Saturday, 21 July 2007

VIDEO: New Superfeet launched

Live from OutDoor 2007: Superfeet are expanding their range to include men´s and women´s specific insoles that come in orange and pink respectively.

So just what do they do? We asked the guys at Superfeet to explain the biomechanics of walking and luckily they just happened to have a foot skeleton to hand.

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VIDEO: Award winning magnetic buckle

Live from OutDoor 2007: When we heard that a magnetic buckle had scooped an award at this year´s OutDoor 2007 award we gave a mildly interested nod. The Big Turn Catch All Fastener is a nice idea but we didn't see how it would revolutionise our walking.

BUT... then we got our hands on it and realised just how easy it is to use. It´s a breeze to unclip, even with gloved hands and it locks back into place almost by magic. All you have to do is get it roughly in the right place and a mini-magnetic tractor beam pulls it into place.

The video is a bit grainy but gives you an idea just how it works!

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MY SHOW: Hot trends from OutDoor 2007

Live from OutDoor 2007: Thinking outside the box appears to be the way forward for companies wanting to make a splash at OutDoor 2007. The radical design of the Edelrid folding helmet that won the OutDoor Gold Award this year is a fine example of what can be achieved when functionality and the latest manufacturing technologies meet.

The ETA Power stoves shows just how much wasted energy is used in normal stoves and how much extra gear we have to drag across the hills if it were not for such out of the box innovation.

The new range of Grivel packs (shown above) provide vast amounts of new practical features, while their exploded diagram makes it easy for the potential purchaser to see what all the features are designed to do.

Macpac have further developed their rucksack range with the change in the location of where their rucksack hip belts pivots (see above image). By moving the pivot point up the rucksack, it is able to rotate from the same point as the wearer's back flexes, rather than at the base of the spine where most hipbelts are designed to rotate from.

Radical designs are appearing that seem so challenge our concept of what is normal, while new technologies allow lighter, more functional products to be developed.

So if you are in the market for some new gear, take a sneak peak around the corner, as something that you thought was normal could just about to be changed.

Graham Thompson, Technical Editor

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NEWS: Primus ETAExpress

Live from OutDoor 2007:
Not content with producing the award winning ETAPower MF two to three person stove, Primus have added a one to two person compact model called the EtaExpress. Like its bigger brother the new EtaExpress boasts a heat exchanger and windshield that combine to redefine the meaning of cooker efficiency. The Primus Total Weight concept means that this sove is lighter than most when the fuel use required for a week it taken into account.

With a packed weight of 418g without gas and a boil time of 2.5 minutes, the ETAPower Express allows a backpacker to carry an intergrated cooking system that weighs in at 700g including fuel for a week's trip.

The ETAPower nows runs head to head with the well established Jetboil and the new MSR Reactor stove for the coveted award of best backpacker stove! Watch this space for details of a burn-off between these big three.

NEWS: Kenton Cool's new pack

Live from OutDoor 2007: Mutiple Everest Summiteer Kenton Cool has brought his expertise to Mountain Hardware’s latest mountaineering backpack showing at the OutDoor 2007 show.

The Dihedral 40L technical mountaineering pack boasts a range of features informed by Kenton’s experience at high altitude.

"One of the changes I insisted on was finding replacement buckles on the compression straps," says Kenton. "The originals were fiddly to open and I needed something that would be much easier to operate with my hands in gloves."

The streamlined bag features interchangeable, moveable compression-carrying straps and loops that can hold a huge range of gear from ice axes and crampons to snow anchors and marker wands to snowshoes and skis.

The Dihedral is as light as possible but still super robust. Replace the lid and padded hipbelt with the alternative minimalist straps, and it allows you to shave off even more weight.

To get your hands on the Dihedral technical mountaineering pack, you’ll have to wait until Feb 08. For now, drool over this pic.

Friday, 20 July 2007

NEWS: More on the flatpack helmet + full winners list from the OutDoor 2007 awards

Live from OutDoor 2007: when we first got our hands on this product we had no idea what it was. Was it a knee pad for mountain bikers? A cricket box?

No it turns out it was a folding climbing helmet that sits flat in your pack but then folds around your head when you want to use it.
The Madillo's revolutionary design, by German gear firm Edelrid, has scooped the Gold OutDoor Award 2007 at this year's show.
"This product is a 360 degree innovation," says the award jury, which includes Trail´s Graham Thompson. "Helmets used to be essentially just metal pots in one shape or another but this product is completely astonishing and displays just what makes this a true consumer product."
The helmet allows mountaineers to pack safety gear easily in their rucksack without the packing nightmare of accommodating a standard helmet.

Silver awards went to the following (citation comments follow each item):

• R 320, Harness, Arc’teryx, Canada
“This product changes the way we think about harnesses. Instead of an uncomfortable, often poorly designed belt, here you have an aesthetically pleasing design solution with perfect functionality. This belt is just as functional as a belt, but looks better and is also very comfortable. In the outdoor industry, function is usually everything, but this product breaks that trend, as it shows that good design and functionality can go together hand-in-hand.”

• Carbon Fyre, Trail running shoes, The Timberland Company/Golite, USA
“An innovative shoe consisting of a plastic-barbed sole, which prevents slipping on mountainsides. The look of the soles tells you immediately what the shoe is for. This is a unique solution. The entire shoe is also well-designed, with all parts coming together well.”

• Radikal, Mountaineering shoes, MILLET SA, France
“The shoes impress with their successful mix of materials. All parts and materials come together well and look good. If you think of traditional mountaineering boots, and then see these light, well-designed shoes, which fulfill all expectations and replace the traditional leather with rubber and other modern materials, then it’s not only highly functional, but also a nice design.”

• Primus EtaPower MF, Outdoor multi-cooker, Primus AB, Sweden
“This is a complete cooking set, whose low weight minimizes the total backpack load and also works extremely efficiently. Everything has been though of here. In this product you can find many small innovations that all come together to form a complete outdoor cooking solution. The result is a single backpack cooking system, that is not too technical to operate – you can hold the pot even when there’s warm water in it, etc. – and which fulfills one or more useful functions, such as the textile bag, which is used to carry the cooker, keep food warm, save fuel and you don’t burn your fingers. This makes the system very easy to operate; you can’t do anything wrong.”

• ColdBlack, Treatment method for black textiles, Schoeller Textil AG, Switzerland
“The ‘product’ here is a special treatment technology for handling black fabrics. It ensures that black materials do not warm up too much under heat and expend heat in the cold. This means black textiles ‘work’ the same as normal white or light-colored fabrics. This a great functionality boost for the outdoor industry, as it means black materials can be used in a much wider range of applications.”

• Big Turn Catch All, Fastener, Fidlock GmbH, Germany
“This is an unconventional and, in comparison to other fastener mechanisms, completely innovative idea. This fastener can be used in any number of situations, and the best thing is, it’s a magnetic system that provides a truly functional fastening action. The two key elements of a lock, the closing and opening functions, are solved here easily and cleanly.”

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NEWS: New Scarpa boots and Terra Nova bothy

Live from OutDoor 2007: Scarpa has seen a massive increase in sales of their technical alpine climbing and scrambling boots, but at 190 quid for a boot like the Charmoz they realise that not everyone is ready to commit. So in Spring 2008 it's going to launch the Cristallo GTX, which offers the same technical spec for just 150 quid.

So if you want the extra confidence that a pair of dedicated scrambling boots can offer on rocky routes, it might be worth holding out till early next year. Scarpa say they'll be in shops by Feb 2008 - look out for a review in the mag soon.

The Daylite is a suprisingly flexible boot that is very lightweight and offers a dedicated climbing area towards the front of the sole, similar to the Cristallo. It's not going to offer a great deal of support but will definitely appeal to people who want to move fast and light and do the odd bit of scrambling.

The Daylite will cost 125 quid and will hit the shelves around Feb 2008. Both boots are pretty bright and have a very European design-ethic. Let us know what you think about them on The Trail Forum.

Terra Nova Superlite Bothy

We thought you'd like a look at Terra Nova's new Superlite Bothy. These are both 2-person bothy's but the one on the left uses the same fabrics as Terra Nova's superlite tent range.

The original 2-person bothy weighed 325g but by using the new fabric and cutting pack on extras like windows and roof sockets the new bothy bag weighs in an an impressive 230g, shaving almost a third off the weight.

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VIDEO: The North Face Primero pack

Live from OutDoor 2007: The North Face's new Primero will hit the shelves in Feb 2008 and it features a new EVA backsystem and X-Radial suspension system.

See Trail´s gear expert Graham Thompson getting a tour of the new pack at OutDoor 2007, from The North Face's Product Manager from Holland Henry Hoogenveen.

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NEWS: The North Face back system - inspired by Crocs!

Live from OutDoor 2007: Hot news from OutDoor 2007: We´ve just seen the hottest new development from The North Face - a new back system inspired by Crocs sandals!

"We wanted to know what to do with these shoes and what better than to melt them down and use them for our new back system," says TNF gear expert Henry Hoogenveen.

The new Primero packs use the same hard-wearing EVA material as the multi-coloured sandals to provide a significant air gap and flow behind the back. It can also ´self-heal´if it gets damaged, washes easily and shares the same anti-microbial qualities that has made it such a hit in the world of footwear.

In addition, the rucksacks also feature a innovative X-Radial suspension which pivots to complement your body´s natural movements.

The Primero will be available Feb 2008 and will cost 180 quid for the 70lt pack and 170 British Pounds Sterling for the 60lt version.

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TECH: 5 worst gear ideas of the week #3

If necessity is the mother of invention, meet the orphans...

1) $430 alternative to watching the forecast

This falls into the category of 'absolutely brilliant had someone not invented numerous other, cheaper ways to do the same job many years before now'. The Thunderbolt Pro is a storm warning device which detects lightning flashes up to to 75 miles away, and lets you know about them. As they get closer, you get an increasingly urgent series of messages. In other words, first it replaces the job the weather forecast should have done, then it replaces the job your eyes and ears should have done. Still, if you never got to grips with the old 'see the flash and and count the seconds to the boom' method, you're rich and have no access to a TV or a forecast, be our guest.

Want one?

2) Petrol-powered robotic rucksack-carrying dog

Tired of carrying your own rucksack? Too kind to foist it on your trail mates? Take advantage of a US military initiative to create a rucksack-carrying petrol-engined robo dog! The firm behind the frankly disturbing creature has just won a $10m governmental contract to complete development. So far 'BigDog', as he is called, can trot at 3.3mph, climb a 35 degree slope and carry a 120 lb load. Watch this clip and tell us he's not a crime against nature:

Want one?

3) LED flipflops

Is there a greater feeling than slipping off your hefty boots at day's end and slipping into something light and inconsequential for slouching round the campsite? Sully that feeling with extreme self-consciousness by means of these: flipflops which flash red, green and blue as you walk, shamedly, to the toilet block. (Click the pic for the full effect.)

Want some?

4) Pressurised fanny pack
Just how lazy do you have to be to be unwilling to suck to get your drink into your mouth? Have it jet into your corpulent gizzard instead thanks to Polarpak's $40 Flowjo fanny pack (that's bum bag to you and me). You have to hand-pump the pressure up first of course, but you can presumably get someone else to do that...

Want one?

5) Ikea-style rucksack

What's this? A perfectly normal hiker enjoying an unusually bulky rucksack? But no! It's an 80l rucksack! It's a hanging storage unit! It's another solution in search of a problem! Well done everyone, a cracking week.

Want one?

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Thursday, 19 July 2007

MY SHOW: 2007 - year of the eco-products

Live from OutDoor 2007: Eco friendly outdoor gear is the name of the game at this year's OutDoor show. Recycled fleece from Patagonia and earth friendly Polartec fabrics made of corn and bamboo have been around for a while, but all of a sudden, everybody in outdoor land is waking up to the eco-loving vibe.

Nearly every company we chatted to today is re-jigging its clothing, equipment and production methods in a planet saving way. We're going to be seeing more recycled fleeces, backpacks, softshells and jackets hitting the shelves in the coming months.

Marmot are about to launch a sleeping bag insulated with recycled plastic bottles and using a recycled outer fabric. The Eco Pro bag series uses 82-95% recycled materials and is part of the whole company's 'Ecolution', a drive towards greener outdoor gear.

Claire Maxted, staff writer.

NEWS: All the latest GoLite innovations for 2008

Live from OutDoor 2007: GoLite are launching a new shoe with a carbon fibre mid-sole that weighs just 300g, is very stable and super-strong. Showing unusual restraint, GoLite hasn't gone all-out to make the Carbon Fyre the absolute lightest in class (Inov8's shoes go as low as 250g), but says its new shoe will offer best-in-class ride on the rough stuff thanks to the midsole's strength and ability to insulate the foot from intrusions on even the nobbliest of trails.

The Carbon Fyre also features GoLite's new Trail Claw technology: a series of hooked studs on the sole of the shoe that promise extra traction and great suspension over rocky terrain. This Isomorphic technology is now being used across their range of trail running shoes.

No Bounce Waist pack

GoLite´s NoBounce running waist pack was designed specifically for trail runners. The company´s head man, Demitri Coupounas, says that the back is guaranteed not to bounce.

"We got a designer onto this who managed to map out the basic design in about half an hour," says Demitris. "I was amazed at what he managed to do. He said it was easy but in his 30 years of designing packs the only reason he hadn't done it before is because no one had asked him."


There's got to be a good reason for GoLite to actually add weight to a pack when they're updating it. For the JAM 2, a whole ounce heavier than the original JAM, the benefits come in the form of wider wing belts for extra comfort, an extra 5l capacity and this very neat ComPaktor technology, which allows a large 50l pack to be easy to carry when used on day trips.

GoLite's Demitri Coupounas: "It´s a super-functional pack that you can take out on a backpacking trip, set up base camp and then use on day routes from your tent."

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NEWS: New look and Velcro waistbelts from Berghaus

Live from OutDoor 2007: Berghaus revealed their new Velcro waist belt fastening system with their Nach 12 and Mach 7 rucksacks. Designed for light and fast freaks, adrenaline junkies and the rest of us that just want to carry less load, the range features 4 packs.
The Velcro waist belt is a wide band of stretch fabric that forces the pack close to the body to maintain stability on the move, without the need for bulky buckles.
The Mach 24 and Mach 18 don't feature the Velcro waist band, but instead feature a new In Pression system. This has been designed to compresses the load from the inside of the pack rather than the outside, leading to cleaner lines and less dangly cords.
The whole range also benefit from a new stylish design, setting them apart from the more traditional Berghaus packs of old.

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NEWS: Camelbak Hoss £110

Live from OutDoor 2007: Camelbak has taken a bold technological step forward in the quest for the perfect sweat-free backpack.

Their revolutionary moulded back system features a series of six spring-loaded pressure pads that reduce contact between the back and the rucksack and allows the pack to mould itself to the users back.

Behind the pads a uniform gap is maintained to ensure a constant flow of air to reduce the build up of sweat.

Other products for 2008 from Camelbak include a roll-top waterproof cycle pack, a new hydration pack similar to Innov8’s lumbar-area pack and a wide-mouthed water-bottle.

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Wednesday, 18 July 2007

NEWS: GPS signals to get less accurate in coming years

A new US governmental advisory board is warning that the accuracy of GPS signals in challenging areas like mountains may degrade in the next few years, with "enormous adverse impact". The current GPS system, established for the American Air Force during the cold war and now used by millions of civilians worldwide, relies on an ageing network of 30 satellites for its 10m accuracy in complex mountain terrain. But the Air Force only guarantees a provision of 24 satellites, and the chairman of the Air Force Space Command GPS Independent Review Team says even that number may be difficult to maintain. By next year, Major General Robert Rosenberg says, 11 GPS satellites will have reduced capabilities and the number of satellites in the constellation may have to be cut. That would mean unreliable coverage in mountains, canyons and other topographically complex terrain. A new GPS system ('GPS III') featuring more modern satellites is at least 6 years off, with its $1.8bn funding still awaiting approval by congress.
A European alternative to GPS, 'Galileo', is due to enter full operational use by 2012, although it's likely to require you to buy a new receiver to make use of its 4m (free) or 1m (subscription) accuracy.


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Tuesday, 17 July 2007

NEWS: Europe's biggest gear show starts tomorrow

Europe's biggest gear show 'OutDoor' kicks off tomorrow and for the first time ever we're giving YOU live access to next year's most exciting new gear. Based in the German city of Friedrichshafen, this is the show where all the big manufacturers (and the ones who want to be big) launch their new products and innovations, and where the big UK stores decide the kit they'll be filling their racks with. OutDoor is a trade-only show that's closed to the public, but for the first time ever we'll be bringing YOU exclusive coverage during the course of the show. Trail will be out in force, headed by Technical Editor Graham Thompson, and we'll be posting stories, images and video from the show multiple times a day to guarantee no-one will be better informed about next year's new gear than Trail Gear Blog readers. Stay tuned!

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Monday, 16 July 2007

SCOOP: Up close with MSR's controversial Reactor

The Jetboil-rival everyone's talking about landed in the office this morning, giving you the chance to pore over its features. As regular readers of the Gear Blog will know, the Reactor's currently on hold pending an investigation by MSR into why some of its pre-production models failed carbon monoxide tests. It's thought the design may starve the innovative convex burner of sufficient air to complete combustion properly, in some circumstances. However, the 1.5 litre stove has several other innovative features, like its all-in-one packability (burner and gas cylinder fitting snugly inside the pan); its transparent, rubber-handled lid; its robust, integrated pan handle that doubles as a lid lock when the stove is packed; and of course that jet-turbine-like heat exchanger permanently attached to the pan base. It all adds up to a fascinating-looking stove and one we hope is cleared for sale soon. The Jetboil v Primus Eta Power v MSR Reactor group test is one to savour: who will take away the crown for the fastest, most efficient cook times?

• Click any picture for a bigger view.

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NEWS: Buff fights copycats

Buff head gear has long been a favourite with serious outdoor folk thanks to its versatility. However the design is so simple that Buff have seen an increasing number of copycat products hitting the stores.

Buff told Outdoor Review Magazine, "Whilst we view competition as a good thing we are not happy that these brands seem to be carefully targeting particular outlets where we have invested in expensive and highly effective point of sale units"
Buff added that most of the copycat designs are not made from the same polyester microfibre as the original Buff products, but they sometimes appear on the Buff display units.

So folks beware of fake Buffs appearing on a Buff display near you. Of course With Tesco now entering the outdoor market, how long will it be before Tesco choose to make their own version of a Buff.

For more information on genuine Buffs contact Buff Web Site

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Sunday, 15 July 2007

NEWS: Cassin back in UK

Cassin's clothing and hardwear range is back in the UK after being absent for a few years. Cassin has had a good following for its hardware products in the UK, despite not being available.

Of particular interest will be the brand's new lightweight axes, which include the new 328g X-Lite axe which looks set to be released at the start of winter 07.

To find out more information contact ClimbHigh UK although currently their web site is not listing Cassin product, so also look at Cassin's own web site.

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