What will your climbing gear look like next year? Sarah Stirling reveals her top climbing products that will reinvent you as a lightweight, stylish climbing machine in 2016.
OutDoor Friedrichshafen in Germany is the main European gear event of the summer. It's a big deal (12 halls and over 900 exhibitor stands from around 40 countries) and every year, outdoor gear companies show off their products in the pipeline.
Only trade and press are invited, and some gear stands even have security staff to prevent other manufacturers seeing too much of their products. Everyone wants to see the exciting new products that will be hitting shops this winter and next spring.
For the second year, we sent Summit Assistant Editor Sarah Stirling along to the show. Her mission: to quiz the British manufacturers, and the other brands that support Summit magazine, and to reveal just what will be hot in climbing in 2016.
Read on for her full report and check out our New Gear channel on BMC TV to easily watch all her video clips.
Look out for part 2: walking gear, coming soon.
Like this? Read Sarah's climbing gear news and outdoor gear news from 2015. The kit featured last year will now be available!
If you're thinking of investing in new cams, consider holding out till 2016...
New Black Diamond Ultralight Camalots £80-£100
I was taken aback when Black Diamond's Product Manager handed me a prototype. This is no marketing bluff: the UL Camalots really are incredibly light. Around 25-30% lighter, in fact; the size 3 is 167g compared to 201g for a regular Camalot. How did they achieve that? By shaving max weight from the cam head and changing the shaft material to dyneema and plastic (which also gives it more flex for placements). Video below.
WATCH: Black Diamond Ultralight Camalots on BMC TV
Black Diamond Ultralight Camalot. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
DMM Dragon and Demon Cam updates
The popular Dragon Cams are being considerably updated and reworked for 2016 following extensive lab and field tests. The end result is that they will give increased grip in slicker rock while remaining very close to the original weight. Video below.
WATCH: Updated DMM Dragon and Demon cams on BMC TV
2016 updated Dragon Cams. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
Updated Wild Country Friends
At their core these remain the same original iconic pro with the definitive 13.75 cam angle. The upgrades are: hollow axles (Patent Pending) are stiffer for less weight; wide, skimmed lobes grip better yet are kinder on the rock; and new 12mm dyneema is agile and easily extended, saving time and the weight of having to use a quickdraw on each.
Wild Country's updated cams land in 2016. photo: Wild Country
Hardware keeps getting lighter and, simultaneously, better...
New DMM Vault racking biners
There will be two new DMM hot-forged aluminum racking biners in 2016. The idea being that if you're racking up hundreds of pounds of ice screws you might want something burly to put them on. Video below.
WATCH: DMM Vault racking biners on BMC TV
DMM Volt racking biners. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
Total redesign of Petzl crampon range for 2016
The video below introduces the main players of Petzl's new crampon range, which hits shops early 2016: the Irvis (£100), Vasak (£115) and Sarken (£150). They are all lighter, more sensitive, more precise, more durable and have simpler bindings than current Petzl crampons.
Petzl's new crampons land 2016. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
Updated Petzl Tibloc £22
Petzl's mini-ascender is being reworked for 2016. Now spring-loaded, it will automatically engage with the rope and won't slip down. Plus they've shaved three grams off: it's now 35g.
Petzl Tibloc. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
New Salewa Ergo semi-auto belay device £55 (inc belay karabiner)
Salewa have tried to solve everything they didn't like about other brand's semi-auto belay devices with the Ergo. It works with a wide range of ropes (8.6 - 11mm), you don't have to take your hand off the rope to engage it, it's simple to use and works either way round. 170g.
Salewa Ergo. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
Rock shoes get more technical. Approach shoes become chameleon machines.
New Arc'teryx Acrux AR mountaineering and ice climbing boots
Arc'teryx have only recently started making footwear, but as you'd expect the whole range is an innovative eye-opener. The pinnacle of the range is the Acrux AR. It's a record-breaker as a double insulated boot at just 930g. The price, when it lands in 2016, will be around £500. Product designer Frederico asked for two minutes silence then came out with the impressive 5-minute run through of its features in the video below!
WATCH: Arc'teryx Acrux AR on BMC TV
Arc'teryx Acrux AR. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
New La Sportiva rock shoes
La Sportiva's rock shoe guru, Pietro Dal Pra, who was responsible for the Genius rock shoes and Sportiva's No-edge tech, has been busy. These shoes are so feature-packed it's almost cheating! The Skwama (£115) fits between the Futura/Miura and Katana lasts in performance, while the Otaki is a modern version of the Katana (£120). Video below.
WATCH: La Sportiva rock shoes 2016 on BMC TV
La Sportiva Otaki. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
La Sportiva Otaki Woman. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
La Sportiva Skwama. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
New Arc'teryx Arakys approach shoes £100
This futuristic approach shoe has a collapsing heel so you can wear it as a slipper around the crag. It's designed to be worn without socks and has a leather footbed for comfort. Final touches: a climbing zone to the toe, braking zone at the heel, and the 'Memory Web' strapping can be set to your foot width for easy on-and-off.
Arakys approach shoe (£100). Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
New La Sportiva TX2 approach shoes
These new stripped back and simple approach shoes are specifically targeted at climbers with a low weight and clever compression and harness attachment features. Video below.
WATCH: La Sportiva TX2 approach shoes on BMC TV
La Sportiva TX2. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
The trend for barely-there feel Expanded Polypropylene helmets, which began with the Petzl Sirocco (145-165g), is developing - these new 'hybrid' helmets have lightweight shells for increased durability and strength.
New Mammut Wall Rider £75
The Wall Rider is made from EPP but also has a robust plastic shell just over the dome of the head. It weighs in at 240g, so is lightweight rather than superlight.
WATCH: Mammut Wall Rider helmet on BMC TV
Mammut Wall Rider. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
New Salewa Vayu helmet £110
An impressively ultralight helmet, considering it has a shell - 180g. Salewa are the only brand adding a carbon nanotechnology outer to an an EPP inner. Carbon nanotubes are the strongest and stiffest material known to man. Their shape - picture a sheet of carbon just a single atom thick, which has been rolled up into a very long cylinder - gives them an extremely high surface area. The Vayu also has a little brother: the Vega is £80, 200g and has less venting. Both come in six colours and look a lot less weird than the Sirocco! Video below.
WATCH: Salewa Vayu helmet on BMC TV
Salewa Vayu helmet. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
New harness tech from Black Diamond, and a neat little chalk bag idea from Mammut.
New Black Diamond Solution harness £65
Black Diamond are introducing new harness technology in the Solution in 2016. The tri-band construction you can see in the waistband and leg loops below reduces weight and makes the harness feel more supple and comfortable than other laminated harnesses. It will be available in men's and women's.
Black Diamond Solution. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
New Mammut Multi-pitch chalk bag £30
A neat little idea: a chalk bag with a few extra pockets for minimalist multi-pitch climbs. It has a zipped pocket big enough for a phone, camera and/or snack; a toothbrush holder; zig zag of stretchy cord to hold a windshirt; a pocket you could slip a soft water flask into, and a small valuables zipped pocket with a key clip.
Mammut Multi-pitch chalk bag. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
The perfect do-it-all climbing trousers, plus a superlight yet fully-featured climbing shell.
New Mountain Equipment Beta Pants £75
A popular topic for discussion in the Mountain Equipment office over the years has been: what makes the perfect climbing trousers for everything from bouldering to mountain routes? We spotted these on the rack on their stall and commented on how good-looking they are. Video below.
WATCH: Mountain Equipment Beta Pants on BMC TV
Mountain Equipment Beta Pants. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
New Rab Women's Flashpoint Jacket
There will be a women's version of the popular Flashpoint climbing jacket in 2016. It's a superlight shell at 160g, but still fully-featured for climbing with a helmet-compatible hood. Video below.
WATCH: Rab Women's Flashpoint Jacketon BMC TV
Rab Women's Flashpoint left. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
A couple of climbing packs - one that does it all, and one that's impressively stripped back and minimalist.
New Gregory Alpinisto 35 and 50 (£135 and £145)
Well-established in the US, Gregory packs are now available in Europe. Check out the video of the Alpinisto, a technical alpine climbing machine, below. It goes from sturdy load-hauler to lightweight summit bag with the swift removal of components.
WATCH: Gregory Alpinisto Rucksack on BMC TV
Gregory Alpinisto. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
New Montane Ultra Alpine Rucksack
Montane launched four rucksacks three years ago. They proved so popular that the designer, Matt Kemp, now works full time for Montane and the range has grown to 18 styles. They say he is a pack genius! The stripped-back Ultra Alpine below was designed for, and in collaboration with, Andy Kirkpatrick. A lot of work was put into making it super-minimalist and selecting really strong and lightweight fabrics.
Montane Ultra Alpine. Photo: Tom Humpage / numero97.com
Rock out! With BMC Travel Insurance policies
Bag a bargain this year with our fantastic cover on all BMC Rock Insurance policies. Lots of cover that works out at only £37* for seven days!
We've been insuring climbers like you for over 30 years. That's why all of our policies come with:
24-hour emergency assistance helpline
£10 million emergency medical cover
£100,000 search, rescue and recovery cover
£10,000 personal accident cover
£5,000 cancellation cover
£2,500 baggage cover
WATCH: BMC Insurance: Get out there
*Policy details: From £37 for seven-day single-trip European Rock cover up to age 69.