OR Winter 2014: Day 2

I know, I know, more packs. What can I say, I haven’t found the perfect pack yet. This new Mountainsmith might come close, though. Called the Haze 50L, here’s a 50L pack that weighs in at 880-grams for a M/L. Yup, 880g for a 50L pack!! It comes pre-stripped, with no stays in the back, no top lid and no extra features. It is just simple functionality. There are two large vertical compartment pockets on the back, stretchy pockets on the sides and a simple harness. The top closure is of the drawstring and two crossing straps type. It is all you could ever need, and the fabrics feel absolutely bomber. Did I mention this is a 50L pack that weighs only 880 grams??

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Mountainsmith also has the Scream, which stuffs into its own pocket, and at 25L weighs around 500 grams. This should give you an idea of how light the Haze 50L is. A cool little pack but nowhere as awesomely light as the Haze.

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Switching momentarily to shoes, we’ve got the Terrex Escape GTX from Adidas, their stab at an approach shoe. The headline grabber is the Stealth rubber (as in the 5.10 Stealth Rubber) outsole, which when combined with a Gore-Tex membrane, makes for a pretty kick-ass early season approach shoe. They felt great on my feet and are a nice addition to the approach-shoe market.

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Another pack (yes, this is the day of packs) that I’m super stoked about is Gregory’s revamped Denali line. There is an 80-litre, but the one I’m really interested in is the 100-litre version (yes, I want a 100L pack: climbing, camping and photography gear all add up to a LOT of stuff!). The new Denali 100 feels light for such a monster-sized pack, is rated for 65-lb loads and comes in any colour you want as long as it’s black.

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Filling the same space as Mountainsmith’s Scream, Gregory’s Verte is an ultra-light, fold-into-its-own-pocket summit pack, albeit with burlier feeling materials. I’ve got a press kit coming and will get you weights and other stats when I’m home. Looks like a great little pack, though.

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Rounding out the packs are Black Diamond’s redesigned Speed, Axis, Epic and Element packs. I’m only interested in the Epic and Speed, but it is the minimalism of the Speed that earns it a place in this daily preview. Coming this Spring, the redesigned Speed loses the roll-top in favour of a more traditional drawstring closure, it inherits the tool sleeve from the current Speed 22, and gets a cool girth-hitched top lid strap (so that when you really strip the pack, and ditch the top lid, you can also ditch the straps, way better than having them flapping around and getting caught on everything!)

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In the ‘totally overwhelm my brain’ segment is fabric-tech company 37.5. They do some magic with particles and fibres and end up with a product that apparently moves moisture vapour before it has a chance to condense. This ‘stuff’ can be embedded into fibres, ink or really any other ‘thing’ that is used to make ‘stuff.’ The tech is way over my head, but it has been licensed by a number of companies (it’s been used by Adidas under the Cocona brand, and by The North Face under the FlashDry heading). The newest user is Big Agnes, and they’ve ‘printed’ it inside their newest mountaineering tent, the Shield 2. (And yes, printed, as in the 37.5 particles are embedded in the ink, which is then printed onto the fabric.) I’m pretty sure I’ll need a Physics Ph.D (or two) to understand how all this works, but I’m excited to have received a couple of shirts with this 37.5 tech and am curious to see how it works. Stay tuned for a report.

In the meantime, here are some pics of Big Agnes’ Shield 2 tent, with the 37.5 technology printed all over the inside. The idea is to eliminate frost condensation on the inside of the tent by moving water vapour outside before it has a chance to condense. Sounds super cool. The tent weighs under 4lbs and will retail for $600 when it hits stores in Fall 2014.

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Also, a closer look at the forthcoming La Sportiva Trango CUBE. Light, with a unique outsole, these appear to be a great new contender in the three-season alpine boot realms, though they don’t feel as light as the Scarpa Rebel Carbon or Pro.

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Ok, some other random notes, annotated under the photos. And, naturally, more to come tomorrow!

Adidas_Down-1Coming for Fall 2014 is a new line of insulated jackets from Adidas using Primaloft Down Gold (or is it Gold Down?) insulation, basically a 90/10 blend of down and Primaloft synthetic fibers that resists wetting out better than pure down. The cut on this jacket is exceptional, with long sleeves and a trim fit through the torso.

Arcteryx_Atom_AR-1I missed this yesterday – the Atom AR Hoody from Arc’Teryx. Info coming, but it slots between the Atom LT and the Atom SV, so I’m sure you can figure it out.

BD_Clothing-1I gotta say it: the Black Diamond clothing line-up is impressive. Great fabrics, clean design. Might have to try some of these out!

BD_Jetforce-1BD’s JetForce tech is pretty cool. A battery-powered fan sucks in air through the pack’s back and other mesh panels in the pack. Slick. If production versions run as well as this one, I think this will be a major disruption to the airbag market.

BD_Torque-1Continuing with BD, the Fall 2014 Torque gets a light layer of insulation and green logos to match the Fusion / Fuel tools. Cool.

Camp_Blade_Runner-1Glen from Camp showed me another cool feature of the new Blade Runner – it will actually stay on the boot attached via just the heel piece. They are light, rigid and the point design looks absolutely killer. Cannot wait to get these on some ice!

Jaybird_Reign-1Jaybird’s Reign activity wristband is coming for Summer 2014. The tech sounds super cool, tracking and categorizing all your daily activity without needing you to push any buttons. Just wear it and go. It’ll even recommend how many hours you should sleep for optimal performance!

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