Home / Gear Reviews / Outdoor Retailer 2017: Editor’s Choice Gear Picks

Outdoor Retailer 2017: Editor’s Choice Gear Picks

Osprey's New UL Backpacks - The Levity and the Luna 60L and 45L
Osprey’s New UL Backpacks – The Levity and the Lumina 60L and 45L will be available this autumn.

Outdoor Retailer is a trade show held every summer where gear manufacturers come together and show off the gear they plan to bring to market in the upcoming year. It’s a very social event where you get to catch up with old friends, drink a lot of beer together, and try to figure out what the most promising new products will be in the upcoming year. My focus at these shows is to look for new gear that I can use on trips and adventures and that I think my readers will benefit from knowing about.

Here are the most interesting new products that I saw at Outdoor Retailer 2017.

Osprey Levitor 60 UL Backpack Ventilated Frame Closeup
Osprey Levity 60 UL Backpack Ventilated Frame Closeup

Osprey’s Levity and Lumina Ultralight Backpacks

Osprey Packs has new ultralight backpacks, the Levity and Lumina, which will be available this autumn. Both will be available in men’s and women’s-specific versions in 60L and 45L sizes and cost $270 and $250. All four packs are top loaders with a non-detachable top lids and a large wrap-around solid stretch pocket that provides plenty of external storage for water bottles, extra clothing layers, or wet gear. Both packs use the ventilated mesh AirSpeed frame system which has a partially visible wire aluminum frame with top and bottom cross pieces for rigidity.

The Osprey Levity UL Backpack doesn't have any hip belt pockets or padding
The Osprey Levity UL Backpack doesn’t have any hip belt pockets or padding.

The Levity and Lumina are made with a lightweight, durable, and nearly waterproof fabric that Osprey calls NanoFly. It’s an abrasion resistant mix of 100 denier Cordura nylon and (UHMWPE) ultra high molecular weight polyethylene that is in the same wheelhouse as the cuben fiber composites used by some cottage manufacturers. It will be interesting to see if the Levity and Lumina packs will impact the popularity of the ultralight backpacks sold by them or whether they’ll be able to innovate in time to compete head-to-head with Osprey.

NameSizesVolumePoundsKilogramsLoad Range
Levity 60S | M | L57 | 60 | 631.82 | 1.83 | 1.840.83 | 0.83 | 0.8310-30 lb | 4-13 kg
Levity 45S | M | L42 | 45 | 481.76 | 1.76 | 1.770.80 | 0.80 | 0.805-25 lb | 2-11 kg
Lumina 60WXS | WS | WM53 | 56 | 601.82 | 1.82 | 1.830.82 | 0.83 | 0.8310-30 lb | 4-13 kg
Lumina 45WXS | WS | WM38 | 41 | 451.75 | 1.76 | 1.760.79 | 0.80 | 0.805-25 lb | 2-11 kg

One notable omission on Osprey’s Levity and Lumina packs is the lack of hip belt pockets and hip belt padding. While their larger and heavier packs still have hip belts and pockets, I think Osprey wants to to make the case that form fitting nature of their AirSpeed mesh frame eliminates for the lack of a beefy hipbelt. That’s a pretty bold statement and it will be interesting to see how customers react to it when these new packs reach market. An updated Exos and a new women’s-specific Exos, called the Eja, also have the same mesh hipbelt as the Levity and Lumina.

The Gregory Packs Optic and Octal Ultralight Backpacks
The Gregory Packs Optic and Octal Ultralight Backpacks

Gregory Packs Optic and Octal Ultralight Backpacks

Gregory Packs also announced four new men’s and women’s ultralight backpacks which will be available in Spring 2018. The men’s Optic will be available in  58L and 48L sizes that weigh 2.52 lbs and 2.47 lbs, while the women’s specific Octal will be available in 55L and 45L sizes, weighing 2.34 lbs and 2.31 lbs.

Both packs have an ultralight 7001 aluminum UL frame with a ventilated back panel and leaf spring lumbar pad. The pack bodies are made with 100 denier high tenacity nylon with a 210 denier high tenacity nylon base for durability. The top lids of the packs can be removed to reduce weight and both include a stretch mesh front pocket. Unlike Osprey’s Levity and Lumina packs, Gregory’s UL packs have beefy hip belts and large hip belt pockets.

Justin Lichter shows off the new Crown2 38 Liter Backpack
Justin Lichter shows off the new Granite Gear Crown2 38 Liter Backpack

Granite Gear Crown2 38L Backpack

Granite Gear announced a lower capacity 38L version of the wildly popular 60L Crown 2 backpack that came out earlier this year. The 38L Crown 2 weighs 2.265 lbs when configured with a top lid, frame sheet, and adjustable hip belt. All of those components are removable though, depending on your needs, bringing the pack’s weight down to a measly 1.3 lbs for fast and light day hikes or overnight adventures. The 38L Crown 2 will be available in men’s and women’s specific models with an MSRP of $184.95. I think the 38L Crown2 will be great for one-nighters or as a technical day pack and can’t wait to try it out.

Big Agnes Goose Neck Hammock with Sleeping Pad Sleeve
Big Agnes Goose Neck Hammock with Sleeping Pad Sleeve

Big Agnes Goose Creek Deluxe Hammock

Big Agnes has entered the hammock market with two gathered end hammocks, the Goose Creek Deluxe (12 oz) and the UL Headwall (6 oz). The Goose Creek Deluxe Hammock has an integrated sleeping pad sleeve that’s compatible with any inflatable sleeping pad with multiple attachment points to fit a variety of different pad sizes and shapes. You can also configure your pad to have a bend under the knees to help prevent knee hyperextension, a common user problem with many short or narrow hammocks where it’s difficult to sleep on a diagonal.

The Goose Neck Deluxe Hammock Sleeve lets you maintain a bend under your knees to prevent hyperextension
The Goose Neck Deluxe Hammock Sleeve lets you maintain a bend under your knees to prevent knee hyperextension.

Big Agnes AXL and Insulated AXL Sleeping Pads

The Big Agnes AXL Sleeping Pad is a full size 9 oz inflatable sleeping pad.
The Big Agnes AXL Sleeping Pad is a full size 9 oz inflatable sleeping pad.

Big Agnes also has several new sleeping pads that push the boundaries on ultralight inflatable sleeping pad weights. The AXL Air (9 oz) and Insulated AXL Air (10 oz) are full size 20″ x 72″ pads with a reflective heat layers. Big Agnes also introduced their first ever foam pad, the 12 oz Third Degree Pad, for use under an inflatable pad in extreme winter and alpine conditions.

The Sierra Designs High Side Tent has a single door and a single vestibule
The Sierra Designs High Side Tent has a single door and a single vestibule.

Sierra Designs High Side 1P Tent

The Sierra Designs High Side is a new 1 lb 14 oz single person, side-entrance bivy style tent designed for solo trips and bikepacking in mind. It’s small pack size and pole length (12.5 inches) make it an interesting option for trips where keeping your load size to a minimum is important. It has an MSRP of $280 USD.

Western Mountaineering Nanolite and Astralite down quilts
Western Mountaineering Nanolite and Astralite down quilts

Western Mountaineering Quilts

Western Mountaineering has two new ultralight quilts, the 11 oz Nanolite ($330) and the 16 oz Astralite ($400). Both quilts have 7 denier shells with 850+ fill power goose down. They are available in regular 5’8″ and long 6’4″ lengths and have yoke-shaped top draft collars to help seal in heat around a person’s neck and shoulders. I suspect that Western Mountaineering is feeling competitive pressure from quilt manufacturers that is eroding sales of their ultralight warm weather sleeping bags and that these new quilts are a competitive response.

Name and LengthTemp (F/C)Total Weight (oz/h)Fill Weight (oz/g)MSRP
Nanolite 5'8"/175 cm38 F / 3C11 oz / 312 g6.5 oz / 184 g330 USD
Nanolite 6'4"/195 cm38 F / 3C12.5 oz /354 g7.25 oz / 206 g345 USD
Astralite 5'8"/175 cm26 F / -3C16 oz / 454 g10.5 oz / 298 g400 USD
Astralite 6'4"/195 cm26 F / -3C17.5 oz /496 g11.25 oz / 319 g$15 USD
The Windburner Duo is a remote canister stove bundled with several different sized cookpot and fits inside them for compact transport
The Windburner Duo is a remote canister stove bundled with several different sized cook pots and fits inside them for compact transport.

MSR Windburner Duo Stove Systems

MSR has several new radiant stove and cook pot systems built around a remote, decoupled version of the Windburner radiant stove for people who want to cook for a group and not just boil water. The new Duo stove stores inside the pots for ease of packing and has a very stable stove base that’s a big improvement over the top-heavy, single-user, Windburner system.

The ENO Fuse lets two hammocks hang side by side from the same tree
The ENO Fuse lets two hammocks hang side by side from the same tree.

ENO Fuse Side-By-Side Hammock System

If you’ve ever want to position your hammock next to a companions’ at night, but couldn’t find two pairs of aligned trees to hang from, look no further. The Eno Fuse lets you hang a pair of hammocks side-by-side from the same tree, separated by spreader bars. It’s an ideal solution for hammocking couples or families, so you can sleep next to a child who needs a little more assurance when hammock camping.

The 16.5 oz Rab Mythos 200 Sleeping Bag is rated for 34 degrees
The 16.5 oz Rab Mythic 200 Sleeping Bag is rated for 34 degrees.

Rab Mythic 200 Sleeping Bag

Rab introduced the Mythic 200, a 16.5 ounce down mummy bag rated for 34 degrees that’s filled with 900 fill power goose down and has a silky 7 denier Pertex Quantum inner and outer shell. The Mythic is a 1/4 zip bag with a trapezoidal baffle chamber design, snag-free zipper guards, and an internal draft collar.

Sea-to-Summits UL Cook Pot and Frying Pan Lineup
Sea-to-Summit’s UL Alpha Cook Pot and Alpha Frying Pan Lineup

Sea-to-Summit Alpha Cook Pots and Pans

The new Alpha Series Cook Pots are made with a lightweight, hard-anodized alloy with a polished internal surface, while the Alpha Pans have a durable PFOA-free Halo non-stick surface. The pots are stamped with internal volume measurements and the base is textured for better stability on camp stoves. The pot lids have build-in colander holes for straining pasta or nice, as well as fold-away handles that lock the lids in place for transport. The Alpha Pans also have fold-away handles and are compatible with the pots, so you can nest them inside each other for easy transport.

Model & DescriptionWeight
Alpha Pot 1.2L6.6 oz
Alpha Pot 1.9L8.1 oz
Alpha Pot 2.7L9.6 oz
Alpha Pot 3.7L11.9 oz
Alpha Pan 8"8.6 oz
Alpha Pan 10"11.8 oz
Exped Hyperquilt has an integrated hood
Exped Hyperquilt has an integrated hood.

Exped Hyperquilt

The Exped Hyperquilt combines the best properties of a quilt and a mummy sleeping bag with an optional integrated hood. Weighing 18.2 oz, the Hyperquilt is insulated with 800+ fill power goose down and has a 20 denier ripstop nylon shell. It connects to sleeping pads using a toggle-based sheet system and is also available in a two person, two hood model for couples.  When not needed, the hood opening cinches shut so cold air doesn’t leak into the quilt.

The Wenzel Shenanigan 5 Pyramid Tent
The Wenzel Shenanigan 5 Pyramid Tent is ideal for family car camping and music festivals.

Wenzel Shenanigan 5

Wenzel has a fun new pyramid shelter designed for car camping and music festivals called the Shenanigan that sleeps 5. Priced at $120 (a great deal), it has mesh covered windows which zip close in the event of rain.

Other Notable Products

  • Petzl has a new USB rechargeable 200 lumen headlamp call the BINDI that weighs 35 g with an elastic cord headstrap.
  • Katadyn launched a 3L gravity version of their BeFree water filter system.
  • Katadyn acquired Steripen last week in order to increase their share of the water filter and purification market.
  • Osprey introduced a new daypack called the “Hike,” available in 18L and 24L sizes.
  • Sealline has a new line of compression stuff sacks with air purge valves.
  • NEMO has a great new rocking camp chair called the Stargazer that makes it easy to view the stars at night.
  • Cutter announced a new mail-away, DNA-based Tick Test that tests ticks (but not people) you pull off your skin for Lyme Disease. Their lab provides a response within 3 days, so you can initiate treatment quickly if advised by your doctor.
  • CamelBak has a new vest-style hydration pack called the Chase Bike Vest. Designed for cyclists, the tool pockets are designed to hold bike tools to help counter balance the water weight in the hydration bladder.
  • Good To Go has a new dinner flavor called Chicken Gumbo.

What strikes your fancy?

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52 comments

  1. very interested on those new Osprey packs.. also new GG Crown 38? nice!
    Btw is there any new lightweight panel loading packs ?

    • Didn’t see any. Yep, those Osprey UL packs are likely to fly off the shelf. Especially since you’ll be able to try them on at REI.

      • I was eyeing the new Katabatic gear 50L Onni and these Osprey packs seem like a good alternative so far. Not sure how I feel about the minimal hip belt though.

      • Cuben? That’s not correct, is it?

      • ‘fraid it is. They don’t call it that (because they understand marketing and Dyneema Inc is still trying to get people to stop using the term “cuben fiber”). But it’s effectively nylon coated cuben so they can print a pattern on it and make it more abrasion resistant. What’s not clear is who makes it. Cordura (nylon) might have licensed the ultra high molecular weight polermer technology from Dyneema or developed their own variety on their own. Either way, if Cordura is marketing this fabric, I expect we’ll see a lot of other manufacturers pick it up in the next 2 years.

        The 60 liter is under 2 pounds….

      • They lost me at “no hip belt pockets”.

  2. Is the Big Agnes insulated AXL pad a “Crinkle pad”?

    Hard to find really light pads that don’t sound like an old space blanket every time you move.

    • The Nemo Tensor pad is reported to be significantly quieter than the therm-a-rest neoair xlite (aka crinkle pad). Both use the same concept of a reflective material to increase warmth.

      • Copy that on the Nemo Tensor pad, in my opinion it simply puts the the competition to shame. It’s a very quiet pad with lots of support, can’t recommend it enough

  3. The Wenzel tent looks awesome, and it’s at the perfect price point. Did you get a demonstration on how to set it up? Wondering how easy it is for one or two people to do it.

    • It looks fun. I suspect they made it easy to set up. It’s got a big floor frame and a center pole.

      • How does the floor frame seem to handle uneven ground often found at campsites? I realize you just saw it and didn’t take it out… Thank you

      • Prepared campsites are usually quite flat in the United States.

      • Set up is simple:

        1 – Stake out the 6 corners
        2 – Put in the adjustable height center pole (It sits in a plastic foot on the floor to prevent it from being knocked out of place)
        3 – Guy-out the rear vents

        The floor frame is not included it was just used for the show floor set up.

  4. The Ospreys are pretty disappointing from my perspective, it’s like they are saying “Me, too!” I don’t see anything they do that you haven’t been able to buy for the same price (or less!) in a Gossamer Gear, ULA or Granite Gear pack for five years now. No belt pockets? Come on now.

    I’ve been hoping for years that Osprey or Gregory or one of the big guys would come out with a cheap line of ultralight packs so I could say to my young Scouts, “As a beginner you should consider pack X, because it has some of the best features of my pack and only weighs a couple ounces more, but costs $100 instead of the $300 I paid for mine.”

    • Most gear companies (especially the cottages) pay lip service to the scouts, but don’t do jack for them. Want a lightweight, inexpensive pack? Buy Jansport.
      http://www.campsaver.com/jansport-katahdin-50-backpack

      • I wouldn’t trust my 12-year-old scout with my Gossamer Gear Mariposa. His BSA branded 50L pack works fine enough for now.

      • The Jansport (and Teton Sports, too) packs really are perfectly fine packs for scouts. A couple kids in our troop have them and they’re nice because they can be adjusted to a very short torso length. Plus they’re inexpensive and fairly light. They’re not made of fancy materials, and they’re probably not all that durable, but they’re fine for kids and they seem to get them through the campouts and hikes we do just fine.

      • Actually, the lack of fancy materials is what makes them MORE durable!

      • Totally true! The fabrics are tough. But other things are not tough at all. The webbing on the Teton Sports one my son has is very stiff and hard to adjust, and feels like it’ll decompose and fall apart pretty fast, and the buckles are terrible. Generally though I’m more concerned about the level of workmanship than wear and tear on the fabric and plastic hardware itself. It just doesn’t feel well put together.

      • I’ve got a 30+ year old Jansport frame pack in my living room, waiting for me to sew a new zipper into the main body. :) I hadn’t considered their new stuff as I just hadn’t looked at it for a while. Kinda slim pickins, but that 50l looks like a good one to try out, thanks.

    • I keep stuff in my hip belt pockets (bug spray and such in one pocket, snacks in the other), but honestly almost never access any of it. Snacks, mostly, but I could keep those in my pants cargo pockets. One of my hiking buddies just told me he never uses his hip belt pockets, which kind of surprised me, so maybe Osprey asked a bunch of folks about it and decided to leave them off. One would hope these companies do research of that sort. But of course we see so many products that almost immediately crash and burn that perhaps it is just a hope.

      • It’s a radical change, but it might just work.

      • Which is radical? Eliminating the pockets or doing the research??? Ha!

      • I use mine constantly. TP, headlight and lip balm live in them, and I often stick a bit of food in, too.

      • My take on belt compartments is a solid “meh.” I’ve adopted a friend’s system of wearing a small waist pack along with my backpack. Put the waist pack on first, then the backpack. In there, i carry a knife, snacks, compass, map/guidebook pages, cell phone, bandana, etc. Anything i want quick, ready access to. One might suspect the extra layer of waist-beltage and buckle to be problematic, but i don’t really notice it.

        Different strokes…

    • I guess you haven’t seen the Gregory Paragon series of packs

      • I reviewed one during the winter. It’s a great pack family, but old news.
        https://sectionhiker.com/gregory-packs-paragon-48-backpack-review/

      • Lol, old news? It still seems like a great pack, a viable option for someone who doesn’t want to go full cottage gear route but wants to go lighter weight.. These packs just came out, because there may be some great new products coming out doesn’t diminish the already great products just recently released

      • Nope, didn’t miss them at all. The Paragons are all way too expensive. For beginners who are going to grow out of the pack, and more than likely quit backpacking after a couple of years, $100 is tops, and $50-80 is even better. We have an inventory of loaners, but they get trashed even faster than the ones the kids buy for themselves.

  5. Really curious about those new Osprey packs. I don’t use my hipbelt pockets currently, but they’re too small/tight to be of much practical use. A little bit of bug spray, sunscreen, and my knife are about all that fits. If they were big spacious ones like on some of the cottage manufacturer packs, I still might not use them, but I’d probably be more likely to and I’d at least try putting snacks and so forth in them.

    Also curious about those Big Agnes pads. A 10 oz insulated pad that’s even just a little less crinkly than a neoair sounds like a dream.

  6. I have recently purchased and put about 200 AT miles on an Exped Thunder 70. Their stuff is pricey but works so well. The pack is incredibly adjustable and can be used as a top, side or panel loader. Exped also makes a line of less expensive packs and other stuff. Having used different models of Osprey, i can confidently say the the Exped carries loads much more comfortably. So, if you are looking for a panel loader, …

  7. Is the big agnes sleeping pad rectangular or mummy shape?

    Thanks for all your work on the site.

  8. After using gossamer gear packs for over 10 years, I have to say I’m intrigued by the osprey. The huge stash pocket on the back is a must and I already don’t use a hip belt. BUT the thing that interests me the most is the suspension/back vent. To my knowledge this is the first pack that is able to achieve the arch without a huge hip belt. My sweaty back(and underwear) is stoked. Please review this pack if you get a chance.

  9. Wow,,1.8 lbs. for a L Levity 60. That’s impressive. Would have to figure a way to attach after market hip pockets though ( homemade of course ). Will a bear canister fit horizontal in it ? Please check that out on your upcoming review. I see the suspension is basically an Exos copy but shorter hip padding area so skinny people can get the belt tight enough,,,finally. Might have to buy this one.
    I like the new SD bivy tent also. Please review it too.
    We count on you Phil. Your reviews are one of the few honest ones.

    • I depend a lot less on hip belt pockets than I used to. I just use them to carry aqua mira bottles and a tiny 1 oz bottle of bug dope. That could easily get moved to the top lid…..

  10. When you go out to OR, do you ever take trips in the surrounding area? SLC has some amazing wilderness nearby, as does Denver, which of course will be hosting the event next year. It would be interesting to see trip reports from you, a New Englander, on a trip in the West, and how your experiences with gear is altered.

  11. The Osprey Levity looks interesting but surely it’s getting past the point where the weight saving is not worth the compromised carrying capabilities and comfort? I see mention of an Osprey Aether Pro made out of Nanofly and possibly weighing 2.5 pounds – which seems a huge reduction. My key question.- how would a Nanofly Aether compare to a Seek Outside Divide? I see that Seek Outside is currently doing some changes.

  12. Nice roundup!

    An FYI, the OR trade show will move out of Utah next year to protest the undermining of public lands protections. From an article in Yes! magazine (available online):

    “The outdoor recreation industry did a curtsy on its way out of Salt Lake City last week.

    After hosting their massive biannual trade show, Outdoor Retailer, in the city for 22 years, industry organizers announced they were moving the show to Denver because of Utah legislators’ attempts to remove protections for public lands, such as the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument. To make their point public, about 3,000 sign-carrying outdoor equipment retailers, producers, and enthusiasts marched politely to the doors of the Utah state Capitol and bid their farewells.”

  13. Thanks for the report!!!

  14. Great report. I am intrigued by the Big Agnes hammock that accommodates an inflatable sleeping pad. Looking forward to reading a field test.

  15. This is the first article that I’ve come across that says the Osprey UL packs will be out in autumn–everywhere else has said Spring 2018. Will they be hitting shelves soon? :D I’d love to try them out since I’m planning to hit the PCT in April, and these packs really have my boyfriend and I’s interests!

  16. Why can we not get a load bearing vest/back pack with front pockets to carry high need and quick access items like water, snacks, first add kit, bear spray, etc.

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