Winter OR Trade Show 2012 – Louie’s Take

Post by blogger | January 23, 2012      

This year’s OR show had a ton of interesting products. I’m probably most excited about the new lightweight stiff boots coming out from nearly every backcountry skiing boot maker. However, quite a few other interesting items caught my attention.

Can you guess what this is? I thought it was pretty cool.

Love Glove in action.

Love Glove in action.

G3’s new skin bag, the Love Glove, looks excellent. It allows you to fold your skins easily without sticking them together, while still protecting them from dirt. I don’t usually use a skin bag, preferring instead to put them directly in my pack. With fatter skins, it’s quite a bit of work to pull them apart, so I think I’m going to give the “Love Glove” a try. My only concern is that without glue-glue contact, the glue might still get contaminated more easily with dirt and lint floating around inside your pack. We’ll see. If nothing else, this is the solution for those of you who are fed up with skins that take 300 calories and pumped shoulder muscles just to pull apart.

Display of Dridown at the Sierra Designs booth

Dridown display at the Sierra Designs booth.

The new polymer treated down, like Sierra Designs Dridown, looks interesting. It appears to have impressive water resistance, although probably not as much as synthetic insulation. However, the weight is of course still down-light and compressibility follows suit. I do wonder how this stuff will work after a few months of use — most DWR treated fabrics decrease in water resistance fairly quickly from dirt and grime. Sierra designs is only using lower fill-volume down in their Dridown gear, in order to keep the price down, although Brooks Range is making a jacket with some 750 fill dry treated down. Sierra Designs has some sleeping bags filled with the stuff, could be nice.

New MSR snowfluke

Updated MSR snow fluke, large version.

MSR adjustable pole. You pull up on the lower plastic piece to adjust the pole.

MSR has a few cool products coming out this year. They updated their basic snow fluke, reducing aluminum and adding fabric in it’s place, in order to reduce mass. Significantly lighter. Their new adjustable pole is interesting as well, you can adjust the height quickly from just underneath the handle. Could be useful for adjusting your ski poles on the skintrack.

Pieps beacon in 'map mode.' The clear circle represents the beacon range (with the beacon as the x in the center). The black represents everywhere you haven't covered, can be zoomed in and out.

I was able to check out Pieps new Vector beacon as well, over at the Liberty Mountain booth. It is packed with a ton of features. When you first go into search mode, and start zig-zagging down the slide path, Vector enters into “map mode” which utilizes GPS to show if you missed any sections during your search. I tend to over-compensate significantly when doing the initial zig-zag search, which probably adds a bit of time to the search, having GPS mapping could get me out of that habit. The Pieps has some other nice features as well, include the flip out antenna, which helps increase range and responsiveness. My only concern is this beacon might be a little complicated, especially since it has various modes and functions that can be accessed during search mode.

Outdoor Research Acetylene jacket.

I’m always on the lookout for lightweight insulation layers, and OR’s Acetylene jacket looked pretty cool. It has puffy synthetic insulation in the front, and thin fleece everywhere else. Saves a bit of weight, and I bet adds some breathability.

BaroCook packets in the lower right.

And now for the oddball! I usually spend a bit of time checking out the little start-up booths tucked away in the corners of the show, as they can have some interesting stuff. Barocook took the cake this year. They make chemical heat packs (or according to their Koreanglish website, “semi-permanent heating boxes”), similar to military MREs, for boiling water and cooking food. Really just chemical warming packs on steroids, these appear to get hot fast when doused with water, and subsequently produce copious BTUs.

On long day trips, I often carry a stove for melting snow, since it’s somewhat unreasonable to haul the weight of more than about 2 liters of water. Unfortunately, that means you have to stop, set up everything, and then wait while your water cooks. On fast days, I prefer to keep my breaks short, so sometimes I forgo hydration for time’s sake even when I’ve got a stove. Not only that, but with stove you also have to carry windscreen and pot, which adds quite a bit of weight and bulk. I’ve thought about figuring out some way to melt snow “on the go,” in your pack while your hiking. The Baro heat packs looked like they might be a solution, just throw one in a bottle full of snow, stop once or twice to top it off, and voila! In half an hour you have an extra liter of water. Their demo looked like it got pretty hot though, I’d hope it wouldn’t melt a hole through your pack. We shall see.


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18 Responses to “Winter OR Trade Show 2012 – Louie’s Take”

  1. Mark W January 23rd, 2012 9:29 am

    Nice stuff. I’m a sometimes user of skin bags, but as with skin savers, I honestly prefer not to use them. Like the insulated jacket with concurrent use of fleece. I’ve got a similar one and the increase in breathability is significant.

  2. Skyler Mavor January 23rd, 2012 8:35 pm

    Alright Wildsnow, I have a weight vs usefulness problem for ya. What if you carry a thermos full of hot water, and melt snow in there throughout the day to add to your water supply. Could you melt enough water to offset the weight of the thermos?

  3. Greg January 24th, 2012 12:33 am

    @Skyler Mavor – Even if your thermos was massive, it would not net you nearly enough extra meltwater to justify its weight. Carrying a thermos to keep some coffee or hot cocoa warm is justifiable because it’s a luxury/comfort item but carrying one just to aid in melting snow does not make sense from a thermodynamic/weight standpoint.

  4. Nepo January 24th, 2012 4:22 am

    Hey Lou, I’ve just recently come across a pieps catalogue with a fancy locating device calle pieps global finder Iridium. It looks very similar to the vector in the picture, but operates more like the “spot” from what I gathered. I can’t find anything about it on the net – did you see or hear about it?

  5. Lou January 24th, 2012 6:17 am

    Skyler, in my opinion Greg is correct but you can offset some of the thermos weight by using it for a couple of hot drinks to start, then throwing some snow in there when the day gets warmer.

    If you want to experiment, just fill a cooking pot with the same amount of water as the thermos, then heat. Mark level of water. Add ice til water is cold and ice is melted. Pour off additional water created from melted ice. Weigh the ‘new’ water.

    Like Louie is looking at, some sort of fuel source is probably the way to create snowmelt water on the fly, while carrying a system in your backpack. If this was done well, it’s another thing that could add to the lightweight revolution in ski mountaineering.

  6. rod January 24th, 2012 9:02 am

    I only cary one liter of water in a black aluminum bottle, start with hot water, then add snow as I drink. this gives me over two liters to drink, which, if I start well hydrated, it is enough for a10 hour day.
    I am somewhat dehydrated at the end, but not horribly so.
    I hang the bottle on my pack waist belt, on the side that’s more in the sun.

    the math: 2 liters in the morning before starting out, 2 liters on the go, 2 liters when I get back.

  7. Lou January 24th, 2012 9:27 am

    A liter of water weighs more than a 1 liter thermos, doesn’t it? So if you can melt a full liter of water using the hot water in a thermos, we’re wrong and the weight of the thermos CAN be compensated for. Anyone have time to verify?

  8. Jesse January 24th, 2012 10:22 am

    Assume the snow temp is just below freezing and the hot water temp is just below boiling.

    Heat capacity of a litre of water is 4.18J/gK, so a litre of boiling water has 418 kJ more thermal energy than a litre of water just above freezing. Latent heat of melting ice is 334 kJ per litre produced. So you can melt 1.25 litres of previously-frozen water with 1 litre of boiling water.

    But the water in your thermos won’t actually be boiling, and this doesn’t account for the energy lost to the hot water you poured out to make a hot drink and create room to add the snow!

  9. Lou January 24th, 2012 10:30 am

    Time for field testing!

  10. Tyler January 24th, 2012 10:33 am

    Ok some basic math
    Specific heat
    water ~ 4.1813 J/(g*k)
    Ice ~ 2.11 J/(g*k)
    Heat of fusion ~ 334 J/g

    So thermos of 1L at 60 deg C (end of day?)
    has 4.1813*60*1000= 250878 J of energy down to 0 deg c ( now a cold drink)

    Assume snow is at -5 and let x equal the number of grams melted
    250878=344.55x+5*2.11x solve for x

    about 730 grams of snow melted

    so i have a mec thermos 500ml weighs ~ 304 grams so use half the above number and i get a savings of 60 g per bottle using the melting snow method..

  11. Tyler January 24th, 2012 10:34 am

    Apperently i am too slow..

  12. Philip Maynard January 24th, 2012 11:05 am

    If I get stuck out overnight, or just spill my water bottle, I’ll be glad I brought the Reactor.

  13. Mark January 24th, 2012 11:20 am

    I’ve found that if I get a late start and head for the bar early I can get away with a single quart. I was not able to perfect this weight saving strategy until I was almost 40, however.

  14. Brian January 25th, 2012 8:18 am

    Two liters, in a bladder, worn under clothes, hose over the shoulder, pack over everything. Never freezes, always there. Simple.

    Phat skins getting you down? Dump the phat skis and the problem is solved. Less weight, more fun. Dump the training wheels! Ha!

  15. Jim February 7th, 2012 12:24 pm

    I stuck a couple of those chemical toe warmers on my platy hydration bladder to keep it from freezing and it worked well. Its insulated in my pack next to the pad and puffy. Nice to sip warm water instead of cold. Why not use the bigger chem warmers and drop some snow in the bladder to melt some snow as well at lunch? Louie, great idea!

  16. Jim February 7th, 2012 12:29 pm

    The military mre packs get very hot and boil the water pretty hard so might be too hot at first and might melt the backpack or burn you, but they lose energy after 15 minutes and stay warm for a while after. Perhaps rig a cozy around the chem pack and a bottle?

  17. aiace96 February 14th, 2012 2:35 pm

    I use a sort of bag like G3’s bag but mine is from Montana (“skinny”), the swiss skin manufacturer: they work perfectly especially in wind conditions, the cons is just while drying: the skins dry slowly and when dried are well well sticket to the pocket.So the advice is to use but take out the skins at the end of the trip and dry them separately from pocket. bye

  18. Andre Werrlein April 20th, 2012 12:12 pm

    What a great show in winter and skiing products. I look forward to the next one.

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