Post OR Gear Wrap-Up

As mentioned in my previous post, I spent the end of last week and part of the weekend at Outdoor Retailer where I was fortunate enough to not only meet all kinds of interesting people but also catch a glimpse of some of the best new gear that will be coming our way soon. Here are a few items that caught my eye as some of the best new innovations and products from the show.

DownTek Water Repellent Down
Introduced at the January Winter OR show, DownTek is now starting to appear in real gear items such as jackets and sleeping bags. This water-proof down provides all the benefits of standard down, except it doesn’t become completely useless when it becomes wet. The DownTek demo, in which they place some of their specially treated down in a jar of water and shake it up, was quite impressive, as the material came out almost completely dry and maintained all the qualities that make it such a great insulation for our gear. Look for jackets and sleeping bags from Brooks Range, Big Agnes, LL Bean and other companies starting this fall.

DownTek Demo from Lauren Fisher on Vimeo.

Magellan Switch GPS Watch
I wrote about the Magellan Switch GPS watch a few weeks back but seeing it in action was even better. This is, in my mind, the training watch for outdoor athletes. I was impressed with its versatility, ease of use and the amount of data it stored. Uploading that data to a website for tracking of progress was quick and easy too. If you’re a triathlete, adventure racer, cyclist, runner or any other kind of athlete looking to improve your training and performance, this one is a no brainer. Great watch with tons of functionality.

Snowpeak Lago Tent
Snowpeak is a company I really like. They make all kinds of unique and interesting gear, not all of which easily falls into a nicely defined category. Their tents are actually quite impressive but at the summer OR show they gave us a glimpse at what is coming in the spring. Their new Lago and Lago 2 (single person or two person) 4-season shelters weigh just 3 pounds. Thats incredibly light for any tent, let alone one that can be used in the winter. The straight forward, simple design looks great and will likely make this a very popular option for light and fast expeditions. Look for more info on this in the near future.

BioLite Stove
The BioLite cook stove has received quite a bit of attention over the past few months and seeing it in action I can understand why. The stove weighs 2 pounds, which is about the same as other camping stoves and a fuel canister, but in this case there is no fuel. Instead you simply use things you’ll find while backpacking such as pine cones, sticks, and so on. What makes this stove so special however is that it not only makes your meal it also uses the heat to create power. That energy not only drives a small fan, which makes cooking much more efficient, but it also creates enough electricity to recharge a cell phone, headlamp or other device via a built-in USB port. The thought that has gone into the design is astounding, as the stove actually folds up into a very small package, which will make it easy to carry on the trail. The company is also working on a larger model which they intend to distribute in developing countries as both a clean way to cook and generate power.

Black Diamond Vapor Helmet
Climbers looking for new lightweight gear need only look at Black Diamond’s line-up for options. Most notable is their new Vapor Helmet which weighs in at just 6.5 ounces. The helmet is incredibly lightweight but still has an unexpectedly solid feel to it thanks to a design that incorporates kevlar into the most important parts. The Vapor won’t be available until next spring when it is sure to be a hit with climbers, particularly those living in warm weather environments.

Scarpa Rebel Ultra GTX Boot
Scarpa, one of the best mountaineering boot companies on the planet, has teamed up with Ueli Steck, one of the best big mountain climbers on the planet, to create the ultimate boot. The new Rebel Ultra GTX uses Gore-Tex and carbon fiber, plus a little inspiration from rock climbing shoes, to create a lightweight boot that promises to remain warm and comfortable in the harshest conditions. Each boot weighs just 25 ounces (708 grams) and is designed to be nimble and quick even with crampons on. They’ll clock in at about $500 when available in a few months time.

Eagle Creek Gear Warrior Duffle
Of course, after you’ve collected all of this new gear, you need a way to transport it to the site of your next adventure. Eagle Creek has just the thing with their new Gear Warrior duffle bag, which features 89L of storage, built-in organizational options, multiple handles and lightweight yet solid construction. It even has an all important bottle opener, which will come in very handy for the post climb celebration. I’m someone who likes to travel with a backpack, but this bag is definitely enticing me to rethink that approach.

That’s just a sampling of some of the gear I saw. If I get the chance, I’ll post some more of my favorites in the next day or two. There were so many things to see that it’s hard to share them all, but needless to say there will be plenty of products competing for our dollars in the months ahead. Most of which are lighter in weight and brighter in color. At least one of those is a good thing.