Eye on the Prize: 10 to Watch
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6. Arc’teryx Advanced Composite Construction Backpacks: I left the show wondering: Are Mountain Hardwear’s new packs the apotheosis of pack design that dates back to the 1970s, while Arc’teryx’s new Advanced Composite Construction packs the start of a new generation of haulers? Time will tell, so to hedge my bets I include both. Arc’teryx’s new ACC packs are made of tough, urethane-coated fabric formed into a seam-welded, roll-top pack bag that is totally waterproof. Moreover, all the harness straps and attachment points are welded or glued to the bag, so there’s not a stitch in it. Arc’teryx claims this lets the bag ride closer to the back for more comfort despite the stripped-down suspension. My test-carry around the booth said to me, well, maybe. But I loved the waterproofness and unique construction. Three pack sizes, up to more than 4,000 cubic inches. $425-$475; www.arcteryx.com
7. MSR Fling Tent: This tent looked immediately likeable—a modified tunnel-style tent with an optional center ridgepole that runs from end to end. Use the ridgepole to create a free-standing tent with a big overhanging awning over the wide front door. Or, leave the ridgepole home to shave a few ounces, and guy the tent out. With the ridgepole, it’s still just three pounds, six ounces. The Fling has a single-wall design, with large side vents on the lower wall where condensation can drip out. $270; www.msrcorp.com
8. Wilderness Systems Rx Kayak: Want to run whitewater, but aren’t interested in scaring the bejeebers out of yourself on some hairy whirlpool? Then the new Rx may be the boat for you. It’s a whitewater boat for the rest of us—agile, but shaped so it doesn’t “hook” the water as easily as more sporty boats, for a more stable and forgiving ride. $1,000; www.wildernesssystems.com
9. Mammut Serenity Rope: Not long ago, nine-millimeter ropes were strictly double ropes. But Mammut’s new Serenity comes in at a svelte 8.9 millimeters—yet is rated to all the falls of a much fatter single rope. Plus its super-soft hand makes knot-tying a breeze and works wonderfully in a belay device. $230 for 60-meter rope; www.mammut.ch
10. Sierra Designs Nanolite Jacket: OK, it’s true that since Marmot roiled the raingear market a few years back with the introduction of its light, waterproof-breathable, $99 PreCip Jacket, it’s become something of a joke that everyone is aiming to set a new mark for a half-ounce-lighter jacket. But I say, more power to them! Sierra Designs claims the “lightest” designation—for a few days, at least—with its new Nanolite, which weighs an ineffable 4.3 ounces. $90; www.sierradesigns.com