The 2002 Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City offered a plethora of outdoor goodies on display. Everything from the latest sunscreen and bug repellents to tricked out 4×4 conversion vans… all packed into the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.
We decided to drop in and see the new products would be of interest to you. We found a smattering of backcountry gear, hydration packs, watches and car racks we thought were innovative and of interest. Here’s what we found.
Suunto Wrist-top Computers
Suunto has constantly been raising the bar on outdoor-sports specific watches. Other companies simply can’t compete with their quality and product offerings. New for next year, Suunto offers the all-in-one personal training tool for both skiers and hikers, the S6, X6 and X6HR. These watches offer the ability to download your performance (logbooks) to your Windows PC for analyzation.
In contrast to other Suunto altimeter watches, these new watches offer a very simple cell phone-like menu system to access the myriad features. These new watches are definitely a must for anyone who is serious about training or is just a total geek. Hey, that’s not a bad thing.
The new S6 watch offers everything a skier would ever dream of in a watch. This thing not only has advanced logbook features tracking your total ascent/descent, but has amazing new features allowing you to track your speed as well.
To track your speed, simply set the slope angle using the sights on the watch, set it, then ski to the bottom. Through simple Trigonometry (ok, not so simple), it will calculate your speed based on the angle of the slope and distance travelled. Best of all, after the day, you can download and analyze all this information onto your PC for endless hours of fun.
X6 and X6HR Details | X6HR Watch Review
The X6 and X6HR differ only in that the X6HR also has Suunto’s new heart-rate functionality. These new watches also offer a feature-packed PC software suite allowing you to fully analyze the impact of heart-rate, time and altitude.
Basically, these new watches from Suunto will end up “replacing luck” when it comes to training and measuring your performance levels. It really is fun and addicting to track your performance on a bike ride or backcountry tour… Suunto has now made it even easier.
For more info, visit Suuntousa.com
Life-Link Backcountry Products
Life-Link, makers and distributors of some of the finest backcountry products has expanded and improved on its product line for 2003. Most notably, they beefed up and lightened their backcountry touring boot, updated their packs and added trekking poles to their venerable line of adjustable poles. Life-Link continues to push the envelope with the ever-increasing needs of the backcountry traveller.
Dynafit TLT700 Touring Boot
New for 2003, the Dynafit TLT700 offers the best of all worlds for the alpine touring market. With a new shell that is both lighter and stiffer, the TLT700 is supple enough for even the longest tours, but stiff enough for the most demanding skiers when it’s time to rip up the much-deserved pow.
One of the best features of this boot is the Thermo-Fit liner, which is much lighter than the stock liner and, obviously, much more comfortable. These boots are Dynafit Tri-step compatible, but also work with DIN standard AT systems such as Fritschi.
Dynafit Tourlite Tracer
Lightweight, yet stable and durable. That’s the new Tourlite Tracer skis from Dynafit. New to the line this season, the Tracer offers the widest platform of all Dynafit alpine touring skis. These babies are stiff torsionally, yet offer a very soft flex for skiing the deep fluff. With dimensions of 113/80/113, these skis will float, float, float.
Weight is the key with any alpine touring setup. These skis tip the scales at a scant 6.88 lbs. Hauling these sticks up a long, arduous skin or bootpack won’t be too painful.
Life-Link Rando Pack
The Rando pack offers all the standard features found on backcountry packs of this size: cross-carrying loops, shovel pocket, probe pocket, hydration bladder pocket. It also offers something no other packs do… everything zips inside the pack for a clean look. You don’t have to worry about your shovel handle catching on low-lying branches during your covert operations through the trees. Another cool feature of the Rando pack is the full zippered back panel, allowing easy access to the contents of the pack.
Life-Link Aide-de-Camp Trekking Poles
Life-Link has been tops in the backcountry ski pole market for years. Their poles are the industry standard–you’ll be hard-pressed to find a ski patroller who doesn’t use them. This year, Life-Link has decided to take their expertise into the trekking pole market, long dominated by rival pole manufacturer, Leki.
The new Aide-de-Camp trekking poles feature the same ovalized tubes for the upper shaft that have been standard for Life-Link. The oval tubes prevent slippage since an oval can’t spin inside another oval. Very logical. The lower section features a new locking mechanism and shock absorption system. This shock absorption system can be disabled or enabled with a simple twist of the pole. That way, the same poles can be used for a variety of purposes.
For more info, visit Life-Link.com
Ultimate Hydration Systems
Ultimate Hydration Systems is hot on the tail of rival, Camelbak when it comes to innovative hydration packs. In an effort to continue improving their patented RollTop SpotTank bladder design, Ultimate has now introduced a more efficient bite valve. The new split design swivels 360-degrees and offers an on/off switch to prevent accidental trunk flooding. The greatest feature of this new bite valve is the sheer amount of water that comes out instantly from the dual-sided valve. Unlike other valves, the liquid will come out quickly, allowing you to hydrate faster. This alone is an awesome feature of their solid hydration systems!
The Sipstream, like most mid to small-sized Ultimate packs, offers a unique shoulder strap system that allows you to carry the weight right in the middle of your back. At first I was a bit skeptical, but after trying it on, the pack felt quite comfortable and super stable. The only drawback to that is if you have a full load, it might pull you backwards. Hence why their larger capacity packs offer traditional shoulder straps. For trail running or adventure racing, this pack remains the best option for stability and load carrying comfort. It simply becomes a part of you.
Check out their full line of hydration systems. I guarantee you’ll be impressed with the comfort and usability of their small to mid-size packs.
For more info, visit UltimateDirection.com
Yakima Roof Racks
Yakima continues to push the limits of car-top bike racks this year by introducing two new upright bike racks. As more and more bikes are adopting non-standard front hubs (i.e. 20mm thru-axles & Cannondale Lefty), and wider tires, upright bike racks are continuing to grow in popularity. Also new this year are the re-designed Lift Ticket ski carriers.
Yakima King Cobra
The totally new King Cobra offers a very different design as compared to other upright bike racks. A pivoting vice-like front section clamps onto the front tire with conviction. The clamp slides up and down to be able to accommodate all wheel sizes from kids up to the new 29-inch MTB tires. Got DH tires? Not to worry, the updated trays will accept 2.7 tire widths.
Another cool feature of the King Cobra is the integrated cable lock that easily wraps around the downtube of the bike. The King Cobra is also available sans cable lock as the Cobra. The only drawback to this new system is it seems fairly bulky atop the roof of smaller cars.
The Raptor replaces the Boa with a totally new clamping system. This new clamp wraps around larger downtubes while providing added piece-of-mind to the user.
The all-new LiftTickets continue to offer a simple ski/snowboard rack. Skis are carried flat and are very easy to put up and take down. The best feature of the LiftTickets is the much easier to use release button. This thing is so huge and easy to hit, you could just about hit it with your forehead if your arms are full. Also, for some reason, the new LiftTickets come in the Thule-like grey color. Hmmm…
For more info, visit Yakima.com
Thule Car Racks
Thule continues to lead the way in sexy rooftop boxes, hitch racks and easy-to-use fork-mount bike racks. The round bar vs. square duel is no longer an issue as Yakima and Thule offer their products for both round and square bars. No more sticking with one brand because you’ve got square or round bars.
Thule Evolution Rooftop Boxes
Sexy… that’s definitely how I would describe Thule’s sleek silver roof boxes. With the ability to open the box from either side of the vehicle, the Thule boxes are the easiest to use of any boxes on the market. And, while others simply offer a black or white color, Thule offers theirs in a metallic silver color that looks great.
Thule Trailblazer Hitch Rack
If you’ve got a 2-inch receiver and don’t want to heft your bikes atop your SUV, the brand new Trailblazer is the most feature-packed bike hitch rack on the market. With the ability to rotate, twist, fold out and tilt, this rack will get out of your way when you need access to the back of the vehicle and return securely back into place when it’s time to haul ass to the trail.
With so many big DH and freeride bikes these days, a hitch rack offers the ultimate in ease-of-use. If you value your back, you’ll seriously love using a hitch rack. As an added feature, the Trailblazer also offers a retractable lock, housed in the arms of the rack and a lockable pin to keep your bikes secure.
V2 Fork-Mount Bike Carrier
Thule has updated its venerable fork-mount rooftop bike carriers for 2003. Some new features include increased clearance for disc brake calipers, optional colors and a beefier tray. As usual, Thule fork-mounts continue to be the easiest to use on the market today. Simply lift the entire front section, set your fork width, then clamp down. You’re ready to roll.
For more info, visit Thule.com