ORSM ‘12 Climbing Gear Preview: New heights

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday leading up to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, SNEWS is previewing the top new trends and products you’ll see at the trade show in Salt Lake Aug. 1-5. Today, we look at some of latest climbing gear for spring '13.
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Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday leading up to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, SNEWS is previewing the top new trends and products you’ll see at the trade show in Salt Lake City, Aug. 1-5. All these stories also can be found in the print or digital flipbook edition of our Planning Guide.

Lighter gear and new technologies are continually refining what’s possible in climbing, but consumers also demand products that last.

It’s not enough to come out with a cool new rope or super-light carabiner. If it gets thrashed or worn out after a season of use, most will opt to spend their hard-earned dollars on something tougher, especially in the current economic climate.

That said, many climbers are more willing than ever to embrace new technologies as they come onto the scene. Bill Belcourt, climbing category director at Black Diamond, noted that not long ago, climbers had a wait-and-see attitude about anything novel, but these days fresh ideas are often greeted with open arms.

Companies are “investing in strength, durability and added safety, along with price and weight savings,” said Jon Jonckers at Omega Pacific. “Stronger carabiners, longer-lasting ropes and the safest helmets and harnesses; no wonder little kids are climbing everything we struggled to climb 10 years ago!”

>> Some day helmets will be so light and comfortable that everyone will wear one, and that day may have arrived with the new Black Diamond Vapor (MSRP $140). Featuring Kevlar and carbon layers that allow for a minimal amount of EPS foam, this is the optimal combination of light weight, low profile and excellent ventilation.

>> At what point will carabiners be so light you don’t even notice you’re carrying any? The new Edelrid Nineteen G (MSRP $9.95) aims to push that limit, coming in at a scant 19 grams. Realizing that smaller and lighter sometimes means harder to use, Edelrid made a conscious effort to keep the gate opening as large as possible.

>> Previously only available in semi-static ropes, Beal has updated its Unicore process, which binds the sheath to the core, and integrated it into several models, including the 9.1mm Joker (MSRP N/A). Unicore ropes have zero sheath slippage, and in the event of the rope being cut, the sheath stays in place, significantly improving the safety margin in such situations.

Climbing_Beal_Joker.jpg

>> You knew it was only a matter of time, but Black Diamond is rounding out its cam line with the X4 Camalots (MSRP $70), a high range, small four cam unit. Fans of the old Black Diamond .1 and .2 will love these new cams, featuring narrower head width and double axle range down to the smallest size.

Climbing_BlackDiamond_X4Camalot1.jpg

>> Camp Tricams always have had a cult-like following, and that’s not bound to change anytime soon with the release of the new Evo (MSRPs $25-28). Featuring an additional passive placement mode, these units now can be set in three different ways. Stiffer slings allow for easier one-handed placement, and they’re available in four sizes.

>> There’s a joy in simplicity, and the Millet Cliff Org (MSRP $100) will appeal to sport climbers who want a pack that keeps all the essentials nicely organized. Built from a highly abrasion resistant 600D polyester, say goodbye to the days of digging through the depths of your pack, wondering where the guidebook or your draws disappeared to.

>> The skinniest single rope in the world also is likely one of the most durable in its class, with a high proportion of sheath for its size (38 percent). Mammut claims the Serenity 8.7 Rope (MSRPs $249-279) works with the GriGri2, as well as ATC-style devices. Triple-certified as a single, twin and double rope, this one is sure to please both sport climbers and mountaineers alike.

--BJ Sbarra

Be sure to check out many more new climbing products and trends in the O.R. Daily, published live at the show Aug. 2-5, and available digital format each following day of print at SNEWS.

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