Outdoor Retailer Day 3 – Canine Soft Shells, Jetboil and Jim Morrison Look Alikes

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 28, 2007      

After serious ski industry shmoozing yesterday, today was my time to walk the aisles and find the interesting, or just plain weird.

Backcountry skiing equipment for dogs.
The pet accessory business is big and I have to admit this jacket and bootie fido ensemble from Ruff Wear is kind of cool. Let’s just hope some of the profits from these doggie softshells go to feed starving children in some far corner of the world. I mean, talk about excessive consumption.

Glasses for backcountry skiing.
Unlike dogs, for us humans fashion is as essential as the air we breath. Consider the “ski bum” who eats free crackers for lunch so he can afford a $300 soft shell, and consider these Zeal Airestream sunglasses. Sure, you could protect your eyes by cutting slits in hunks of cardboard and taping them over your peepers, but why do that when you can wear something this beautiful? These glasses stunned me — they look even better than something you’d see while window shopping in Milan, but they’ve got Zeal’s incredible lens technology, as well as ultra-reliable frames. How can someone in Moab, Utah (where Zeal is located) ace out the Italian designers? Mystery. But it happened.

Glasses for backcountry skiing
Check this out. Collapsible plastic silverware from Jetboil. Ever had your spoon fall into your pot of gumbo? With the extendo handle, just click to the longest extension and it can’t get lost in the gruel. Or lengthen to reach the bottom of your Jetboil. The spoon even has the perfect radius end to mate with the curve of a Jetboil cooking container. Shorten to stowe nearly anywhere.

Outdoor Retailer music.
To close out the day Golite presented a Doors tribute band. These guys were actually quite good, but I just couldn’t get behind the front man’s effort to re-create Jim Morrison’s look. Comments anyone?

Other isle walking observations:

Granite Gear backpacks are pretty much the same this coming year, but they’ve got some fun new accessories. I like their silnyl reusable grocery bag, and they’ve got an excellent selection of nice accessory pouches.

Hydrapack has extended their product line and they’re making a couple of larger backpacks to round out their offerings, but Hydrapack’s weight/volume ratio is a bit too high for my taste. Nonetheless, worth a look if you like trim but fully featured packs built around hydration systems.

ACR personal locator beacons continue to improve. They get smaller, and built in geo-location using GPS makes them much more effective as a rescue device. For emergency comm I still favor a sat-phone, but beacons are worth a look as they’re much easier to operate if you’re injured and cost less in the long run.

In the boot gadget department, one of my missions was to ask around and see if someone had a boot dryer/warmer that worked off auto voltage. I’ve found plenty of 12 volt dryers, but nothing that puts out heat. Dry Guy is releasing just that. “Turbo Dry” is a nice little unit you shove into the toe of your boot and plug into your car cigarette lighter. Result, toasty boots at the trailhead. Look for it next fall.

I thought the Hydra Coach qualified for the totally useless gadget award, but I’ve reconsidered. This device is a water bottle with an LCD that tells you how much you’re drinking. You can program it with a goal and it’ll tell you if you’re drinking enough, as well as showing your rate of consumption. I can think of several uses for this, from intense athletic training to just staying healthy in the office.

Camp, the Italian climbing gear company, has some amazing lightweight gear that I highly recommend for ski alpinism. They’re selling a beautifully designed aluminum ice axe that has a hardened steel tip, as well as aluminum crampons with same on the front points. Take my word for it — state of art. They’re also making a carbon fiber avy probe that’s incredibly light, and have a multi-sport helmet that converts from a ski helmet to an alpine climbing or rock climbing helmet by removing insulation and padding. But better than all that, they’ve decided to import mohair climbing skin material in bulk, and will provide shops with rolls they can sell by the meter so we all can whip up pairs of mohair skins. If you’ve never skinned on mohair you might not want to start. It’s addictive. Super glide, light weight. They wear out fast and tear easily, but in certain conditions Mohair can almost feel like skiing on nordic wax.

All for now, perhaps a bit more Utah gear flogging tomorrow then back to Aspen area where I’ll be involved in helping some folks with their 24 Hours of Sunlight bids, and blogging the race as it happens!


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13 Responses to “Outdoor Retailer Day 3 – Canine Soft Shells, Jetboil and Jim Morrison Look Alikes”

  1. Jonathan Shefftz January 29th, 2007 8:00 am

    “ACR personal locator beacons continue to improve. They get smaller, and built in geo-location using GPS makes them much more effective as a rescue device.”
    – The new model is smaller and ~3 oz lighter, but the on-board GPS feature has always been available (i.e., the current model is available either with only an interface to an external GPS or with that plus an on-board GPS).

  2. Jeff Prillwitz January 29th, 2007 8:33 am

    Geez, the guy pretending to be Morrison is bad enough but John Densmore should file a law suit agains that drummer! And Kyle Maclachin made a much more believable Ray Manzarek. The Lizard King is spinning in his grave.

  3. Bryan Wickenhauser January 29th, 2007 8:42 am

    Lou – Love the CAMP gear as well….its pretty Euro ( light, bright and minimal weight) if you can stand it, but am excited to get on some Mohair!

  4. Tim Carroll January 29th, 2007 10:45 am

    Lou, my comment on the Doors tribute band — it makes me think that the majority of the people at this particular OR show were expected to be aged ex-hippies. I can’t think of anyone under the age of, say, 45 who would think about what Jim Morrison looked like when he was on stage.

    The doggie soft-shell thing is a bit too consumerist, too yuppie-baiting for my tastes. For land-based adventures, the only reason I see to put any kind of overgarment on any dog is the safety-orange “vest” to protect the dog from overzealous hunters during hunting season.

    Any dog that needs a “soft-shell” to be outdoors probably shouldn’t be outdoors in that weather. Really. Plenty of breeds are hardy enough to be out in the snow using only what their genetics have given them.

    The yuppification of backcountry skiing seems to be gaining momentum.

    Were there any BMW or Porsche SUVs in the displays?

  5. Brittany January 29th, 2007 2:03 pm

    Thanks for the OR updates Lou! I am kind of liking CAMP’s idea of a multi-sport helmet. I’ll have to check it out!

  6. Lou January 29th, 2007 3:24 pm

    Jonathan, I thought there was a time when the locator beacons didn’t have GPS…

    Tim, to an extent I think that’s true, but it surprises me how many really young folks know all about the look and sound of early rock bands such as Led Zep, Doors, etc. The tribute thing is a kind of theater thing…

    Camp stuff really is amazing.

  7. David Robinson January 29th, 2007 9:53 pm

    I have a pair of some of the last mohair skins Ascension made, 95mm wide. They weigh exactly half of what my 100mm G3 nylon skins weigh, trimmed for the same skis (saves 1 pound of weight off of the feet). I agree on the addictive glide qualities, and mine have been suprisingly durable, even with spring mountaineering use. Not quite the traction of nylon, but close enough, with substantially better glide, especially in cold snow. Don’t seem to be any worse about soaking up water than the G3’s fairly fine plush, but a little worse than standard Ascension plush-but again, they weigh half as much, so I still prefer them in wetter conditions.

    Glad to see something comparable will be available, although guessing they’ll benefit from regluing with Ascension/BD glue…

  8. Mark January 30th, 2007 4:57 am

    I’ve seen some of the newer Camp axes and they’re stunning (sorry, I’m a big gearhead). And while the doggie softshell might be a little too yuppy for the puppy, I sometimes use a “raincoat” for my pooch when it rains. Ever had to endure a really wet dog indoors? Yeah, the rank smell is tough, plus Fido is happier when not so soggy.

  9. Tom January 30th, 2007 9:04 am

    I’ve actually been interested in something like the doggy soft shell for years. I have a pit bull who loves the outdoors and the snow and is a great backcountry companion. Unfortunately he has so little hair on his underside as to be practically naked. I only take him into the mountains in the summer for this reason. Not all dogs are naturally equipped for snowy backcountry. If purchasing products that enable my dog to accompany me into the winter alpine is excessive, so be it.

    Now, mountain palaces that are unoccupied 50 weeks of the year and drive up property values to the point that noone else can afford to live nearby, that’s excessive.

  10. colin February 5th, 2007 2:33 pm

    I have had repeated failure over the years with camp crampons. so despite such light weight I avoid them. have they improved lately?
    also, when you really need an ice axe it better work in ice, at least here in the alps. i use the lightweight Charlet Moser and BD axes which both work great on hard ice. ever tried to use the aluminum Camp type axes in anything but snow. do a comparison one day and anyone in their right mind would choose the extra few grams to avoid having the axe deflect instead of bite! especially when needed in tight situations, which can happen often for ski mountaineering… and god forbid you ding some rocks with it by accident…bye bye pick.
    the only use for the aluminum super light axes is when one is totally sure to encounter only easy snow climbing conditions or to save weight in races. same goes for crampons. when you need them, they better work.

  11. Lou February 5th, 2007 6:49 pm

    Here in Colorado the aluminum stuff works great for almost all the snow work we do. I’d never use aluminum ax or crampons if I thought I was going to encounter more than a few steps of real ice.

  12. me October 30th, 2008 9:26 am

    I live in Arizona and my parents live in eastern Canada. When I go home for Christmas this year I’m bringing my two short haired puppies. Guess what? They’ll both be wearing the soft shells. Desert dogs are not at all prepared for Canada weather.

    It’s not just an outfit for yuppy dogs…when a dog lives somewhere where the climate is warm, and then goes on a ski trip or vacation somewhere cold, this kind of dog coat is great…especially for short haired dogs.

    doggie tutus on the other hand………

  13. Lou October 30th, 2008 9:35 am

    arf arf

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