The full UKClimbing.com editorial team hit the stands at the biggest outdoor trade-show in the world last week.
Splitting in to two teams, (I'll leave it up to you to decide which was A team and which was B team!), we visited countless stands, fondled some shiny gear, rustled some sleeping bags and drank our body weight in coffee.
Our team (Kevin Avery and myself) saw an amazing range of new kit, much of which is photographed below. The big news on a technical climbing gear front was the introduction of the new DMM Dragon Cams, which caused quite a buzz around the climbing village (the central area of the climbing wing is in a cafe style layout, named 'the climbing village').
For those who haven't seen the Dragon Cams, they are a twin axle design, very similar in style to the classic Black Diamond (BD) Camalots, but with the added extras that we have come to expect from DMM; weight saving from some very stylishly hot-forged cam lobes and the popular doubled sling. DMM have also kept their camming angle of 13.75° which DMM believe "offers the best combination of holding power and expansion range". With the BD patent expired on the twin axle design, it will be interesting to see if any other manufacturers will produce twin axle cams too.
From a clothing point of view, for me the best item was unfortunately unavailable - but check out this original 1970's Chouinard shirt (pictured right) - it was so cool I almost stole it! We have heard a rumour that these may be available as special press gifts at some point. Now this is big news - talk about a perk of the job.
Back to this millennia, and we saw some very sharp offerings from Patagonia, with the Guide Jacket and the M10 jacket both looking extremely well put together. Both Kevin and myself were very impressed with the award winning Super Mica jacket from Marmot, bringing a whole new meaning to the word 'light'.
In fact Marmot have really embraced the light-weight revolution and also seemed to have gone to town on the look of their range, with tweaks and changes of the look of many of their garments.
Meeting people is part of the show too, and it was great to bump in to several friends and make some new ones. Tom Cain is the new International Sales Coordinator for Wild Country, and he did a great job of showing us around their new kit. He's pictured here modelling the new look Alpine Shield helmet.
Mick Ryan and Alan James (the other team...) were also working hard, mainly from the coffee bar (or so it seemed to us..!), having meetings with our partners and generally doing what can only be described as 'high-flying-business-type-stuff'.
Mick did spot a very neat bouldering mat from Chillaz, which is photographed here. It is very similar in concept to the Flashed Air Pad that we reviewed earlier in the year, but the air insert is a single piece. This does look to be the future of bouldering protection.
Mick has done a report detailing the winners of the major awards at the show, covering some really innovative products. You can read his UKC Report.
Down to the gear - Below is a sneak preview of most of the kit we saw, with a brief description of what it is:
“Crux RK 37”
The water-proof fabric and roll top design kept this pack simple and usable.
“Crux Plasma Jacket”
Kevin looked at home in the water-resistant Plasma jacket - perfect for Scotland?
“DMM Dragon Cams”
One word... WOW. UKC will be getting the full low-down on these new cams from DMM. Watch this space.
DMM have sharpened up their karabiner range.
“Patagonia Guide Jacket”
As people have come to expect from Patagonia, their kit this year was the business and the Guide Jacket won one of the OutDoor awards for 2009.
“Patagonia M10 Jacket”
Here Darren Townsley from Patagonia models the M10 jacket. We first met Darren at an outdoor day last year and it was good to bump in to him again, if only to witness his modelling skills!
“Arc'teryx Squamish Windshell”
Arc'teryx had a full range of stylish looking clothes. This super-light windshirt looked like a great cragging top.
The big new shoe from 5.10 is the 'team'. Here Jenny Johnson shows us the features. The shoe has a single velcro strap and quite an aggressive, perfomance based style. For the hardcore boulderers perhaps?
An entry level shoe from 5.10 - the Rogue
“Evolv Defy Shoe with VTR-3”
Evolv showed us their environmental credentials and we were impressed. They have really gone to town using recycled rubber "Eco Trax" Also, with this VTR (Variable Thickness Rand) they have beefed up the rand in certain wear points to help the shoes last longer and offer more value for money. This VTR will be available quite soon.
A nice looking comfortable entry level shoe from Evolv.
“Metolius Safe-Tech Harness”
This is a monster. Designed for big-walling and to be super-comfy, the safe-tech has lots of safety features, including load bearing gear loops and twin belay loops.
“Metolius Chalk Bag Range”
Metolius chalk bags have gone 1980's! And they look superb. Bring back lycra we say!
“Western Mountaineering Down Jacket”
Here Pete from V12 Outdoor models a down jacket from Western Mountaineering. This was a company that we were very impressed with, they showed us photos of their manufacturing process over in the USA and the attention to detail was very high. Perhaps a company to look out for in UK shops?
“Petzl Freinio Karabiner”
An interesting karabiner from Petzl. Team with a Gri-Gri for increased friction when using skinny single ropes.
“La Sportiva Gandalf”
Funky footwear from La Sportiva. Aimed at the approach and climbing market and capable of climbing 5.12 apparently! Wizardry indeed.
“Marmot Trouser Range”
The 09 range from Marmot was very functional and stylish, but of particular note was a spread of great looking climbing trousers, including the excellently named Gritstone Pant. Keep your eyes peeled for these.
“Award Winning Marmot Super Mica Jacket”
We've got the current version of the Mica Jacket on test at UKC and it is performing well. This new version beefs things up slightly, with re-enforcement patches and a new hood rim.
“Marmot Women's Dri-Clime Windshirt”
Marmot have some great looking women's specific tops this year, including the ever popular Dri-clime.
“Marmot Haul Bag”
This is me modelling the new Marmot haul bag. I'm taking this beauty big walling in September, so will write a full review after that, but we were impressed at first glance. Kevin is inside the bag...
Scarpa's 'tool for endless climbing pleasure' gets a makeover...
“Scarpa Phantom Guide”
Super-light technical mountaineering boots featuring a new last and integrated gaiter system. Super light weight too!
“Deuter Guide Lite”
This is a top quality cragging and mountaineering sack. Look out for a review on the site soon.
Grivel were justifiably proud of their karabiner range for 2009.
“Grivel G20 Crampon”
Technical mono-point from Grivel looks more than capable of handling a Scottish season or two.
“OR Helium Light”
We were seriously impressed with the low weight and pack size of the Helium.
“OR Exos Pant”
A super tough, year-round stretch softshell trouser. These look like a great all-round mountain piece.
“BD Fusion Axe”
Black Diamond's top end tool just got better! Here Kathi Krause shows us the Fusion ice tool.
“BD Aspect Harness”
All-round, fully adjustable harness looks just the job for the British market.
“Berghaus Smoulder Hoody in Polartec High Efficiency Fabric”
Berghaus and their award winning hoody, complete with Polartec High Efficiency Fabric. A versatile technical, layering piece.
Alan James admires Neil McAdie's range of new rucksacks.
The real news from Primus is the fact that they are brining out their own version of the JetBoil. It looked very similar to the Jetboil, but with a few design tweaks. We weren't allowed to take a photo of it, so you'll have to take our word for it!
“Mammut Belay Device”
An ergonomic easy to hold belay device from Mammut.
“Red Chili Matadors”
The new top-end shoe from Red Chili.
“Wild Country Biners”
Wild Country have tweaked their karabiner range.
“Wild Country Ziplock”
The newly re-vamped harness looks like it will be popular.
Life size posters of the Cumbrian legend adorned the whole Wild Country stand.