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Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012: Packs

Check out the top new pack products and trends for 2013 that we encountered at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

This SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Summer Market recap is brought to you by Cordura:

If there’s a trend driving the pack market right now, it’s that anything goes. From day packs to expedition packs, from new kid’s and women’s lines to a wealth of new features, manufacturers are pushing the limits of how packs are built, especially in terms of the specific markets they serve.

Introductions like Gregory’s Wander series of packs for children, with a “Versafit” adjustment system for torsos from 13 to 20 inches, Osprey’s new Raven series designed solely for women and tricked-out day packs from Black Diamond Equipment all are helping to create storylines for retailers, with improvements their customers can see and feel.

Look no further than Arc’teryx to see the multiple directions in which pack companies are heading. The Canadian brand expands its lightweight, technical Altra collection with nine new volumes, and it unveils its Covert line of travel bags.

Arc’teryx Altra 50

“The new Covert luggage is designed to work better with the type of travel that we do today,” Brandon Carlile, U.S. national sales manager said of the bags, which can be converted into backpacks. “The clean lines and durable fabrics help move through airports and alleyways without dragging or snagging, and they are constructed and shaped to stand up by themselves, and stand up to abuse.”

In a similar vein, JanSport is introducing its Outdoor Collection, a new series of packs and duffels for everything from car camping to an outdoor concert.

All that specialization doesn’t mean that active performance features like improved breathability have gone by the trailside. Deuter’s new AERO 50+15 and 45+15 SL for women are all about keeping the sweat off a hiker’s back via the ACT Zero back venting system, which the brand claims reduces perspiration by 15 percent. Lowe Alpine launches a completely new generation of its AirZone backpacks with breathable suspended mesh backs and an advanced harness design, which features an “Adaptive Fit” shoulder strap designed to adapt to any body shape. And Granite Gear’s new Leopard AC 58 (MSRP $250), which utilizes the brand’s Air Current Suspension, hits the floor promising an improved level of breathability and fit.

Deuter AERO 50+15

Lowe Alpine Air Quest 37

Granite Gear Leopard AC 58

A good fit remains a pack seller’s best friend, which is why The North Face is expanding its proprietary Opti-Fit X suspension system into new packs like the Matthes Crest (MSRP $399 in 85 liters, $369 in 72 liters), a top loader with a panel zip for quick gear access. Millet worked with doctor and mountain guide Emmanuel Cauchy to develop the Axpel 42 (MSRP $200), which places the pivot point on the spine higher to reduce back strain without affecting ventilation or weight distribution.

Millet Axpel 42

Osprey chooses to focus on fit in larger-volume packs for 2013. Its new line of men’s Xenith and women’s packs (MSRPs $310-$379) look to help hikers comfortably carry 70- to 105-liter loads with a more robust version of its suspension, heat-moldable, gender-specific hip belts, and torso adjustment.

Osprey Xenith 88

“We’ve found success pursuing both the generalized and highly specialized niches inside the broader pack market,” Osprey Product Line Manager Erik Hamerschlag said.

Bergans of Norway’s new 55- and 70-liter Glittertind packs (MSRP $239-$249) rely on a double helix-shaped spring steel frame that can turn, twist and tilt in multiple directions at one time, no matter the movement of body, allowing one’s hips and shoulders to move independently, even in opposite directions. Officials claim the double-helix shape also acts as a shock absorber.

Bergen of Norway Glittertind 55

High Peak USA’s new Rapid 40 (MSRP $150), is a lightweight ski, trekking and paddling pack with a “Y” stay system to carry loads without putting extra weight on the user’s back. Kelty updates its Agile Series of packs with the new Fleet 55 (MSRP $200) for 2013, which features the aluminum frame Agile suspension system, and also adds six new styles to its Trail Series of packs. Mountainsmith expands its Mountainlight collection with two new styles, including the Haze 50 (MSRP $130), a frameless, 50-liter pack for ultralight hikers looking for a minimalist design.

HIgh Peak Rapid 40

Kelty Fleet 55


Mountainsmith Haze 50


Along with its Wander kids line, Gregory introduces new packs like the Contour 50 (MSRP $299), featuring the brand’s TrailSmart packing system, with the “Camp” zone for overnight gear like sleeping bags and pads, the “Trail” zone for items like first aid kits and lunch, and the “On-The-Go” zone for cameras, sunscreen and snacks.

Gregory Contour 50

Relative newcomer Mile High Mountaineering offers up its first redesign of some stalwart systems that were unveiled at the brand’s first show in 2010, including the Fifty-Two 80 (MSRP $380-$400). President and founder Jeff Popp said, “It’s a pretty crazy feeling to come full circle and introduce re-designs of the packs that started it all for us.”

Mile High Mountaineering Fifty-Two 80

Big ideas in small packs

If there’s a bigger story brewing across the pack market, it may well be in the expanded features being offered in small packs. From better overall fit and load management in packs like Black Diamond Equipment’s new Bolt and Sonar (MSRPs $130-$140), which both feature the brand’s reACTIV suspension system, to a focus on getting lighter and slimmer throughout the Mammut line, particularly in the running- and climbing-based MTR 201 with versions weighing in at 215 and 250 grams, little things are getting a lot of thought.

Black Diamond Bolt

Check out Marmot’s new Sphinx 15 (MSRP $99) liter daypack, for example, replete with a hydration sleeve, removable waist belt, molded back panel and ice axe loops, or Eureka!’s Saranac 22L (MSRP $60), with a padded hip belt and multiple compartments. Outdoor Research’s Dry Peak Bagger (MSRP $65), a cleanly designed waterproof summit backpack, can double as a stuff sack when carried in a larger set-up.

Marmot Sphinx

Eureka Saranac


Outdoor Research Dry Peak Bagger

–Peter Kray