Summer Outdoor Retailer 2015 – Louie’s Take


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | August 11, 2015      

After years of consistent OR show attending, I’ve skipped the last two, first for a ski trip to South America, and second for a ski trip to Japan. Good reasons, if I do say so myself. This year, after a hiatus, I journeyed to the concrete and steel temple of gear.

A few changes were apparent since the last show I attended: most stunning was the huge influx of stand up paddle board companies. It’s gone from one or two a few years ago, to at least 20, by my count. Is it a fad, or here to stay?

Another big trend was solar and other portable power companies. In years past it was just a few players, mainly Brunton and Goal Zero. Now there’s quite a number competing in that space. I saw a few unique brands, including one that was making a small portable windmill. The Powertraveler wind generator works in fairly low wind, and can even shut off if the wind gets too high. Could be terrific for a storm-bound expedition. As we discovered in Alaska this year (using Aspect Solar equipment), PV can only eek a bit of power during a severe storm. However, who knows how a little windmill would stand up to days of a sustained mountain gale. Another cool idea was Big Agnes and Goal Zero’s collaboration on tents with integrated solar power. They could solve some of the common hassles with setting up a solar system. However, I wonder how many people are going to shell out the extra cash for a solar powered tent.

powertraveler backcountry skiing wind power for ski expeditions

Powertraveler is making some cool portable power stuff. This device is a little generator about the size of a soda can. A water wheel and wind mill can be attached to it. The windmill seems like it could be an alternative to solar on expeditions.

big agnes solar tent for backcountry skiing

Also in the portable power segment Big Agnes is partnering with Goal Zero to integrate solar and LED lighting into their tents. One of the main issues with solar that I have found is both the setup time and getting the cable routed into the tent. This solves both those issues, which is pretty cool. I didn’t get the weight or price. I bet both are fairly high, although maybe less than a tent with solar power that isn’t integrated.

Also cool: The Mountain Equipment Eclipse hoody is one of my favorite mid-layers. The integrated balaclava-like hoodie has an offset zipper that makes it incredibly comfy. This year they've updated it with new Polartec fabric that is warmer and lighter.

Also cool: The Mountain Equipment Eclipse hoody is one of my favorite mid-layers. The integrated balaclava-like hoodie has an offset zipper that makes it incredibly comfy. This year they’ve updated it with new Polartec fabric that is said to be warmer and lighter. Check out Coop’s review of the piece from a few years back.

There of course wasn’t much ski stuff at the summer show, but I still saw a few things that caught my interest. One was Petzl’s glacier rescue kit. It uses a super thin Spectra rope, and includes a Tibloc and pulleys designed for use with the skinny rope. They woven the rope in a specific way to make it as grippy as possible, since skinny ropes are notoriously hard to grab when rappelling or hauling. I’ve carried a skinny Dyneema cord for years as a glacier cord, although I only take it on trips with minimal crevasse danger or where weight is a major concern. I’ve always wondered about the safety of using such a static cord. It was good to hear that Petzl had conducted tests on static glacier ropes. They found that with the rope cutting into the snow, and the movement of people arresting, there wasn’t a significant difference in the force generated by a static as opposed to dynamic glacier rope. Good to hear.

Petzl's glacier rescue system set up with a 3-1 pulley system. The little bag at lower left is what it all fits into.

Petzl’s glacier rescue system set up with a 3-1 pulley system. The little bag at lower left is what it all fits into. Super tight, easy to carry, love it.                                                      

Petzl came out with a cool lightweight glacier rescue kit. A 6mm Spectra rope that is specifically designed to be extra grippy and work with the Petzl Tibloc (usually only works down to 8mm).

Both Petzl and Mammut came out with a cool lightweight glacier rescue kit. Pictured is Petzl’s. Included is 6mm Spectra rope that is specifically designed to be extra grippy and work with the Petzl Tibloc (usually only works down to 8mm).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Tibloc ascender for backcountry skiing and mountaineering

Petzl also came out with a new version of their diminutive Tibloc ascender. Although light, Tiblocs have a host of issues that make them somewhat of a specialty tool. The new version apparently solves many of those issues, notably the device slipping when loaded without setting it, which can often result in a shredded rope.

There has been buzz about Black Diamond's new ultralight cams. I have been wondering how much of a weight difference they would have. However when handling a full rack of them the 25% weight savings was readily apparent.

There has been buzz about Black Diamond’s new ultralight cams. I have been wondering how much of a weight difference they would have. However when handling a full rack of them the 25% weight savings was readily apparent.

We already covered the new Jetboil Genesis stove. On several basecamp trips I’ve used an old Coleman 2-burner stove, which worked ok, but could definitely use some improvement. Jetboil's system looks sweet, especially the ability to hook up a small accessory burner for making hot water while using the main burners for cooking. I didn't get the price, but I’m sure it'll be a pretty penny more than the $30 Walmart two-burner.

We already covered the new Jetboil Genesis stove. On several basecamp trips I’ve used an old Coleman 2-burner stove, which worked ok, but could definitely use some improvement. Jetboil’s system looks sweet, especially the ability to hook up a small accessory burner for making hot water while using the main burners for cooking.

High-end coolers are an interesting trend that seems to be blowing up. Yeti started the idea, but some other companies are getting in the fray, notably Pelican, well known for their ultra-burly hard cases. This one is GIGANTIC! I could easily fit inside.

High-end coolers are an interesting trend that seems to be blowing up. Yeti started the idea, but other companies are joining the fray, notably Pelican, well known for their ultra-burly hard cases. This one is GIGANTIC! I could easily fit inside!

Some of Thermarest's new pads have a roll-top closure rather than the traditional plastic valve which supposedly allows for faster inflation and deflation. Interesting.

Some of Thermarest’s new pads have a roll-top closure rather than the traditional plastic valve which supposedly allows for faster inflation and deflation. Also it looks effective for drying out the interior. Interesting.

The show held my interest for a few days, but soon my mind drifted towards skiing. With 90 degree heat in Seattle, winter doesn’t feel close, but it is only a few months away. Woohoo!

While most of this stuff has yet to come out, you can get Mountain Equipment Eclipse Hooded Zip Tee here.



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Comments

6 Responses to “Summer Outdoor Retailer 2015 – Louie’s Take”

  1. Jeremy C August 11th, 2015 1:59 pm

    The Petzl RAD (Rescue And Descent) as I believe it will be called, looks like a simpler/lighter pre-assembled version of their older Crevase Rescue Kit, which is really just a collection of parts in a nice bag.

    Maybe Petzl felt the need to respond to the Mammut RescYou, which performs a similar function.

  2. Mark Worley August 11th, 2015 10:30 pm

    The Mountain Equipment Eclipse looks like a perfect touring piece.

  3. zippy the pinhead August 12th, 2015 12:27 pm

    Greetings from the southern hemisphere.

    The main difference between RAD and Petzl’s older crevasse rescue kit is the inclusion of the rope. It would be nice if the rope could be purchased separately, since I already own the other compoments, or equivalents.

    Happy trails….

    -Zippy

  4. Louie III August 13th, 2015 4:05 pm

    Yeah, the main cool thing about petzls kit was the fact that they included a rope that was made to be grippy enough to be used with their tibloc. Also cool is that they tested out using a static rope on glaciers. I’ve always heard that static ropes are fine for glaciers, but it’s confidence boosting to see some testing on the issue.

  5. Andy August 17th, 2015 9:38 am

    At $230 for 30m of rope that had better be a pretty special bit of cord!

  6. Jason August 17th, 2015 4:41 pm

    I’ve been using the Mountain Equipment hoodie for a couple of seasons now and absolutely love it for everything active





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