The immediate impression upon entering the Salt Palace Convention Centre for Outdoor Retailer’s Summer 2013 show is one of extreme overwhelming. There are people everywhere. There are booths everywhere. There are hundreds of thousands of products.
Handily, most of the climbing-related manufacturers are in one corner of the giant main hall, yet even this small section sucks up hour upon hour simply by wandering the aisles and chatting with the different vendors.
As I had arrived in Salt Lake City right around noon, this is more of a half-day report on just some of the stuff out there:
Camp/Cassin Blade Runner Crampon – by far the coolest crampons out here. They can be run mono/dual/triple(!) configurations in either vertical or horizontal (or a combo of both?!) front-points (yes! interchangeable horizontal front points!). Camp has also developed interchangeable wire/rubber bails a la the Petzl Lynx. And finally, the unique, wide-rear section/bar has a slight rise to it, to wedge the boot heel against when the heel lever is locked in. This locks the boots securely to the crampon at the front bail, the front of the heel sole unit and the rear bail. And all for around 1000g for a pair.
The Blade Runner is available with either a standard wire front bail, or this new wire/rubber combo bail similar to that of the Petzl Lynx. Combined with the availability of interchangeable vertical and horizontal front points, is this now the new one-crampon-to-do-it-all?
The Easton ultralight tent – this is a 2-person (looks to be a roomy 2-person) 4-season ultralight mountaineering tent using Event and Dyneema fabrics. Total weight is exactly a kilo – all in. The cost-to-weight ratio is pretty high, though: 2-t0-1. Yes, that works out to be $2000 US retail. But, it is a 1000-gram four-season tent!
Sigg insulated bottle – ok, not super cool to everyone, maybe, but my Sigg bottles have survived untold punishment and have the scars to prove it. I am hoping this insulated version is just as tough, as it will make the perfect climbing thermos.
Rab Stratos jacket – don’t quote the name on this one as it’s been a very, very long day and the workbook isn’t near me at the moment. The important bit is that this new jacket uses Polartec’s new Alpha insulating fibres. Why this is cool and important will come in a separate article – for now, let’s just say it sounds like Alpha is the next best insulating fibre out there.
Rab is also entering the market with some climbing-dedicated packs. They look simple, stripped-down to the essentials and burly (yet quite light). Like, haul them up Rockies limestone burly.
The North Face has recently impressed me with two of their other packs (Casimir 26 & Verto 26) so I stopped by the booth to take a look at some new stuff coming out. The Banashee (again, don’t quote me on the name at this stage) is a very-comfortable, light, modern-looking backpacking pack to compete with the likes of Osprey, Gregory and Arcteryx. Based on an on-the-floor inspection, I think it has what it takes. Now, all I have to do is wait for the 75L+ version (coming models max out at 65).
Another TNF pack, the Cinder 55 is a top-loading half-haulbag half-backpack made for rock climbing and cragging. Simple yet tough. I think these would be great trad packs, built to haul heavy gear and take the abuse of getting dragged up the wall.
Scarpa’s Rebel line is getting some changes, as I’ve previously mentioned. Gone is the awesome Rebel GTX Carbon, replaced by this, the Rebel GTX Pro – essentially the same boot but with insulated Gore-Tex lining and a toe welt. Cool, but, will it be too warm?
This wraps up my first half-day preview from the show. There is so much more cool stuff to talk about I don’t even know where to start! But, I’ll try to get some more pictures tomorrow, and will get a report up as soon as I can!