and back plates. The crampons have a much smaller volume when compacted. CAMP wins points for having the ONLY scale in the entire show.
CAMP also debuted their new Blitz Harness (205g/7.2oz). This ski mountaineering harness is made from hydrophobic fabric, has buckle leg loops, and four gear loops. This barely edges out Black Diamonds Couloir Harness (230g/8oz) as what may be the lightest mountaineering harness on the market. The Blitz will be available in September for about 60€ (US$60-65).
For those of you who haven’t yet seen CAMP’s really light harness, here it is: the Alps 95 (95g/3.35oz), the lightest UIAA-certified harness is the world. This gossamer beauty is made for randonee racing, and as such, has only two micro gear loops. Each gear loop is big enough to hold one carabiner. The Alps 95 is available now for 45-50€ (US$50).
On The Softer Side of Things
Companies are really experimenting with different types of blended fabrics. On Day 2 of ISPO we reported about Rab’s new 65% merino wool / 35% Cocona blend. Today we stopped by Icebreaker and learned about their GT line which incorporates 3% Lycra into their merino wool products. Icebreaker is adamant about not increasing the synthetic composition of their garments any further than 3%. For comparison, SmartWool garments range from 75-100% merino wool.
Devold’s Active Line uses 54% Thermocool, 37% wool, and 9% polyamide. The Thermocool is on the inside of the garment, which helps channel moisture away from your skin, to the wool layer on the outside. You can see the two layers in the photos above: the Thermocool is light grey, and the wool is black. Additionally, this unique garment also has wind-blocking fabric in the front. This piece is named the Active Man Boxer with Windblock, and the fabric is 205g/m².
The Air Vest, also by Devold, has a windblocker membrane sandwiched between two layers of wool. The complete fabric is 420g/m². This unique vest will be available in August in Europe for 200€ (US$274).
Klättermusen makes three jackets that utilize organic cotton with fluorocarbon-free impregnation that make a highly water resistant shell which is ten times more breathable than eVENT. The crew at Klättermusen are devotees of the jackets, but also admit it’s a hard sell to a public that wants high tech clothing to match their high tech gear, especially when this company is going against market giants like Gore-Tex. The Einride Jacket (560g/19.75oz) is available now for 365€ incl. 25% VAT in Sweden (US$500).
And Finally, A Question of Style Versus Utility
Jackets with angled front zippers were a fairly common sight throughout the show. The benefit is clear - the zipper is moved away from the wearer’s chin. However, it remains to be seen whether this is done for comfort or style, and whether this trend will (or has?) spread beyond Europe.
That wraps up our coverage of four days at ISPO here in Munich, Germany. We hope you enjoyed reading about these new products and innovations.
We’d like to thank Will for helping us prepare for this event, and Addie for doing such a fabulous job making the information available to the Backpacking Light community.