Alpkit CoLAB 09 at The Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show

The Alpkit National CoLAB Design Award is now in its final phase, and the contestants are now busy in their sheds fine tuning their designs, ready for the final at The Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show.  Despite its modest profile, the event is proving to be one of the most  popular events at the show. Away from all the headline grabbing activities, Colab gives you the opportunity to get involved in grass routes design and meet like minded individuals who are passionate about creating their vision for outdoor products (click to enlarge the image below).

Back in September 08 in collaboration with The Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show invited everyone who had a new idea for an outdoor product to take part in the Award. The scope of the competition is wide and as a result the entries ranged from climbing wall holds to environmental protection suits.

This competition is all about amateur designers showing the big guys what they are missing. The initial stage terminated in December 09 when an expert panel consisting of Graham Thompson, Mark Taylor and Andy Kirkpatrick shortlisted just 9 entries to take part in coLAB 09. The final 9 now have a chance to work up their ideas before exhibiting them during the three days of The Outdoors Show in a purpose built coLAB 09 zone.

During the show the visiting public will have the opportunity to talk to the entrants, explore their ideas and vote for their favourite. The Outdoors Show is expected to attract upwards of 40,000 visitors and industry professionals, an incredible opportunity for the finalists. The eventual winner will be announced on the Sunday.

This year we have quite an eclectic mix of products, so from indoor climbing to arctic exploration the contestants have come with ideas to make our lives that bit when we out in the great outdoors enjoying ourselves. The 2009 Award finalists are:

A better climbing shoe – Ian Cornwell

A climbing shoe bringing together several existing technologies to make a better climbing shoe.
This climbing shoe can both a very tight fitting and rigid shoe, or with a turn of the dial it can be flexible shoe which is good for smearing and improving comfort.

The Nest – Liz Asquith

The Nest is a sleep system aimed at making life a little easier for those camping with young children and making camping more fun for the children themselves. 

 Briquette – Yu Ting Yau

A cooking device that utilises traditional charcoal heating and cutting edge insulating devices. 
The device heats up liquids using charcoal sticks and keeps them warm using high tech Aero Gel.

SOS Sleep Mat –  Simon Masters

An emergency aid that utilises a previously unused part of an existing product. 
SOS or other internationally recognised emergency symbols are printed on the reverse of a sleeping mat to produce a great safety feature on an item that someone would already be carrying.

Squeeze Box – Kevin Beeden

The Squeezebox Stove is a lightweight replacement for the heavy fully integrated cooking systems and is used as both pan support and windshield. 
Made from a single component it not only saves weight but increases fuel efficiency and reduces burn time.

Segmented drybags – Peter Boyle

A range of drybags featuring internal and external pockets for organising and water proofing kit. 
Dry bags with a clever twist; a single waterproof bag with several components allow both dry and wet items to be stored safely together.

Bio Endurance – Shekina Tsotetsi

 An emergency signalling and life prolonging garment, it incorporates class leading technologies and materials to form a suit capable of protecting the user.

Jamulator – Liz Asquith

A crack simulator that can be changed as regularly as every other hold in a climbing gym.
The Jamulator takes a different approach: rather than having a permanently fitted crack, there is a fitted channel into which specially shaped sections can be bolted in the same way as holds are normally installed on the rest of the wall.

White-out torch – John Martin

A torch to make it safer, easier and less disorientating when navigating in a white-out; especially when moving over irregular terrain.  
An array of 'diffracted' lasers project horizontal lines onto the snow. This gives the user a reference point and reduces spine jarring stumbling! A second vertical laser can be used to indicate the direction of the bearing being followed.

CoLAB Graphic

The finalist now have just a few weeks to refine their ideas and prepare for the show. Good luck!

Many more of the entries that did not make it through but can be found at The Alpkit National Colab Design Award

More details about the final projects can be found at: The Alpkit National Colab Design Award

About the expert panel:

Graham Thompson

Graham Thompson  © UKC Gear

GT is quite possibly the best known gear tester in the UK, and deserves credit inputting science behind the testing. Choose any day of the year and you will find Graham somewhere inThe Lakes testing a pair of boots or someones latest waterproof. You can find GT at the Trail magazine website,

Dr Mark Taylor

Dr Mark Taylor  © UKC Gear

If anyone has been lucky enough to spend a little time in the Labs of Leeds University. then youwill have seen Mark spinning some dials, applying some kind of force to something and generally trying tobreak stuff. Mark is also a keen caver and mountain biker. Find Mark at

Andy Kirkpatrick

Andy Kirkpatrick, with Ella and Ewan Kirkpatrick, accepting the Boardman Tasker Prize for Psycohvertical  © Mick Ryan -

One of the UKs leading alpinists, Andy knows a lot about gear and the way stuffworks. He is also willing to test this stuff in some really really harsh environments. His recent trip toPatagonia saw him gear testing in the extreme. He is also one of the funniest men alive. Check Andy's website, with writings on gear, life and adventure, at

The Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show is the largest outdoor-centric event in the UK, with visitor numbers expected to reach over 40,000 in 2009. Over 375 exhibitors from across the whole outdoor industry willbe there and will involve more than 20 exciting innovative features created to give visitors the ultimateoutdoors experience.

Sky Masters 2009 at The Outdoors Show

The SkyMasters 2009 in association with Berghaus

Only at The Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show 2009

Special offer for
2 adult tickets for just £22 (on the door price £34) Quote UKC1 when booking

Book online at or telephone 0844 415 4418

The awesome 2009 SkyMasters climbing competition will be returning to The Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show at the NEC in Birmingham on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 March 2009

Tim Emmett is ambassador for the event and he and Leo Holding will commentate on the competition. Steve McClure will again be route setting.

The SkyMasters took the UK climbing world by storm when it was launched in 2008 and competitors are now queuing up to climb in the 2009 event to join 2008 winners Michaela Tracey and Dave Barrans in the hall of fame.

Last year's event was nail biting stuff, with Steve McClure setting the routes perfectly to keep everyone on the edge of their seats, and with the winners only just making it to the finish line to sound the horn of a Ford Ranger hanging at the end of the route!

The 2009 competition will be even more exciting as climbers will race head-to-head on a parallel course, rather than over a timed route as in 2008.

The Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show

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13 Mar, 2009
The Trainspotting Alpkit photo should be a photo of the week..... marketing category. Mick
13 Mar, 2009
and as has just been pointed out to me... Liz isn't the only UKCer to make the final, btw –Kevin the squeezebox stove man is Captain Paranoia Congratulations to both of you. Mick
13 Mar, 2009
wow, i want one of those whiteout torches; they sound great (not been in a proper whiteout since 93, but still want a torch with fricking lasor beams)
13 Mar, 2009
<Austin Powers mode> With a shark attached? </Austin Powers mode>
13 Mar, 2009
Yup, well done to all the contestants, tried to come up with stuff myself but don't think using copious amounts of zip ties and gaffa would impress the judges much... Especially interested in the wwhiteout torch idea, curious to see how well it would work. Congrats again folks. Iain
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