Leading up to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, SNEWS is previewing new trends and products you’ll see at the trade show in Salt Lake City, July 30-Aug. 3. Today, we take a peek at climbing. You can access all these articles and more in our digital edition of the O.R. Daily Day 0.
As climbing grows as a sport, the demand for products that meet specialized needs is growing, too, from comfortable cragging footwear to cams that work better in funky placements. Functionality is king, and more companies are putting their creative resources into products climbers actually want to use — and not just because they’re the latest rage.
There’s also a sense of responsibility when it comes to our impact on the places we climb. As Bill Belcourt, climbing category director at Black Diamond Equipment noted, “The more times a crack gets climbed, the more the placements become irregular, even in granite, meaning offset cams, which were once considered niche, are now much more mainstream and in greater demand. Plus, a cam that fits better should in theory cause less wear and tear on the crack.”
Meanwhile, manufacturers are realizing that new products need to have fairly broad appeal, or they’ll die a lonely death on the shelf. Products like the new Millet Opposite hit a sweet spot; it eliminates the need to have two separate ropes for different kinds of climbing, instead offering one rope to rule them all.
The following is a sneak preview of the gear slated for 2014 release that fills functional niches many climbers are likely to appreciate.
>> It was the obvious next step, though how quickly it happened might surprise some people: Black Diamond is offering its new X4 cams in an offset design (1) (MSRP $70). They are the first offset cams to utilize a double axle/stacked axle, offering a wide range of expansion in the offset design.
>> While some pack manufacturers keep adding bells and whistles, Patagonia is going the other way with its new technical Ascentionist Pack line. Offered in 25, 35 and 45-liter models (MSRPs $99-$179), these packs have everything you need for moving fast and light, and nothing you don’t. Case in point: The traditional pack lid has been ditched in favor of an asymmetrical spindrift collar entry, which shaves weight but allows easy access into the pack. These packs should appeal to those who realize that the more you know, the less you need.
>> Several companies have started to utilize different diameters in the same rope, but the new Millet Opposite TRX (MSRP $299, 80m) takes the concept to a new level. It’s an 80m cord, of which 50m of the rope are 9mm, and 30m are 10mm. You can climb on the thicker end when working on a project, top roping or doing anything that is going to be hard on the rope, and then flip the ends and sail to the chains on 9mm of glory when you are going for the redpoint.
>> Anyone who spends a lot of time cragging knows one essential piece of gear can make or break your day: flip flops for between climbs. Given that open-toed shoes aren’t always great for the rocky terrain at the base of crags, Salewa introduces the Capsico Alpine Sandals (MSRP $110), which bridge the gap between approach and comfort shoes. On the approach, a heel strap keeps them in place; at the crag they turn into comfy slippers that will give your feet the downtime they need without exposing them to injury.
>> For those who live in their climbing shoes, La Sportiva is offering three new models that are machine-washable thanks to their 3-layer WashTex uppers. The HydroGym, OxyGym and NitroGym (MSRPs $99-$109) are lace-up, Velcro and gym rental models, respectively. Being able to wash your shoes not only keep will the inevitable stink at bay, but also should help prolong their longevity.
>> When pushing your personal limits, every ounce counts, and in the ever-shrinking world of climbing ropes, the Edelrid Corbie (MSRP N/A) has the distinction of being the new smallest single rope in the world. The 8.6mm cord weighs a scant 51 grams/meter, and is also certified to work as a double and twin rope as well.
These are just a few of the new products to debut at the show. Be sure to check out many more new products and trends in the O.R. Daily, Days 1-4, published live at the show, and available digital format each following day of print on SNEWS.