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Outdoor Retailer Summer Market '06 (Sunday)

Submitted by vegastradguy on 2006-08-15 | Last Modified on 2008-01-23

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OR Summer Market 2006

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Welcome back to’s daily update on the happenings at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market! Sorry for getting this up so late, but I had to fly back to Las Vegas this afternoon and so I was delayed in posting this article. I’ll keep these three articles separate, but will clean them up a bit and add some more pictures in the next couple of days!

Also, to check out the other days of the show, click below:

Alright, enough with the housekeeping stuff—on to the show!

Misty Mountain Threadworks

Our first meeting of the day was with Heath and Goose at Misty Mountain. They couldn’t give us enough praise for our Cadillac Harness review and also could not wait to show us what was new for ’07!

cirqueharness finesse

Misty’s two newest offerings- the Cirque and Finesse, updated for 2007!

The Cirque and Finesse have both been updated with seamless padding on the harness as well as a smaller belay loop for the women’s version. Both of these are expected to ship sometime next year.

In other Misty news, the Big Wall chest harness is getting a new look as Misty will replace the current straps with abrasion resistant nylon for ’07, making it lighter, stronger, and more durable all at once!

Finally, while we were at the Misty Mountain Booth, we noticed that they had some friends with Project Holds with them- a new hold company based out of the same area as Misty. I couldn't help but take a picture of their longboard...


DMM Wales

Once we were finished at Misty, we stepped across the aisle to meet with Steve at DMM to talk about their new gear coming up this season.

Although it didn’t come up right away, I finally got the lowdown on the story with the HB Offset fiasco. The short version is that DMM could not produce the stoppers without upping the price by almost 50% per unit. Thus, the former HB employee who actually manufactured the units for HB was given leave by DMM to go ahead and produce them on her own and try to make a go of it. The final end of the story comes when Julian (the employee), signed an exclusive contract with the Yosemite Mountain Shop for distribution of the HB Offset (Hugh still owns the rights). So, there it is- the only place in the world you can buy the HB Offsets is at the YMS…just in case you were wondering!

Now, on with DMM’s really fun offerings this season! First up is a new standard in lightweight wiregates. DMM’s new wiregate called the Phantom will set the new record for ultra light when it comes out in March- barely registering on the scales at a scant 24g! It is tiny, like the Nano, but I bet folks are going to love it.


DMM’s trend of ultralight stuff continues with their other carabiners- the Shadow, a regular gate carabiner comes in four versions- straight, bent, screwgate, and autolocker. The straight and bent gate versions are only 43g and keylock, making them an attractive carabiner for those not into wiregates.

shadow locker

DMM’s final ultralight offering for next season is a tiny stainless steel belay device called the V-Twin that really looks cool (and was tough to photograph- so shiny!). This is a prototype- the production version will be a bit beefier and with slightly wider slots.

v twin

The V-Twin will be rated for ropes from 8mm to 10.5mm!

In the ice climbing arena, DMM is releasing the Anarchist- a really sweet looking leashless tool that is nothing short of beautiful. Unique to this tool is the ability to attach a leash for those who want to try leashless tools, but don’t want to risk dropping it. Unlike the rest of DMM’s stuff, this bad boy should be out in time for this years ice!


Acopa Shoes

Well, Steve talked our ears off and before we knew it we were late to our next meeting, so we ran all the way down to the Acopa booth where we had a meeting with the man himself, John Bachar! After talking a bit with him about our site and his goals as a designer (which is to make shoes that perform on real rock!), we jumped into his two new shoes for this year- the JB and the Enzo.

The JB is the result of all the old school climbers out there badgering John to design a high top that will also do the job as a modern day climbing shoe. This shoe is slip lasted, has a midsole stiffener, a ¾ tongue, and looks like nothing like the only other high top on the market- the 5.10 Altia. You can tell just by looking at this shoe that it is not going to hinder your performance in any way.

jb shoe

The old traddies are going to love this one!

The Enzo jumps to the other end of the climbing spectrum- this is a performance slipper designed to excel in sport climbing. However, because John demands that all shoes work in all arenas, this slipper also has a full rand all the way around the shoe to allow you to work the occasional crack in them as well.


Check out the rand..could this be a crack climbing slipper????

John was pretty excited about these shoes and hopes to get them out into the stores by winter of this year. After John showed us the new stuff, he broke out his bin of demo shoes to have us try on a few to get some feedback on the fit- which, as Kelly will agree, is excellent. All of the shoes felt like a glove when I put them on! Thanks John!

Mountain Hardwear

Well, I told you I’d have more details on their stuff, so here it is. I’ll merge this stuff into Friday’s blog on Sunday, but for now, you’ll get it as a separate entry.

First, their sleeping bag- called the Ultra Lamina Bag, this bag has a ton of new features. The first is that it is not stitched- its welded- no seams and the insulation is welded to the exterior, keeping the loft up and the drafts down. Second, Mountain Hardwear is using a new proprietary insulation called Thermil-Micro Insulation, a new type of synthetic down that is almost as compressible as down itself! We compared stuff sack sizes and the stuff sack for the 5 degree bag in synthetic was the same as the 0 degree bag in down! Amazing! That’s not all, though- the price on these bad boys isn’t too bad, either. The 15 degree bag only runs $190!

Second, the Bunker tent- this little monster is a specialty item that we didn’t really cover, but I got the basic specs. Its 6’ long inside, weighs 3lbs 4oz, and costs about $450- and it can be clipped to the side of a mountain, which is probably where it belongs anyway with someone a lot more industrious than me!

Third- packs. We didn’t really get into the exodus packs, but your faithful gear guide editor will try and get one of these packs to test out, so hopefully you’ll see a review on these in the not too distant future. We did, however, take a look at some sweet little day packs that look like they’ll make excellent climbing packs- the Riff and the BeBop, both due out in the spring, the Riff weighs only 15oz and the BeBop weighs about 21oz. Ultralight seems to be the theme of this show for sure!

Alright, Mountain Hardwear had a tone of stuff to show us, so I’ll just touch on the rest of it. They have a bunch of new sleeping bags besides the Ultra Lamina, including synthetics and downs, most of which now have women’s versions. Their clothing line is looking less and less like dirtbag central and more and more like casual street clothing- making bar time after the crag less suspicious looking! Ultralight technical clothing is also getting lots of attention- two new garments in both mens and womens barely even tip the scale- the Ghost (4oz), and the Ghost Vest (3oz) are both coming out this spring.

womens fashion mens fashion

How to still look good at the end of the day...

Finally, a really cool pair of tents are coming out- the Sprite, a three season, one man tent that weighs in at less than 3lbs that has a very unique design to it, and the Viperene, a three season, two man tent that is less than 5lbs and only has one pole in it, but with hub technology looks like at least four! The Viperene is also available as a three man tent and both of these tents, along with a couple of others will be available in the spring.

viperene 2

The coolest looking of the three tents they had...the Viperene! It only has one pole!

Black Diamond

Well, as much fun as Mountain Hardwear was, we had yet another meeting to catch, so off we ran to meet Katie at Black Diamond. Now, its no secret that I’m a big fan of BD, so I’ll try and curb my enthusiasm for their new offerings this year, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by quite a big of it!

First up- carabiners! BD is joining the ultralight club with the OZ- a 28g carabiner that is due in stores in the spring, along with the rest of the new carabiners. The real news, though, is their new belay locker the Vaporlock. At a tiny 51g, it is the lightest pear out there- and not only is it lighter, it also increases friction on a belay device by increasing the surface area of the carabiner!

oz and vaporlock

The tiny OZ carabiner...with the shiny green Vaporlock in the background....

Next up- big wall stuff! Black Diamond is joining the big wall scene with a vengeance this season. Along with the new ledge, BD’s research team has also developed two new toys to compete with that other rope work company. Check out the N-Force ascenders:


These nifty gadgets are really cool. They have a really unique assembly, allowing one entire side of the ascender to move (the side with the actual rope clamp on it) as one piece. This allows the piece to provide 30% more clamping power- ascending wet, icy, or otherwise grimy ropes is not a problem. They also feature a huge clip in hole- you can spin a small locker through it- including the locking mechanism!

Also in this area, look for a swivel, which I noticed hanging next to the N-Force Ascenders but forgot to ask about as the BD folks turned my attention to the ledge. The ledge, incidentally, is ready- it goes into production soon and should be delivering to stores in late fall- the version that BD had with them is actually a production model, not a prototype. I’m no big wall climber, but some of the features (including the assembly part) look really slick. Initially, only the Simple Fly will be available, but look for the Deluxe Fly by Christmas.

Next up- a ridiculously lightweight climbing pack called the Flash. This 9L pack looks just about perfect for climbing with, and only weighs 7oz! This is by far the lightest pack at the show that we saw….

BD also has four new tents out- two single walls, and two double walls. The Hilight and the Oneshot are the single walls, and the Mesa and Vista are the double walls. Nothing too exciting with the single wall stuff- just more plays on their previous tents. The Mesa and Vista were intriguing, but I’m pretty sure that the flys on those tents wouldn’t stand a chance in JTree!

Big Agnes Next up, Big Agnes, where Katie and Kelly discovered a sleeping bag meant for at least 4 normal sized climbers:

double wide bag

Big Agnes is a company that we hadn’t really seen before, and to be honest, I’m not sure why! These guys have some really cool stuff this year. My favorite of their selection is their sleeping pads- two of them are insulated with Primaloft and are rated to 15 degrees. One of those two has an extra layer of closed cell foam, for those of us who sleep cold at night. The non foam pad is cheap too- it clocks in at about $70, not bad for a plush 3” pad that compresses to half the size of your standard rolled up Thermarest!

big agnes pad

Check out the small rolls on the left- the black one is the display rolled up!

Big Agnes also is home to the sleeping bags with the inserts for your sleeping pad- no more rolling off your pad at night! Also new this year is the Emerald Mountain Tent, which comes with a ton of space and room for two and checks in at just under 5lbs. It also has an optional extra vestibule available for the ultimate car camping experience. The three man version has an even bigger extra vestibule for those that like to truly live in style!

Sterling Ropes

After our meeting with Katie and BD and Big Agnes, we had to run over to see JB at Sterling Ropes. This year, Sterling is doing a couple of new things with their old products as well as developing some really cool new products that we should see out as soon as they finish their testing in Europe.

First up, the old ropes. All of Sterlings old ropes are getting color overhauls- new, vibrant colors are going to appear on a bunch of their new ropes. JB and crew are experimenting with rattlesnake patterns, neons and mattes, and even camouflage ropes! Their bi-colors are also getting some improvement with an even more obvious change at the halfway point!

sterling ropes

Check out the rattlesnake pattern!

The other big news at Sterling is the announcement of a brand new line of ropes called the Fusion line. These are Sterlings entries into the skinny rope market. All of the ropes will have dry cores and sheathes, and actually have a decent retail price on them for being such skinny lines! They are going to be available in three sizes- the 9.8mm, the 9.4mm, and the 9.1mm Nano. The Nano is currently being tested, but JB tells me it hold between 5-6 falls in their rigs and handles very nicely, as all Sterling ropes do. Price on it will be about $185, putting it well below the other super skinny lines on the market. The 9.4mm and the 9.8mm will be similar in price. Look for these ropes to hit the stores sometime around October or November.

In the ‘toy’ department at Sterling, they’ve got some neat stuff in the works. First is the Chain Reactor- a similar idea to the PAS but with some obvious improvements. First is that its got a different colored end loop, making it easy to find. It also has a doubled up first loop for redundancy if you extend your belay device with it. Most important, though, is how it tests in the lab- Sterling did static drop tests on it (Fall Factor 2), and the unit will hold 3 of these falls before failing! JB tells me the secret is in the new miracle material that they are using to make it- it’s called Nylon…..

Another couple of toys they’ve got going for them are dyneema slings- made with a unique bartack, they hold about 23kn before failure and look quite a bit cleaner than the standard sling. Sterling is also releasing prefab autoblocks this year- similar to Metolius’ prefab prusiks.


It should be noted that I have sort of been using the Evolv booth as a base camp for my Summer Market adventures- mostly because the folks at Evolv are pretty laid back and they only look at me in a slightly weird way when I continually wander into their booth uninvited…but I finally sat down with Brian on the last day to talk about his new lineup.

First are a couple of shoes that have been out, but he really wanted to show me. The first is the Evo- an intermediate to advanced performance shoe that’s pretty comfortable and has been a real good shoe for Evolv- very popular. Second was the Elektra- the woman’s version of the Defy. Brian is billing this shoe as a comfortable, all-around Velcro shoe…

evo elektra

The shoe Brian is most excited about, though, is still in product development and is being tested and tweaked by Team Evolv’s newest member- Chris Sharma. The shoe is the Kaos, but will have a new fit, midsole, and better performance by the time Evolv is done tweaking it to Sharma’s liking. They’ve already done most of the work, so expect to see the shoe available around January.

sharma shoe

Also, in case you didn’t know, Evolv also has a full line of casual shoes that look pretty sweet and worth a look. Check ‘em out at their website-

Osprey Packs

So, the show is winding down, but we’ve got two more stops. The first is at a pack company that I’ve been dying to check out- Osprey. Gareth is our host here and like us, he’s pretty torched, but still manages to get pretty excited about the new lineup at Osprey.

The premier pack for them this upcoming season is their Talon pack series. At 33L and 44L, they are a mid-sized bag and pretty light as well- 1lb 5oz and 2lb 5oz, respectively. They have a decent price- $160 for the 44L, $120 for the 33L. They have an intriguing looking vent system for your back, which, according to Osprey will keep your back dry on those long approaches. They also look to have some pretty sweet features for climbers, but I will confess to having forgotten them and I also managed to lose the spec book on ‘em! I’ll remedy this as soon as I can. I can tell you, though, to expect them in January.

Osprey has some other cool pack systems including their popular Switch series, which are meant for back country skiing, but look light they might be an awesome pack for alpinists. They also have the Exposure series coming out which are definitely an alpine/mountaineering pack available in 36L, 50L, and 66L sizes.

The North Face

Finally, its time for our final meeting and upstairs we went to the North Face’s room. That’s right, room- they are way too big for a booth. Their area dwarfs any of the biggest vendors on the floor- they’ve got a lot of stuff in just about every area. Their rep Amy gave a head spinning 26 minute tour of the entire thing (for reference, Steve at DMM took up over 30 minutes on a handful of items…)- but did a great job on hitting the high points.

First up, the Terra 40- a $109.00 entry level pack that has everything the big boys do at a reasonable price- it even has a sleeping bag carrier! This is a sweet looking bag, and even if it isn’t the greatest pack, the price makes it almost irresistible for folks looking to get a decent pack that will do a lot and not break the bank.

The North Face has a huge line-up, so I’ll skip the details on a lot of this stuff. They’ve got some new synthetic bags, down bags, and other packs available- none of which I can honestly remember. I do remember that their Flight Series packs have foot vents….which seems like a neat idea. They also have a rather large casual line- both in clothing and footwear. Their new sandals look really cool and comfortable too.

The next thing I remember is the Summit line- which includes TNF’s Apex Softshells. These are new for the season and look pretty sweet. They come in a variety of types- hooded and hoodless. Some have abrasion panels to protect the material at key points. One of them- the Apex Magic is completely seamless- not a single stitch on the jacket- all welded construction. All of these shells are available in Mens and Womens versions.

Finally, we come to the Vario 23, TNF’s new three season tent with ‘Lift Technology’, which is more or less a spoiler system on the tent to actually use the tents body to create lift in high winds, keeping the tents shape intact. The tent clocks in at under 4lbs and looks pretty sweet. I was impressed with the look of the tent, and this tent may just be the new JTree tent this season…..we’ll see! Expect to see this one by February or March.

Well, that’s it folks- show’s over. Hope you had a good time reading my exceptionally long blongs- I had fun writing them at every spare minute of the day. I hope to make improvements on the update schedule for the next show, but in the mean time, I’m headed back to Las Vegas to get back to the gear reviewing part of my job!


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