Gear-Palooza 2012: Part II
Gregory's new packs are just one of the highlights from this year's Outdoor Retailer Summer Marketplace. Photo by Eli Boschetto.
Last week, I began my highlights of this year's Outdoor Retailer Summer Marketplace with the new BioLite CampStove, new tents and apparel from Mountain Hardwear and Sierra Designs, and new footwear from Scarpa, Vasque and La Sportiva.
That was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I would need an entire week's worth of blog posts to review all of the new and amazing items coming for hikers and backpackers later this year and into next. Look to the pages of Washington Trails for more reviews on these and many more items in coming issues.
To wrap up this year's coverage, here's a selection of a few more stand-out products that will be coming to your favorite outdoor retailer soon.
Magnets replace zippers on new Big Agnes tent
I'm a big fan of Big Agnes tents—lightweight, roomy, freestanding and durable. I have two—a 1P for my solo outings and a 2P for when I have company.
This year, Big Agnes is taking it up a notch with two new models: the hyperlight Fly Creek Platinum 2P and the zipperless Fish Hook SL2. The upgraded Fly Creek is a new, all-mesh design that weighs in at a scant 1 lb. 13 oz.—ideal for fast-packing without having to resort to a bivy or tarp.
The new Fish Hook model, selected as Outside magazine's "Gear of the Show," falls into the ultralight category at a mere 3.5 lbs. and employs tiny magnets instead of zippers, for quick in-and-out and less hassle with zipper repairs in the field. Washington Trails magazine will be putting this one to the test.
Big Agnes is also rolling out a line of DownTek Sleeping Bags. These water-repellant models will be right at home here in the NW, letting us enjoy cozy down insulation with our often-inclement weather.
Packs: Gregory's new system, more from Deuter, Futura
You might think that you can't do much to improve a backpack—open compartment, stuff in gear, go.
Gregory is now making it easier than ever with the new Contour and Cairn Backpacks (pictured) featuring the new TrailSmart Pack System. This new design helps you load your pack perfectly every time to get your gear weight distributed properly, and keeps all the essentials accessible.
They're not forgetting the kids either, introducing the Wander Backpack. This new model features an adjustable torso, allowing the pack to grow with your kids.
A personal favorite, Deuter continues their line of feature-packed ACT Lite and ACT Zero Backpacks, and expands their offerings with the Futura Backpacks, a series of affordable, entry-level packs good for dayhikes and quick overnights.
Therm-a-Rest puts you to sleep (in a good way), Alite cozy camp chairs
When it comes to comfort in the backcountry, it's all relative to how much weight we're willing to carry.
Therm-a-Rest might have just given us good reason to add a couple pounds to our packs on weekend outings with the new Luxury Light UL Cot (pictured). This full-length cot raises you just off the ground to help you avoid those bumps and lumps that keep you tossing in the night; throw a NeoAir Mattress on that for the ultimate in wilderness dreamtime. The real kicker is that broken down, the UL Cot compacts into a sack not much larger than your Nalgene bottle!
If your idea of camp comfort is a cozy chair to plop into at the end of a long trail day, the new company Alite has you covered. With three designs, Monarch, Mayfly and Mantis, these ultralight, ultra-compact camp chairs will let you recline and enjoy those trail downtimes.
Rab shells continue to impress
Recent newcomer to the American market, UK-based Rab has impressed with everything that the Washington Trails gear team has sampled—and it looks as though that will continue into next year.
The item I'm most excited about is the new Rab Myriad Soft Shell (pictured), incorporating Polartec NeoShell technology. This lightweight, technical shell will be perfect for the NW's temperamental seasons with the NeoShell's water-repellant, breathable membrane, while offering enough stretch for full-range motion and a cut to accommodate heavy baselayers. Look for Washington Trail's more in-depth review of this amazing jacket later in the year.
So whether you're in the market to replace or upgrade some gear, or just like to see what's new and exciting, these have been but a handful of highlights from this year's Outdoor Retailer Summer Marketplace.
Full disclosure: Gregory and Therm-a-Rest are both sponsors of WTA's 2012 Hike-a-Thon.