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OR Report 5: Cool New Items for Hikers

Here are a few of the interesting backpacking items of the future I spotted during the summer Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City:

Petzl: Core Rechargeable Headlamp Battery

On Nov. 1, the climbing hardware specialist will release its Core rechargeable battery, a flat, rectangular unit that occupies the same space that 3 AAA batteries now fill on current Petzl headlamps. The battery will fit existing Petzl headlamps in the Tikka series, from smaller Tikkina and Zipka models up to the Tikka XP. Petzl will offer a Tikka or Tikka XP bodels.

001.JPGSus Edmundeson, Petzl’s headlamp division manager, told me the battery is programmable as well as rechargeable. By connecting the battery to a computer via a USB cable (included) or a special charger, a person can choose how intensely the light source glows, or the light can be programmed to cast less-intense light for a longer run time.

Owners can also choose between regulated and unregulated modes. A regulated mode permits even light output throughout the life of the battery charge before going dark fairly abruptly; unregulated allows the light to beam brightest at the start of the charge, then gradually decline throughout the charge.

Edmundeson says Petzl’s website will offer free, downloadable Core-programming software. Demos will be viewable to all visitors; only Core owners will be able to activate the programming functions.

Say you want to have a regulated light that delivers steady light for 7 hours for an upcoming trail run; the Core will permit you to make that choice. You will just have to accept whatever level of light output your headlamp can deliver within such a parameter.

A single Core battery, Edmundeson estimates, will deliver 300 charging cycles, the equivalent of 900 single-use AAA batteries. Pretty neat.

Black Diamond: Z Poles

Black Diamond’s kightweight new trekking poles, Z Poles, break apart in 2 places and fold up into the shape of a Z. How light? BD is introducing 3 light-as-air (almost) models:

• the aluminum-shafted Distance (nonadjustable; between 11.6 and 12.7 ounces per pair for fixed lengths between 100 and 130cm).
• the Distance FL (also with an aluminum shaft, but with a FlickLock adjustment system; 15 ounces per pair).
• the fixed-length Ultra Distance, made of carbon fiber, all between 9.2 and 9.7 ounces per pair (100-130cm).

A Kevlar strand runs the length of the poles and keeps the sections connected when collapsed. “It’s for people who want a pole that is exceptionally lightweight and less cumbersome to pack than a traditional trekking pole,” said Corey LaForge, Black Diamond’s quality assurance manager.

Marmot: Updated Precip Jacket, 900-fill-power Plasma Down Bags

Randy Verniers, Marmot’s technical whiz as well as its director of international sales, tells me the newest version of the company’s wildly popular Precip rain jacket (due out next year) will feature a new coating that nudges it forward in terms of waterproofness and breathability when compared to older versions. It also features a ceramic element to its polyurethane lining. It gives the coating a texture and reduces contact points with the skin.

The Plasma bags feature vertical baffles (a growing trend in premium down bags) with multiple “flow gates” inside the baffles to inhibit down migration. “It allows the bag to wrap more naturally around the body,” Verniers said. The exterior fabric is a wispy 10-denier nylon. Combined with 900-fill-power down, the 15-degree version of the men’s regular bag weighs less than 2 pounds.

Down with that kind of fill power is rare, Verniers said, because geese have diminished in popularity as a source of meat, meaning some goose farms have reduced their flocks.

REI: “Technical Trail” and More

REI’s Gear & Apparel crew had its 2011 lineup on display in Salt Lake City for the outdoor media. Key elements are a new Technical Trail clothing collection designed for backcountry explorers who want to travel swiftly.

“Technical Trail answers the question of, ‘What do you wear when you want to hike hard and fast?’ ” said Lee Fromson, director of REI’s Gear & Apparel division. “You don’t want to wear sportswear, and some people are wearing things close to gym clothes, and I think we’ve done a really neat job of addressing that gap right in the middle. We’ve got shirts, bottoms, convertible pants and some vests and jackets that are really designed for high performance.”

New Endeavor pants feature a stretch-woven fabric that delivers a softshell-like performance, and PrimaLoft insulation is featured in the Ecosensitive Revelcloud vest and jacket for men and women.

Large families can look forward to a new family-camping behemoth, the Kingdom 8 tent. REI base-camping tents also feature new accessory attachment such as a zip-on garage.

REI is also introducing a Crestrail Pack (70 liters for me, 65L for women), an updated spin on the REI Ridgeline suited for midrange multiday trips. Also due next year: Two new adjustable youth packs, the Passage 65 and Passage 40, designed to adapt to changing torso lengths and hipbelt circumferences.

Posted on at 3:50 PM

Tagged: Black Diamond, Core Battery, Marmot, Outdoor Retailer, Petzl, Plasma bags, Precip jacket and Z Poles

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I'm excited about the Black Diamond poles. Thanks for the previews!

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Exciting stuff! Thanks for the writeup T.D!

Any ideas as to when Marmot plans on rolling out the Plasma bag?


Exciting stuff! Thanks for the writeup T.D!

Any ideas as to when Marmot plans on rolling out the Plasma bag?


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