Outdoor Retailer Winter 2007

More Banner-Worthy Gear

Feb 13, 2007
Outside Magazine
New Balance 921 Trail-runners

New Balance 921 Trail-runners

Black Diamond Cobra Hammer and Adze Ice Tools

Black Diamond Cobra Hammer and Adze Ice Tools

I didn't see any banners near these gear items, but they each seem worthy to me.

Spiky running shoes: New Balance was showing its new 921 running shoes ($100). Designed for winter running on ice and snow, the 921s have threaded mounts in the sole for ceramic (soon to switch to stainless steel) spikes. They also have a midsole with an anti-freezing compound so they stay supple in cold weather.

Dress like a pine cone: Schoeller, makers of some really great outdoor fabrics, was showing its new "bionic" membrane, called c_change. It's designed at the molecular level so that it operates like a pine cone, which keeps its seed cone closed when the weather is cold and wet, then opens it when it's dry. C_change works the same way. When the wearer is out in the cold and damp, the membrane's pores stay tightly closed to keep heat in and the wet out. As the temperature warms, the membrane opens up for ventilation. Look for it this fall from several makers, including Cloudveil with its new Koven Plus jacket ($440).

A better bivyÂ…and jacket: Another great fabric, in my view, is eVent, a waterproof-breathable membrane that is chemically similar to Gore-Tex but has different molecular structure. I actually prefer it to Gore-Tex, but since its introduction five or so years ago, eVent has struggled a bit to gain traction. But now, Big Agnes is introducing its new Three Wire Bivy, which will use eVent. That should make for an excellent bivy, plus Big Agnes has built a tent-like frame around the user's head so you won't feel like you're in a cocoon. Weight is about two pounds, and it goes for $299.

Meanwhile, a couple of young Canadian dudes have launched an outerwear company called Westcomb and are churning out a series of extremely clean, functional designs. Among the new items they were showing was the new Rampage HX Jacket, which uses eVent and Schoeller Dynamic to create an alpine jacket that's light (about 18 ounces) yet has a hood and other must-have features. The Schoeller material is used to "body map" the garment, as it's placed around the torso for breathability, while the eVent repels rain from shoulders and arms. At $330, it's a good buy.

Use the pointy end: If ice climbing is in your blood, then you'll be lusting for Black Diamond's new Cobra Hammer and Adze ice tools. Made with carbon-fiber shafts, the new tools are incredibly light, yet designed so that the head has plenty of swing-weight for sinking into hard ice. Not cheap at $300. But their wicked curve is hard to resist.

Skis, boots, snowshoes: The theme of winter is sliding around on snow, so plenty of gear-makers worked that vein. If you like alpine touring skiing but also do a little telemarking, then Scarpa's new Terminator X ($650) will have the appeal of a cold beer in Death Valley. For telemarking it uses the new NTN binding but also takes Dynafit's TLT alpine-touring binding. It's a tall, three-buckle boot that offers tons of support. Off-piste, anyone?

The Terminator X would work brilliantly with Karhu's new Team 130 ($600), a super-fat telemark/AT ski with a carbon core for light weight and strength. Or, hook them up with the new Black Diamond Kilowatt, billed as a friendly fat ski with a generous sidecut and a solid wood core with torsion box construction.

One would think snowshoes have evolved about as far as they could, but new designs and materials keep pushing the envelope. This fall, Crescent Moon will offer its well-designed snowshoes in a magnesium frame, to save weight and improve durability. Expect to pay $275. Atlas was showing snowshoes with a new Wrapp Pro for more positive fit and easier on/off. The company is also making snowshoes with an elliptical aluminum frame, a process that adds stiffness and strength. The go-anywhere 1230 model will retail for $259.

It's warm out there: Insulated outerwear is making a big comeback as new fabrics and insulations allow a trimmer cut that's still warm. Outdoor Research unveiled the new Megaplume (for men) and Refuge (for women), which combine down filling with light, water-resistant Pertex outers. They'll be $299. Mountain Hardwear's Windstopper Insulated Jacket uses Gore Windstopper for a shell and Thermo Micro synthetic insulation. That will sell for $240. Arc'teryx was showing its new Dually Belay insulated jacket, which uses that company's proprietary ThermaTeka hollow-core insulation ($475).

Pack it all up: Backpacks typically abound at the Summer Outdoor Retailer show. But in Salt Lake City, Gregory was showing its Targhee Ski Pack ($179), a 33-liter pack that carries skis diagonally or vertically. The ski-carry system ties directly into the pack suspension for better carrying. The Targhee also has an insulated hydration system.

A camera on your wrist: The wrist-mounted Digital Hero camera from GoPro isn't brand new, but they will soon be offering a higher-resolution 3-megapixel model for $140. This is a fun gadget. It mounts securely to your wrist, then flips up when it's time to take a picture. Shoots decent video, too.

Peep, peep: Winter sports can be hazardous. If you venture into the backcountry, you'd be wise to carry the newest Pieps DSP beacon ($400), which gives you quick, accurate directions to as many as six avalanche victims. Indispensable.

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