Outdoor Trade Show (OTS) 2019 Review

15th Jul 2019

Last week was the Outdoor Trade Show (OTS) in Manchester.  Being the only UK trade show means it is an important event and over 140 manufacturers came to display some of their current range products but also, significantly, share details of products they have coming out in 2020 (although there are a few products detailed here that are available already).

We headed over to chat to friends old and new, meet with manufacturers and PR companies and get the low down on what to expect in the coming year.  As always, the show had a great buzz about it and there was so much to see.  

Over the coming couple of weeks we’ll be sharing some of the products that particularly caught our eye although, given the shear quantity of products on display, we'll say straight away that this has to be a select preview rather than a look at everything out there.  For simplicity, we’ll be focusing on a manufacturer at a time.

So, here is a select tour of OTS 2019.  We hope you enjoy......

Mammut

As always, Mammut are bringing some fascinating new products to the market. Mammut are also heavily focussed on environmental sustainability with an aim to only produce PFC free products by 2025.  With that aim, some of the new products coming to market (such as the Kento detailed below) have specifically had a sustainability design focus. Great news.

Kento Pro High GTX Boots

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This is a very smart looking boot designed for multi-pitch climbing, mixed and ice climbing and classical Alpinism.  They are crampon compatible and use a range of advanced technologies to give a precise fitting, high performance and yet very lightweight boot.  Watch out for these as we reckon they will be a winner. The Kento’s will be available in a male and female model and, as mentioned above, this is a product Mammut have designed with a sustainability focus.  To that end, the Kento incorporates fabrics such as low pollution and energy conscious Terracare leather.  Very well worth checking out when they come to market.

Ducan Spine Rucksack

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Having recently finished testing the Trion Spine rucksack, Paul is well aware of the advantages this innovative back system offers.  It is superb (you can read Paul’s review of that pack here).  Mammut have now incorporated this into a range of smaller and lighter packs and the one that really caught our eye is the Ducan Spine 28-35 litre (the volume is adjustable).  This is a lightweight mid size pack that seems perfect for everything from mountaineering to ski touring.  

Wall Rider MIPS Helmet

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This stylish looking helmet has hidden depths.  Beyond the lightweight construction lies MIPS.  MIPS is technology well known to many cyclists and yet this is the first time it has been incorporated into a climbing helmet - well done to Mammut for bringing this technology to the climbing world.  MIPS is a system designed to offer maximum protection by allowing the outer shell to move if the climber’s head is subjected to an angled impact.  In simple terms, this means some of the rotational forces are redirected and absorbed.  A great option for climbers and mountaineers.

Mammut Rime Lite IN Flex Hoody

Mammut Jacket

This looks to be a really versatile multi purpose insulating layer.  It is available in male and female versions and combines an elastic water resistant  Pertex Quantum shell layer with stretchy 40 gm per square metre insulation.  Besides that, Mammut have really focussed on performance fit by incorporating stretch panels in key areas for for maximum freedom of movement. It looks like one of those garments you will put on....and leave on!

Leki

We’ve used Leki poles for many years and always look forward to where this innovative brand are going to lead the industry next.  In the near future the answer, in simple terms, is lighter, stronger and more user friendly - Leki see mountain goers travelling further, faster and carrying less. What is starting to become known as ‘dynamic mountaineering’. We caught up with the Leki team at OTS and detailed below is what we felt to be a true stand out product for 2020.

MCT 12 Vario Carbon Poles

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This pole is packed with technology and jammed with innovative features.  The grip (termed the cross shark grip) is a sculpted cork grip designed to be comfortable and supportive both in ascent and descent and Leki have combined this with their well proven Trigger S quick release wrist strap system (in a ventilated mesh).  As you would guess from the name, these poles are made from carbon, but Leki have used skinny 12mm diameter tubing which makes for a very trim pack size and super light weight of 190gms (for the 100-120mm version).  Finally, we were really impressed with their ‘Core Locking Device’ which is a new streamlined, quick and secure locking system. We loved the MCT 12 Vario Carbon, but we weren’t the only ones - Leki were awarded an ISPO Outdoor Award for these!

Petzl

I focussed on new climbing products at the Petzl stand and must admit I was soon very sidetracked into chatting about their new climbing wall anchors, group use harnesses and various updated ascending devices.  So, not very helpful for a roundup on their more general line up.  However, I did explore a few bits of general equipment that I thought looked superb....

Fly Harness

Petzl Fly Harness

Petzl say this is now their lightest and most compact harness and I certainly wouldn’t argue. Infact, I may more wonder how they could every make one that is lighter or more compact - although I’m sure they are working on this already! The Fly is a work of art designed for ski mountaineering or Alpine use.  It has, uniquely, no metal parts and yet has sufficient adjustability to be put on while wearing skis or crampons.  Cleverly, the leg loops and waistbelt also have removable foam inserts to allow it become even lighter and more compact.  It is a pretty amazing bit of kit and surprisingly comfortable.  The weight is 130 grams with the foam retainers and 100 grams without and it packs up to about the size of a tangerine (the harness comes with 2 stuff sacks and the larger one is for the harness with foam inserts and the smaller one for the harness with inserts stripped out).  Wow! 

Glacier Literide Ice Axe

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I know a fair bit about this ice axe as it has been on the market for long enough for one to accompany me on various activities last winter. But, as it may not be known about by many, I thought it worth a mention here.  The Glacier Literide is a very lightweight and yet functional mountaineering axe that strikes the balance between use ability and weight.  It has a steel head (for function and durability) paired with a very light alloy shaft. Crucially, however, Petzl have still incorporated a steel spike which I think is essential for a general purpose axe. It comes in a 50cm length which is perfect for mountaineering adventures and only weighs 320 grams.  It won’t do everything well, but I think it is a perfect axe for many wintry adventures.

Multihook

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Petzl have had a Multihook available for some time, but this new version looks head and shoulders above the old version.  These litter hooks are an essential for creating a V thread anchors and this new version folds to a compact size (but can still be stored inside an ice screw) and incorporates a sharp bladed section for cutting rope.  It looks the business.

HydroFlask

As I write this I have a HydroFlask on my desk next to me.  A HydroFlask lives in my messenger bag and I take one on every outdoor adventure - what's not to love about a stylish insulated flask that will keep hot drinks hot, cold drinks cold and help to halt the single use plastic epidemic.  I'm in!  So,  I was really looking forward to catching up with the HydroFlask team at OTS and I wasn't disappointed.  Here's what to look out for in the new season range.....

Lightweight Trail Series

HydroFlask Titanium

The one thing I have always wanted HydroFlask to consider is about making their bottles lighter.  For an insulated bottle their products are already light but, when travelling light and minimising pack weight is a priority,  every gram saved is appreciated.  So, I was extremely excited to see that, for the new season,  HydroFlask will be introducing 2 very light aluminium drink flasks and a ridiculously light titanium version.  All these flasks look sleek and stylish and their weight (or lack of it!) is astounding. 

The aluminium versions come in a 24 and 32oz size and the titanium flask, which is the lightest insulated drink flask currently on the market, comes on a 21oz capacity.  They all feature HydroFlask's trademark quality and insulating properties and I think these are an absolute winner.  

Insulated Lunchboxes

HydroFlask Lunchbox

As I always try to avoid using single use plastic packaging for my lunchtime sandwiches, I really like the possibilities created by the upcoming HydroFlask Lunchboxes.  As usual, they feature the core HydroFlask insulating qualities, but their hard shells will also keep your lunchtime banana in good shape and protect your fairy cakes from rucksack crushing damage. I have been using Beeswax wraps for quite a while now and see this as the perfect companion.

Cooler Cup

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The HydroFlask Cooler Cup also caught my eye. Designed to keep your drinks frosty (or hot drinks hot), this is a versatile holder for your bottle or can that allows the drinks within them to maintain their temperature for longer. A silicone sleeve allows you to snugly fit your drink can or bottle into the Cooler Cup or this can be used to create a non slip base.  Perfect for the summer BBQ or campfire get together. Oh, and you can also just pour your drinks straight in to create a cool cup.

Goal Zero

I’ve been a long term user of Goal Zero products and really rate their high quality solar panels, batteries and lighting systems. Infact, their products have been powering my portable devices at base camps and mountain accommodations for decades.  They have some great new items coming to market and we had a great geeky chat with Goal Zero tech guru Alex about what’s coming up.  

Sherpa 100PD Power Bank

Goal Zero 100PD Power Bank

I’ve recently tested and reviewed the Sherpa 100AC Power Bank (Please check out my review here) and reckon this high capacity portable system ticks every box for travel and expedition use.  Well, the 100PD offers many of the same features while reducing weight and size by dropping the AC charging function. They are a sure fire winner for so many users.  

Like the 100AC, the 100PD has the largest battery capacity you can take on a plane.  It will easily charge electronics like phones and cameras but also, because it features a 60 watt USB-C port, can also charge suitably equipped laptops. It has a wireless Qi charging pad and twin USB outputs.  It really does provide the ultimate in portable charging and, because there is no AC charging facility, it is light and significantly cheaper than its 100AC sibling.  This will be on the market by the end of July - perfect for your summer adventures.

Nomad 14 Plus Solar Panel

Goal Zero Nomad 14 Plus

I actually have a fair bit of knowledge about these solar panels because we currently have one on test and the review of it will be live on the website very shortly.  They are also already on the market but I still thought it well worth shouting about on this OTS round up though.

The Nomad 14 Plus is, as the name suggests, a 14 Watt (18-22V) panel designed to be the perfect portable companion on your treks, travels and adventures.  It features a clamshell design allowing it to fold to 31x20 cms in size and yet open out to 31x40 cms.  This, combined with its low weight of 635 grams (without kickstand), make it perfect for strapping onto your rucksack as you trek or attaching to your kayak (it is water resistant rather than waterproof), pack raft, SUP or even you horse or handlebars!  It can charge powerbanks (it can charge, as one example, a Goal Zero 50 Power Bank in as little as 8 hours) or directly charge a phone or tablet.  It also, of course, has the usual top notch Goal Zero quality

Wild Country

Back where it all began.  Wild Country, of course, were the first company to introduce camming devices to the world in 1977 and, all these years later, they are introducing state of the art new cams to the world. 

Zero Friend

Wild Country Zero Friends

These look and feel great. The Wild Country Zero Friend is designed for thin cracks, pockets and peg scars and there are a number of design features to really help make that possible.  This micro version of the iconic Friend has one of the narrowest heads on the market and this, combined with its slightly adapted version of the definitive 13.74 degree constant camming angle, should provide solid holding power.  

It has a dual axle, stainless steel termination swage and hot forged raw finish alloy lobes which combine for maximum strength for minimum weight.  They also feature one of the best expansion ranges for cams of this size. The Friend Zero will be available in 6 sizes from Summer 2020.  

Black Diamond

We had a great chat with the Black Diamond team and, as usual, they have a lot of interesting things coming to market.  We talked about their soon to be released footwear range and they have some great packs available. They also have some updated carabiners including the super light MiniWire, LiteWire and an undated HotWire.  But, the product that stood out above all the others is their Z4 cams.  As long term users of Black Diamond cams, these are big news.     

Black Diamond Z4 Cams

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I can’t deny some of these will definitely find their way onto my rack - they are a work of protection art.  The Z4 is a replacement for the X4 and C3 models and there will be both standard and offset versions available. They are very well though out.  Black Diamond have added a flexible plastic sleeve that BD is calling a RidgiFlex stem.  This offers stiffness when the trigger bar is pulled (making them easy to place) and yet, once placed, the cams are flexible enough to allow them to bend over crack edges.  This flex should also help to minimise the tendency for cams to walk into cracks. The anodising is also left off the cam edges to aid grip in crack placements.

Black Diamond have made the cams very narrow to allow placement in pockets and thin seams and they feature colour coded slings with a unique pattern so they can be easily differentiated when racked on your harness and the slings will feature a unique pattern. The Z4’s will come in sizes from 0 to .75 which means that there’ll be some overlap with the C4’s in the .3 to .75 range.  These really do look like an excellent upgrade to the BD cam range. 

DMM

DMM continue to push the boundaries and we love how this home grown company keep churning out fantastic climbing equipment from their manufacturing facility in North Wales.  They are bringing a number of new climbing products and we reckon these are all superb.  

Halfnuts

DMM Halfnuts

There’s definitely a clue in the name here, but DMM Halfnuts are a lightweight set of passive protection which is…. like one of their Wallnuts has been cut in half!  Halfnuts have the same much loved side profile as the Wallnuts, but the narrow width and tapered head shape allows for effective placements in narrow crack lines and peg scars.  Less metal also means that a set of 1-7 weighs 40% less than a corresponding set of Wallnuts.  

When you inspect a Halfnut you’ll wonder how they can be strong enough, but infact the 2 smallest sizes still have a 5Kn rating and it’s 6Kn for the other sizes.  Apparently, a lot of clever engineering has gone into creating the single wire strand connection and, when you inspect them, you’ll see why.  We reckon these will make a great Alpine or scrambling option or will be perfect to carry as a second set to double up with Wallnuts or Rocks.  Available in Jan 2020.

Shadow HMS Carabiner 

DMM Shadow HMS Carabiner

We’ve been using the Shadow D shaped carabiner for years and think the Shadow size strikes a great balance between usability and weight.  Whereas their Phantom is a smaller and super light biner and the Boa is the larger big gloves friendly option, we’ve always considered the Shadow to be the go to general purpose choice.    Now, DMM are introducing a HMS version of the Shadow and we know already that these are going to be great.

The Shadow HMS is a clean nose hot forged carabiner weighing about 70gms and, because DMM have cleverly used a shorter gate, it has a large amount of interior workable space which, they say, will house 3 clove hitches tied into 9.5mm rope.  This looks set to be a perfect rigging or belay set up biner and will be available from Jan 2020 in various gate lock configurations.

Dragonfly Cams

DMM Dragonfly Cams

This new range of small cams should tick a lot of boxes for a lot of climbers.  The largest size (28.3mm) overlaps in size with the smallest of the Dragon range while the smallest of the 6 cam range will contract to a measly 7.4mm. 

The Dragonfly features a double 11mm sling with low profile stitching and a flexible stem to allow placements in awkward cracks or when it gets loaded across an edge. The stem seems very flexible to us and yet, because DMM have added a central swage, it is still stiff enough to keep the cam straight when contracting the trigger bar for placement.  A play around with them at the show,  while definitely not definitive,  suggested they will place superbly.  

The cams range in weight from 51 to 63 gms and it really feels like DMM are learning from every cam development they make. Great work DMM. They are available now.

Edelrid

We actually spent more time at the Edelrid stand than any other.  We love their continuing drive to bring truly innovative products to market and there was a lot to see and talk about.  We chatted harnesses, biners and helmets….but in the end we had to be selective and so we’ve chosen two really special products to share info about.

Swift Protect Pro Dry

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This 8.9mm triple rated rope, based on existing Edelrid’s Swift Pro Dry, is the first dynamic single rope with built-in cut resistance. This is achieved by integrating high-strength aramid fibers into the rope sheath during construction.  This is clever, but what is especially clever is that Edelrid have managed to incorporate this static fibre in between stretchy fibres and still create a dynamic rope.  Amazing.  The Swift Protect Pro Dry weighs 53gm per metre and features Edelrid’s Pro Dry treatment.   

The Swift Protect Pro Dry is a fascinating product and, although this will be pricey (£220 for 60metre length), it really does address a very real issue climbers face as ropes get thinner and the placed on them get more extreme.  We reckon this will make a great guiding rope, a top option for Alpine use and even the perfect sport or trad climbing rope for situations where a safety reserve is needed.   

Giga Jul Belay Device

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Edelrid have several belay devices in their range and we’ve tested a few out in recent years, but the Giga Jul is a genuine break from the usual.  Edelrid have been committed to assisted belay devices for years and the Giga Jul has that feature, but there is lots more to it too.

By sliding a bar from front to back, the device allows it to operate in unassisted mode and there is also the facility to use it in passive mode which allows dynamic braking.  This mode will also be ideal when using it as an abseil device.  It takes double or twins ropes and can also operate in guide mode.  It is a one device for all uses option and we reckon it will be great for so many situations. 

At about £60 they aren’t cheap and they are a little bulkier and heavier than some other options on the market, but they are a one device for all uses option and we reckon it will be great for so many situations. We have just got hold of one to review and so we’ll let you know how we get on as soon as possible.

Tomorrow..... Camelbak

Posted by Cal