Outdoor Retailer 2003: The Gear Guy's Roundup

More from the floor: Part I

Aug 21, 2003
Outside Magazine

Leading light: Brunton's Liberty lantern

Micro-home on the range: the Infinity from GoLite

Of course, there were thousands of other things on display at the show, which spills out of the cavernous Salt Palace Convention Center into outdoor pavilions (a fancy word for "big tents") and display areas. I walked constantly for two full days and didn't see it all. But here are some things that caught my eye:

Sometimes I like to camp with a gas lantern, particularly when bike touring. Especially in winter, a lantern will cheer up an otherwise dark and gloomy evening. But candle lanterns don't throw out much light for their weight, and gas lanterns require fabric mantles that invariably break when the lantern is moved. Brunton is addressing that problem with its new Liberty, using a platinum mantle that is essentially unbreakable with normal use. And it's light—only eight ounces, not including a butane/propane canister to fire it. And even that doesn't add much; a single canister can keep the Liberty burning for six hours at full throttle, generating about as much light as an 80-watt bulb. Price is $110.

It seems as if the entire outdoor-gear industry has gone on a diet, with this year's loot even slimmer. Examples: MontBell's Torrent Flier Jacket, a full Gore-XCR technical jacket that weighs an absurd 12 ounces. It'll be $229. Mountain Hardwear is adding to its single-wall tent lineup with the new Airjet 2, which sleeps two and weighs just under four pounds. That'll be $285. And GoLite, which has really tried to define the ultralight category in recent years, was showing a new pack called the Infinity. It has more than 3,000 cubic inches of capacity, comes with an internal frame sheet, yet weighs just two pounds, five ounces. It'll set you back $199.

With ranks of shoes as far as the eye can see, a couple of pairs did manage to grab my attention at the show. Scarpa, a traditional Italian boot maker that's long been turning out beautiful if somewhat porky leather boots, is building footwear more suited to the lighter loads made possible by today's lighter gear. One I hope to try soon: the new ZG-40, a good-looking leather hiker for $149. Trail runners may want to look for Salomon's XA Pro 2 ($90), an upgrade of the popular XA. It has a gusseted tongue to keep out crud, and tough mesh uppers. Climbing-shoe maker Five Ten, meanwhile, was showing a new line of budget-priced rock shoes called CaVa. They'll sell for $69 to $79. Good, sticky soles, but with lesser leather and a lower-quality fit compared with their higher-end products. High-end rock shoes on display included La Sportiva's spiffy Venom, a high-performance slipper that will sell for $130.

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