OR Winter 2015 – The Coolest Bits

The Winter version of the semi-annual Outdoor Retailer market is always smaller and quieter than the Summer edition, but there were still quite a few interesting items announced for Fall 2015. In no particular order:


La Sportiva introduces the G2 SM, a new high-altitude boot positioned above the Spantik in terms of warmth, and the Trango Ice CUBE Gtx, a full-shank version of the Trango CUBE with an integrated gaiter and full-auto crampon bails.


A quick size-comparison of the Batura 2.0, G2 SM and Spantik. The G2’s gaiter is noticeably higher, and the boot is surprisingly low-profile and incredibly light-weight (just over 1000g for a size 42).


The same three boots from the front. The G2 will draw inevitable comparisons to Scarpa’s Phantom 6000, at which it is squarely aimed. It is considerably less bulky than the Spantik, and the dual-Boa closure and ‘normal’ zipper closure ensures ease of operation in cold temperatures. While the Boa system is equally praised and criticized, it is becoming more prevalent in footwear of all types, from ski boots to running shoes.


A surprise to me is the Mammut Nordwand 2.1 High Gtx, a totally unexpected double boot from the venerable Swiss company. We again see the Boa closure system, here utilized solely for the forefoot/bridge with a Phantom 6000-esque velcro strap securing the shin and ankle. The boot features a very high gaiter and waterproof Ti-Zip.


The inside bootie is closed with ‘normal’ laces, and the boot is remarkably low profile for the apparent amount of warmth it offers. I suspect this will be a serious contender in the cold-weather boot category.


Adidas Outdoor is one of those relatively new players on the market that keeps cranking out phenomenal pieces. The terrex TechRock Climaheat Hoodies (they obviously need someone to work with them on the naming scheme) is very impressive with impeccable fit: roomy enough to fit over layers, very long sleeves, a super-long hem in the rear to keep your ass warm, a double-slider zipper for belay-loop access, massive inside drop pockets, a mix of Pertex shell fabrics, 90/10 800-fill down… the details keep going. A very, very well thought-out jacket.



One of the cooler details of the RockTech Climaheat are the alternating Heat Seal baffles, sewn over stitching lines to minimize heat loss, as well as creating small pockets of air for extra insulation.



Clif Bar gets into the energy ‘gel/smoothie/puree’ market, with the most intriguing, pleasantly surprising and VERY good flavour being the Pizza Margherita. Everyone that came up to the booth and tried this flavour came away impressed. I can see  spreading this on some dough and using it as a pizza sauce. It is that good.


Patagonie revamps the Knifeblade line with new Kniferidge Jacket and Pants, now with an even more water-resistant fabric and waterproof zips. Cut remains the same, but the jacket is now even closer to being a full-on hardshell.


The R3 Hoody gets a massive redesign, with even fluffier, softer fabric. And now it’s reversible! I can’t wait to get my hands on one, or two, or maybe three, of these as I can foresee it being my go-to sweater/hoody/mid-layer/pyjama? for all seasons and occasions.


Ternua is a somewhat-new (founded 1995) Spanish company that is launching in North America for Fall 2015. One of the more impressive pieces is their Jannu jacket, with Polartec Alpha 88g/m2 sandwiched between Pertex Quantum with Power Stretch panels for breathability. The cut is spot-on, though the colours are somewhat Euro-influenced!


Arc’teryx announced a few pieces, the highlight being the Nuclei AR. I love the current Nuclei (review: https://www.thealpinestart.com/2014/01/field-tested-arcteryx-nuclei-hoody/) and suspect this new version will be even better. Featuring 100g/m2 Coreloft for insulation and a fully seam-taped Windstopper outer, the AR has the typically awesome helmet-compatible hood, two high hand pockets and an interior mesh pocket. Hidden air vents in the hem allow air to escape, maximizing compressibility. I suspect thing jacket will provide some solid competition for the Solo Hoody (aka the most versatile belay jacket Arc’teryx make).


In other Arc’teryx news is a complete redesign of their glove line (25 new gloves coming for Fall 15!). Apparently nothing climbing-specific, but this new Lithic Glove looks absolutely stellar for alpine and belay duty. With ultra-heavy-duty N333p-X nylon laminated to a Gore-Tex membrane, the Lithic promises to be both supremely abrasion resistant while being full waterproof. Add laminated-in Primaloft insulation (total 233g back of hand, 100g in the palm) and I was tempted to steal the display pair. I suspect Arc’teryx have just made the best belay gloves on the market and don’t quite know it yet (did I mention they’re dextrous as well?)


Palm view of the Lithic, showing reinforcement patches over top of the ultra-durable N333p-X nylon. Also keep an eye out for the new Rush and Fission gloves, they looked sweet too.


The carbon version of Grivel’s The Tech Machine, the The Tech Machine Carbon (I don’t make these names up!) is a slightly lighter but substantially stiffer version of their new high-end ice tool. The construction utilizes their new “G Bone Shaft” (seriously, who comes up with these names?!) which adds two small, shallow grooves all along the length for a more comfortable, secure grip, as well as a stronger shaft.


The North Machine Carbon appears to be a resurrection of the Quantum Tech, adding the new head for uniformity across the whole line of tools, and slightly narrowing the pommel for better snow penetration. I can’t wait to get my hands on a pair of these!


RAB continues to add great-looking pieces into the Polartec Alpha lineup (Can you tell yet that I love Alpha? It’s amazing insulation tech. No, really, it is!). The new Paradox Pull-on uses lightweight fabric — you can actually see the insulation fibres through the shell fabric — to keep the 60g/m2 Alpha in place for what I suspect will be one of the most versatile mid-layers around. RAB fit is exceptional, too.


TNF continues to innovate in ways that inspire. The new Strap-On ABS (not it’s official name, which is Modular ABS, but so much more fun, don’t you agree?) is basically a strap-on airbag system that will fit virtually any backpack out there. With more organizations urging climbers to be avalanche aware, this is the perfect solution for keeping your existing backpack line-up (aka having your cake) while adding a proven avalanche-airbag system as needed (aka eating it too). Retail MSRP $1000 is about the same as any other avy bag out there, but with near-infinite versatility (minimum backpack size is around 12L, I suspect max around 75L, depending on the shape of the pack).


Outdoor Research improves upon the Superlayer with the Uberlayer. Same fabrics — Polartec Alpha inside, breathable mesh inside, stretch-woven outer for wind resistance — but now with climber-friendly fit, aka long sleeves, nice hem length, roomy shoulders and a helmet-friendly hood. This is going to be a winner.


The Iceline Jacket (and matching Pants) are meant for, you guessed it, ice climbing. The Iceline has a climber-friendly cut and uses waterproof and softshell fabrics for maximum versatility. Uniquely in a climbing pant, the Iceline Pants have zippered thigh vents, a welcome feature that’s mostly seen on ski-touring apparel.


More from OR! Yes, the newly redesigned Extravert and Super Vert gloves fit superbly, have amazing articulation, great dexterity and will cost just $75 US / $85 CDN and $59 US / $70 CDN, respectively.


The leather palms on these gloves feel very, very tough, though of course time will tell!


This chart from Mammut outlining their rope collection doesn’t necessarily introduce anything new, but take a closer look at the upper left where the fall capacity, abrasion resistance and water absorption figures are listed. Some very interesting info!


New from Mammut will be this cute little 20L-ish version of their Nordwand pack, constructed using the same Dyneema-rich fabric. I recently received the full-size Nordwand 35L which uses the same fabrics, stay tuned for a report on how well it holds up!


The Petzl Sitta is their new high-end ultra-light all-around climbing harness. A whole bunch of high-tech fabrics, with endless acronyms, and other pseudo-scientific technologies come together into a 230-gram (size S) harness with four gear loops, two ice-clipper slots, a haul-loop and some of the most minimal hardware I’ve ever seen on a harness. If it’s anything like Petzl’s other new harness, it’s going to be very, very comfortable. And it’ll be pricey, too, with MSRP pegged at $160.


Look closely and you can see the strands of acronym-this-and-that fabric running through the waistbelt. Also, check out the cool gear-loop separator thingy! It can be positioned anywhere along the forward gear loops, or tucked into the corner out of the way. I love to see innovations, and this is neat!


This little device is called the Adjust ascender, and works on the basic camming principle: weigh it, and it locks. Unweight it, and you can slide it along the rope. Applications of this, you ask?


The Connect Adjust (red, far left) is meant to replace the oft-misused daisy chain and the somewhat unergonomic personal anchor systems. Girth-hitch the loop through your belay loop, and you have an instant, easily adjustable lanyard with built-in impact absorption (the ropes are dynamic).

The Dual Connect Adjust (orange, middle) has a fixed, extended sling for those who like to extend their belay device while rappelling. The rest works the same as the regular Connect.

The Evolv Adjust (grey, far right) should be the most exciting product for route developers, bolters and aid climbers as it allows minute positioning in a totally closed system. Both the ‘arms’ are adjustable, allowing progress without having to clip and re-clip into various loops.


Camp/Cassin introduce an alpine-spike version of the X-Dream. The ‘Alpine X-Dream’ will come with this spiky handle as well as the Ice pick, but if you already have a pair of X-Dreams you can just buy the handle and swap out as necessary. The X-Dream has just become the most modular tool on the market, very cool.


In an answer to the jet-like roar of typical liquid fuel stoves, Primus have developed a ‘silencer’ for theirs (the lower right one). It shuts up the typical conversation-drowning roar to a level where you can actually have a conversation (or so I’m told, lighting stoves at OR is apparently a no-no).


I rarely get excited by duffles, except when I have to travel, and then I search for the lightest ones I can find, especially when travelling by air. Granite Gear introduces the Packable Wheeled Duffel, which will come in 100L and 145L sizes and weigh in at a scarcely believable 1533g and 1782g respectively. That’s for a full-featured duffle with handle, backpack straps AND wheels. They appear plenty durable; I’m looking forward to putting that aspect to the test!


BD keeps expanding their apparel line-up, the slickest of which appears to be the Deployment Hybrid Hoody with Primaloft synthetic on the arms, shoulder, chest and hood, while the rest of the body is comprised of merino wool. There will also be a Jacket version, for those hood-averse.

And that pretty much rounds out the coolest bits of gear I ran across at OR last week. There are more pieces coming, for sure, and I may do another post, but in my mind this is what we have to look forward to for Fall 2015. Thanks for reading!








7 thoughts on “OR Winter 2015 – The Coolest Bits

  1. Craig says:

    Is it just me or are logos getting bigger. I mean I bought one of BD’s first belay jackets, the logos now (2 yrs later) seem about 50% bigger.

    Part of me hates this, if you want me to be your billboard, why am I paying them?

    Part of me wouldn’t mind so much if the logo on my BD jacket and backpacks were made of reflective material to have a function. So when I’m riding my bike at night, or walking a dark street cars will see me. When/why did climbing start looking like proffesional cyclist uniform….logos on every square inch – i mean look at those La Sportival boots!

    Okay end grumpy rant. But question still stands.

    Oh, and I see from FB raf, you’re friends w/ Margo/warren. Say hi to them – craig from winlaw/nelson

    • Raf says:

      Good points! Yes, some logos are getting bigger for sure. My guess is as the market gets bigger and more brands are in it, they want to stand out and be more recognizable, hence the bigger logos. There is still a large number where the logos are small, or used as a reflective element, or both. As always, the choice is up to the consumer to make: buy whichever product you want to support / image you wish to convey, even with bike clothing, though it is harder and harder to find something without a dozen logos all over it!

    • Squamish Rules says:

      Gotta love Patagonia for that. Great gear. Easier on the planet. Tiny logo.

    • Raf says:

      To the best of my knowledge, Scarpa is postponing the release of the Phantom Pro for at least another season. So, no, unfortunately I didn’t see it and they were not showing it – the boot showed up in the SNews new products PDF but were not actually announced at the show. Maybe for next Spring (aka we’ll see it in August)? They look sweet, though!

    • Raf says:

      I hope the new Phantom series of boots will be announced at OR in August 2015 for a Spring 2015 release. There will be a new 8000, 6000 and Pro version, the Pro replacing the Guide.

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