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Climbing equipment design evolves more rapidly than it did in the early days of the outdoor industry, with trends in gear swinging like a pendulum between two influential forces—product innovation and consumer demand. While manufacturers once enjoyed a period of almost carefree innovation, that trend appears to show signs of turning,
with climbers making their voices heard more and more through online forums. In example after example, gear makers seem to be listening…and responding.
In the last handful of years, participation growth allowed climbing gear makers to invest heavily in new product research and design. A prime example was the nearly simultaneous launch of several new models of spring-loaded camming devices (SLCD), all featuring cam technology that was, until then, unheard of and unseen. Products like Omega Pacifi c’s Link Cam, Metolius Mountain Products’ Super Cam and Trango’s Max Cam all burst onto the scene in 2005/06. It was an exciting time, driven by designers who, frankly, just had some really cool ideas.
Michael Lane, sales and marketing director for Omega Pacific, said the second cam revolution was a result of random timing rather than collusion among companies. “It would have taken a collaboration that we’ve never seen in the industry,” he said, chuckling. “Really big ideas seem to come in spurts. It’s the natural ebb and fl ow of the market.”
Gravity exerts its influence on everything, however, and the pendulum has now swung in a new direction with consumer demand seemingly driving the development of SLCD products. In summer 2008, not one of the three cams previously mentioned is available in a full size range. And Metolius has shoved aside the large Super Cam to meet the great consumer demand for the Master Cam. “Hopefully, by spring ’09, we’ll be delivering (the Super Cam), but that’s a wild guess at this point,” said Brooke Sandahl, vice president of Metolius Mountain Products….
Click here to download the magazine Trends PDF from the 2008 SNEWS Summer Outdoor magazine: “Gravitational Pull” — Climbers make their voices heard more and more through online forums.