The UKC team of Alan James, Mick Ryan, Jack Geldard and myself spent four days in the Temple of Shiny Things last week, finding out what new gear will be in store for 2013. In this news item I'll cover some award-winning highlights. Links to video reports of gear in dedicated categories from hardware to mountain clothing are below:
Friedrichshafen, on the shores of Lake Constance in Germany, is the annual setting for Europe's main summer gear show. It's the Glastonbury of the outdoor world... kind of. Fields around the tradeshow become tent and campervan cities, where the European outdoor industry get to know each other better during communal showers in the morning and put the gear world to rights over Weissbeirs in the evenings. Days are spent inside an 85,000m2 exhibition space divided into 12 halls and several outdoor courtyards. This year 900 exhibitors from 40 countries were showcasing innovations and gear in the pipeline for 2013.
Outside, there was slacklining over paddling pools, climbing walls, a roped course village and a trail running obstacle course. Amongst plenty of other things. OutDoor is kind of a big deal and full on: hectic schedules of meetings and drinks build momentum through the week, culminating with a German-style rock party on the Saturday night.
So what'll be new in 2013 outdoor gear? 'Body mapping' remains a key trend (using different fabrics in one product to create optimal breathability, wear resistance etc). The push towards lighter weight products that retain performance and function continues. So does the push towards greener processes although, as Mark Held, Secretary General of the European Outdoor Group, accurately summed up: "The ecological sector is still trying to find its direction and definition - but there are a couple of good ideas and you can see a number of encouraging things.” Various conferences at OutDoor discussed aspects such as sustainability as a true commitment rather than a trendy slogan, live down plucking and general materials traceability.
The spirit of this year's trade show seemed to be more development of existing concepts rather than dazzling new ideas. That's not to say there weren't plenty of exciting things to see. Black Diamond fill the 'missing link' in their camming family with the Camalot X4, which offers a better expansion range than any other small cam on the market and has innovative armour beads protecting its stem. Petzl set new helmet weight standards with their 165g Sirocco, which looks a bit bald like they forgot to put the shell on it but is apparently stronger than it looks. Mammut and Edelrid have new touch-sensitive ropes, allowing you to feel the middle and end coming close. Arc'teryx launched their new casual wear, Black Diamond launched their new bouldering clothing, and Charles Cole of Five Ten introduced the new 'Stonelands Last', designed to 'reward performance without robbing comfort'.
I hope you enjoy the video highlights below - we have many more videos to come over the next few weeks!
Prior to the show there was a degree of anxiety about the current economic slow down and what impact it might have on the OutDoor. Well for sure the economic times are tough, but the outdoor industry demonstrated that it is resilient, forward looking and still full of enthusiasm. As a result, OutDoor was just as vibrant, lively and exciting as ever and the number of attendees was just fantastic. So tough times but the underlying solidity of our sector is still there, still intact and we will continue to develop.
Mark Held, Secretary General European Outdoor Group (EOG)
This year 48 products won OutDoor Industry Awards. Ten of these received the coveted Gold OutDoor Industry Award for particularly outstanding innovation and design achievement. There will be more information about these products in the reports over the next few weeks, but here's a video gallery of a few award-winning highlights, followed by a summary of the Gold award winners. The judges paid particular attention to the following aspects: degree of innovation, design quality, workmanship, choice of materials, environmental compatibility, sustainability, functionality, utility, safety, trendsetting character and brand value/branding.
And the ten products that won prestigious Gold OutDoor Industry Awards are...
The word 'ultralight' is perhaps over used at the moment but, at just 165g, this helmet sets new standards in terms of helmet weight. It looks like it might fall to bits if you accidentally sat on it, but apparently the mechanical properties of the expanded polypropylene (EPP) guarantee exceptional impact strength. The adjustment system using belt straps also results in less weight. I liked the nifty magnetic buckle, which allows you to fasten the chin strap with one hand.
What the jury had to say: "With the Sirocco, Petzl was able to reduce the weight of climbing helmets to a mere 165g. Absolutely amazing - and without any compromise in terms of ventilation or wearing comfort."
The 10.0 Sensor offers touch sensitivity as well as visual markings. Basically you can feel as well as see markings in the middle and end of the rope, alerting you that these areas are coming close. These raised dots are called 'BiCo' sense technology. The rope also has a Superdry coating.
What the jury had to say: "The end and middle of the Sensor single rope are different from the rest of the rope. This provides better orientation for the belayer and prevents accidents when a climber is being lowered because the belayer can feel when the end of the rope is approaching. Hopefully, the Sensor rope will soon make lowering accidents a thing of the past!"
The first rope with two diameters and touch sensitivity. The first 7m and the middle of the rope are made with a thicker mantle or sheath (10 instead of 9.8mm thick) to make it more durable, abrasion-resistant and to provide 'visual and touch-sensitive aids' to the belayer.
What the jury had to say: "The first rope with two diameters! This means that the belayer not only sees but also feels that the end of the rope is approaching when lowering a climber. This reduces the danger of lowering accidents significantly and also better protects the parts of the rope that are subjected to excessive stress from abrasion. The middle of the rope is also thicker to provide for better orientation."
This four season trekking pole designed specifically for women combines sturdy construction and Black Diamond's new stainless steel FlickLock Pro technology, (seen in ski poles last year), which means it can be easily folded up to be very compact and expands in seconds. The length adjustment is adapted to average women's heights.
What the jury had to say: "It is completely adjustable and exhibits high stability and light weight. The wrist strap is one of the most comfortable straps currently on the market. It can also be used while wearing gloves and looks stylish, too."
Edelrid Cable Vario Via Ferrata Set (see above for image)
The world's first via ferrata set equipped with a brake resistor that can be adjusted to the weight of the user, which is similar to the DIN setting for a ski binding. Good news for children and smaller, lighter weight women.
What the jury had to say: "The first via ferrata set whose impact force can be adjusted to the weight of the user. As a result, people who weigh less than the average normal weight of 80 kilograms will also be 'gently' slowed down in the event of a fall. The carabiner is also easy to operate."
Pump up the fuel tank, open the valve wheel and the flame ignites: a hybrid gas stove that doesn't require any preheating. The 'Dual-Groove Drum System' apparently makes lighting the camp stove as easy as lighting an indoor gas range. The Muka Stove is equipped with a pressure gauge on the 'smart pump' so that the user can see how much pressure is building up inside the aluminum tank. The small aluminum stand and a very flexible hose make the stove very ergonomic.
What the jury had to say: "The Muka Stove is very easy to operate. Its design exhibits clean lines, is functional and reduced to the essentials. This perfect simplicity is immediately convincing. The manual value, which automatically preheats the stove, is a special feature.
A lightweight case that can be used as a suitcase, shoulder bag or backpack, and offers amazing volume for its weight. With 50l of volume, the Covert ICO Case weighs just 1150g and is accepted as hand luggage for most flights. Thanks to the all-around padding and clean design, the luggage and the contents are well protected. A very practical feature is that it has handles on all four sides. Additional inside and outside pockets make organisation easier.
What the jury had to say: "This case stands out by virtue of its good, clear-cut, simple design. It is very light, functional and practical. There are no unnecessary straps or eyelets - which results in quicker and easier handling. The format is also perfect. A must-have for frequent travelers!"
A 500 ml drinking bottle made of biodegradable organic plastic. Under composting conditions, it biodegrades within six months.
What the jury had to say: "This drinking bottle has very high environmental and sustainable value. It is made of non-fossil fuel, which protects valuable resources. In addition, it breaks down completely under composting conditions within six months. Its design is clean and simple. In this competition, it is the most convincing environmentally compatible product."
This jacket weighs a mere 45g and doesn't take up any more room than an average chocolate bar. It's a windshell jacket with a 7 denier ballistic airlight rip-stop nylon Polkatex DWR coating, which 'repels gentle rain until proper shelter can be found'. It also has an adjustable drawstring at the waist, elastic wristbands, reflective logos for greater safety and easy storage thanks to the integrated storage pocket.
What the jury had to say: "Convincing due to the use of an ultralight, innovative nylon material and its good, solid workmanship. Weighing a mere 45g, it is one of the lightest windbreakers on the market today.”
This jacket is made from an 84% highly elastic, new kind of 3-layer material, specially designed for use in fast types of sports. It has a hydrostatic head of 10,000 mm and an abrasion resistance of 40,000 Martindale rubs. With the black side on the outside, it absorbs 98% of the UV rays; the silver lining on the inside reflects 28% of the body heat and controls the wearer's body temperature at the same time - thanks to a special membrane technology. This keeps the jacket dry even after strenuous physical exercise. The silver-colored side on the outside reflects 28% of the UV rays, while the black side turned to the inside absorbs 98% of the body heat. With a Ret value of 3.2, the jacket exhibits excellent breathability.
What the jury had to say: "This jacket had us convinced with its hybrid approach: an extremely diverse piece of clothing that combines function, comfort, an intelligent choice of materials and high-quality workmanship with modern design and good looks. This makes it a product that is attractive to the constantly growing target groups of urban users who don't participate in sports under extreme conditions but who perceive sports as part of their everyday lifestyles.”