Once more, Outdoor Retailer has given me a glimpse into the future of the gear we all love. I was able to stop in on a few brands with new and innovative entries into the market, so lets get rolling with the recap. For even more gear, check out my Outdoor Retailer Recap, Part 1.
More known for their ski boots, Tecnica is attacking the trail running market with a handful of well-constructed and designed trail running shoes. Utilizing the TRS system (Tecnica Rolling System) for improved rolling stride and with a slew of other innovations (asymmetrical overlap, performance platform, bathtub construction and more), Tecnica really means business… err, trails.
The bright orange Inferno Max ($150) is built like a capable training shoe with the ability to smoke the trails on race-day if you choose to lace ’em up on your next race. Not ultralight, but the wide platform and rocker design is built to make you more efficient and comfortable for miles. Weight looks like 12.2 oz each on these.
With a more traditional contact patch width and a burrito wrap upper, the Inferno Sprint ($160) packs a serious punch in a low-profile race-ready shoe. A look inside yields all the goodies you’d expect with the addition of a carbon plate for lightweight protection and quickness. These will tip the scales at 10.4 oz each, so not the lightest, but still light.
The new Suunto M-Series consists of four watches that are aimed at making workouts drop-dead simple. The three-button design features a large screen and palatable price points for what you’re getting. Once set up, these watches will provide a simple workout plan that adjusts to meet your goals as your performance improves over time. Everything can be uploaded to MovesCount.com and all Suunto watches are now compatible with the most superior computing platform on the market, Apple Macintosh (and the crowd goes wild!!!!).
Easton Mountain Products
Hot on the heels of the success of their snowshoes, Easton is hitting the lightweight tent market with a sledgehammer. Known for their innovation in both aluminum and carbon fiber, Easton is bringing some serious innovation and ultralight goodness to their forthcoming tent line. The headliner is the Kilo 2-person tent ($399) that comes in at a freakishly light 2.2 lbs!
Much of the weight reduction is achieved by using ultralight carbon fiber poles and the elimination of shock-cord to keep the poles together. In lieu of shock-cord, Easton has developed what they call AirLock, which uses a carbon insert held together by mono filament line. Because the poles are now 59% lighter than aluminum ones with standard connections and shock-cord, Easton can continue to use durable fabric weights elsewhere and still come in as one of the lightest 2-person tents on the planet.
Based on feedback from the accomplished Salomon race team, the new XR Crossmax ($130) is built to be a crossover shoe that goes from road to trail with ease. Word is they will not sacrifice anything on the trail, but will provide an improved feel on the blacktop. The focus on the XR Crossmax is on the grip, the fit and the ride, so all-new technologies are featured throughout.
The re-design of the market-leading Camelbak reservoir for 2011 has resulted a domino-effect throughout the entire line of hydration packs. To take advantage of the new Antidote Reservoir, each pack is streamlined and optimized for its use. Since there’s no time to give the run-down of the entire line, a few features of the new bladder is going to have to suffice.
The screw-tight fill port opening has now been refined with ease-of-opening in mind. Instead of threading it in for several rotations, it now only requires a 1/4 turn. The opening is the widest on the market and the overall thickness and weight has been reduced. To help reduce sloshing and maintain its shape, the internal bladder features a 6-inch baffle that also reduces overall profile by 24%. Add on top of this the integrated dryer arms and the new Antidote reservoir is the new black. Look for it throughout the entire 2011 Camelbak pack line.
Cascade Designs (MSR & Platypus)
With some great new products from both the MSR and Platypus brands, Cascade Designs continues to see good momentum for their quality outdoor gear. With several new tents in the line, the one I honed in on was the 2 lb 14 oz Fast Stash. This new tent is based on the cult favorite, but long-discontinued MSR Missing Link shelter. As a tarp shelter, the Fast Stash ($299) can be pitched using trekking poles or included poles and features a roomy 2-person single-wall design with a sizeable front porch.
Another simple solution that’s cool is the new Universal Canister Stand. This little number can add extreme stability to nearly any canister stove on the market.
From Platypus, we get the new Origin 3, 5 and 9 hydration packs. Built using years of feedback, the Origin line is built light and as a hydration pack first and foremost. These new packs are built using weatherproof exteriors with welded zippers, laminated fabrics and multiple hose ports for either top or hipbelt exit.
While the Illum sandals have remained hot, Teva is going to ride the current wakeskate craze in 2011 with the Gnarkosi ($100) wakeskate shoe. While this shoe can be used in tow behind the boat, they can also be rocked around town or anytime watery adventure is on the menu. With a grippy outsole and hydrophobic materials, the Gnarkosi will find a home on the feet of shredders everywhere.
Sherpa Adventure Gear
What a great story here! I met with Tashi Sherpa (President and Founder), who gave me the rundown on Sherpa Adventure Gear. I’d seen their products before and thought they were good quality, but I hadn’t heard the entire story behind the company and the products.
The 50,000 foot level is that Sherpa Adventure Gear manufacturers 80% of their products in Nepal with a local workforce to support the local economy. They also employ actual Sherpas as brand ambassadors who use and test the products in the Himalayas. In short, the great Sherpas of Nepal are directly-benefited by the success of Sherpa AG.With a flagship store in Katmandu, Sherpa AG promotes the use of their products to all climbers and locals alike — offering jobs and opportunities for Sherpas and their families.
Knowing that great story, it will hopefully help you understand the product quality and their ability to offer similar products as some of the larger names at lower prices.
My favorite new piece from Sherpa AG is the Resham Jacket ($199) for men and women. The name Resham means “soft or silky” and the interior of this 3-layer shell feels just that. While it’s completely unlined and relatively minimalistic, the Resham Jacket feels soft, yet still offers excellent weather protection with waterproofing and breathability to hang with the best of them. It tips the scales at a respectable 12.6 oz and should be available Spring 2011. The image shown is the Women’s version.
Lots of great things coming out of the footwear side of the house at Patagonia. One of my perennial favorites, the Maui Moc, gets some hemp and leather options, but the shoe I want to highlight is the new Specter trail runner ($130). It comes in just a tad more supportive than the Tsali, but with the same midsole and outsole. Weight is slightly higher than the Tsali, but not by much. It features a two-layer mesh upper, exo skeleton arms from the heel to the uppermost lace loop and full-length Dynamic Lace system.
While Vasque is headlong in a hiking boot revival mode, their trail runners continue to grow. For this year, the Mindbender has done extremely well, so we can look forward to the Mindbender GTX in stores this Fall. What’s innovative with the GTX is the unique Gore-Tex bootie that reduces weight and improves comfort compared to other liners. It also features a floating tongue that floats under the integrated scree guard, which houses the waterproof membrane.
I guess I’ve been living in a hole because I didn’t even know that Thule had recently developed a complete travel bag lineup that is absolutely insane. Apparently, it’s even popular enough that Nordstrom is carrying it and selling through it quite well. I got a good look at the wheeled luggage, packs and bags with the Crossover TCRD-2 87 liter rolling duffel ($300) being the star of the show. This bag is built with ultralight materials that offer no compromises when it comes to durability. The telescoping handle is secure with minimal racking or wiggling when pulling. It also features a crush-proof “SafeZone” for goggles, cameras and such.
Now onto the bike side, there’s a new trunk-mounted tray rack (yeah, crazy eh?). The Thule Raceway Platform ($299) provides the convenience and near-universal fit of a trunk rack with the ease-of-use of a tray rack. It features a lifetime warranty and uses rubber-covered steel braided cables instead of straps for security and stability. Bikes sit into one of two trays and then a lever arm gently squeezes the top tube for secure attachment. Locks abound to secure your ride and the rack.