It’s rare that The Insider ventures beyond the protective bubble of Chamonix but the lure of next year’s gear was just too much to resist. So off to the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen I went.
Veteran showgoers were overwhelming in their opinion that there wasn’t that much new at this year’s show but the Insider is a hardcore gear junkie and a dedicated showfloor crawl turned up quite a few products that had his heart going pitter patter.
Although the left-handed spork (no, I’m not making this up) made a strong showing, it didn’t take too many rounds of hefeweisen for the Insider’s illustrious panel of judges to bestow this year’s highly-coveted Sex-On-A-Sling Award to DMM for their single stem, twin axle Dragon cams. Why? Well how about…
• hot forged lobes
• narrow 13.75 cam angle holds better over wider range
• replacement trigger wire system
• 6 sizes – 20mm to 114mm
• extendable 11mm dyneema sling
• available February 2010
Drawbacks: Stem could be a bit more flexible but we’re guessing this will improve in a coupla years when BD’s patents expire.
Ever since DMM introduced the Phantom we’ve been a sucker for their unique blend of lightenss (25.5g), strength and functionality.
The new Spectre 2 uses the same I Beam construction as the Phantom but employs a wider 27mm gate and wider basket yet still weighing in at a meager 33g making it the biner of choice when light, strong and fast is the goal.
Over at Five Ten we ran into Owner / CEO Charles Cole who gave us the inside scoop on a shoe that’s currently in the works and is being designed specifically for maximum sensitivity on overhanging routes. The shoe has a 2mm sole making it not only lighter but also greatly increases the ability to grip with your toes. And as if that’s not enough, the new Mystique rubber compound makes it more durable than a normal 4mm sole. Potential names for the shoe are Tiger or the Python and it’s slated to hit retail stores in Spring 2010.
What else is new from 5.10? How about the new Team 5.10 designed for bouldering and cutting edge sport routes using a 3.5mm Mystique rubber sole.
Hell, there’s even a pair of Five Ten Yosemite jeans coming soon to a climbing shop near you. If you imagined that the stitching on the pocket looks vaguely familiar then you won’t be surprised to hear it’s an image of Half Dome where 5.10’s owner is responsible for a coupla nice lines.
And since we’ve gone this far we might as well also mention the flash new Freerider skate/downhill/parcours/chillaxin’ shoe. A coupla the mad slackliners were rockin these kicks and they seemed to be doing workin for them so why not, eh?
And speakin of slackliners…
Right. Enough o’ that. Back to the show floor and the next stop is our friends over at Black Diamond where the worker bees in the Swiss chalet sitting inconspicuously in the heart of Salt Lake Shitty have pulled a few more tricks from their tight-fitting sleeves. Witness the new stainless steel crampon. Why stainless steel? It’s lighter (up to 226g per pair), more durable, and less snowball prone because the smoother surface sheds snow better. Oddly, there wasn’t a word mentioned about how totally pimp the stainless looks, which was a severe oversight if you ask me. But hey, back to the tech stuff … BD has designed these babies with a low pro heel bail, 5mm shorter down points that work better with today’s more flexible climbing boots, shorter, 3D rails for stiffness, and a narrower front rail for … erm … narrower ice and stuff. Maybe.
Perched right next to the poons were a sick new pair of BD tools called the Fusion that look like the lovely offspring born from a hazy encounter between a svelte alpine tool and an overhanging ice/mixed meat hook after a long night of pole dancing at LeTof. The Fusion features a single-bolt head that can be changed in the field without additional tools, investment-cast hammer that adds versatility and balance, a stiff yet lightweight hydroformed shaft, an adjustable over-moulded grip, and a removable spike. These things look like a perfect tool for CHX ice and I look forward to personally reviewing a pair in the near future (hint, hint – anyone from BD in the audience?) for the greater good of our close-knit and highly-influential community.
Last summer at OutDoor, Petzl made a huge impact with the show’s best party featuring a piña colada cow that had clearly been on a rum-intensive diet, and the notorious LaFouche (formerly 0f Chamonix) bangin out progressive house long after the show ended. This year, we missed out on the cow costumes but we found a new range of headlamps and the new, suh-weet looking Elia women’s helmet. This sky blue helmet with pink accents and adjustable leaf-shaped vents is more than just a pretty face. It has a unique Omega headband system that arcs in the back to accommodate ponytails, headband adjustment buttons on the side, and removable/washable foam padding. Let me just say that as a guy whose girlfriend/climbing partner hates her current helmet, I can’t wait til this thing hits the market.
For Spring 2010 Arc’teryx brings us the Altras trekking pack which include a MonoFrame™, a rotating Load Transfer Disc™, and adjustable GridLock™ shoulder strap adjustment system. The Altras also features air-permeable shoulder straps and hipbelts and Vapor™ thermoforming components that conform to the user’s body. Altras will be available in 75L, 65L, and a women-specific 62L.
Also new from Arc’teryx is the Delta LT Jacket (right) made from lightweight, breathable Polartec® Classic Micro Velour Small Grid Fleece that. Like many Arc’rertyx pieces, makes it a great piece for both the trail and the bar.
Another nice piece to look forward to from the innovative Canadians is the Accelero Jacket that looks like it would be perfect for all-weather trail running. This full-zip, trim-fit jacket is built with a double-weave polyester for superior breathability, moisture wicking and stretch. It also features an inner layer of bamboo charcoal for moisture and odor control.
Or for those of you who get better results when you’re running the cyborg look, you’ll without a doubt be running the Shark Running Jacket from X-Bionic, the company that “turns sweat into energy”. In addition to head-turning style, the Shark features technology that you probably never knew you needed, including…
heat-diffuser ducts, SpaceFrame™ Technology elements, rib-structured special insulating areas, an anatomically-shaped shoulder that avoids the formation of wrinkles and, when required, a collar that can be opened to increase your neck protection against cold squalls.
Y’know, I’ve been in the mountains for more than a few years and I’ve never thought of opening my collar to increase my protection against cold squalls. It just goes to show the kind of things you can learn at a trade show, eh?
Light My Fire
And following along from the Shark perhaps this is an appropriate time to mention the latest innovation in backcountry dining technology, the left-handed spork from Light My Fire. Stuff a coupla these babies into your pack and the next time your partner spills his chicken soup on your new down sleeping bag and claims, “Whoops, sorry dude. Two left hands,” you can simply pull this sucker out and … stab him to death with it. There might be other uses as well.
Oh, but I digress. Back on track here and it’s a wander by the Primus booth and what did we find there but the new ExpressSpider weighing in at less than 200g. The pre-heating tube ensures that fuel reaches the burner only in gaseous form so there is no danger of flares. And its low center of gravity means less chance of spills. (If it’s starting to sound like I’ve got a bit of experience with the whole spilled pot thing, you’re right).
Sigg also introduces a stainless steel wide-mouth bottle which is long ocverdue in my opinion. Stainless steel is strong, food safe, corrosion proof and free from anything that’s going to turn your finely-tuned body into a walking cancer colony. And of course, the wide mouth makes it easier to the thing with electrolyte mix, soup, tea, ice cubes or margarita mix. It also features a smart dual lid with a wide opening which makes it easier to fill and clean and a small opening that is easier to drink from when you’re moving. Two different sizes: .6L that weighs 175g and 1.0L weighing 220g.