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 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 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
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.
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 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 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.
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.
Therm-a-Rest Luxury Car Camping Tents/Hammocks
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.
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 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 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 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.
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
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
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 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 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.
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.
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 is releasing a new titanium external frame backpack with a more conventional packbag at a lower price.
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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