5 Pieces of Innovative Gear You Can Get Only in Europe
From a totally new airbag design to a onesie for mountain biking, here are some of our favorite finds at Europe's largest outdoor trade show
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This week, I’m in Munich, reporting from ISPO, Europe’s largest outdoor, action sports, and fitness trade show. It’s massive—several times the size of Outdoor Retailer—and full of brands we’ve never seen in the United States. Here are six products I’m hoping will eventually make their way across the ocean.
Integrated Avalanche System Airbag ($910, Pictured Above)
This German-made bag is essentially a Black Diamond Avalung and canister airbag mashed into one. The pull handle that deploys the bag doubles as a breathing tube that allows you to suck in oxygen from the surrounding snow (using a special valve) and dispel your carbon dioxide out the back of the pack. Ideally, the bag will keep you from being buried, but the tube is there just in case.
Dirtlej Classic Dirt Suit ($200)
Onesies are coming to singletrack. German designers built this full-body waterproof-breathable suit with a membrane because they were tired of getting mud down their shorts or up their backs on particularly wet and dirty days. (Think about how a traditional onesie keeps snow out when you land on your butt.) Six venting zippers and knee-length legs help keep you regulated when pedaling, and six pockets store your daily essentials. There’s also a full pant-length version for fat bikers in the snow.
Find-Me Avalanche and Deep Snow Leash ($65)
Surfers use leashes to keep track of their boards after they wipe out. Same concept here. If you wreck on a steep, powdery slope, these 30-foot leashes, which sit in a bag on the front or side of your ski boot, will keep your skis from running if the brakes can’t handle the snow (which has happened to me more than once). They’re also useful in an avalanche. If rescuers find your ski sticking out of a slide path, the leashes will lead them to your body. Downside: the Austrian-made leashes might cause the skis to hit you in a crash, but that’s a risk some may be willing to take.
Holdup Paddle (From $130)
Beginner stand-up paddleboarders spend a lot of time developing balance on their knees. In that position, you’re better off with a two-bladed kayak paddle because you can rip out quick, efficient strokes from a low position. But once you stand up, a traditional SUP paddle is your best bet because of the force you can exert down a long shaft onto that single blade. The Holdup Paddle offers the best of both worlds in a long, two-bladed kayak paddle that you can still use like a traditional SUP paddle, thanks to an indent in one of the blades that acts as a vertical grip. Rental shops will love these because they work for everyone—but experts will find them useful, too. SUP surfers can get past the break on their knees using the Holdup as a more powerful kayak paddle, and SUP river runners can have solid paddling power on their feet while being able to take a knee through larger rapids.
Grivel Fire Ice Ax ($320)
Thanks to a carbon-fiber shaft, this ax weighs only 250 grams, but its steel pick is still plenty burly enough to sink into ice. Italian-based Grivel removed the adze, which adds to the clean look and light weight. This isn’t a tool for core technical climbing, but it’s perfect for bootpacking up a steep couloir in the spring. Bonus: carbon fiber is warm to the touch, so it won’t chill your hand in really cold situations (unlike the standard aluminum).