Since there are less than two weeks until the 2011 winter Outdoor Retailer show opens in Salt Lake City, we figure it’s time to wrap up our coverage of the summer 2010 OR show. We’ve already covered our favorite general trail shoes as well as our favorite lightweight/minimalist shoes, so now it’s time to cover everything else from hydration packs and headlamps to stroopwaffles and stuffsacks.
Black Diamond Z-Pole Ultra Distance ($150)
The Black Diamond Z-Poles are far and away the best collapsible trekking poles we’ve ever seen for running. Reminiscent of avalanche probes, their three-piece design snaps in place simply by pulling both end pieces. It takes only a fraction of a second. To collapse the poles, you push a small button below the base of the handle, push the handle down toward the shaft, and then pull the shaft apart at both joints. While that might sound complicated, it takes less than a second. The carbon-fiber poles are stiff and the joint construction minimizes energy sapping vibrations. Oh, and these are the lightest collapsible poles we’ve ever used, coming in at 9.5 ounces for the 120 cm version. The height of poles is not adjustable, but they do come in four lengths: 100 cm, 110 cm, 120 cm, and 130 cm. [UPDATE: We now carry Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Poles in the iRunFar Store.]
Salomon XT Advanced Skin 5 S-Lab Pack ($180)
Although another iRunFar writer has reviewed the current Advanced Skin S-Lab hydration pack, I hadn’t really checked out Salomon’s SLAB packs until this show. Think of the Advanced Skin pack as the most carefully tailored vest pack that you’ve ever seen. It wraps itself around you just so. The pack has one main rear compartment, two belt pockets, four chest pockets, one of which is a removable velcro pocket. The hydration hose is routed under the arm; however, the hose does not need to be rerouted every time you remove the hydration bladder from the pack. Instead, the bladder and hose decouple at an accessible location at the bottom of the pack, so you just press a button and pull out the bladder to refill. There’s a removable insulation sleeve around the bladder that can be removed if you want to lighten your load. [UPDATE: We now carry Salomon XT Advanced Skin 5 S-Lab Pack in the iRunFar Store.]
Camelbak Octane LR ($89)
The Camelbak Octane LR was another fabulous pack we came across at OR. It’s a great blend of lightweight (12.6 ounces/360 g) functionality. Although it only has 9 liters of storage space, this space is more functional that in most hydration packs as the lumbar hydration bladder sits in a separate compartment around your waist. That means no more wresting a bladder top-down into a pack that’s already filled with your gear.
As noted, this a lumbar hydration system with the 70 ounce bladder wrapping around your waist. The bladder is one of Camelbak’s new Antidote reservoirs with baffling that will reduce sloosh. There’s also a nice stash pocket on the back if you need some extra storage space. This pack will get some serious testing on our long runs in the Wasatch Mountains… once the trails thaw out.
We won’t get into technical details of specific headlamps here, but we were pretty darn impressed by the superior craftsmanship of Mammut’s headlamps. It’s clear that they focus on the quality of their product rather than absolute lumen output. Aside from quality, a couple other handy features of Mammut headlamps are that they have a switch lock, so your light won’t accidentally kill their batteries while in your pack, and they start out on the lowest setting, so you don’t ruin your night vision if you only need a little light. (Purchase a Mammut headlamp)
Honey Stinger Stinger Waffle ($1.39 each)
Inspired by Lance Armstrong’s use of stroopwaffle while riding in Northern Europe, the Stinger Waffle is a delicious treat on the trail… or anytime. Think of two thin waffle-cookies held together by honey. It’s an irresistible treat that’s the next best thing to picking up stroopwaffle the next time your in the Amsterdam airport. Try ’em, you’ll like ’em! (Purchase Honey Stinger Stinger Waffles)
Stuffitts Shoe Savers ($25/pair, $10 replacement cedar inserts)
Stuffitts Shoe Savers have been around for a little while, but OR was the first time we saw them. Stuffitts are cedar shavings wrapped in two layers of wicking fabric. The purpose of these little babies is to dry your shoes more quickly than air drying alone and to eliminate odors at the same time. Available in four sizes, they are a simple idea that work great. (Purchase Stuffitts Shoe Savers)
Jetboil Sol-TI ($150)
We take the Jetboil Flash on all our fastpacking trips. Now we need to find a way to get our hands on a Jetboil Sol-TI. It’s more or less the size of the Flash (slightly shorter, slightly rounder) with a 27 ounce volume compared to the Flash’s 32 ounces. They can take those 5 ounces of volume from me with no argument. Why? The Sol-TI weighs in at 9 ounces (260 g), compared to the Flash’s already light 14 ounces (397 g). Other than that, it’s the tried and true Jetboil Personal Cooking System.
Granite Gear eVent Überlight CTF Drysack ($39-49)
If you fastpack or run stage races chances are you use stuff sacks to hold your gear and you also care about the weight of what you’re carrying. There’s nothing new about Granite Gear making ridiculously light stuffsacks and as dry bags, to boot. The cool thing about Granite Gear’s newest drysack is that the bottom is made of eVent, a breathable waterproof material. The eVent allows you to easily purge extra air as you’re rolling down the rolltop closure, meaning you can compress the sack even better than you could before. These sacks are still ridiculously light. The largest of the four sizes – 7, 10, 13, and 18 liters – weights a mere 0.74 ounces (21 grams). Some other quick stats for you, Überlight CTF Drysacks (link is to the pre-eVent version) are 1/2 the weight of comparably sized sil nylon packs with a material tensile strength 3 times that of sil nylon.
[Disclaimer: Links to Amazon.com are part of an affiliate program that helps support iRunFar.]