ORSM '12 Pack Preview: Packed for profit

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 packs 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.

More performance features are coming to smaller volume packs, even as larger models embrace designs that are cleaner and simpler.

Pack designers and manufacturers are responding to the continuing shift in demand from outdoor consumers toward daily and shorter multi-day adventures versus weeklong backpacking trips. Lighter tents, sleeping bags and stoves also are helping reduce longer multi-day pack sizes.

Consumers still want performance, though, so expect to see more beefed up medium- and small-sized packs with the latest suspension and breathability advancements.

On example is at Black Diamond, where Equipment Category Director Nathan Kuder told us his goal is to get as many people into the company’s new active suspension technology as possible — from large daypacks all the way down to summit and daypacks. “It may not be the biggest news in packs at this show,” he said of the active suspension technology, “but I think it could be in the next three to five years.”

A surge in women’s models is also ahead for packs.

“Women’s pack sales growth is running well beyond overall market growth right now, so focusing on our women’s product is a solid move,” said Erik Hamerschlag, Osprey product line manager, who added that along with new women’s packs, women’s fit gets special attention throughout his line this year.

>>Arc’teryx expands its Altra Pack collection with the addition of nine new pack volumes that all use its Composite Construction (C2) Suspension, which conserves energy by having the pack sit close to the body, while minimizing the load movement and backward pull. In packs like the new 50L Altra (MSRP $289) for men, a breathable back panel helps shed moisture and keep a hiker cool.

>> Bergans of Norway continues to expand in the U.S. market, including the introduction of the new Skarstind Daypack (MSRP $159), available in men’s and women’s models. The clean design has a tensioned mesh back panel for ventilation, hip belt pockets, a top entry with a spindrift collar and is hydration system compatible.

>> Black Diamond will introduce new products such as the Sonar (MSRP $140) and Bolt (MSRP $130) in the brand’s Velocity Series, with it reACTIV suspension to give retailers a better technology story to sell to daytrippers. The Sonar features large panel access for daypacking, while the Bolt has a top-loading design for climbing or via ferrata.

>> Deuter touts maximum breathability with the ZERO 50+15 and 45+15 SL for women (MSRP $185). Both feature the new ACT Zero back venting system, which the brand claims reduces perspiration by 15 percent. Aimed primarily at experienced backpackers, thru-hikers and mountaineers, the packs feature a removable top lid that functions as summit pack for that final ascent.

>> Granite Gear is calling the Leopard AC 58 (MSRP: $250) “a quiver of one pack,” mixing breathability and fit in the Air Current Suspension. The inspiration for the pack was based on adventurer Justin Lichter’s epic hike of nearly 2,000 miles across the Himalaya Range last summer.

>> Sierra Designs introduces its new Equilibrium Suspension System, a lightweight line of packs touting increased comfort and stability. The secret? Two primary stays and two secondary stays that work in tandem for four points of load support. Check out the technology in the Ritter 80 (MSRP $380).

>> Under new ownership, Lowe Alpine is launching a completely new generation of its lighter weight AirZone backpacks with breathable suspended mesh backs. That includes the 2-pound, 14-ounce AirZone Quest 37 (MSRP $170), which includes a quick and easy side-zip access.

>> Relative newcomer Mile High Mountaineering (which officially launched at Summer Market in 2010), offers up its first redesign of some stalwart systems that were unveiled at its first show, including the Fifty-Two 80 (MSRP $380-$400), which President and Founder Jeff Popp said features “a much cleaner design and aesthetic and twice the functionality and performance of the old versions.”



--Peter Kray

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

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