ISPO 2017, which took place in Munich 5th-8th February, was a chance for the world's leading outdoor brands to showcase new product. We were out there in force, and will be bringing you updates on the latest clothing and equipment over the next few weeks. But of all the thousands of bits of shiny, colourful kit on show, which particularly grabbed our eye here at UKC/UKH? Here's our top 10...
Rab Kinder Smock
From Stanage to the Alps, no self respecting British climber of the late 80s and early 90s would be seen out without the Kinder, Rab's classic over-the-head down smock. With period fashion all the rage once more, this old favourite has been reborn. The original styling has not changed a stitch - good news for its fans of a certain, ahem, seniority - but the fabrics are entirely 21st century. Will it help you climb like Johnny Dawes? Not likely, but you'll look the part while failing to...
- £160, available autumn/winter 2017
Conventional fleece loses most of its insulating power once it beomes wet. A highly water repellent fleece material developed in partnership between Paramo and Nikwax, Fleece+ is an interesting fabric with obvious applications in the wet and cold of the British hills. The furry deep pile face is soft and very warm; the directional fabric is highly wicking and breathable for high output activities; and yet it's also impressively water-resistant... so much so, that the guys at ISPO turned a sample into an improvised cup. While you won't be doing this with your own fleece, it certainly demonstrates how weather-proof and quick-drying the fabric is. Paramo plan to roll it out across a range of clothing in future; it already features in their new Ostro Plus Fleece, which can be re-treated with Nikwax TX Direct to maintain its water repellecy.
- Ostro Plus Fleece £160, available autumn/winter 2017
Scarpa Ribelle Tech boot
Is it an improbably minimalist mountain boot, or is it a beefed up winter approach shoe? It turns out the Ribelle Tech is a bit of both, combining a shoe-inspired build and lightness with the warm, protective and waterproof upper of a mountain boot. The supportive yet slightly flexible B1-ish sole will take a crampon, yet the boot weighs only around 500g. Ueli steck wannabes will instantly see the appeal, but their potential for approaching alpine rock routes is obvious too. And much as formula one car technology eventually filters down to the wider market, we can probably expect to see some of the principles behind the Ribelle Tech mirrored in future mass market winter footwear. This is a niche specialist for sure, but a worthy winner of ISPO 2017's Product of the Year award. Winter Cuillin Traverse record, anyone...?
- £390, available autumn/winter 2017
When the leader is significantly heavier than the belayer, it can be a genuine safety concern. Typically you might anchor a lighter belayer to a sandbag if you're climbing indoors, or something solid on the ground if you're out at the crag. But the ingenious Ohm offers a neater solution to the problem. Introducing friction to the system to take much of the force of a fall off the belayer, it is simple to deploy and detach. The Ohm is designed for use with a multi-directional anchor, i.e. a bolt, so you can expect to see them in use soon at your local wall or sport crag.
- £110, available now
Mountain Equipment Supercouloir and Direkt gloves
If your gloves have enough dexterity for that hard winter lead there's a fair chance they're too skimpy for warm-handed belaying. On the other hand, just try climbing close to your limit in beefy belay gloves. The best solution is probably to carry several pairs. That's the idea behind the Supercouloir and Direkt gloves, complementary models that look like an ideal pairing for Alpine climbing or Scottish winter (though they'll be sold separately). With a mix of thick fibre pile and micro fleece inside for max warmth, plus a Gore-Tex lining, a tough Pittards Armortan Goatskin palm and a stretchy softshell back, the Supercouloir should be well up to wilder winter conditions. In contrast, the Direkt has thinner insulation, no waterproof lining, and a combination of Goatskin and grippy Pittards Oiltac leather for a lighter, more dexterous feel. They may not have revolutionised glove technology, but their design and build quality really caught our eye.
- Direkt £75, Supercouloir £125, both available autumn/winter 2017
Climbing Technology City Rope bag
The debate about whether commercial rope bags are actually better than IKEA shopping bags has run for years and years. Now some rope bag manufacturers have started to produce new designs that acknowledge the 'shopping bag' style and how useful it is for quickly bundling your rope up and shifting down the crag. This neat version from Climbing Technology is not the first of this design, but it is a great take on it, with plenty of space for your rope and 'shopping' combined with all the other features you would expect such as funnel tarp, tie-in loops and long shoulder strap.
- £35, available now
Synthetic insulation with the loft, packability and warmth-for-weight of natural down has been a holy grail of textile technology for decades. The scientists are getting closer all the time, and while absolute equivalence remains elusive the latest generation of synthetic down substitutes is fluffier, lighter and more lofty than ever. Down-like fills were a big story at this year's show, with several different technologies on show in a variety of insulated pieces from big name brands. Take Primaloft ThermoPlume, for instance, as featured in Montane's new Icarus (men's) and Phoenix (women's) jackets. These little wisps look so fine and light that you could be forgiven for assuming they were feathers, and yet the material is entirely synthetic. Marmot, meanwhile, showed us their Featherless Hoody. Give it a squeeze and its loft feels completely down-like, yet as the name suggests, no birds were bothered in the process. For wetter environments in particular, these new fills look like giving traditional down a run for its money.
- Phoenix and Icarus jackets, £140, available autumn/winter 2017
- Featherless Hoody, £180, available autumn/winter 2017
Petzl Sirocco helmet
The original might have been impressively lightweight, but that giant tangerine on your head was not a good look for everyone. Petzl have now slimmed down the Sirocco considerably, so it should fit better under a hood and look rather less outlandish in the photos. A hybrid construction that combines an expanded polypropylene body with a protective polycarbonate cap on top, it weighs in at only around 170g, without compromising on a solid, durable build. With a low rear rim for maximum head coverage, headtorch attachment, and plenty of ventilation, it is now, crucially, available in a colour scheme slightly less, err, eye-catching than the original dayglo orange (a choice of white and orange or black and orange).
- £85, available spring/summer 2017
OR Alpenice hooded jacket
The burliest of a range of active insulation pieces that make good use of Polartec Alpha Direct (in this case zoned in two different weights, 125g for warmth where you most need it and 95g elsewhere for lower bulk) OR's Alpenice is a warm and versatile hooded jacket that could equally function as a mid-layer or an outer. With a weatherproof and highly breathable outer face and snugly pile-like Alpha Direct on the inside, it fits a similar niche to the old Buffalo jacket. The idea is that you stick it on at the start of the day, and don't take it off again til you're back home. A number of brands are now making use of this system for high performance active wear, and with Scottish winter mountaineering firmly in mind, we were particularly taken with OR's take on it in this jacket.
- £300, available autumn/winter 2017
Berghaus Hyper 100 jacket
Winner of an ISPO 2017 Gold Award, its second major trade gong inside one year (having already wowed the judges at OutDoor 2016), this little number is billed as the world's lightest 3-layer mountain shell, and the first to get below 100g. Made from Berghaus' proprietary 3L Hydroshell Elite Pro fabric, it is, they say, the most breathable shell the company has ever made (an impressive 55,000 mvtr). While we can't yet vouch for that in person, we can certainly say that it is improbably light, at only around 100g (size med). Berghaus may have achieved this by using a tissue-thin combo of 6d face, 7 micron membrane and 8 denier backer, but they seem to have done it without totally sacrificing durability: the Hyper has, they claim, a tear strength up to three times greater than previous featherweight waterproofs. The Hyper 100 looks ideal for light n fast summer mountain pursuits such as hill running and ultralight backpacking, and it is likely to find its way into weight conscious climber's packs too. We'll tell you more once we've got hold of one to review.
- £260, available now
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