Now that the 2014 Winter Outdoor Retailer is over, I have some time to reflect on a few pieces of new gear introduced this year. There was a big push in the backcountry skiing market with a ton of new skis, bindings, poles and apparel unveiled. On the climbing side of things, only a few things really stood out as really interesting. A lot of apparel was updated, some new products revealed, but there weren’t too many new big-ticket items shown. Nonetheless, here are a few items I found interesting during this year’s winter OR.
Really psyched on the Arc’teryx Alpha Comp apparel. They are making a jacket and pant with a new fabric combined with GORE. The Alpha Comp is designed with waterproof shell material around the shoulders and hood and soft shell on the sides and part of the arms. These guys really know how to make and design good stuff.
Two new ice climbing gloves from Black Diamond: the Enforcer and the Punisher. The Enforcer is a little bigger and roomier and made with GORE-TEX, while the Punisher is slightly more stripped down with more dexterity and a fixed waterproof lining.
The anticipated Black Diamond Fuel ice axe is more of an ice-specific tool. It’s not revolutionary, but it will fit nicely into their fleet of ice tools. Price will be around $250 and they should be available this fall. Psyched to get some milage on them this year if I can get my hands on a pair.
Black Diamond has finally released their women’s apparel line. From down jackets to hard and softshells and pants. The photo above is showing the Front Point Bibs and the Sharp End Jacket. This stuff looks really nice.
The new rubber stay on C.A.M.P quickdraws they say can’t be looped wrong. This comes after the death of Tito Traversa which rocked the climbing world and initiated a huge lawsuit last year. I won’t get into the details here but always inspect your gear.
C.A.M.P.’s new $350 Blade Runner crampon. It comes with an alpine conversion kit for hard snow and glacier travel. The entire front of the crampon gets changed over. It’s super rigid. I’ve heard good things about the way they climb. The price might be a little steep for some.
Five Ten is coming out with a new shoe the are dubbing the Highangle; men and women’s version will be available. It’s a downturned shoe for entry-level climbers. MSRP will be somewhere around $120. Also pictured is the new Camp Four approach shoe. A flatter toe allows for easier climbing and jamming if needed on your approach or scramble.
Two new ice axes from Grivel are hitting the shelf in the fall: The Tech Machine (left) and The Machine 3.0 (right). Grivel has some crazy-shaped ice tools in their lineup, but they always seem to function well. If you remember the old Machines you can see they’ve come a long way in development. They felt nicely weighted and will likely climb ice and mixed really well. Psyched to check them out when they become available.
Lowa has made the women-specific ice climbing boot: the Mountain Expert GTX EVO WS. It’s a rigid boot made for ice and mixed climbing and it’s constructed with GORE-TEX, making it waterproof and breathable. An ideal boot for long, warm approaches and steep ice climbing. The ladies should be psyched on this one.
Mountain Equipment has been around for roughly 50 years in the U.K. and have recently begun breaking into the U.S. market. We took a look at their updated Citadel Jacket filled with Primaloft Gold (formerly Primaloft One). The shell material is Mountain Equipment’s proprietary fabric called Drilite, which is windproof, durable and waterproof. The jacket will retail for $320. This is a great alternative to down when the weather is damp, which is the case for most of the year in the Northeast.
Outdoor Research has developed a battery-powered glove. It seems like it would work nicely for ice climbers. It’s dexterous, fits well and it has three heating levels: cool, medium and hot. The Stormtracker will retail around $235. Maybe it will solve the screaming barfies??
Petzl has jumped into the bouldering-pad market. Like most things Petzl, they’ve designed a pretty slick pad that keeps the closed-cell foam on the outside. Once the pad is opened, you hide the straps by zipping them away with a cover and place the pad down with the closed-cell foam up. It’s hard to explain but check them out when they become available in the July.
I love SCARPA shoes. The Boostic is one of my favorite aggressive climbing shoes on the market. I never had a chance to try the older version of the Booster but they are now redesigned as the Booster S; rubber on the toe, down turned, velcro, these things are going to be sweet.
The new Rebel Ice fruit boot from SCARPA looks pretty sweet and they will be available to consumers, unlike most fruit boots at the moment. SCARPA has designed the Rebel Ice with a rigid carbon-fiber sole with a four-bolt plate that will accept most major brands—Black Diamond and Grivel and Petzl but the Lynx will not fit. The BOA closure system is pretty cool and it’s topped off with a velcro strap to ensure a secure fit. There is no heal spur but instead it was replaced with rubber for more of a climbing shoe concept to allow heal hooking. Retail will be around $539.
I thought this was kind of a cool idea. Westcomb will be manufacturing down shirts. It’s a very stripped down version of a down jacket you can wear as a long-sleeve shirt. Most recently Westcome has been dabbling in the lifestyle arena. Most of their new line this winter is focused on wearable apparel rather than technical garments. I have tested a lot Westcomb’s technical line so I am a little disappointed they aren’t working on anything technical. Lets hope they come out with something at Summer Outdoor Retailer.
Grivel has a new ascender I thought was pretty cool. The Up and Down ascender has a built-in belay plate so you can rappel easily when ascending a rope, if needed. The Up-and-Down has a left and right option.
Osprey has redesigned their Mutant pack series this year and made them more for four-season use. The design is pretty simple and stripped down. It has cinch straps on the side so when it’s not completely full you can make it less bulky. Other features include a removable frame; a helmet carrier that tucks away in the top lid; the hip belt can be wrapped around the back of the pack to get it out of the way when it isn’t needed on the 28L or removed from the 38L. The only thing I didn’t like about the pack is the mesh on the shoulder strap and the back panel. Seems like snow will get lodged in there and when moving around this could melt and get you wet. But I’ve gotta use it to give a full opinion. Otherwise, this pack will be pretty sweet. Retail will be $160 for the 38L and $130 for the 28L.