Every six months the outdoor industry descends on Salt Lake City for a week of gear testing, sneak peaks at secret projects, and some serious happy hours. Amid all of the chaos of on-the-snow testing, trade-show navigation, and trying to keep our livers in tact, we kept an eye open for new gear. It’s easy to get caught up un the hype of the latest backpack technology (it’s always more venting and better harnesses) or drool over GORE-TEX’s latest membrane update. Finding the best jacket for spring trekking, a pair of boots that will handle a few season’s worth of hikes and range time, and a good load out bag to store them in? Good luck. Between maneuvering around hundreds of booths, dodging press events, and spending more than a few hours enjoying Utah’s snow, we selected a few brands that most impressed us with upcoming products this year.
You’ve probably seen BioLite’s Camp Stoves in your local REI. The BaseCamp builds on the electricity generating technology to pump out some serious power – all while grilling up dinner. Weighing in at just over seventeen pounds, you’re not going to strap it on your pack for the weekend. However, the topside grill can comfortably fit a full meal, so this stove is more for the overlanding chef than the ultralight hiker. Using an innovative system the BaseCamp generates up the 5 watts of usable electricity (enough to charge a smart phone, tablet or GoPro), as well as powers a small onboard fan to help keep the fire stoked and burning hot. A feedback indicator on the power pack lets you know how hot you’re burning, as well as how effective your fire is at pushing out the watts. Check out BioLite’s website for more details.
Rumpl’s take on “high performance blankets” had us scratching our heads at first. After getting our hands on one though, it’s easy to see the appeal for any adventurer. Straddling the line between casual and extreme, Rumpl blankets are made with the same water shedding, odor resistant, 20 denier ripstop nylon that many sleeping bags are made out of. They’re also machine washable – a big selling point for anyone who travels with kids or dogs in the car. We’re excited to get one out for some testing to see if we can replace our sleeping bag on warm summer nights, and save some weight and space. With sizes ranging from baby blankets ($65) to full king-size comforters ($229), Rumpl may just be the perfect addition for car campers everywhere.
We’re not strangers to Salewa’s quality boots and serious alpine climbing heritage. When they brought a new model that features GORE-TEX Surround technology though, we quietly made plans to steal a pair from the booth. The Alp Flow is built from the outer sole up to provide not just waterproofing (we don’t need another Gore fishbowl on our feet), but also venting through a game changing mesh system built into the liner and mid sole. They’re also relaunching their award-winning approach and technical hiking line with shoes and boots designed for everything from mountain running to long technical scrambles. Expect a full length test and review of the Alp Flows when they are available later this summer. In the meantime, check out the Salewa website for more details.
Westcomb is one of the few outerwear companies that actually does all their own production in-house. Their facilities in British Columbia provide space both for the designers and the manufacturing floor. Short turn arounds for designs keep their product line streamlined and functional from year to year. Our pick for 3-season comfort is the Focus LT Hoody ($290). It is the lightest eVent shell we’ve ever worn (9 ounces!) and provides 30k mm waterproof/breathability rating. Pro tip: if you fold it in thirds lengthwise, the entire jacket will roll into the hood and compress down to smaller than a nalgene bottle.
Swedish brand Fjallraven has been making trekking clothing and packs since 1950. In that time they’ve built apparel and backpacks for the Swedish military, outfitted polar expeditions, and sold millions of their iconic Kanken packs to hikers all over the world. We love the G-1000 canvas that they use for it’s almost tunable water resistance. Rather than a membrane, the thick fabric can be waxed to improve water resistance. It is wind proof, highly abrasion resistant, and ages very well. The Reporter Lite Jacket ($260) is a throwback to old-school smocks, and features a set of practical pockets for your essentials, as well as zip-off sleeves. The Duffel No. 4 ($150) has become our go-to truck bag. It holds everything from climbing gear to range day kit with ease, and doesn’t call attention to the fact that it’s hiding a few thousand dollars worth of irreplaceable gear.