Best of OR - Summer 2013

Open Air Life Best of OR

It has almost been a month since the Outdoor Retailer Show bombarded Salt Lake City. We were extremely busy this show trying to find what who were some of the up and coming companies as well and what new products were going to make a difference in the outdoor industry. Since the show for the past month we here at Open Air Life, have scrutinized our notes and images looking for what we believe were the "Best of OR". We narrowed it down to 27 but there were many more that are truly runners up. If we get some extra time we will definitely write those up as well. First up, a new tent pole technology.  

easton slickrock sycloneEaston Syclone Tent Poles and Slickrock 2P tent

A couple years back Easton Mountain Products introduced carbon fiber tent poles that were both strong and light. They also incorporated these poles into some pretty sweet tents. But the price tag was a little expensive for the average consumer. But for 2014 Easton Mountain Products is introducing yet another great new technology; the new Syclone™ tent pole technology. Engineered from top-grade composite materials with multi-directional wound construction, Easton’s new Syclone tent pole is the most resilient tent pole ever developed by Easton. Utilizing the same proprietary multi-directional wound process as Easton’s carbon poles, Syclone poles are designed with aerospace grade S-Glass composite in order to achieve a high strength, lightweight pole that outperforms both aluminum and carbon in flexibility and wind-load testing. Syclone poles are 80% more resilient to failure and bending than aluminum in wind and flex-testing. Not only do Syclone poles flex further than both carbon and aluminum poles, but they also return to their original shape while still providing necessary structural support.

• MSRP: $299.00

• Available – Spring / Summer 2014

• http://eastonmountainproducts.com/

brooksrange Tension30Brooks Range Tent

Finding the balance between enough space and weight in a tent can be tricky. But the Tension series tents do a pretty good job of that. With a minimalist tent design Tension 30 and 40 tents maximizes the key component of tension. It features one long carbon pole for structure and combined it with two crossing poles for level headroom. But the two-millimeter cord integrated at the seams creates the perfect amount of tension for optimal stability. But the best part of the tent is the weight. The Tension 30, offering 30 square feet of room weighs in at three pounds, while the Tension 40 provides 40 square feet at only four pounds.

• MSRP: $499.95

• Available – Spring 2014

• http://brooks-range.com/

kelty pk50Kelty TraiLogic™ Pack System

There are many companies that make backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping pad and tents, but the TraiLogic system takes it one step further. Comprised of a zipperless pack with smartly designed compartments, an 800-fill DriDown™ insulated sleeping bag with waterproof panels on the head and foot, a tent with short, packable poles and stargazing fly, and three different sleep pads offering comfort and packability. The TraiLogic™ gear is designed to work together as a system but each piece can be used with your existing gear. Below are a few highlight of each part of the system.

• The PK 50 backpack is the cornerstone piece of the new Kelty TraiLogic™ collection of backpacking gear. A unique, zipperless pack that is compartmentalized for maximum organization and engineered for optimum load-carrying comfort. - MSRP: $199.95

• The Kelty SB 20 sleeping bag is highly technical and lightweight which features 800-fill DriDown™ technology that defends against moisture and keeps you warm no matter how quick the temperature drops. Weighing in at 2-pounds, 1-ounce in regular length. - MSRP: $299.00

• Kelty TN 2 tent - Easy to haul on any trail, the feature-rich TN 2 tent is a compact and lightweight shelter designed to pack easily while saving space inside your backpack. The Stargazing Fly™ gives an unobstructed view of the sky for nighttime entertainment. And if it does begin to rain, the TN 2’s fly can be fully deployed without ever leaving your sleeping bag. The 4-pound TN 2 features two doors, two vestibules, and 27.5-square feet of interior floor space. – MSRP $249.00

• Kelty PDsi sleep pad - Inspired by the human form, the Kelty TraiLogic™ PDsi self-inflating pad is engineered to provide the perfect blend of comfort and light weight. Bio-mapping places more padding and insulation in high-pressure areas for efficient comfort and warmth. R-value of 3.6, the 1-inch thick PDsi pad weighs in at just 1-pound, 7.5-ounces. - MSRP: $79.95

• Men's and women's style available

• Available – Spring 2014

• http://www.kelty.com/

GraniteGear NimbusTraceGranite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 70 

I might be a little bias here as I love my Granite Gear packs and I love working with or stuff that is made out of wood. Now you are probably saying to yourself what does wood have anything to do with a backpack. Well Granite Gear uses a maple-core, composite laminate for the framesheet of the Nimbus Trace Access. This frame sheet is both lighter and offers more longitudinal rigidity. This combined with a newly designed exoskeleton belt combine to offer excellent comfort and load transfer to your hips. The Nimbus Trace Access 70 is large enough for longer, unsupported trips, yet lightweight, durable and functional. It features a zip open access panel and internal compression straps so you can get to that elusive piece of gear at the bottom of the pack without disturbing the gear above it. As with a lot of Granite Gears' pack this pack has an adjustable torso length and custom swappable shoulder straps & hip belts for men and women.

• MSRP: $349.95

• Men's and women's style available

• Available – Spring 2014

• http://www.granitegearstore.com/index.html

salomon synapseflow45Salomon Synapse Flow 45 AW

Salomon also improved on pack design by designing a pack that move with your body. This technology is incorporates dynamic shoulder straps that slide back and forth along the bottom of the pack for a more natural motion or carry. This pack is perfect for fast adventures in the mountains. Also the Airvent system for ventilation will help keep your back cool while moving fast.

• MSRP: $160.00

• Available – Spring 2014

• http://www.salomon.com/us/

eaglecreek 2in1Eagle Creek 2-in-1 Ultra-Light Convertible Day Traveler Bags

I have seen bags that stuff into one their own pockets before but these bags do more than just that. This new line of 2-in-1 Ultra-Lights, feature designs that transform not just into larger bags, but with multiple carry options and looks, all with self-storage Pack-in pockets for the ultimate in stow-and-go utility. With just a zip, snap or clip, the 2-in-1 Ultra-Lights change to a different type of bag with different capacity. The 2-in-1 Ultra-Light Convertible Day Traveler Bags include these 6 styles:

• 2-in-1 Waistpack / Shoulder Bag - Ultra-light waistpack that converts to a small shoulder bag offering expansion of 60% and versatility of waist or crossbody carry. - MSRP $40

• 2-in-1 Tote / Backpack - Ultra-light tote featuring zippered height expansion for 30% more capacity, also converts into a backpack for travel versatility - MSRP $60

• 2-in-1 Sling / Backpack - This ultra-light over-the-shoulder sling converts and expands into a larger capacity hydration-compatible backpack - MSRP $55

• 2-in-1 Messenger / Backpack - This ultra-light messenger expands 70% to convert to a full-sized backpack for versatile carry options and space-savings. - MSRP $75

• 2-in-1 Backpack / Waistpack - Full-sized waistpack that converts to almost quadruple its size, becoming a dual-compartment full-size backpack - MSRP $70

• 2-in-1 Backpack / Duffel - Top-loading and center-access backpack that converts to a full-size duffel bag, adding 15% more capacity. - MSRP $80

• Available – November 2013

• http://www.eaglecreek.com/?utm_expid=1488930-10.ksXqtvblSKCaYXRdpRhS1Q.0

montane minimusMontane Minimus Sleeping bag
.
Montane’s new Minimus sleeping bag is not available until Spring / Summer 2014, but it has already been recognized with a respected OutDoor industry award at the recent OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Judged by a panel of international outdoor industry experts, the OutDoor industry awards recognize products that push the boundaries of innovation, quality, functionality and sustainability. The Minimus sleeping bag was credited for its revolutionary and innovative design that provides a waterproof, highly breathable sleeping bag which is incredibly lightweight. The Minimus is constructed from PERTEX Shield +, a fabric used in technical super lightweight Mpntane clothing, making it both highly waterproof and hyper breathable. Filled with 12.1oz of high quality 800+ fill power goose down, the Minimus holds an impressive warmth to weight ratio with a total weight of just 30.6oz. The EN Comfort rating is 37°F with a Comfort Limit of 28° F. The bag has fully taped trapezoidal baffles which are both waterproof and designed to minimize cold spots. This combination of warmth, waterproofness and high breathability makes for a sleeping bag that is perfect for fast backpacking or fast alpinism where ultra lightweight minimalist tents or exposed bivouacs will be used. Also the underside of the sleeping bag features non-slip silicone roundels to help grip sleeping pads or bivy sack.

• MSRP: $598.00

• Available – Spring / Summer 2014

• http://www.montane.co.uk/

bigagnes DoubleZ blueBig Agnes Double Z Air Pad

The days of having to sleep on the hard ground are over or should be. There are many new pads on the market that make sleeping in the woods a lot more comfortable. The Double Z Air pad is one that really impressed me for both its thickness and weight. This is a 4” thick pad and it only weighs 18 ounces. This is definitely a warm weather pad, with an estimate R-Value of 1.5. This pad has a stabilizer construction which distributes weight evenly across the pad, creating a smoother, more comfortable feel. It also includes a two piece valve for one way inflation and quick deflation. The only down side is that it is not self-inflating.

• Weight: 16 oz

• Price: $79.95

• Available – Spring 2014

 https://www.bigagnes.com/

atpaddle samuraiAdventure Technology Duraweave technology

Duraweave is a proprietary blend of Innegra™ and carbon or fiberglass that used in both the blades and the shafts of the paddle. This makes for a more durable, stronger and more abrasion resistant paddle. In the blades, Duraweave improves the impact resistance and increases abrasion resistance by three hundred percent. In the shaft, Duraweave’s unique molecular structure dramatically improves the paddle’s secondary strength, resulting in a shaft that will maintain its structural integrity, even with multiple impacts. Available in three models, the powerful Geronimo is ideal for steep, shallow creeking, while the Hercules is the go-¬‐to choice for those who do an equal mix of playboating and river running. For kayakers who spend most of their time playboating, the Samurai’s smaller blade is the perfect option. The Geronimo, Hercules and Samurai Advanced Series paddles are available in a carbon fiber or fiberglass option. All paddles are available in ergonomic and straight shaft options.

• MSRP: Fiberglass - $230-$300, Carbon - $290-$375

• Available – Spring 2014

• http://www.atpaddle.com/

Oru kayakOru Kayak Folding Kayak

This has to be one of the most interesting things that we saw at the OR show this time. We had the opportunity to get in a couple of these kayaks and take them out for a paddle. I was amazed from the start. What makes this boat unique is the origami design. In minutes this boat unfolds out of a compact box. The origami skin has creases permanently molded in, so it folds easily between boat and case. There is only one seam—above the water line, on top of the boat. It closes tight with a watertight rubber gasket. Before getting in the water with the boat, I was a little skeptical about how watertight it might be. But after a few minutes in the water, my concerns were gone. The only other pressing question on our minds was how many times can this kayak be folded and unfolded. They told us that it was rated for 20,000 fold cycles without structural failure. One would have to use this kayak a lot to achieve that.

• Oru Kayak is 12’ long, 25” wide, and 13” high.

• MSRP: $1095.00

• Available – Late 2013 or early 2014

http://www.orukayak.com

advancedelements PackLiteAdvanced Elements PackLite Kayak

I don’t know about you but there are many times that I have backpacked into some pretty remote lakes and thought it would be great to get a boat out on it. Well the new PackLite Kayak is designed for just that. It is equipped with several unique features to make it the perfect ultra-light kayak for paddling in the most remote locations. It features easy to use Twistlok™ and military style valves for easy inflation and compresses down for optimum packability. Also it has 3 chambers for optimum safety, just in case one chamber fails. Weighing in at 4 pounds and packing down to 11”x11”x5”, this is definitely worth looking into if you have been eyeing that remote alpine lake.

• Max Capacity: 250 lbs

• MSRP: $299.99

• Available – 2014

• http://www.advancedelements.com/

ECCO terrainECCO BIOM TERRAIN Boots

Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to wear and review some of ECCO’s shoes and boots and I have been impressed by the quality of the products that they produce. For spring 2014 ECCO is coming out with the BIOM TERRAIN light hiking boot optimized for single- or multi-day excursions. The TERRAIN weighs only 510g and is a slimmer, more athletic alternative to BIOM HIKE. BIOM TERRAIN is offered in yak leather or textile models for men and women and features a PU midsole and rubber outsole with specialized lugs for traction over a wide range of conditions. Following in the tradition of ECCO’s Natural Motion, the BIOM TERRAIN allows the foot to move as nature intended.

• MSRP: $230.00

• Men's and women's style available

• Available – Currently

• http://us.shop.ecco.com/

Wolverine BushwhackWildWolverine Bushwhack Wild PC Dry

The first thing that caught my attention about the Bushwhack Wild boot was the new and updated version of the ICS+ Technology. These boots have a small, lightweight nitrogen-filled disc in the heel, which allows the wearer to choose his ideal comfort setting, selecting from cushioned, firm, inner or outer support. Plus the Bushwhack Wild has a waterproof leather and abrasion resistant upper lined with Wolverine PC Dry Gold waterproof membrane. A removable polyurethane footbed with NXT odor control sock liner offers cushioning, manages moisture, and helps prevent odor before it starts with organic enzymes.

 

• MSRP: $175.00

• Available – Spring 2014

• http://www.wolverine.com/US/en

vivo raVIVOBAREFOOT RA Dress Shoe

When I was talking with the people at VIVOBAREFOOT I came to a realization that there are many companies out there that profess the minimalist or barefoot mentality. But in my opinion they fall short of achieving it as thoroughly as VIVOBAREFOOT has. I was impressed that they have shoes for kids, women and men but also have shoes for almost every activity. I was impressed by their new dress shoes or brown shoes. Made in Ethiopia, an exclusive collection of Soul of Africa shoes combines VIVOBAREFOOT ultra-thin soles with natural local leather uppers to create shoes that are unique and look great. A portion of this shoe’s profits goes to Soul of Africa.

• MSRP: $140.00

• Available – Currently

• http://www.vivobarefoot.com

olukai holumuaOlukai Holumua

I love flip flops! You will usually find me wearing them most of the summer and even on occasions in the spring and fall. I wear them to the crag, on bike rides with my family and even on light hikes. But the down side to flip flops is that the straps do not adjust for a great fit. Well Olukai has taken the flip flop one step further with their new Holomua (Translation: Gorgeous). They have added adjustable strapping, injected TPU plate, segmented outsole, and a molded footbed. Think of a light hiking shoe bottom with a flip flop on top. You might not ever wear a light hiker again in the summer.

• MSRP $90

• Available – Spring 2014

• http://www.olukai.com/

nb FreshFoamNew Balance Fresh Foam

I don’t know about you but there are a lot of choices when looking at shoes and especially in the running category. Making a running shoe that stands out can be a feat. But New Balance has done just that. Their new Fresh Foam running shoe uses cutting edge software to produce a shoe that is plush without sacrificing performance. New Balance uses a concave honeycomb design to add structure and support where needed but then use a convex honeycomb design to give a great cushioned ride. With a 4 mm drop last this shoe was engineered to give a more natural feel alongside a cushioned ride with a blend of super soft foam that is incredibly responsive.

• MSRP: $110.00

• Men's and women's style available

• Available – February 2014

• http://www.newbalance.com/

magellan echoMagellan Echo watch

This is a completely new idea for a fitness watch. Many people use fitness apps on their smartphones to track distance and speed as well to listen to music while they run or workout. The Echo watch utilizes your smartphone’s fitness apps by wirelessly connecting to them. No more getting your phone out of your pocket to see your speed or to skip to the next song. With real-time fitness data streamed directly from your smartphone to the watch display and the ability to remotely control connected apps, Echo keeps you informed and in control during any run. The Magellan Echo uses Bluetooth Smart to wirelessly connect with a smartphone, and leverages the Wahoo Fitness API to drive integration with the world of sport and fitness Apps. Wahoo Fitness’s API is used by 100+ fitness apps, such as Strava, MapMyRun, Runtastic, and RunKeeper, to communicate with innovative new fitness devices like Echo. Using the Wahoo API, Echo is future-proof with wireless updates to keep pace with evolving features of the App developers.

• MSRP of $149.99 or $199.99 with a Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Monitor

• Available – 4th quarter 2013

columbia evapouration• http://www.magellangps.com/Echo

Columbia EvaPOURation Jacket 

Finding a great waterproof jacket for the right price can be a trick, but Columbia might have done it. The EvaPOURation Jacket is only $99 but it is full of technology. Columbia didn’t hold back on this jacket. It features Omni-Wick Evap which uses a special compound that disperses sweat quickly across a broad surface area for accelerated evaporation and Omni-Tech which provides premium air-permeable waterproof protection. The jacket is also fully seam sealed and has underarm venting for even more breathability. To top it off the whole jacket will stuff done into one of the hand pockets.

• MSRP: $99.00

• Available – Spring 2014

• http://www.columbia.com/

adidas stockhornadidas Terrex Stockhorn Fleece Hoodie

When the temperature starts to drop having a jacket to help keep you warm is key to continuing to play hard in the outdoors. And the Stockhorm Fleece Hoodie is designed just for that purpose. Using Pontetorto Technostretch which is a body hugging fabric and combining it with Cocona fabric this jacket offers the ultimate in moisture management. With a hood, sleeve zip pocket and thumb loops, this might be your new favorite cool weather high performance jacket.

• MSRP: $130.00

• Available – Fall 2013

• http://www.adidas.com/com/outdoor/

EB FieldJacketEddie Bauer Sport Shop Microtherm Featherweight Field Jacket

Normally I wouldn’t feature a hunting jacket but I am impressed by this field jacket. My go to jacket for most of winter is the Eddie Bauer Microtherm Down hoodie as it is lightweight but warm. But by basically taking the Microtherm jacket and adding CORDURA fabric overlays and a water-repellant coating, Eddie Bauer has created a boomer jacket. This jacket also features 700-fill StormRepel Down, a down that is treated with durable water-repellent (DWR), helping make it moisture resistant. Not only does the down interior repel moisture, but the fabric surface is also finished with StormRepel DWR, allowing moisture to bead and roll off of the fabric rather than be absorbed.

• MSRP: $199.00

• Men's and women's style available

• Available – August 2013

http://eddiebauer.com

deuter kidscomfortairDeuter Kid Comfort Air Child Carrier

I am a big advocate of taking kids into the great outdoors. But if you have young kids you are probably going to have to carry them the whole time or at least for part of a hike depending on their age. So having a good child carrier is essential. Deuter has been making pack for years and they have a few great kid carriers currently but for 2014 they are introducing the new Kid Comfort Air. What sets this carrier apart from other carrier is the Deuter Aircomfort ventilated back system that reduces perspiration by 25%. This is a great feature when heading out hiking in the summer heat. And with an adjustable 5-point child safety harness, a fully adjustable seat and side entry for the little riders, the Kid Comfort Air will keep your little one happy and safe.

• MSRP: $229.00 

• Available – Spring 2014

• http://deuter.com/en_US/

jetboil jouleJetboil Joule Stove

I have own and have used Jetboil Flash for a couple years now and have been impressed by its design and functionality. But when the weather turns cold or if you are with a group backpacking the Flash can fall short. But the new Joule solves both of those problems. With the ability to boil 1 liter of water in 2 minutes 40 seconds, the Joule offers consistent heat output down to 10°F/-12°C. Combined with a 2.5 liter insulated FluxRing vessel, the Joule offers fuel efficiency, portability, easy setup, and the reliability you expect from Jetboil. The Joule’s innovative design, with its inverted fuel can and liquid feed regulator, matches the performance of liquid- and multi-fuel stoves, but with the ease of use and versatility of canister systems. A user-friendly design offers quick setup and improved reliability over liquid and multi-fuel stoves, which require significant assembly and priming before use. The raw power and cold weather performance of liquid fuel stoves combined with the
consistency and control found in regulated canister.

• MSRP: $170.00

• Available – Spring 2014

• http://www.jetboil.com/

brunton hydrogenBrunton Hydrogen Reactor

If you are like me, you usually take some kind of electronic device into the backcountry and having some way to charge them is important. Currently Brunton has a few different solutions for recharging electronic when away from the grid, but their new Hydrogen Reactor is different. As the name implies this device combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity on the move and under any conditions. It works by screwing in a Hydrogen Core into the Hydrogen Reactor to create power that can then be used to power USB devices like smartphones, tablet computers, UV water purifiers, rechargeable lights and GPS transceivers. The best part is that you do not have to wait for the sun to come out. Down side is you have to carry extra Hydrogen Cores for extended trips. But each hydrogen core each is capable of 6 iPhone recharges.

• MSRP: $149.99

• Available – Spring 2014

• http://www.brunton.com/

powertraveller powermonkeyPowerTravel 12V PowerMonkey Extreme

I have featured the previous Powermonkey Extreme in a gear guide before and it has been my go to battery backup over the past year. It is durable, reliable and simple put just works great. But now they have even improved something that was great before. The new 12V Powermonkey Extreme features a 12V DC output port that is capable of charging many more devices directly from the unit. The best part is how easy it is to charger the Powermonkey Extreme. You can use the main charger from any electrical socket, USB or via a solar panel. I have not tried the new 12V but the previous model I have found it best to completely charge it before leaving the house and then maintain the battery via the solar panel. If you have never seen any products from PowerTravel I would suggest taking a serious look. They make some great products that perform.

• MSRP: $199.00

• Available – Currently

• http://powertraveler.com/

ruffwear BivyBotaRuffwear Biva Bota bowl

It’s not every show that I would consider something for a dog as a “Best of Show” award, but the Bivy Bota from Ruffwear deserves it. Now taking water for your dog doesn’t get much easier. The Biva Bota is a collapsible waterproof reservoir for water on the go. Welded fabric technology creates a watertight seal and allows for single wall construction. You simply fill the Biva Bota up with water and throw it in a pack. When your dog need some water you simply unscrew the lid and dispense as much water as you think your dog will drink. The one-way fill and dispense valve keeps the reservoir water clean. When your dog is done drinking simple discard any unused water, screw on the lid and away you go. It simply doesn’t get much easier.

• MSRP: $29.95

• Available – August 1, 2013

• http://www.ruffwear.com/

Scrubba bagScrubba Wash Bag

Traveling can be a sweaty, dirty experience and if you pack light you will definitely need to stop sometime at a laundry mat to clean some clothes. Well, that could all change if you pick up the new Scrubba Wash Bag. The Scrubba Wash Bag reminds me a little of a dry sack that is designed for washing your clothes. You simply throw your clothes inside the bag, add just a bit of water and soap, shake, squeeze and rub the bag and in less than 5 minutes you will have clean clothes. And when you are heading home and running out of room the Scrubba doubles as a flexible knapsack to carry souvenirs for the family back home.

• MSRP: $64.95

• Available – Currently

http://thescrubba.com

Trango rockprodigyTrango Rock Prodigy Training Center

I know hangboards are not a new idea, but I was impressed by the detail and thought that went into this hangboard setup and design. Based on the hughly succesful training routines of Mark and Mike Anderson, authors of The Rock Climber's Training Manual, the Rock Prodigy Training Center is designed for extremely precise and repeatable exercies. The big difference between this hangboard and others that I have used is the two piece design. The two pieces allow you to adjust and fine tune the width to match your body. Also by using computers to engineer the hangboard, the design and both sides has perfectly symmetrical holds. This hangboard's design is based on years of experimentation and refinement, and is the perfect tool to help climbers of all abilities progress to the next level. 

• MSRP: $120.00

• Available - October 2013

• http://www.trango.com/paraphernalia/Rock_Prodigy