Outdoor Retailer Summer 2017 was the last show in Salt Lake City, and with a lot of political controversy surrounding the show (CNN), several of the industry’s most recognizable and respected brands boycotted the show as a sign of protest (most notably in the climbing zone, missing were Patagonia, Arc’teryx, and Metolius). As a result, I am not including those companies in the post-OR round-ups, but will instead create a separate post using manufacturer-provided images and information.
This summer, I’m introducing the New Gear Awards for OR shows. These awards will highlight what I think are the most innovative, useful and just in general coolest products I ran into at the show. There is no set number or categories, this is just the stuff I am most looking forward to next spring/summer. And please keep in mind these are just initial impressions based on the samples (sometimes even prototypes) that I could try on and personally play with on the show floor. Most of the time nothing will change between what you see here and final production versions, but you never know. The NGAs below are listed in descending order of what I think are the coolest, most game-changing pieces announced. Full reports for every category coming later this week.
The NGA for Three-Season Alpine Boot
Scarpa Ribelle Tech OD
This boot simply blew me away. I actually exclaimed “holy shit!” out loud enough that a couple of the Scarpa staff came over to see what was going on. Yes, this boot feels that good on (and the sample is a 42, so a bit small for me).
The Ribelle uses Sock-Fit Plus for an even more sock-like fit; I would liken these to feeling like a neoprene bootie in the way it wraps and hugs your ankle. The last feels a bit wider than the Rebel Carbon, and the lacing system feels like that from a trail running shoe. The whole boot gives the impression of being a stiff trail runner more so than an alpine boot, but still feels stiff enough to edge and climb with. The ‘sock’ utilizes an OutDry membrane for waterproof protection all the way to the cuff, and the sole is semi-automatic crampon compatible.
Claimed weight is an unbelievable 550-grams for a size 42. By comparison, my super-light feeling Rebel Carbon in 43 weighs 692-grams, and the also very-light Rebel Ultra in 43.5 comes in at 796-grams. 550-grams is just nuts!
Of course, light weight never comes cheap: MSRP is $500 USD / $675 CAD.
I should also mention that the awesome and well-loved Rebel Pro is not in the Scarpa catalog for Spring 2018: be advised, stock up now!
The sample-size 42 Ribelle’s flex compared to a 43 Rebel Carbon (top) and a 43.5 Rebel Ultra (bottom). It is definitely not as stiff as the Rebel Carbon, but close. Interesting how much the Rebel Ultra actually flexes for a boot that climbs ice so well!
The NGA for Everyday Kit
Petzl Bindi headlamp
A headlamp? I know, it seems ridiculous, but hear me out: this thing is tiny (barely bigger than my thumb?!), weighs a minuscule 35-grams (that’s less than half a Clif bar) and puts out a massive 200-Lumens (that’s very bright!). Power comes from a rechargeable Li-On battery, and the headlamp is rated to IPX7, which is 1m underwater for up to 30minutes. The ‘headband’ is thin shock-cord, and the headlamp rotates around to prevent accidental turn-on. MSRP is $60 USD.
This is the headlamp I want for my emergency kit, the one I stash in a pack in case I forget my ‘big’ light, and the one I want to throw into the glovebox, just-in-case. Basically, about the best everyday headlamp I can think of — I want at least half a dozen!
The NGA for Climbing Apparel
Mammut Eisfeld Light SO Hoody & Pants
Phase Map is a new weaving technology developed by Mammut in conjunction with schoeller that seamlessly integrates differing material properties into one piece of fabric. Typically manufacturers will utilize heavier weight or different weave fabrics to provide reinforcement over high-wear areas such as the knees or elbows. The Phase Map tech integrates this reinforcement directly into the fabric without a break which results in less seams and a stronger and lighter garment. Very cool.
The Eisfeld Light SO Hoody fits me like every other Mammut piece — that is to say awesome. It’s definitely a Euro-fit, that is to say somewhat closer cut and more body-hugging than comparable North American items. The Hoody weighs in at 455-grams, has a helmet-compatible hood and a single chest pocket. MSRP is $350 USD / $475 CAD.
The Eisfeld Light SO Pants are slim and streamlined, designed with alpine climbing in mind. No extraneous features here, just Phase Map reinforcement over the knees and two harness-friendly hand pockets. Weight is claimed at 310-grams, and MSRP will be $325 USD / $375 CAD.
The NGA for Shelter and Sleeping Systems
RAB Mythic Sleeping Bags
There are lightweight sleeping bags, and then there are these: RAB’s new Mythic bags come in at incredulous weights. The Mythic 200 +1C comes in at 475-grams, the Mythic 400 -6C weighs 660-grams and the Mythic 600 -12C is 885-grams. That’s lighter than any other high-end down bag that I can think of, and the RABs undercut them all in price as well. (MSRP in USD are: 200 $385, 400 $435, 600 $485).
The Mythic bags are filled with Nikwax Hydrophobic 900FP down, encased in ultralight, water-resistant, 7-Denier Pertex Quantum inner and outer fabrics. The shape is a body-hugging mummy, with generous draft collars and head-hugging hoods. All bags will be left-zip only, and the zippers are rather minimal (1/4 on 200, 1/2 on 400, 3/4 on 600). I’m looking forward to testing these out!
The NGA for Climbing Pack
Cassin Eghen 35
Cassin has long had a history of making lightweight, functional gear and that tradition continues with the Eghen 35. Simple and stripped-down, the Eghen has nothing extraneous and focuses on what climbers need: ice tool attachments, a compression system, 35L capacity (expandable to 45L), dual haul loops and low-profile shoulder straps. Pretty much perfect.
It does have a couple of questionable features: the inner pouch that converts into a ‘mountain purse’ and the non-removable waist-belt. The murse may or may not function well, but the idea does seem rather neat, so I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve had a chance to use it. As far as hip-belts on climbing packs go, I prefer them to be either low-profile webbing or for the padding to be removable. The Eghen has neither option which is somewhat disappointing to see. I might need to get mine customized…
Weight comes in at 880-grams, and the MSRP in the US will be $180. That’s a pretty awesome price for this pack!