The UKC team of Alan James, Mick Ryan, Jack Geldard and myself spent four days at The OutDoor Show recently, finding out what new gear is in the pipeline. Most of the gear we videoed will be available next Spring.
Other news items in this series:
It must be fun to design camping gear. There's plenty of scope for quirky and original ideas to make products more user-friendly and packable. Lots of interesting ideas here, from solar panel chargers so tough you can stamp on them (and maybe more reasonably priced than you'd think) to camping mat designs that are full of holes, and fully-specced tents that pack up small and inflate in seconds.
Can't cope without your phone or the internet? Across the Atlantic, US manufacturer Goal Zero is making clean and free 'power to go'. Glyn Pagett introduces the range of portable solar panels, dispelling some myths and explaining how they work. He's mainly talking about the full Guide 10 Adventure Kit (£130), which includes the panel and the battery (storage unit). He also mentions the Guide 10 Mobile Kit (£100). The panel he's holding is the Nomad 7, which retails at £80.
Heimplanet told us they've had lots of requests for a lighter tent with a smaller pack size, since they introduced the Cave, their 5.2kg free-standing inflatable tent. The 3 kg Wedge is designed along the same lines: unroll the one piece inner, outer, frame, and inflate in 30 seconds. It also comes with a smaller pump. The Cave costs £550 including the pump; UK price for the Wedge is to be confirmed.
If you haven't seen Klymit's innovative, weird-looking Inertia X Frame before, definitely check it out. Those who doubt its comfort, they challenge you to try it! Designed to go in your sleeping bag, essentially it packs small enough to fit in your back pocket and gives support only where you need it, saving weight. RRP £80, reviewed by Mick Ryan here: Camping Mats. In the video above, Klymit introduce their new Static V sleeping mat, which packs very small and features unique v-shaped chambers that align with your spine; the side fins allow it to curve to fit inside a sleeping bag if you prefer.
Look out for Mountain Equipment's sleeping bag range in 2013: it's been completely revamped. More on Mountain Equipment's Down Codex Project soon, but check out the website www.thedownproject.me.uk. The outdoor brand are years ahead of every other in terms of down traceability to combat the ethical, environmental and animal welfare issues relating to the sourcing of down (such as live down plucking). As of Spring 2012, you can trace each and every batch of down they use in their sleeping bags via that website.
Cascade Designs (who own Therm-a-Rest, MSR...) will launch E-Cases in 2013 (formerly sold under the paddling-focussed brand SealLine). Cascade felt the proliferation of smartphones and tablets suggested a gap in the market for submergible devices beyond the realm of paddle sports. Looking very useful for UK summers...
Therm-a-Rest will introduce a new collection of down and synthetic sleeping bags in 2013, designed to combat the following common outdoor sleeping problems: restricted ability to move comfortably in the bag, inefficient loss of warmth, inability to stay connected to a mattress. They can't do anything about snoring or smelly tent companions, unfortunately. The range feature patent-pending 'SynergyLink mattress connectors' (flexible bands which fit around any mattress). Unlike conventional bags, loft is concentrated in the top of the bags to better trap rising warm air, and reduced or removed in the bottom where a mattress provides insulation from the ground. Finally, 'Efficient Comfort' fit is designed to match the body's natural resting positions – especially side sleeping - allowing shoulders, elbows, and hips to move without restriction. The Antares sleeping bag (£250) won an OutDoor Industry Award 2012.
Crux's tent range is growing from one to six. These single skin tents feature an 'activated carbon coating' designed to absorb condensed vapour and prevent the formation of water droplets. There will be: the X1 Raid (1.5 kg, £299), X1 Strike (1.75kg, £349), X1 Assault (1.95kg, £499), X2 Bomb (3.35kg, £699) and X3 Bunker (3.60kg, £799). Some prototype images above.
Now distributed by Burton McCall, JetBoil will have a broader range available in the UK in 2013. Stop press: the 1 litre Flash (like all Jetboil's stoves this is a 'Personal Cooking System' featuring a burner and pot all in one unit) will be available in two new colours - Tomato (red) and Cammo - pre-Christmas 2013 if possible! RRP £80.
MSR launch a new 1 litre solo Reactor stove (with a coffee press option!) to complement the 1.7 litre version in 2013, as well as a bigger 2.5 litre stove, plus a new hanging kit. Prices are: £140 for the 1 litre, £150 for the 1.7 and £165 for the 2.5. The hanging kit will be £25.
First launched in 2007, Primus's ETA Power (£115) and ETA Express (£95) have been completely revised for 2013. The original super-efficient, encapsulated burner remains the same, but pretty much everything else has changed. It's now easier to assemble - just swing out the pot supports (two steps fit different size pots), mount the cartridge, light the burner - and is embedded in a one-piece aluminium bowl that serves as a windshield and heat reflector. The pots now have a scratch-resistant and non-stick ceramic coating and silicone covered foldable and fixed handles. The lid has an integrated colander for fine pasta-dining, and each pot comes with a polypropylene bowl. Available sizes are: 1, 1.8 and 3 litres; weights are 282, 372 and 540g.
A new stove review is in the pipeline...!