A few pieces in clothing really intrigues us, either with thoughtful design or clever materials. Let’s deal with the clever ones first.
First honours goes to RAB and their Rampage Jacket. Before I continue I’d like to thank RAB for making sure there’s an index in their 240-page workbook! But on to the Rampage… it’s got a Pertex Microlight outer, which is nothing special, but the inside lining is a mix of poly and cotton. And oh man does that cotton ever feel nice against your skin! This thing has enough stretch and (promised) performance to climb in but also feels oh-so-good when you just want to throw on a cozy hoody. Except this is a technical hoody. Brilliant, and we all want at least one each!
Next up is Adidas Outdoor’s mouth-filling Climachill Agravic 1/2 Zip Tee. The fabric is super light and breathable, but to enhance breathability and a feeling of coolness, they’ve actually embedded small aluminum disks along the upper back. These, apparently, are raised slightly to keep the shirt barely in contact with your skin. It’s supposed to improve breathability and aid in cooling. I, for one, am very curious to try it out (given that I can’t stand the heat, anything to keep me cooler!)
Next neat design bit is Patagonia’s almost-one-piece M10 jacket. Pretty much the whole upper — shoulders, arms, upper chest, upper back, neck — is cut from one piece of fabric. This means no seams, and thus nowhere for water to potentially leak through. The fabric is pretty stretchy, and the cut is good, too, so the jacket feels unrestrictive and comfortable. Not revolutionary, but a nice redesign.
This is probably a detail RAB have had on their jackets for years now, but I just noticed it: check out the cool dual storm flaps behind the zipper. And that’s one of those coated YKK AquaGuard zippers, too. Nice touch! Oh yeah, the rest of this jacket is pretty nice as well: Pertex Shield+ 3-layer fabric, massive napoleon pocket, two hand pocket, pit zips. It’s called the Firewall, though I doubt it’s fire or virus resistant (sorry, couldn’t resist!)
Hm, more nice design touches. The long wrist guard on the Alderwood Jacket from Canada Goose certainly caught my attention. It’s not a lot of extra fabric, but it’s a nice touch and help keep hands warmer when you’re in a downpour (they have a similar cuff design on their Timber Shell Jacket, so I’ve tried it out before!). Fit is nice and athletic, with enough stretch in the fabric to not bind and annoy. It’ll be a nice, lightweight addition to the expanding active-outdoor collection for CG.
Arc’teryx will be bringing out an Atom SL, which should be a great addition to the Atom line-up. The Atom SL uses a 40g/m version of Coreloft, which should be the ideal weight insulation for me, as I’ve always found the 60g/m Coreloft in the Atom LT to be too much. We again see some nice cuff details, and are also told there’ll be a “No Slip Zip” main zipper that should stay put where you leave it. And even more good news: the hood is an uninsulated version of Arc’teryx’s “StormHood” (one of the best helmet-friendly hood designs on the market).
Outdoor Research’s Realm jacket uses a new fabric they’re calling AscentShell. From feel it seemed to be a 2.5-layer, though the spec sheet says 3-layer. We decided to call it the two-and-three-quarters layer jacket. Fit seems good, and I like the minimalist two chest pocket design. We’ll see how it stands up to the proven Gore and Pertex fabrics!
What looked really good over at the OR booth was the Ferrosi Summit Hooded Jacket. This looks like a proper summer alpine softshell, made with simple stretch-woven fabrics, helmet-friendly hood and (somewhat) harness- and hipbelt- friendly pockets. It’ll also retail at $165!
Another functional-looking mouthful from Adidas Outdoor is the All Outdoor Mistral Windjacket. Why they can’t call it the Mistral and be done with it, I don’t know. This is your typical lightweight windshell that packs into its own pocket. The Adidas version weighs 158g and will cost just $79.
And now on to some random programming… a few other interesting bits and pieces from the OR showfloor.
Jetboil keeps adding to their stove systems. The newest one is called Genesis, and it’s a monster of a stove. Designed for base camp use, it folds up, fits into the included 5L pot, and packs up into a storage sack/sink. It weighs a fair bit – 4.1kg – but then again it is designed for a 5L pot and a 10″ fry pan! Boil time is claimed to be 3min per 950ml, and it’ll boil 48L from one 1lb propane bottle. Oh, yeah, it runs off those cheap 1lb propane bottles you can get anywhere, and with an adapter hose, you can hook it up to a 20lb BBQ tank, too. Pretty cool for base camps, or very large groups.
In a totally unexpected move, GSI announced a couple stoves. Called the Pinnacle, they appear identical save for the remote-canister hose on the 4-Season model. With a 10,200 BTU output they should boil water quickly, but there’s not much info on actual boil times, efficiency or flame control. They do have a pretty cool looking windscreen, which was still in a prototype stage at the show, but we’ll post a detailed review as soon as we can get hold of a sample.
Tent lights seem to be all the rage these days, with everything on offer from overly complicated and heavy lanterns to Big Agnes’ built-in lighting system. Sierra Designs appears to have found the simplest solution – a 15-gram cone with a hook on one end, and a drawstring on the other, called the Night Glow. Just stick your headlamp through the hole, hang it from the tent ceiling via the included cord and you’ve got yourself a lantern. All without actually having to bring a lantern. What an awesome idea.
Sierra Designs continue to innovate. Years ago I had one of their ‘convertible’ tents that, based on how many vents you opened, could be adapted to everything from full-on winter use to mid-summer desert camping. I’m glad to see this tradition of versatility continue in their current product line-up. The new Nightwatch tent features a cool roll-back fly for those clear, precip-free nights, or it can be fully closed up for rainy days. But even then, dual storage vestibules and access doors make tent life more comfortable, and multiple access points keep you from stepping all over your tent mates. These are cool tents.
This is a view of the tent with one side of the fly rolled up: visible is the other gear-access opening for the other side of the vestibule, as well as one of the dual side-doors. Also, check out the awning over the opening – you could have a door open and not get rained on!
GoalZero are really pushing teaming up with traditional equipment companies. I guess taking your electronic gizmos in the backcountry is commonplace now? I tend to prefer the sounds of nature but I dugress… GoalZero and Big Agnes are releasing a range of tents with clip-on solar panels, and a series of cables throughout the tent to hook up lights, fan, who knows what else. Kinda cool, but I think I’ll still take my wilderness a bit more wild, thank you.
I don’t get the gizmos in tents, but I do like a nice, roomy bag and Big Agnes is updating their line of 25-inch wide Park Series of bag. 600-fill DownTek down, a patented connector to keep your pad actually under your bag and all for around 1800 grams. I know a few people who toss and turn, or just prefer a roomier bag, and these look like just the ticket. Available in a -1C and -9C version.
While we’re on the subject of sleeping bags, the good people at Lightwave have seriously outdone themselves. I’m told that, basically, the Firelight series of bags is built in the same spot, and by the same people, that used to make custom bags for the likes of Kukuczka and Kurtyka, back when Polish climbers ruled high altitude winter climbing. Probably not many of you know that I’m Polish (now you do), but damn I want one of these bags that has all the history of my climbing heroes behind it. Besides being really, really cool, they’re super-light thanks to 900-fill-power down. There are seven bags, with temp ratings from +7C to -17C, and they range in price from $499 to $975. Not cheap, but they’ll probably outlast you, though.
And, once again, taking the award for innovation is Sierra Designs with their Backcountry and Frontcountry Beds lines of bags (though the Polish bags are just cooler to me, but just). They’re kinda like mummy bags, a bit like traditional rectangular ones, and also part blanket. Look at the photo below. Look closely. Think, you’ll figure it out. (This is easier than me trying to explain it.) Cool, no? The Frontcountry Bed shown here sleeps two, has individual foot vents and fits on a standard mattress. You might not want to go back to your regular bed after sleeping in this one…
And finally, probably the one product my buddy Monte wanted to steal the most, is this Helmet Holder from Mammut (and that, by the way, is its official name). It is, uh, a helmet holder (or should that be Helmet Holder?) that will attach to most any pack and, uh, hold your helmet. FINALLY!! (Though we are unsure if it’ll hold the larger ski-focused helmets.)