Monday, August 6, 2012

Cool New Climbing Stuff from Outdoor Retailer

Summer Outdoor Retailer has now come and gone.  In the process of meeting with vendors to buy for GEAR:30, I came across a few pieces of kit that I think are worth a mention.  Because I am strongly biased in my interests toward alpine climbing, most of the items that I found really cool are items for alpine climbing.  Occasionally I came across other items as well that are super cool that are not directly related to alpine climbing, but are still worth looking into.

I apologize that I won't have many photos.  Because I am a "retailer" at the show and not technically "media", I wasn't supposed to take pictures.

Cool New Clothing

As I met with various companies, I tried to take notes on what items were innovative, what colors I liked, what features were unique, and the overall impression the item made on me.  Only two apparel items the whole show excited me enough that I wrote "SICK!" next to the item.  That is not to say that they are the only two items that would get me that excited, but they are the only two that I saw.  Unfortunately, I was in meetings almost all day everyday and I didn't have a lot of extra time to browse other booths that I didn't have specific meetings with so my view of what is new and cool is a bit narrow.

Anyway, the first item that really impressed me and got me excited is the new Marmot Nabu Jacket.  Everybody is probably pretty familiar with the Marmot Zion Jacket by now.  I really like the Zion Jacket.  Its moisture management and thermal regulation abilities in cold weather are outstanding.  But, the jacket is fairly heavy and kind of bulky.  Phil used that jacket all winter while I mostly used my Arc'teryx Acto Hoody.  While I was jealous of his Zion, he was jealous that my Acto was lighter and simpler than his Zion.  Enter the Marmot Nabu Jacket.  The Nabu is Marmot's newest Neoshell Softshell jacket.  It is lighter and simpler than the Zion.  The fabric on the Zion weighs 8.0 oz/yd and the fabric on the Nabu weighs 6.5 oz/yd.  The fleece backer is much lighter and gridded (a much lighter gridded fleece than the R1, even a bit lighter than the NWA Black Spider Light Hoody's fleece) and therefore not as warm as the Zion, but probably a little better suited for active pursuits in warmer temperatures.  I think this jacket will be ideal in colder temperatures as well.  Though the Zion Jacket was listed to weigh 18oz, a size large weighed closer to 30oz on my scale.  This jacket (the Nabu) is listed as 22oz, and I think that weight is probably pretty accurate.  In putting the jacket on, it is obvious that the Nabu is quite a bit lighter than the Zion.  There is no reinforcement on the shoulders of the Nabu like on the Zion.  The Nabu has similar pockets to the Zion; two handwarmer pockets, one chest pocket, and one internal zip pocket.  There is no pocket on the sleeve like on the Zion.  The Nabu's back length is also one inch longer than the Zion. 

The only complaints I or Phil had with the Zion jacket was that the jacket would pull out of a harness when climbing (and therefore Phil had to sacrifice fit and go up a size to keep that from happening), that the jacket had too many pockets, the hood could be a little better with a helmet, and that the jacket was too heavy.  Well, I think Marmot has fixed those things (not sure about the hood) with the Nabu jacket.  I can't wait to get my hands on one to try it out.  I think it will be the ideal softshell for Alpine Climbing in cold temps and with the lighter fabric, I think it will be more versatile in warmer temperatures.  The price will be $325 and should be available at the beginning of 2013.

The second piece that I was really excited about is the Outdoor Research Enchainment Jacket.  This is also a softshell jacket that, though not as weatherproof as Neoshell, is very weather resistant, breathable, and has incredible stretch (which is always great for climbing applications).  The Enchainment uses a durable softshell material in the shoulders, hood, front of the jacket, and most of the back.  But, under the arms and by the elbows, around the shoulders, and around the mouth is a very stretchy, extremely breathable Schoeller fabric with nanosphere technology to ensure extreme water repellence without impeding breathability.  I think this jacket is going to be the ideal softshell for moving fast during the colder months, especially in nasty weather, but I think it will also be light enough and breathable enough to use during the summer months in higher altitudes.  It should allow plenty of breathability and stretch and durability for alpine rock and ice climbing.  I can't wait to test one of these too!  One of the best parts about this jacket is that it will retail for $200, which I think is a pretty decent price considering some other similar jackets go for $250-$350.  It weighs 18oz, according to their catalog.


Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack

There is a fairly new company (new to me) that I got to talk to a little at the show called Hyperlite Mountain Gear.  They specialize in ultralight backpacks and tents made of cubenfiber.  There is one pack in particular, designed for alpine climbing, that I was particularly interested in, called the Ice Pack.   This pack is 40 liters, has a roll-top closure, a couple compression straps, a crampon patch and tool-carrying system, and not much else.  The pack is made of a Cubenfiber/Polyester combo material to give good tear- and abrasion-resistance.  The pack and the pack's stitching is reinforced in high-stress and high-wear areas.  The hipbelt is removable and you can buy either a hipbelt with gear loops and ice clipper slots or you can buy a hipbelt with zippered pockets.  The hipbelt with zippered pockets may be nice for the approach and then you'd simply remove the hipbelt so you can get to your harness gear loops.  The pack's suspension uses two removable aluminum stays which, I've heard and read, comfortably carries heavy loads.  At $260, this Cubenfiber pack is about half the price of many other similarly-sized Cubenfiber/Dyneema climbing packs.  It's a cool pack and well worth consideration.  A couple good review of this pack can be found here: and

Sleeping Bags

There are a lot of changes in sleeping bags because the price of down is going up so much this year.  Many companies are going to duck down in some of their sleeping bags to keep the price of their bags from going through the roof.  One of these companies is Big Agnes, but they are using a Downtek treatment to the down to make it water resistant.  This additional treatment does not increase the price of the bag.  So, for those interested in down compressibility and longevity with the water-resistant performance of a synthetic at an affordable price, definitely take a look at Big Agnes for 2013.  

One bag that I'm excited about is the Brooks Range Elephant's Foot.  The Elephant's foot has been around for a while in the Brooks Range line but they have made it a little better for 2013.  Brooks Range has increased the size of the footbox to better accommodate boot liners or down booties and they are also using Downtek-treated down for better water resistance, but are still using premium 850+ fill European Goose Down.

Climbing Ropes

News about some cool new technology from Mammut has been getting around the industry, but equally cool technology is making news from Edelrid with their new Flycatcher 6.9mm twin rope.  This twin is the skinniest and lightest twin on the market.  Edelrid took two separate cores and wrapped a sheath around them to give the rope the necessary strength and safety for big falls.  It's nice to know that if you knick one core with a crampon point or damage one on a sharp rock, you still have three cores to protect you.  These ropes are so skinny that the only belay device that should be used with it is the new Edelrid Micro Jul.  It's an incredible bit of kit, but it will take some time to get used to climbing on.

Other Cool Stuff

There is a lot of other cool stuff out, but I don't have time to cover them all right now.  Other people have already covered these items, so I will mention them with a link to more information.

The coolest new boot I saw is the new Scarpa Rebel Ultra.  I held this boot for the first time in June and fell in love.  I can't wait to either use one myself or read other's reviews of it.  Check out for more info.  

Other items I like to mention (that are also found on Cold Thistle) are Black Diamond's and Petzl's new helmets.  BD's Vapour helmet is 187g and the Petzl Sirocco is 165g and has incredible resilience against impacts.  The BD Vapour helmet looks awesome and is super light and expensive, the Petzl Sirocco is butt ugly and even lighter and less expensive.  I often climb with a hood under which would hide the ugly helmet, so I can get over the look.

Petzl's Nao headlamp is pretty incredible.  I know this was new at Winter OR 2012, but this was the first time I got to get a good look at it.  The Nao headlamp is fully customizable with how many lumens each setting will put out from between 7 and 350 lumens, if I remember right.  There is also a light sensor that reads how much light is out and adjusts the brightness of the headlamp accordingly.  For example, if it's pitch black and you're looking far into the distance, it will send out 350 lumens (I think), if it's sunny, the light will turn off.  If you are jogging at night under a full moon, it may shine 50 lumens until you run into some trees and then it may automatically brighten to 150 lumens, etc.  It also has a USB rechargeable battery pack that can be swapped out for regular batteries in an emergency.  This video will explain it much clearer than I have.

Well, that's all for now.  There are some other items that I would like to mention that don't have as much to do with climbing, so I will mention those on another post.

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