Now that you’ve had a chance to read up on our favorite shoes and food from the 2009 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, we’ll share our favorite lighting systems updates and apparel from the show. We’ll also share some info on fabrics and some other cool gear we saw at there. Before we finish up with our highlights from winter OR, we wanted to thank all the companies and individuals who took the time to meet with us or who answered our questions as we swung by their booth. We’re also thankful for being at OR in the first place – the chance catch up with so many companies as well as so many writers, PR mavens, and other folks in the OR industry builds relationships and friendships that last well beyond when the last booth is rolled out of the Salt Palace.
Yeah, yeah, yeah… we agree. Enough of the cheesy stuff and on to the GEAR!
Light Up the Night
Just when we thought we had fully informed iRF readers regarding the Petzl’s Tikka series (see iRF Petzl comparison) we learn that Petlz will be updating the entire Tikka line in September 2009 making its category-defining headlamps even better! For starters, we’re told that every model in the line up is even brighter. In addition, an extra LED has been added to the Tikka, we think battery indicator lights has been added to the Tikka Plus and Tikka XP, and the battery case is now easier to open.
For those looking for “All the way to 11” power, Petzl has finally released the Petzl Ultra to the public. You might recall that the Ultra had us raving about its supernova brightness after a single run last summer. (see iRF’s ORSM ’08 profile of the Ultra)
GoMotion has come out with a LiteBelt for all you folks looking for an alternative to pulling your Tikka Plus up around your waist. The belt system attaches to any waist pack system you may have so long as the strap is around 1.5-2 inches wide. GoMotion will be offering both a 1-watt and a 3-watt version of the belt light, both of which will have an external battery pack. Whether you place the battery pack in a pack pocket or use the provided belt clip, you’ll be able to take your pack off without removing the light belt system. We’ll also be reviewing GoMotion sternum light kit that we’ve previously previewed now that the GoMotion folks have given us pointers for how to reduce the likelihood of bouncing.
This OR we spent more time looking at apparel and other soft goods (packs, sleeping bags, etc) than we have in the past. Two companies really stood out in their attention to detail: GoLite and MontBell.
We’ve always known of GoLite’s great reputation, but we just hadn’t seen much of it at retail on the East Coast. Well, we finally got a full run through of the company’s product – such is the beauty of OR! From clothing to sleeping bags to hydration systems, these guys design with the end user’s needs in mind and meticulous attention to detail.
MontBell is not a household name among North American trail runners, but it should be. While MontBell won’t fill all of a trail runner’s needs, they have among the best executed outer layers and sleeping bags that we’ve seen. In particular, MontBell excels at making ridiculously light products. We love their ultralight, super stretch sleeping bag and were shocked to learn that their new Spiral Down Hugger spiral-baffled bag will be even warmer, lighter, and less expensive! MontBell also makes our favorite emergency wind jacket and pants – a duo so light weight (less than 6 oz!) that there’s no excuse for not taking them with you when heading into the mountains or in other conditions that could quickly deteriorate.
One apparel trend that we noticed at ORWM ’09 was what Mountain Hardwear calls “MicroClimate Zoning.” Regardless of manufacturer, we’ll broadly use microclimate zoning (MCZ) to mean the tailoring of fabric weights and technologies to the specific needs of various body areas in the same piece clothing. For instance, using mesh behind the knee of running tights would be microclimate zoning. This time around we saw MCZ well-implemented in shirts and jackets by Mountain Hardware, throughout GoLite’s apparel lineup, and in running socks by Drymax, which triples the thickness on the front side of its cold weather sock. We like the use of CMZ in jackets like the MH’s Transition Super Power Jacket (right) that feature wind resistance in the front and more breathable fabric in the back.
On the fabric side of things, we were happy to learn about two fabrics, one old and one new.
Polartec is an oldie, but a goodie. In fact, more likely than not, you already own a piece of apparel containing Polartec. We were impressed with the range of the Polartec lineup. We previously thought of only the warmest parts of Polartec’s lineup, but it consists of 9 different fabrics addressing next-to-skin, insulation, and weather protection needs. The quality of Polartec fabrics is demonstrated by the breadth of companies that use the fabrics, including premium brands like Patagonia and Arc’teryx.
Another well established brand, COOLMAX®, debuted its COOLMAX® EcoMade filament fiber at the show – meaning that the CM EcoMade can now be used in garments. Coolmax® EcoMade is fabricated entirely from post-consumer reclaimed plastic bottles. EcoMade filament fiber can be used in the same applications as traditional COOLMAX® and should only cost about 10% more… at least at the manufacturer level. Ultra-favorite Injinji joined in the EcoMade press conference, as Injinji has been using non-filament EcoMade fiber in its running sock since August 2008. We look forward to checking out a pair of EcoMade Injinjis this spring.
Having only recently been simultaneously exposed to and impressed with Jetboil’s Personal Cooking System (PCS) we were psyched to see the product made even better. With the substitution of a clear vented lid and the addition of a thermochromic sensor to the PCS’s insulation sleeve, the new PCS Flash makes a great product even better. (read Feed the Habit’s Jetboil PCS Flash preview).
We also enjoyed getting to stop by the Industrial Revolution booth to play with some Light My Fire products. We already have a Light My Fire spork and will be bringing it to the Marathon des Sables, but were happy to talk about the new BPA-free version. We were even more excited to make fire! Yup, we’ve read about and seen the Light My Fire FireSteel products all over the place, but never had the chance to spark one up until the OR show. We look forward to trying the FireSteel out in the wild this year.
Some stuff we just can’t tell you about in part without giving away the whole bonfire, so we’ll save them until it’s time for a full post dedicated to their awesomeness!