Outdoor Retailer Summer Market '09: Travel luggage, duffels, bags and accessories embrace the incredible lightness of being

What's top of mind for travelers for the upcoming season? Travelers want less weight and less bulk to make travel easier and efficient, and avoid those nagging baggage fees being imposed by airlines. And many companies are heeding that request, including Sea to Summit, Eagle Creek, High Sierra and, new to travel, GoLite. Also new to the travel scene are Clik Elite's tricked-out camera packs; the debut of Fishpond's new sister company for women, Lilypond; and Thule's expansion into travel luggage and bags...
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Even in a rough economy, folks still want a vacation. In 2009, many U.S. travelers modified their vacation habits by traveling closer to home, visiting national parks, taking a road trip and going back to places they've been before to (hopefully) ensure a pleasant experience the second time around. These modifications had the U.S. Travel Association predicting just a 2.2 percent decline in the number of domestic leisure trips taken in summer 2009 as compared to summer 2008. That still adds up to about 322 million expected trips being taken June through August.

What's top of mind? Travelers want less weight and less bulk to make travel easier and efficient, and avoid those nagging baggage fees being imposed by airlines. And many companies are heeding that request, including Sea to Summit, Eagle Creek, High Sierra and, new to travel, GoLite.

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Also new to the travel scene are Clik Elite's tricked-out camera packs; the debut of Fishpond's new sister company for women, Lilypond; and Thule's expansion into travel luggage and bags.

Luggage, duffels, messengers, packs, etc.

Clik Elite: If you cater to outdoor gear junkies with a penchant for photography, Clik Elite's line of camera packs and bags are something to consider. A labor of love for president and designer Bryce Thatcher (of Ultimate Directions and Nathan fame), the packs, waistpack, sling and small shoulder bag are engineered to fit bodies in motion and the rugged construction protects camera, lenses and accessories. When you peek inside, they are an organizational marvel holding multiple lenses, camera bodies and even a tripod on some. For the active minimalist, the compact Telephoto ChestPack (MSRP $120) has a padded camera bay that secures to the chest via a four-point harness on the back (which can also fit under a traditional backpack). With a harness system that converts from backpack to chest, the BodyPod Telephoto pack (MSRP $195) has an integrated aluminum frame that acts like a body-attached tripod, providing a solid anchor against the body while also allowing freedom of movement. Photographers we know were salivating over the company's products and its logical and thorough organization of all things photo. Available at retail in January. www.clikelite.com

Crumpler: With its travel luggage selling through at retail now, Crumpler decided to expand the line with duffels that have the distinctive company look. Made of 900-denier nylon, styling and coloring has been divided by the sexes: ladies get the Kransky (pictured right), while the gents get the Old Banger -- in a size medium (MSRP $100) with small and large anticipated. And we couldn't resist mentioning the Baby Pea and Baby Anchovy packs for kids about ages 5 to 10, retailing for $45 and $55, respectively. www.crumplerbags.com

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Eagle Creek: Looking to the natural world for inspiration, Eagle Creek's Cicada mobile office backpacks have a Split Wing cover that plays off the insect's wings. The design is meant to protect not just against the elements but also from thievery with the added help of the Ratchet Lock buckle. The three pack styles (MSRP 22L/$120, 28L/$150, 33L/$180) have zippered top panel load, padded laptop compartments, pockets for chargers and various organizational pockets. Also available is a courier and messenger bag.

The company also expanded the Deviate collection and is now using Stratus recycled-blend fabric, which has a fetching thin, rib-like texture. Products ideal for trips lasting two to five days are the Overland (MSRP $140), a soft-sided carry-on suitcase that converts to a backpack, and the Swift 22 (MSRP $185), a wheeled carry-on with a full front panel load. www.eaglecreek.com

Ellington: Ellington's new Lucia travel line features colorful nylon bags that multi-task from everyday use to that go-to travel bag. The Airport Express (MSRP $39) will make any trip through the airport a breeze with compartments for passport, boarding pass, cash and more. It has an across-the-body strap or can be carried as a wristlet. www.ellingtonleather.com

GoLite: Our hat is off to GoLite for its company-wide commitment to sustainability certainly evident in the brand’s new travel collection, the TraveLite Series which includes luggage, totes and packs all made of Tier 1 recycled nylon. The company claims its bags are 30 percent lighter than comparable luggage, and while we can’t verify that, they are certainly light. The TraveLite Wheeled Carry-On (MSRP 38L/$175) weighs just 5 pounds, 2 ounces and can hold a week’s worth of clothes if you’re an experienced traveler. And for those times when too many stairs or miles of cobblestone are getting in the way of comfy wheeling, there’s a zip-away S-curve shoulder strap which quickly converts the suitcase into a backpack. www.golite.com

High Sierra: High Sierra's new AT GO travel collection is an upgrade of the ATV collection and fully embraces the lightweight mantra pervasive among travelers right now. Wheeled bags and gear duffels have been scaled back weight-wise: frame and molded systems have been lightened, bells and whistles minimized -- just about every detail has been analyzed to bring the weight of each bag down but still maintain the integrity of the overall piece. www.highsierrasport.com

JanSport: You have to give JanSport credit for its tenacity with travel. Again we heard familiar concepts that we've reported before over the years: product innovation and testing, functionality and getting back to its heritage. JanSport said the just launched five-piece Career collection is a more sophisticated take on JanSport's offerings and is targeted for the out-of-college consumer (similar to what we heard in 2004 about the Modus collection that quietly disappeared). All black adorned subtly with an embossed JanSport logo, there are five Career pieces -- messenger bags, briefs and a daypack -- with laptop sleeves that fold out for easy airport screening and deluxe organizer sections. And its Outdoor 2.0 collection is partially derived from feedback gleaned from its defunct All Terra travel collection. Three packs are in the line: the all-new Jepson, a lightweight, slim fast pack, as well as the mid-size and larger Agave and Odyssey packs featuring the new Biovent foam back panel and strap system. The system creates a breathable, ventilated channel system that moves air up and away from the body, keeping the shoulders and back cooler. www.jansport.com

Lilypond/Fishpond: Not surprisingly, Fishpond has expanded into women's products with the aptly named Lilypond sister brand. All the great colors, webbing accents and styling that Fishpond has been known for iare now available in women's luggage, totes, shoulder/messenger bags, daypacks, gym bag and accessories. "Lilypond grew from the first brand and from women asking for it. They wanted the same integrity, color and function of Fishpond but with differentiation for them," owner John Land LeCoq told SNEWS®. The brand has a vibrant color palette showcasing a variety of hues: plum, greens, reef and aqua blues, oranges and more with chocolate brown highlights. Among the wheeled luggage are the Meadowlark carry-on (MSRP $269), the Songbird double-decker suitcase (MSRP $299) and the Roadrunner duffel (MSRP $229). For a weekend getaway or the gym, the Sundown (MSRP $89) is a uniquely styled duffel with rounded edges, a shoulder strap and straps to hold a yoga mat. And the Windflower (MSRP $89) is a great carryall tote with attachable shoulder strap for any shopping adventure. www.lilypondusa.com

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Mountain Hardwear: Built to the same specs as its big roller, Mountain Hardwear added the Juggernaut 45 wheeled duffel in a carry-on size made of 1,000-denier HT nylon with a welded alloy frame (MSRP $250). www.mountainhardwear.com

Osprey: A notable improvement out of the Osprey camp is the updated HighRoad Chassis found in its Meridian and Sojourn wheeled convertible pieces and the Vector and Slipstream wheeled pieces. The chassis has been updated with a lighter, more durable and injection-molded aluminum frame, high-clearance ABS base with integrated foot bar, and polyurethane sealed-bearing wheels. Also, the retractable handle has a re-designed Ergo-Grip handle. www.ospreypacks.com

Pacsafe: Looking to appeal to the outdoor market, Pacsafe debuted the VentureSafe line with two daypacks (MSRP $100-$120), three shoulder bags (MSRP $50, $75, $90), a hip pack (MSRP $45) and digi pouch (MSRP $28). Each piece has the security features one expects from the company, such as Exomesh Slashguard panels, slashproof straps, tamperproof zippers that lock closed, and snatchproof anchor clips so the bag can be secured to a fixture – like the seat of a bus, or the overhead luggage rack in a train. www.pacsafe.com

The North Face: The success of TNF's travel line has led to more growth within the category the company tells us. It's increased the Base Camp offering with new rolling bags -- like the Standby, a rolling carry-on with a cylinder shape -- and accessories, and added a lifestyle shoulder bag and totes line for women. www.thenorthface.com

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Thule: After buying Case Logic a couple years ago, Thule has blended that expertise with its own to create a new eight-piece line of travel luggage and gear called the Crossover collection. The line has a stealth-bomber look with all-black pieces that have a regimented dot pattern in the fabric, as well as stamped aluminum hardware and closures. Certain pieces have heat-molded polypropylene shells inserted into zippered compartments to create crushproof zones for accessories, like goggles and electronics. The four wheeled pieces -- a carry-on (MSRP $270), two duffels (MSRP $270-$290) and an upright (MSRP $300) -- have molded polypropylene back panels and exterior-mounted V-tubing for a lightweight exoskeleton, and oversized wheels with integrated stays. Also in the line are a sling pack (MSRP $90), backpack (MSRP $100), duffel pack (MSRP $150) and duffel bag (MSRP $170), with plans to expand the line in winter with a ski/snowboard bag. And yes, Thule made sure the Crossover pieces fit in the company's car-roof box carriers. www.thule.com

Accessories

Chico: Easy to throw in a carry-on, pack or just about any travel piece are Chico's reusable bags, many of which are made of recycled PET. The company has expanded beyond the Original shopping bag style with great new prints -- Vintage, Nature and Karma -- as well as messenger and daypack styles. All are wispy light but can carry 25-40 pounds, and fold into a zippered pouch with a mini-biner for attachment. Graphic bags retail for $9, the messenger is $18 and the daypack is $19. www.chicobag.com

Eagle Creek: The Pack-It System has had a facelift as Eagle Creek refined the design and incorporated a new color palette. All pieces will now use EcoLite recycled fabric, which is made up of 40-percent recycled materials. The fabric is lighter weight to trim more ounces of a bag's overall load. New pieces have also been added, including the Pack-It Expandable Cube (MSRP $22), which compresses or expands to carry more clothes in less space; the Mobile Locker (MSRP $35), an all-in-one piece that has three sections to hold clothes and shoes and can hang on a door; and the Complete Organizer (MSRP $40), another all-in-one piece with three sections that once zipped closed fits in a 22-inch carry-on. Among the Pack-It Gear Organizers are the new Protech Cubes (MSRP S/$22.50, M/$27.50, L/$35) with molded top, structured sides and fleece-lined to protect electronics, and the Mud Boxes (MSRP S/$20, M/$25, L/$30) to organize and separate wet or dirty gear from the rest of a bag's contents.

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Kangatek: For travel and to help guys avoid the dreaded "man-bag" stigma, Kangatek has created a handy holder for valuables and electronic gadgets. It's a thin, sling-like holder that hangs from one shoulder with a curved design that wraps around the body. Made of neoprene, the one-size-fits-all design has a slim profile and four zippered pockets, as well as an ear bud port for music. (MSRP $40) www.kangatek.com

Nalgene: For those diehard carry-on travelers, Nalgene has created a travel kit (MSRP $15) with a leak-proof one-quart bag filled with various sized 3-ounce bottles -- all of which will keep the TSA happy. www.nalgene-outdoor.com

Pacsafe: Ever the ingenious company when it comes to travel security, Pacsafe has two new TSA-approved locks. The BuckleSafe 100 (MSRP $15) makes it possible to lock the side-release buckles on many top-loading backpacks and other bags. The two pieces are designed to fit one-inch, standard side-release buckles by sliding together then locking down with the TSA padlock. The ProSafe 750 (MSRP $13) is a TSA-approved key-card lock, which unlocks using a coded key card that is the size of a credit card and can fit in a wallet.

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Sea to Summit: For travelers looking to shave weight but not compromise on what they bring along, Sea to Summit debuted the TravelingLight line with more than 30 items purportedly weighing half as much as competitors' products. The secret is using Ultra-Sil Cordura fabric -- saves weight and is super durable. "We incorporate the same features of ultra-light-weight backcountry travel and adventure gear into traditional travel accessories," said co-owner Andrew Dunbar in a release. Eighty percent of the items in the line weigh less than 3 ounces, and covers everything from packing cells and shirt folders to toiletry kits and wallets. Retail prices range from $9.95 to $34.95. www.seatosummit.com

--Wendy Geister

The SNEWS® team of seasoned reporters covers a trade show to seek out product highlights, indications of a trend (to a product category, a company or the industry) or products that are new to the market. In our post-show reports, we do not write about every last piece of gear or equipment we have seen, although, promise, we have most likely seen nearly everything. Even if not in a show report, you never know how information may be included in a future report, trend watch, product review or story. If you have any comments or questions, please email us at snewsbox@snewsnet.com.

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