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Leading up to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2015, SNEWS is previewing some of the top trends and new products you’ll see at the trade show and Open Air Demo in Salt Lake City, Aug. 4-8. You can access all these articles and more in our O.R. Daily Day 0 edition.
For most climbers today, the sport is a recreational pursuit, and manufacturers are responding by developing products that are all about keeping the fun factor high. Being light is no longer enough to make a product stand out; it has to be comfortable, too, whether we are talking about shoes, helmets or high-end harnesses.
“Out of the box comfort is our focus right now. People aren’t downsizing shoes as much as they once were … even our athletes like Sasha DiGiulian,” said Dave Kassel, category manager for climbing and outdoors at Five Ten.
Still, comfort can come in the form of lightness, and we see the weight-savings trend continue strong in hardgoods in everything from cams to helmets.
Companies are also leaning more on their athletes to develop functional gear that doesn’t just apply to a mass market, but actually appeals to the core users. “We are diving back into the athlete-lead core product, getting back to our roots as a company,” said Andrew Coutant, director of equipment at The North Face. Below is a sample of the trends you can expect to see at this summer’s show.
>> Many climbers bring sandals or flip-flops to the cliff to slip on in between pitches, but the new Arc’teryx Arakys (MSRP $150) asks why can’t one shoe do both? Taking on double duty as an approach shoe and belay slipper, at less than a pound per pair, the Arakys utilizes the brand’s sock-like inner for comfort and fit, while the one-handed closure allows for a quick transition from approach to belay slipper.
>> How do you make some of the most popular cams in the world better? Cut their weight by 25 percent, and you have the new Black Diamond Camalot Ultralights (MSRPs N/A). The weight savings comes via a Dyneema core stem, which is strong and durable but significantly lighter than steel. Available in sizes from 0.4 to #4, they all feature a Dyneema sling instead of the nylon found on the current C4s.
>> Sport-climbing specific harnesses have always sought to be as light as possible, with the tradeoff being a less-than-ideal level of comfort. Most people buying these harnesses consider it a worthy compromise, but they may not have to make that sacrifice any longer. The Black Diamond Solution (MSRP $70) is a sport-specific harness aimed at being lightweight while offering superior comfort. This is accomplished via three independent bands of webbing in the waistbelt and leg loops to evenly distribute the load and eliminate pressure points. A continuous EVA foam insert maximizes comfort while giving the harness its shape.
>> When the Huber brothers approached Five Ten about designing a shoe, they had something very specific in mind, something comfortable yet precise that could perform at a high level on long, all-day climbs. Enter the Quantum (MSRP $185). With a wide toe box, stiff last and slight downturn, it’s got all the ingredients for an all-day performer, while the soft Clarino synthetics give it a welcoming feel as soon as you slip it on.
>> The new Cragaconda (MSRP $170) from The North Face builds on the success of their Ice Project pack, as they gave athlete Sam Elias the reins to develop something similar that would appeal to craggers. The 45-liter pack offers a high level of organization, with internal racking points, an internal shoe/harness pocket and dedicated helmet holder. The foam-lined door doubles as a place to sit while racking up for the next pitch.
>> Helmets have seen a slow acceptance among sport climbers, typically because of too much weight and lack of comfort. Folks will have one less excuse now with the new Mammut Wall Rider (MSRP $100), a sub-200 gram lid that offers superb ventilation and comfort, and is the lightest helmet in their line up. The expanded polypropylene shell protects from impact while the adjustment system is minimal and designed so you won’t even notice it’s there.
These are just a few of the new products to debut at Summer Market. Be sure to check out much more new and trends in the O.R. Daily, Days 1-4, published live at the show, and available digital format each day of print at www.outsidebusinessjournal.com/ordaily.