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Outdoor Retailer 2016 – New Backpacking and Hiking Gear Roundup

Salt Palace Signs - Salt Lake City
Salt Palace Signs – Salt Lake City

I was out at Outdoor Retailer last week checking out the new backpacking and hiking products that consumers will see in late 2016 and early 2017.  This is a huge trade show attended by 1400 gear manufacturers and 46,000 attendees, all industry professionals from retail buyers and the outdoor media to guides and yoga instructors. It’s a fun week to see old friends, talk technology, and assess the latest industry trends.

Here are some of the new products I found relevant and interesting, stuff that I could see myself using on my own adventures. Which ones interest you?

Granite Gear “Crown 2” Backpack

Granite Gear Crown 2 Backpack
Granite Gear Crown 2 Backpack

Granite Gear has updated the venerable Crown Backpack with a host of exciting new features including the adjustable ReFIT hip belt system, hip belt pockets, a new stiffer framesheet, and a more convenient floating lid/top compression system. Granite Gear’s color palette has also improved markedly. The pack looks really great and the new features don’t add any weight above the original Crown Backpack, which will remain at 2 pounds 2 ounces for a 60 liter pack (size regular, mens & womens.)

Columbia OutDry Extreme Eco Rain Jacket

Columbia's Outdry EX waterproof:breathable rain jack is undyed - requiring less water and energy to manufacture
Columbia’s OutDry Extreme Eco waterproof/breathable rain jack is made from recycled bottles and not dyed – requiring less water and energy to manufacture.

Columbia announced the OutDry Extreme Eco rain jacket. OutDry is Columbia’s PFC-free waterproof/breathable fabric that cannot wet-out because it’s not covered with a DWR coating that can wear off from surface abrasion. All white, the OutDry Extreme Eco jacket has not been dyed, requiring less water and energy to manufacture.  It will be priced at just $200 and be available in Spring 2017. Breathabilty test results are not available at this time.

I also had the opportunity to meet with Gore-Tex at the show and learn more about Gore-Tex Active, their DWR-free, external waterproof/breathable fabric. They’re way behind Columbia in time-to-market, so it will be interesting to see how Gore-Tex responds to Columbia’s low-cost pricing strategy for the OutDry waterproof/breathable technology.

Sierra Designs Backpacks and Tents

The New Sierra Designs High Route 1 designed by Andrew Skurka
The New Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL designed by Andrew Skurka

Sierra Designs has a few hot new products including two designed by my friend Andrew Skurka. The High Route 1 FL is a trekking pole tent with an inner tent and rain fly. It has plenty of interior space to spread out in as well as good gear storage. Looks like a nice offering for use in below treeline campsites. A small number of High Routes will be available this year. The minimum weight is 2 pounds 4 ounces:  the fly weighs 22 oz and the inner tent is 14 ounces.

Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor Backpack in 40L and 60L
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor Backpack in 40L and expanded to  60L

Andrew also designed the new Flex Capacitor Backpack which will be available in 40L expandable to 60L. It features a new ultralight frame stay, external wrap-around compression, side water bottle pockets, a lumbar pad, and an innovative lid system that is much faster to open and use than a roll top closure. Weighing slightly over 2 pounds, the pack has a pre-curved back panel that maintains an air gap in order to keep your shirt dry. The MSRP will be $200.

Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight Tent
Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight Tent

Sierra Designs also relaunched their venerated Clip tent, now called the Clip Flashlight. This easy to set up tent has a trail weight of 3 pounds 6 ounces and will list for $200, a great bargain. A one person version called The Lightyear 1 will also be available for $170.

Big Agnes – Women’s Specific Tents and Sleep Systems

Big Agnes Tufly Sl 2+
Big Agnes Tufly SL 2+

Big Agnes has a new two person, freestanding tent called the Tufly SL 2+ that is designed for women by women. Weighing 4 pounds 3 ounces, the Tufly has high side panels for increased privacy, 8 interior pockets, and several awning configurations for increased ventilation and external visibility.

Big Agnes Hazel 15 Sleeping Bag has a compression system that lets you reduce the volume of the sleeping bag so it's easier to stay warm.
Big Agnes Hazel 15 Sleeping Bag has a compression system that lets you reduce the volume of the sleeping bag so it’s easier to stay warm.

It’s well-known that women have a harder time staying warm in a sleeping bag than men. The Hazel 15 sleeping bag, designed for woman, tackles this by letting you reduce the internal volume of the sleeping bag by folding the bag over on itself to decrease the amount of volume that needs to be warmed with body heat. It also means you can buy an adult sleeping bag for a child and adjust its internal volume as they grow into the full size.

Shrinking the internal volume of the Big Agnes Hazel 15 Sleeping Bag
Shrinking the internal volume of the Big Agnes Hazel 15 Sleeping Bag foot box using an elastic and toggle compression system.

Therm-a-Rest Luxury Car Camping Tents/Hammocks

Therm-a-Rest Tranquility 6 Base Camping Tent
Therm-a-Rest Tranquility 6 Base Camping Tent

Therm-a-Rest announced that it will get into the tent business, starting with luxury multi-purpose car-camping tents  in the $600 range. Gothic-styling (think flying buttresses) provides lots of room to stand in these tents which are loaded with home-like features like porches, door mats, interior walls, power supply ports, and flat screen holders.

Complete Camping Hammock System from Therm-a-Rest
Complete Camping Hammock System from Therm-a-Rest

Therm-a-Rest also showed off a complete diagonal-lay camping hammock featuring an integrated tarp, bishop bag, and underquilt. Complete specs and pricing were unavailable, but you can expect the total weight to be in the 3 pound range.

Sawyer Foam Filter

Sawyer Foam Filter
Sawyer Foam Filter

Sawyer plans to release a new foam filter that augments the Sawyer Mini and Sawyer Point One filters. This photo above is a prototype with release expected next spring. This is a foam filter that removes heavy chemicals, fertilizer, and heavy metals from your water in order to augment the biological filtration provided by their existing filter products. Final packaging is still up in the air. It will either be a foam filled pouch as shown above, or a proprietary soft water bottle filled with their foam, but not compatible with other water bottles or reservoirs.

ENO Portable Hammock Stand

ENO Portable Hammock Stand
ENO Portable Hammock Stand

ENO announced a new lightweight hammock stand designed for 10′ hammocks that can support 400 pounds and will be priced at $249. The hammock stand is easy to break down and carry on a small duffel bag. There’s a crying need for a portable stand like this in the hammock market.

Klymit Hammock Pad
Klymit Hammock V Pad

Klymit Inflatable Hammock V Pad w/ Wings

Klymit introduced the new warm weather Hammock V sleeping pad (R value 1.3) which has side shoulder and knee wings to make it easier to sleep in parachute-style hammocks. The pad helps provide a flatter surface to lay on, making it easier to get a good night’s sleep. The pad weighs 26.2 ounces with size 47″ x 78″ x 2.5. It will be available on 9/1/16 for $139.95.

The Therm-a-Rest Hammock Pad has an r-value of 2.1
The Therm-a-Rest Hammock Pad has an r-value of 2.1

Therm-a-Rest also introduced a Hammock Pad that is wide in the middle but more tapered at the ends. It has an R-value of 2.1, so somewhat warmer than the Klymit, but lacking the side arm and knee wings which you’d really want for backpacking use.

Sea-to-Summit UL Hammock is made using gossamer thin Nylon 66 fabric
Sea-to-Summit UL Hammock is made using gossamer thin Nylon 66 fabric

Sea-to-Summit UL Hammock

Sea-to-Summit introduced a 4.9 ounce gossamer thin “UL Hammock” made with highly breathable and wicking Nylon 66 monofilament fabric (dimensions 8.5′ x 4′). The hammock has a comparatively heavy suspension system weighing 10.8 oz. A bug net, gear sling, and hammock tarp will also be available as accessories.

Morakniv Garberg Full-Tang Knife

Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Knife
Morakniv Garberg Full Tang Knife

The Morakniv Garberg is the company’s first full tang knife, great news for Morakniv fans. It even comes with a fitted leather sheath instead of the horrible Kydex sheaths that Moraknivs come with today. The Garberg has a 3.2 mm stainless steel blade with an easy to maintain Scandi-grind and a ground striker-compatible spine. I can’t wait to carry this multi-purpose knife on backcountry fishing trips.

MSR Advance Pro 2P Mountaineering Tent
MSR Advance Pro 2P Mountaineering Tent

MSR Winter Tent Series

MSR has three new winter tents coming out: two are double-walled and one is single-walled. The Advance Pro shown above is a 2 person tent (hard to believe) designed to fit on a portaledge. It features Easton S-glass tent poles which are almost impossible to break and weighs just under 3 pounds.

OR Bits and Bites

Osprey Packs - Duro Series Vest Pack
Osprey Packs – Duro Series Vest Pack

Osprey Packs

Osprey continues to roll out their AG Anti-Gravity suspension system, adding it to more of their existing backpack models. They also have a vest style trail running pack called the Duro Series, which is available in multiple volumes.

Allied Down

Goose down prices have been reduced by 50% over the past 3 years due to surplus supply and currency devaluations. Expect to see prices on down sleeping bags and apparel continue to drop as manufacturers’ wholesale savings are passed along to consumers. Allied Down, one of the largest goose down suppliers in the world has also started recycling goose down.


The Primus Long Spoon has an angled head to make it easy to eat freezer bag backpacking meals
The Primus Long Spoon has an angled head to make it easy to eat freezer bag backpacking meals

Primus announced a simple design variation on the long-handled spoon, with an angled head to make scooping food out of freezer bags and freeze-dried backpacking meals easier. No more spilling your dinner on your shirt.


CamelBak is experimenting with a new trade-in concept that will let you trade in your old hydration reservoir for a new one.


Superfeet is getting into the shoe and sandal business, building footwear around their insoles instead of just being an after-market footwear accessory. This year’s collection is focused on casual shoes and sandals.


Petzl updated the design of the e+Lite headlamp, increasing its brightness to 50 lumens,  adding a more comfortable head strap, emergency whistle, and battery compartment tool making it easier to change the light’s batteries.

Vargo Outdoors

New Titanium External Frame Backpack from Vargo
New Titanium External Frame Backpack from Vargo

Vargo is releasing a new titanium external frame backpack with a more conventional packbag at a lower price.

NEMO Equipment

NEMO Bridge Hammock
NEMO Bridge Hammock

NEMO has a new bridge hammock, but it’s intended for home use. The also have a hot new floorless shelter called the Spike, designed for the hook and bullet (fishing and hunting) market which looks like a good crossover product for ultralight backpacking.


Outdoor Retailer 2016 was an exciting show with a lot of new product announcements and exceeded my expectations. But the best part of the show for me was meeting new people and the many old friends who I only get to see once a year. Getting to Salt Lake City from the east coast is always an arduous journey, but it’s a trip well worth making to the Mecca of the outdoor industry.

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  1. Thanks for the info. Do you have weights on the Columbia Outdry Jacket? I’ve never figured out why someone can’t manufacture something in the weight of TNF’s Hyperair with pit vents (not zips, to save weight) similar to the Marmot Essence.

  2. Two things. First, can you explain how the Sawyer foam filter works? Is the pouch filed with a foam “matrix”? I obviously am not familiar with this concept. Second, I’m happy to see the full tang on the Mora knives, but I have to say that I like their Kydex sheaths. Their knives are so horrifyingly sharp that I appreciate that hard, protective barrier.

    • The bottle or reservoir are filled with foam. It traps the non-biologic stuff. You still need the biologic filter (mini, point one) as well. I’m not entirely sold on the concept. I’d rather the entire process occur in the external filter like it does on higher end pump filters like the first need and msr guardian. I think the benefit of the foam might be that you can clean it more easily, particularly if it was in a bottle and removable.

  3. Do you know if Granite Gear is keeping the existing sizing for the new Crown? The current crown comes in a long frame unlike all their other packs which is good for us folks with longer torsos. I’m excited about the stiffer framesheet if they are keep the sizing. The original was a little too floppy but otherwise an extremely comfortable pack if packed right.

  4. Granite Gear finally listened to everyone and put hipbelt pockets on the Crown? FINALLY! I have a Crown VC 60 pack and love it, a lot. However it gets passed over quite often for my ULA Circut purely because it doesn’t have hipbelt pockets, and I need somewhere handy to store my camera.

  5. I had no idea down prices have been falling so dramatically – it seems like sleeping bags have only gotten more expensive!

  6. Wow, it’s going to be fun reading your reviews in the coming months. That Andrew Skurka tent looks brilliant. Offset pole placement, lots of ventilation, designed for setup in the rain, 2 doors that hang loosely when unzipped: I think I am going to want one.

    • Hi Ross –

      Glad it looks good to you. If you’re really serious about it, you could get one within the week. We placed an early 110-unit order that should start shipping Aug 15, if not sooner. Product page, https://sierradesigns.com/high-route-1-fl/. We don’t expect any design or cost changes between these and bulk production in spring 2017.

      You assessed the shelter correctly, as far as advantages. I’ll add two other things:

      1. It’s palatial, at 4 x 9 x 4 (W x L x H). The footprint is actually bigger than most UL 2-person tents, and without the inner tent body it can sleep two snugly. If you are a bigger person or if you are willing to carry a few extra ounces for much more liveability, this is a good option.

      2. In nice weather you can roll up the doors, as shown in the photo. But if it’s raining, you can still “porch” the doors fully or halfway. This still gives you a lot of good airflow while preserving ventilation. Video: https://youtu.be/aVFozeZ0P3E?t=6m13s


  7. Wow, big manufactures working day and night to rip off the cottage folks in the hammock industry. Blatantly copying existing products, half a$$adly blundering their way through making gear that already exists and doing a terrible job at it.

    • It’s the American way. If you want to protect your unique inventions, patent them. Warbonnet has done this quite successfully, and I know of at least one big brand manufacturer who’s had to stop making a competitive product as a result. If you can’t patent something, it’s arguable that it’s probably not original and can be “copied” at will.

  8. Definitely interested in the new Crown pack. Also: pretty sure the main idea behind the Sierra Designs backpack is that it can expand from 40 liters to 60 liters, not that it comes in both sizes.

  9. Simple things make me happy – the spoon.

  10. I’m glad to see that Sierra Designs is getting back into the innovation business. But also interested to see that they are reverting to two of the best, most functional tents they ever made, the Clip Flashlight and the Lightyear. I have an Ultra Lightyear – w/Easton Carbon fiber poles – that remains my go to solo tent. I talked to a couple of Sierra Designs reps at 2016 Trail Days and they told me about the remarketing of them.
    I also love the play on words for the new pack name: Flex Capacitor…
    An observation on the Klymit Inflatable Hammock V Pad w/ Wings, it appears to be oriented for a person who sleeps parallel to the axis of the hammock, something that few people do. And with a R-value of only 1.3, it still doesn’t deal with the inevitable heat loss on the back of the sleeper

  11. I love the new Sierra Designs ideas. I’m not sure I’d rather see the new Crown 60 or the SD Capacitor packs. Both sound fantastic.

    As for Sawyer, I wish they would just put out a reasonably priced charcoal-based filter that plugs into the outflow of their existing filters. A foam-filled bag and whatever that may grow in the off-season sounds unappealing.

    • I’m puzzled with Sawyer too. If they just made a charcoal pre-filter that screwed into the back of the mini/squeeze I think that would sell well.

      I have no interest in this pouch thing.

      • Even better, a charcoal-based filter that you could open and replace the charcoal like a Kuerig pod every season or two.

      • I solved the taste/smell problem by adding the Platypus Charcoal element inline after the sawyer filter…very light and relatively cheap. Yes, it adds another part, but it yields a modular system allowing you to take only what you need/want.

  12. Once again Thermarest fails to release a short, wide, four-season pad. But hey, at least we have an overly heavy, not very warm hammock pad for consolation.

    The ad copy on that rain jacket’s lifecycle planning is impressive, and I hope it’s not too exaggerrated. I also hope the jacket actually works. Looks like they made the pockets big enough for some air flow.

  13. I’m baffled by the ENO hammock stand…. what minimum number of legs on uneven ground guarantees poor contact with the ground? 4. What number of legs will always be in contact with the ground and still offer excellent support? 3. Hence the Turtle Dog designs. How often have we eaten at a restaurant and had the table rock because it has 4 legs…. sometimes with something under one leg to help with the lack of contact? Its simple engineering. A tripod stays in contact and offers support. 4 legs on uneven ground is more weight, more problems with uneven stresses.

    • That’s what I thought at first, but it looks like the cross guys can be positioned to adjust the splay of the legs. I hope that’s the case; otherwise, as you observe, the stand will never be level.

  14. I didn’t see any thing that even remotely interested me for some reason..I hate most of the very distrubing and not eco friendly colors.

    I had hoped in Sawyer but it is still rated as a Filter and not a Purifier.

    Sure would like some different Menus in the Freeze Dried Food Lines with lower Salt and Sugar other than the bean based baby food type menus or something to burn your mouth with a liquid concoction of some kind good for the Trots…. I wish they’d bring back Freeze Dried Pork Chops..an the Tuna Casserole..Or those Ramen Noodle Cups with 50% less salt and more meat and veggies in them..

    Nothing has really changed in the last 20 years or so that I see, of course the Youngsters will be paying our adoring comments cause well, it is all new to them and the Marketing people in the Industry are banking on that…..

    So they made little adjustments here and there like, cut holes in backboards but for me nothing outstanding has again failed to appear and I feel overpriced by an average of 150% compared to what it cost to manufacture most of it in China.

    The one tent looks like a 12 year old 1 man MSR Model I have with some kind of geo design which was a failure an a hassle to erect especially in the Rain… but the ole venerable Clip Flashlight chugs on and if you think $200 is a great price, it is because few remember the Original price which was something near $75.00 – $110..the first time I saw it listed in the newspaper advertisement..

    Just like my old heavy white gas SEVA 123R is being listed at $125.00 when the one I bought in 1976, which has not changed in any of it’s features was $16.95 and 50 cents shipping to New York from California from Adventure 16. By the way it still works like new and is one of my favorites to take on Winter trips.. Very reliable.

    Seems Hammocks may be becoming a problem in some area’s due to Hikers hacking off Branches of Trees and Brush Clearing being done, some Eco Friendly Volunteer Forest groups are starting to take note of that……..

    An again as we have asked for over 40 years still no Waterproof Backpacks nor Freeze dried water. Light weight frying pans like titanium which will not burn everything you cook in it.. Though Last year there came out a Unit that takes the moisture from the air and turns it into water. For some reason that has disappeared of the Market…One reason being it took hours upon hours to get less than a pint and if your in the Desert I guess it was worthless…at $200+ dollars….

    Sorry if I am a bit sour, but I keep waiting for some real useful innovations to arise out of the grip and mire….and it is not happening.

    As an example, My favorite list of innovations consist of the: Silnylon Tarps, Petzel Headlamps which burn for up to 180 hours. Osprey Packs with the Built in Rain Cover and useful sized pockets on the Hip Belt. Spider Stoves with canisters. Titanium Spoons and Pots (The frying pan is a failure) and OR Bivy Bags and the One man Tent From Eureka! which thankfully I bought before they changed the Color to the gosh awful nighrmarish Golden Yellow.. .I’ll keep my Snugpak Ionosphere but wish they would come up with a design with a 6 foot Awning attached to it meanwhile I’ll continue to use my Silnylon Tarp and of course my First Need Deluxe water Purifier…. Finally my three knives, The Victorinox “Work” Champ, just needs a Fish Scaler, The Victorinox Classic and my Randall made knife…

  15. While I’m not interested in new gear, I might be persuaded to take a look at those Primus spoons!

    As far as gasoline goes, wsp_scott, it was close to $4/gallon a few years ago! Of course I remember the 25 cents, too, but that was a long, long time ago!

  16. i will be watching for reviews of the sea to summit ul hammock. At first glance it seems rather short at 8.5 feet. Does the width allow for a comfortable diagonal lay?

    • It’s 48″ wide, so probably not

      • Is the suspension system on the Sea to Summit hammock replaceable? I’m curious how it compares to my Grand Trunk Nano 7, once I’ve replaced the biners with whoopie slings and 1″ tree straps using marlin spike hitches. Did you get a chance to lie in it?

        I’m hoping to use my custom lightweight hammock system for long distance backpacking out East. Rounding it out will be a cuben fiber asym tarp from Zpacks, and partial lightweight insect netting like with Dutchware’s Half-Wit Hammock.

        I’ve also thought about using a spare Klymit Intertia Xlite pad in the hammock with my bag. I haven’t tried it yet, but it seems like it might work well.

      • No idea. All of these products are essentially prototypes of what will be sold in 6-12 months.Before you count on your SUL hammock, I’d make sure you can sleep in it for 6 months. They stretch and aren’t nearly of comfortable as a real backpacking hammock with a diagonal lay. I’d also think abut your insulation system a bit more. An Xlite pad has a relatively low R-value and is quite narrow, so your arms will fall off and get cold in a hammock.

      • Thanks for the thoughts, Philip.

        I have other gear I can either leave in my bounce box, or have sent to me as conditions change. I’d actually keep a spare Nano 7 in my bounce box, given how light it is. I’ve already done the AT, so for the most part my hammock camping will be no more than one to three weeks in a go, as I’m hanging out with other trail friends. Out west I have a Zpacks hexamid soloplus, with a removable bathtub floor. As I went through California on the PCT, I generally just slept on the bathtub floor most nights on top of my neoair. The hexamid was only used in case of bad weather.

        I only plan to use this system in the warmer months out East. Luckily, I’m one of those people who can sleep just about anywhere. I was worried about some of the hang issues you’ve mentioned, but they haven’t been an issue so far. I’ve found the GT Nano 7 to be pretty comfortable so far. I’ve had it for about 18 months. I was curious about the Klymit Hammock V, but at 26 Oz, it’s way heavier than my XTherm. If it gets that cold, I think I’d prefer an underquilt. As for the XLite’s R-Value, it really depends on how you combine it with your bag. and what bag you have. Some hangers seem to like the combo. If you are using a sleeping quilt rather than a full bag, it would be pretty useless.

      • Cool – I wasn’t sure how experienced you were. I’m taking that Klymit Hammock V pad out this weekend. 26 oz is absolutely monstrous, but we’ll see.

      • Even though the Hammock V sounds kind of heavy, I’m definitely interested in hearing about your experience with it. Whether a hammock camper stays a night or two in a shelter, or they actually go to ground for lack of trees, it might be nice to have a pad that’s actually designed for the ground and the air.

        Have fun!

  17. Inflation is one thing, but what I find sad is when a fairly simple rain jacket “will be priced at just $200.” Seriously? To me, that’s nuts, but I guess it’s the way of the outdoor gear world…and the world in general. I’ll deal with the rain without “shelling” out that kind of money for a jacket to repel it.

    • Hey Tim,
      You are right, this jacket probably only costs Columbia a fraction of the overall price to manufacture. However, there is nothing “fairly simple” about a jacket that is revolutionary and pushing the boundaries of what materials can achieve. What you do not see is the years and capital it took to develop such a material. This is a Columbia’s proprietary fabric, which didn’t just come off a roll somewhere in Asia. It had to be developed and tested in house, using many different minds and technologies. That is what you are paying for, not just the manufacturing of the jacket.

  18. What is that MSR tent in the picture behind the MSR Advance Pro 2P? Is that some sort of winter hubba hubba?

  19. The Big Agnes Tully looks alot like the old Zeta series by Sierra Design. I really like the room but hated the weight. Love to see this in newer materials in xl size.

  20. I’m very intrigued by the Sierra Designs tent. It seems very smartly designed. I especially appreciate that it can be set up/down in the rain with the inner remaining completely dry. Very few tents available here allow for that. The porch-on-the-fly is also stellar. Not completely crazy about the red though. I prefer a stealthy grey rainfly.

  21. Sierra Designs is running a labor day sale. 20% off. You can get the High Route 1 for $240 free shipping. It’s about the best deal you’re going to get on that tent for a while. I’ve purchased one and it look’s to be a great tent. Also, Andrew has put out tons of honest info on this tent, more than any other manufacturer or review is going to give you. You get an entire shelter for $40 more than a OutDry jacket (Really Columbia? … $200).

  22. Hey Phil, what’s the weight on that Morakniv Garberg. I can’t read it in the image.

  23. Nice and succinct overview, but I doubt that the info about falling prices of goose down (in the “Allied Down” paragraph) is correct:

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