OR Summer 2014: Highlights

OR Summer 2014 is still going on but I’m already home due to a very tight schedule this summer. With only two days to spend on the show floor it was a whirlwind tour, but here are the highlights from the show. Full report coming later next week. For ease of image uploading, this is in alphabetical order. And as a reminder, this is all stuff that will hit the stores in Spring 2015.

Alpine Aire Black Bart Chili – Alpine Aire foods are getting a packaging and marketing redesign but I don’t think this has any impact on the flavour and wow does this chili deliver. Apparently they took it to a chili cook-off in Texas and won 3rd place. I believe it. This is so delicious that I’d just make it at home!

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Arc’teryx Alpha FL 30 gains a new bright blue colour. So cool. (I really, really wanted to steal the show sample.)

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Arc’teryx is reimagining their harness line for Spring 2015, taking it down to five models: the ultralight sport-oriented SL-340 (not pictured) with just two big gear loops and the FL-365 and AR-395 which will come in both men’s and women’s versions. These feature 4 ice-clipper slots, 4 gear loops and a big stash loop in the back. The FL has fixed leg loops whereas the AR has adjustable leg loops. All harnesses get an updated structure and redesigned leg loops for more comfort. The swami on all models is as big as that of the current B-360a big-wall harness. Stoked!

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Of course, the big news is Arc’teryx is getting into shoes with a innovative construction and design. We got to try on a pair and they are comfy! Can’t wait to really use a pair.

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Asolo is doing great things with their mountain boot line-up. New for Spring ’15 is the Freney XT Gv three-season alpine boot. It is LIGHT. Fit is exceptional, especially in the heel. Super cool: however these are designed, there is incredible feel under the toes. I suspect these will climb very, very well.

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Big Agnes is bringing out a full line of tents with built in LED-lights. Yup, you read that right: built-in lighting in a tent. Runs off 2AA batteries for days. For a 2-person tent the lights add only 50-grams to the overall weight.

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Black Diamond has a number of new packs but the most unique is the Pipe Dream 45. It looks like a crash pad, folds like a crash pad but isn’t anywhere near as padded as a crash pad (hence it isn’t one). What it is is basically a fold-out bed / sitting area for the crag. Pretty cool, if a bit specialized.

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Camp announced the Matik assisted-braking device, which has a number of cool features. First, the camming action reduces the impact force of a factor-1 fall by 40% as compared to a static device. That’s pretty huge, especially as more and more people are using single ropes in the alpine. Second, it has an anti-panic feature which re-engages the cam if you pull the lever too-far, a neat safety feature. Third, all rope-bearing surfaces are made of precision-cast stainless steel for ultra-long life. Unfortunately, this is expensive meaning the Matik will retail for $200.

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Spring 2015 marks the return of the original Nano’s gate-feel. (The current Nano 23’s gate action just isn’t that great.) The Nano 22’s gate feels amazing. And it’s stronger. And lighter. What’s not to like?

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Camp’s Speed 2.0 was the only new helmet I could find. Lighter, stronger, more comfortable and cheaper.

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DMM’s Grip is essentially a tube-style device (ATC) broken in two. It functions exactly the same as a regular device, except when catching a fall when the unique design splits it into two, increasing holding power. Very, very slick. $50 and no need to learn a new belay technique.

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Not quite as revolutionary as the Grip is DMM’s Pivot, which is basically a guide-style ATC belay device but instead of the guide-hole being fixed, it’s on a Pivot, greatly decreasing the leverage needed to lower your second or feed the slack. A nice evolution of a device we’re all familiar with.

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Evolv adds a velcro strap to the Addict, creating a slipper-style velcro shoe (Addict SC) that’s awesome for long, comfort-driven days.

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Five Ten adds the Cat Burglar, a skate-style shoe with a super-sticky sole and lightweight upper that is incredibly comfortable. These are going to rock for approaches easier climbs.

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Fixe has updated the Alien. The new version is 30% lighter, with a narrower head and two options for slings: either the regular sling seen here or a double-length extendable version. Price remains the same.

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Gregory is updating their whole backpack line it seems. The redesigned Baltoro will come in a range of sizes and also includes this little pack (the yellow thing beside the big black beast), which functions as the hydration bladder inside the pack and a small summit-pack when pulled out. Super cool.

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Grivel is on a tear with innovative new product designs. In addition to expanding their Twin-Gate carabiner line, they’re also introducing this sewn-sling quickdraw, called the SML. I can already envision a number of applications for this type of draw, and reckon I’ll be carrying one or two on every climb as soon as I can get a hold of these!

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Mammut’s biggest news is their completely redesigned rope line to better comply with the UIAA water-resistance standard. The new DRY ropes will easily surpass the UIAA requirements absorbing only 1% of their weight in water. More info coming as Mammut release it…

In other Mammut news, the Trion packs have been redesigned a bit and the new Trion Guide looks to be the climbers’ pick. Ice-tool friendly attachments, a big, burly side-access zipper (I have come to love side-access zippers), a roll-top closure and streamlined backpanel make this a really nice winter pack.

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This is MSR’s new snow saw which I forget the name of. But when it looks this badass who cares what it’s called? It’s big, it’s black, it has MASSIVE teeth and it folds in half for storage. I want two. Just ‘cause.

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Patagonia is expanding their pack line-up with the addition of three cragging-style packs. The coolest of them all is the Linked 16L. Simple, uncluttered design with two loops for hauling options, one zippered pocket for stuff you can’t lose and one large pocket for all your other gear.

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Petzl has updated the Hirundos to fall in line with the remainder of their harness line. Slick new FuseFrame design for increased comfort without bulk or extra weight. The rear gear-loops look to be more usable as well. The Aquila looks to be the adjustable-leg version of the Hirundos. Both harnesses have two ice-clipper slots and four gear loops.

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Salewa have decided to make a shoe for people who walk a lot on hills, both up and down. The Speed Ascent comes pre-rockered for both up- and down- mountain walking / running. The extreme rockered design uses less energy because you don’t have to flex the shoe to conform to terrain. Makes sense to me, curious how it’ll actually work off the show floor. The lacing system is also very customizable for a sock-like fit.

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Salomon’s big news is their re-entry into mountaieering. The coolest product is the S-Lab X Alp Carbon GTX mountaineering shoe. I say shoe because it really feels like one, being very low-cut and very light (550 grams or so for a size US 10). The unique feature is a carbon chassis/sole that is uniquely cut and ribbed to provide fore-aft flex but remain torsionally stiff. It really works: I could edge in the shoe on a 7mm wide baseboard, yet at the same time they feel like you can run in them. Strap-crampon compatible, this will be the ideal shoe for areas like the Bugaboos: comfortable for the hike in, waterproof on snow, crampon-compatible for the glacier and sticky enough to get up easier routes (Salomon are giving it a max climb-ability of 5.8, I think that’s conservative.) $300 retail.

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Scarpa have a number of new shoes but I am most excited for the Vapor V. I love the current Vapor V, and those who could fit their feet into the samples say this new version feels even better, especially in the heel.

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The North Face is kicking ass lately. I may have mentioned this before but the attention to detail and design is staggering. Two new climbing packs are coming from TNF: the more feature-laden Cobra and the minimalist Shadow. They’ll come in two sizes (I don’t remember what exactly, I think a 30+10 and 40+10 for the Shadow, and a 52 and 38?? for the Cobra). Regardless, these are beautifully designed and well built. Following up on the Banchee and the forthcoming Ice Project, I think TNF are making a serious comeback into the climbing market.

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Stay tuned for the full report coming sometime next week with a lot more products, details and info.

8 thoughts on “OR Summer 2014: Highlights

  1. Farzad says:

    Hey Raf,
    Has Arc moved the front ice clipper to a more sane place? As in not in the front so my ice screws stab in the leg each time I take a step up? I think you had the same complaint about the 350.

  2. Maarten says:

    Hey Raf,

    Great overview, love it! For the new Arc harnesses w/ clipper slots, are the gear loops as wide as on their all-round rock harnesses (R-320a etc.)? The current I-340A has small gear loops, which is frustrating when trad (mixed) climbing!!

  3. chris says:

    It looks like they havnt changed the pesky loop for where the belay loop meets the leg loops…not sure the proper name for this but everyone i know that has an arctaryx harness has this part constantly come undone for them…too bad and also too bad they got rid of the six gear loop model, may have to snatch up another one before they change over to the new ones.

  4. henry says:

    hey raf,
    thanks for the overview, so much gear to get excited about. I had another question about the arc harnesses. Have they got a decent haul loop or is it still the shitty plastic loops like on the old models?

    • Raf says:

      I seem to remember there are proper gear loops, but these are all pre-production items so we won’t know for sure until they ship in Spring.

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