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Summer Outdoor Retailer Show: Products for Fall and 2012 Hit the Runway

Of the thousands of items being paraded down the new-product catwalk at the summer Outdoor Retailer trade show here in Salt Lake City, none may elicit a bigger wow this year than the DeLorme inReach satellite communicator.

Why it impresses: The inReach device, available Oct. 1 (estimated price: $249.95), enables 2-way text communication from virtually any spot on the globe. Only a satellite telephone (pricey, chunky, weighty) can match its 2-way communication capabilities when an information exchange is needed and at least one party is way, way off the grid.

Smartphone with inReachBreak a leg deep in some remote wilderness area? You can pair the inReach device with a DeLorme Earthmate PN-60W GPS receiver (but not the PN-60, as was mistakenly reported earlier) or any Android-based smartphone to send fresh, just-composed text messages of up to 160 characters (the limit for text messages on smartphones) to any email address, even Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Recipients can then respond and exchange texts with you. "Where are you? What do you need?" "I'm on the High Lakes Trail, about a mile east of the junction with the Low River Trail. I could use a jacket." "We just contacted rangers. They're making rescue plans right now."

SPOT, maker of a line of satellite messengers and associated with satellite-phone provider Globalstar, made news not long ago with its SPOT Connect device. When used with a SPOT app, SPOT Connect can be paired with any smartphone and send just-written text of up to 41 characters. But it cannot receive messages.

It can also be paired with the DeLorme Earthmate to deliver 1-way "live" text messaging, a product combo that was widely hailed as one of the breakthrough products of 2010. The inReach device, with its 2-way capabilities using a globe-girdling constellation of 66 satellites from Iridium, looms large.

The just-published REI Expert Advice article Electronic Devices Overview offers more detail on what satellite text messengers offer. Some things I learned:

• Like SPOT messengers, inReach can function as a stand-alone unit and send SOS messages to the Houston-based GEOS International Emergency Response Center, a private agency; a nationwide, ADT-type dispatch service for search and rescue operations. It can also send pre-composed messages (up to 3) to contacts of your choice and can track your activity on a shared page every 10 minutes.

• Maine-based DeLorme insists it is not anti-iPhone. "We had to choose an operating system to start with," said DeLorme tech whiz Chris Noble. "We've chosen the Android, and there's certainly been a lot of feedback from the public. Our management team is definitely listening closely. We started with Android because it was a faster development cycle for us."

• The inReach device operates on 2 AA batteries; lithium cells recommended; alkalines OK. Rechargeables won't work (insufficient voltage output, DeLorme reps say). With lithium cells, Noble says DeLorme is targeting 48 hours of operation with an SOS signal being sent every 10 minutes.

• Parties exploring remote areas while both are carrying inReach devices (plus an Android smartphone or a DeLorme Earthmate) can message one another. If the lead party is making camp at a certain spot, for instance, it can relay that info to the trailing group.

• Subscription plans, 3 of them, involve monthly fees paid during a 1-year commitment. The "Safety" plan, with 10 messages and SOS capabilities, is $9.95/month. The "Recreational" plan offers 40 messages, unlimited tracking and SOS for $24.95/month. The "Pro" plan: 120 messages, unlimited tracking and SOS for $49.95/month. No charge to upgrade from a lower plan to a higher plan; a $25 fee is imposed for downgrading.

A Kayak Built for, um, 22? For Point 65, It's a Snap

Ever see a 4-person kayak? Richard Ohman, owner of Sweden's Point 65 kayaks, can build you one, piece by piece.

Point 65's distinctive modular kayak systems can seemingly accommodate any number of paddlers: 2, 4, 6, 8—how far can you extrapolate?

Richard Ohman"Last year we built a kayak about 50 feet long, with 9 seats," Ohman said during Outdoor Retailer's Open Air Demo event Wednesday at Jordanelle State Park near Park City, Utah. "The number of seats is indefinite."

Ohman, a native of Sweden who regularly commutes to an office in France ("It's only a 2-hour flight. It sounds like more than it is."), says the idea of a break-apart occurred to him many years ago. The appeal is obvious: no heavy lifting to roof-mount a boat, and an option to add a seat. Or two.

The process needed to be fast, Ohman insisted. "I had an absolute requirement: This shouldn't take more than 5 seconds to take it apart or assemble it," he said. "This was a challenge."

Finally a designer came up with what Ohman calls a "Snap Tap" system of quick-release buckles and straps that unite the pieces and, if desired, can turn a solo Point 65 Martini (consisting of a bow and stern) into a tandem by adding a midsection. Want more seats? Add more midsections.

"Our designer tell us there's no limit," Ohman said. "There's no weakness when a boat becomes longer. It's fun to look at. A lot of people compare the design to LEGOs."

Jetboil Packages Its Sumo Cup in an Updated Group Cooking System

Expect a new look in group cooking systems (GCS) from Jetboil in 2012. The bulbous, traditional-looking Helios and Fluxware cooking pots will gradually vanish  and be replaced by new a GCS centered around Jetboil's 1.8-liter Sumo cup, which features the same vertical, high-rise cup design that has become Jetboil's signature look. It's now available as a stand-alone item and is particularly useful for melting snow in addition to accommodating group cooking needs.

Jetboil trio"We've had repeated requests for this larger vessel," said Jetboil sales rep Stuart McCornack during Thursday's indoor session of Outdoor Retailer. "Our original CGS wasn't a 'system' in a classic Jetboil sense. The pot didn't click onto the burner base. So there's continuity across the line now, and now all systems are shipped with pot supports, so you can put a frying pan on top of any system you buy. You won't have to buy it as a separate accessory."

The Sumo systems will be available in aluminum and titanium. For really large groups, McCornack points out that a Sol or Zip personal cooking system (using 0.8-liter cups) can next inside the Sol cup.

Better Bottles Out at CamelBak; Eddy Bottles Are In

CamelBak's Better Bottle line has been retooled and renamed for 2012. Call 'em Eddy Bottles now. Some highlights:

CamelBak Eddy Bottles• The 0.5-liter size has been upped to 0.6 liters. It features the same diameter as a 12-ounce can in order to fit into vehicle cupholders.

• The 1-liter bottle will have a wider shape. "It has the more of an outdoor-heritage look," said Michael Moore, Camelbak's director of North American sales. "It's a nice cosmetic upgrade."

• Caps feature silicone finger tabs to reduce breakage. (It's the same cap now found on CamelBak's Groove line.)

• A vent near the cap of Better Bottles (susceptible to collecting debris and sometimes leaking) is now hidden away on Eddy Bottles.

• The internal straw will no longer connect to the cap with a cluster of prongs. On Eddy Bottles, the straw slips into an "overmold" fitting, reducing any pinching and boosting flow rate.

• Eddy bottles will also be available in insulated versions.

Why "Eddy"? "An eddy refers to a counter-current in a stream that you sometimes get behind boulders," Moore said. "For us, it represents a notion that goes contrary to popular behavior, where we're going against the current of using water in disposable water and getting people to use reusable bottles.

Photos: Smartphone screen shot of DeLorme inReach messenger in use (courtesy of DeLorme); Point 65 Kayaks owner Richard Ohman; a Jetboil trio, left to right, of the Sumo, Flash and Sol cooking systems; a collection of 1-liter CamelBak Eddy Bottles, by T.D. Wood.


Posted on at 8:04 PM

Tagged: DeLorme, Outdoor Retailer and Point 65 kayaks

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Ben Ellison

"Subscription plans, 3 of them, involve monthly fees paid during a 1-year commitment. The "Safety" plan, with 10 messages and SOS capabilities, is $9.95/month. The "Recreational" plan offers 40 messages, unlimited tracking and SOS for $24.95/month. The "Pro" plan: 120 messages, unlimited tracking and SOS for $49.95/month. No charge to upgrade from a lower plan to a higher plan; a $25 fee is imposed for downgrading."

I agree that the DeLorme inReach is a really important product, but I'm wondering where you got those subscription details? I've seen a draft version of the subscription plans and it definitely did not include unlimited tracking. For instance, my information shows that the $25 recreational plan includes 40 messages (tx or rx) and 200 tracking points.

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