Summer OR 2017: Sleep & Cookware

Shelters, sleeping systems and cookware are not the most glamorous products to check out at OR; even in our day-to-day they tend to stay on the sidelines, functioning silently in the background. But, sometimes some cool tech and innovations show up at the show, so here are the coolest bits of camping kit I ran into.

MSR expands their WindBurner line of stoves and cookware with the addition of a remote-canister stove and a full line of pots. The remote stove section only weighs in at 247 grams.

The remote stove sits on three retractable feet, and the wide stance provides the stability needed for even the largest 4.5L Stock Pot. The WindBurner is canister-only and the regulator is on top of the canister attachment end for easy control away from hot pots and the flame.

There are two new pots in addition to the current 1.0L and 1.8L pots and 8in/10cm Skillet: a 2.5L Sauce Pot and a massive 4.5L Stock Pot. The pots are all designed to nestle into each other: the 2.5L will fit a canister and stove, and is designed in such a way that the stove will not scrape the bottom of the pot when inserted. Nice attention to detail!

The WindBurner remote stove will come in three new combos: Stove System Combo with 2.5L Pot and 20cm Skillet (823-grams, $260 USD / $300 CAD), Group Stove System with 2.5L Pot (591-grams, $200 USD / $250 CAD) and the Duo Stove System with 1.8L Pot (597-grams, $180 USD / $220 CAD). The pots will also be available separately, and are compatible with the current canister-top WindBurner: 4.5L Stock Pot is 568-grams ($100 USD / $130 CAD) and the 2.5L Sauce Pot is 345-grams ($80 USD / $100 CAD).

MSR also adds a new PocketRocket 2 Mini Stove Kit which includes a 0.75L pot and ultralight pot lifter. Total system weight with the stove is 259-grams and the MSRP will be $80 USD / $100 CAD. Perfect for the solo traveller or as an emergency stove for the car/truck!

Sea-to-Summit has long been known as making ultralight trail gear, and their new Alpha Pots are no exception. Featuring really cool, low-profile and super-functional Pivot-Lock handles and a non-stick Halo internal surface, the pots weigh in at next to nothing: 1.2L 187-grams, 1.9L 230-grams, 2.7L 272-grams and 3.7L 337-grams. There are also two new skillets, an 8” 245-grams and a 10” 335-grams.

In other campware news, Hydro Flask is introducing The Unbound Series of soft-sided coolers. There will be two, initially anyway, a 25L Pack and a 24L Tote. Using proprietary TempShield insulation, the coolers will keep food and drinks cold and protected for up to 48-hours. The seams are welded for a totally waterproof interior and exterior to ensure nothing leaks out, and nothing gets in to contaminate your food. Both are incredibly lightweight, the Pack coming in at 1110-grams and the Tote at 1360-grams. Like other Hydro Flask products, expect top-notch quality and construction, albeit with a price to match: $275 USD.

Expanding upon their insulated bottle line, Hydro Flask will also introduce the Oasis series: wide-mouth, dual-opening multi-purpose containers for either food or drinks. With massive 64oz / 1.9L and 128oz / 3.79L capacities, the Oasis bottles are designed for families or larger groups. The lid has two openings, a large, full-size opening for ladling out soup or chili, and a smaller, pour-spout opening for spill-proof drink dispensing. The Oasis will keep drinks or food hot for up to 12 hours and cold for up to 24. Expect to pay about a dollar per ounce of capacity: the 128oz will have an MSRP of $125 USD!

There are a few new pads for next Spring & Summer, the most innovative of which is Big Agnes’ Third Degree Foam Pad. Combining two layers of EVA foam, the top with die-cut sections to trap air and the bottom with a tire-tread pattern for cushioning, the Third Degree is designed for winter use and rated to -9C. The 20×72” standard rectangular size weighs in at $340 grams and will have an MSRP of $40 USD. There will also be a 20×12” and a 20×48”, and all the pads can be cut to suit. Pretty cool!

Big Agnes also has two new air pads, the Axl Air and the Insulated Axl Air. Both have heat reflective materials on the inside, with the Insulated version adding Primaloft Silver synthetic insulation for added warmth: the Axl Air is rated to 2C, the Insulated Axl Air is rated to -9C. Weights are an incredible 255-grams for the Air in 20×72” Mummy and just 283-grams for the 20×72” Mummy-shaped Insulated version. Both pads have bigger diameter chambers on the perimeter to keep you cradled in the middle of the pad. USD prices will be $140 Air and $180 Insulated.

Therm-a-Rest will expand it’s SpeedValve pad lineup with two new pads. The NeoAir XTherm MAX SV is the warmest NeoAir pad with a comfy 6-cm thickness, a 5.7 R-Value rating and a weight of 570-grams in 20×72” Rectangular. MSRP will be $240 USD / $320 CAD.

The NeoAir XLite MAX SV maintains the same 6-cm thick cushioning, but without the additional insulation, R-Value drops to 3.2 and weight to 460-grams for a 20×72” Rectangular. MSRP is similarly lower, $120 USD / $240 CAD.

I’ve already covered RAB’s Mythic line of bags in the New Gear Awards so I won’t go over them again here. The only other new bags of note that I ran into were from Therm-a-Rest in the form of a whole new line of Fast & Light bags.

The three down-filled Therm-a-Rest Fast & Light bags feature 800-fill Nikwax Hydrophobic down, ThermaCapture Lining for extra heat retention, Toe-asis Foot Warmer Pockets, SynergyLink connectors to make sure your pad stays in place as well as quilt loops in case you want to add more insulation.

The Parsec 20 (-6C) and Oberon 0 (-18) are your typical mummy-style bags with 3/4-length zippers, massive draft tubes and lightweight outer fabrics. The Parsec weighs in at 890-grams for a size Regular and will retail for $400 USD / $540 CAD. The Oberon comes in at 1105-grams with an MSRP of $500 USD / $680 CAD.

The massive Polar Ranger -20 (-30C) is designed for polar expeditions and features a Snorkel Hood with moisture-resistant synthetic insulation, dual side vents (that can also be used as arm openings) and a 3/4-length dual-slide centre zip. Weight is 1459-grams and this thing’ll cost you $700 USD / $950 CAD.

Rounding out the Fast & Light Range is the Space Cowboy 45 (7C) a synthetic-fill bag that uses eraLoft insulation to come in at just 545-grams for a size Regular. Not bad for a $150 USD / $200 CAD summer-weight sleeping bag.

Also on display in the Cascade Designs booth were two new MSR tents. The GuideLine Pro 2 is designed for the hard-wearing use of guides and outfitters, and is meant to last up to three times longer than consumer-grade tents under sustained use in harsh conditions. All the fabrics are appropriately tougher, higher-denier materials and the Easton Syclone carbon poles are a burly 11-mm. There’s also a new, ultra-durable Xtreme Shield waterproof coating and heavy-duty stainless-steel YKK zippers. Large doors and spacious vestibules allow easy access, and the floor is an oversize (for a two-person tent) 140x218cm. In a world of sub-kilo 2-person tents, the GuideLine Pro is a substantial 2.84kg as is the price: $1100 USD/ $1400 CAD (no, not a typo…)

Of more interest to the general consumer will be MSR’s new Hubba Tour tents, which feature a massive 1.5m wide storage shed / vestibule with a partial floor for keeping gear dry and organized. The Hubba Tours also have an exoskeleton setup system in which the poles are on the outside of the fly, and the inner tent is suspended from loops on the inside of the fly. The tents are designed so that you can set them up fly-first, then attach the inner tent to keep things as dry as possible. There’s also an optional Fast & Light Body, which skips most of the tent body for an ultralight fly + floor combination that still keeps rain out (but not the bugs…). The Hubba Tours will come in one, two and three person sizes, though somewhat strangely they all have the same size vestibule…

Weights and prices for the MSR Hubba Tour are as follows: 1-person 1.78kg $550 USD / $650 CAD; 2-person 2.19kg $650 USD / $750 CAD; 3-person 2.61kg $750 USD / $850 CAD. Looks for them in April 2018.

Another tent that caught my attention is the Alpini from Brooks Range Mountaineering, a waterproof breathable single wall designed for high alpine and winter use. The Alpini uses unique, bent poles that create a lot more livable, vertical, space in the tent while still providing strength in high winds. There are alpine-friendly features such as the pass-through vents for tying in, an extra cross-pole for stability and to shield the vents, as well as reinforced stake-out points for use with skis or ice axes. Weight is a claimed 1.9kg and USD price will be $550.

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