Highlights: Summer 2012 Outdoor Retailer Trade Show
By Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl, Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassadors My wife Janet and I had the opportunity to peruse the OR Show as guests of Gossamer Gear (see our companion article “Gossamer Gear Hosts Tribal Gathering in Salt Lake City for Outdoor Retailer”). We have covered the Show several times before for Backpacking Light Magazine, so we basically know the drill on how to identify gear of interest to UL and LW backpackers, and provide the basic information they want. For readers not familiar with OR, it’s a huge trade show where outdoor gear manufacturers showcase new gear in the production pipeline that will be available soon, in this case for Spring 2013. Representatives from local outdoor stores attend the show to see what’s new, place orders, and hob-nob with friends in the industry. For small gear manufacturers (like Gossamer Gear), it’s an opportunity to source materials for new products in the design process. The show also attracts a lot of media representatives who report on the latest and greatest.
Please note that OR is dominated by big companies that typically manufacture a full line of outdoor gear, which is mostly conventional gear but also includes a growing amount of lightweight gear, and some ultralight gear as you will see below. Most of the small companies that make ultralight gear cannot afford the cost of a booth at OR, but they are also there to see what’s new and join in the fun. With that intro, we will present our roundup (in no particular order) of new technologies and gear that we believe will be of interest to LW and UL backpackers. All of the products described will be introduced in spring 2013 unless stated otherwise.
GE Energy Introduces New eVent DVL Technology and Fabric
In the high stakes waterproof/breathable fabrics competition, we will soon have new lighter eVent fabrics utilizing eVent Direct Venting Lite (DVL) technology. eVent DVL waterproof fabric is an unlined laminate that features a protective print applied directly onto eVent’s proprietary waterproof ePTFE (expanded polytetrafluoroethylene) membrane. The print—a repeating web of outlined triangular shapes—provides a durable protective screen for the membrane. The eVent membrane, with its millions of tiny pores, allows “direct venting” of the body’s heat and moisture through the fabric, yet is waterproof from the outside. The eVent DVL membrane is laminated to lightweight face fabrics for use in jackets, pants and other products. The technology in eVent DVL waterproof fabric improves upon the performance of what are commonly called 2.5-layer fabrics.
Easton Mountain Products Showcases New Cubic Tech and Easton Carbon Fiber Technologies in a Prototype Ultralight Expedition 2P Tent
At the Easton booth we feasted our eyes on their Ultralight Expedition 2P prototype tent made of Cuben Fiber, a waterproof/breathable eVent-Cuben Fiber hybrid laminate, and new carbon fiber poles. The weight is 2 pounds 9 ounces, and the tent has two doors and two vestibules (which are detachable). With a floor area of 28.7 square feet, the tent is roomy enough for two sleepers, with extra space in the vestibules to stash gear within reach. It’s a single wall tent (double wall on the vestibules, so it’s a hybrid), and the X-pole support is external, attaching with clips. Note the large high vents. If you want to know the price you probably can’t afford to buy it (its $1800). Note that the tent is a prototype and the details will likely change, or the tent may not go into production at all. We were especially intrigued by the eVent/Cuben Fiber laminate in the body of the tent (the area within the “X”). Looking at it, it appears to consist of a thin face “fabric”, the ePTFE membrane, and criss-crossed Dyneema fibers bonded to the inside. We visited the Cubic Tech booth to ask for a fabric description, and they provided the following the next day via email: “Cubic Tech is pleased that Easton’s design team elected to build this state-of-the-art tent using our materials. During development of the tent we worked closely with Easton’s designers to produce fabrics that met both the technical and aesthetic goals of the project. We look forward to additional opportunities to expand our presence in the outdoor market by satisfying the growing demand for and fueling the growth of light weight durable products. Cubic Tech’s CTF3 ™ waterproof breathable and non-breathable materials employed in this tent are representative of our lightest Dyneema® reinforced two directional non-woven Cuben Fiber® laminates.” Well, that doesn’t say much, which is not surprising since they are very proprietary. In any event, we are pleased to see these technologies appear, and look forward to seeing them used in more lightweight outdoor gear.
Easton Full Metal Jacket Carbon Fiber Stakes
Sierra Designs also Dazzles us with their Mojo UFO Cuben Fiber Tent
Sierra Designs Cloud Layering System
Here’s Another Lightweight Rain Shell, the Montane Minimus Smock, Weighing Just 5 Ounces
Sierra Designs Clo and Flow Bags Feature 800 Fill Power DryDown
Big Agnes Introduces the First Zipperless Tent, the Fishhook SL2
Terra-Nova Introduces their Extremities Line of Handwear and Headwear for Spring 2013
Montbell Reclaims the Lightest Windshirt Title
Nemo Introduces the Siren Quilt Featuring 850 Fill Down
GoLite Footwear Mountain Gecko is Lightweight and Svelte
Klymit Introduces a Lightweight Wide Sleeping Pad, the X-Wave
Klymit Cush for Your Tush(or whatever)
Klymit LiteWater Raft is Lightweight and (fairly) Inexpensive
Outdoor Research Stamina Gaiter Weighs Just 1.8 Ounces per Pair