What outdoor gear is in the pipeline for 2018? Following the OutDoor Industry Awards ceremony held in Germany, Sarah Stirling reveals sneak previews of the most exciting innovations to look forward to next year. It was a great year for British companies: DMM, Millican, Paramo and NikWax all won awards.
OutDoor in Germany is the main European gear schmooze of the summer. Over 900 brands from around 40 countries convene in 12 halls on the shores of Lake Constance each summer, eager to show off next year's products, and hoping to impress judges, journalists and trade visitors.
The OutDoor Industry Awards are one of the most keenly-awaited highlights of the show. Which products will the panel of judges pick out from the crowd? This year 330 products were entered, and 38 of these received OutDoor Industry Awards. Sarah Stirling picks out 20 of these award-winning products to look out for next year.
1. DMM ID
An important advance in safety management
In a world first, DMM have integrated RFID (radio frequency identification) technology into carabiners (patent pending) and other gear, including ropes, harnesses and slings. The iD tags are used in conjunction with DMM’s iD Reader, and for best practice, should be used with equipment management software, Papertrail.
What's it for? When using safety gear like climbing harnesses and carabiners in a professional setting, you are required by law to regularly inspect each item and keep a record of these inspections. To make this possible, brands like DMM mark each item with a unique serial number. Reading and typing out these numbers each time you inspect an item is hugely time-consuming and can lead to human errors. If the serial number has worn away and cannot be read, then that product must be retired.
DMM iD therefore saves time, removes human error, and lets users get the full lifespan out of their gear. You simply scan your product to bring up its details (name, strength, inspection frequency, date of manufacture etc), then add the latest inspection result into Papertrail. DMM are also offering retrofit iD tags, such as scanable zip ties, rope labels and helmet stickers so you can tag your whole collection of PPE.
The future is scannable. DMM ID
WATCH: What is DMM ID?
2. Paramo Women's Alize Ultra Light Windproof Jacket
Fully featured jacket weighs less than a banana
Despite weighing just 106g, this jacket from British brand Paramo packs a two-way adjustable helmet-compatible hood with a peak, a full-length zip, ventilation zips and pockets. It’s made from Nikwax Ultralight Windproof fabric, which is extremely tear and wind resistant. A PFC-free coating repels water, and it packs into its own pocket. The judges' panel commented that they selected this jacket for its “high social standards in manufacturing and its environmentally-friendly DWR. The helmet-compatible hood and hand-warming pockets also mean it offers greater weather protection than you might think.”
A fully featured jacket for 106g
3. Millican Miles the Duffle Bag 40L
Designed to go the distance
Millican are based in Keswick, and they focus on two things: making bags, and making them sustainably. Inspired by the usability and simplicity of the legendary duffle bag, the brand added subtle details to create a bag that's useful for carrying your gear around the corner, or around the world. It has an external laptop sleeve, internal compression straps and removable rucksack straps – so you can carry it four different ways: as a rucksack, a shoulder bag or by the two grab handles. The fabric is a highly weatherproof Canvas that is 57% recycled and 30% stronger than regular canvas.
Wear it four ways. The ultimate versatile sustainable bag
4. Nikwax BaseFresh
No more stinky base layers
Simply add this deodorising conditioner to your wash to give your technical base layers a new lease of life. It apparently revitalises wicking propertises, softens, improves moisture management, reduces body odours and accelerates drying. It's water-based and fully biodegradable.
Deodorising fabric conditioner, water-based and eco-friendly
5. Wild Country Meshuga
Wild Country reinvent the precision climbing shoe
The unique upper material of these shoes fits like a second skin: it's made from laminated layers of naturally elastic PU and microfibre in a patent-pending sandwich composition, which retains its shape and comfort over time. This is also the first time that moulded outsoles have been used for performance climbing shoes. The rubber compound offers greater friction, better edging support and more consistency in performance over a wider range of temperatures.
Moulded rubber outsoles: a first in climbing shoe design
WATCH: Michelin talk about working with Wild Country on their game-changing rubber outsole concept
6. Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
Ultralight, down-like puffy
This jacket, which won a coveted Gold Award at the show, provides more warmth for its weight than any jacket the company have previously made. It's filled with innovative PlumaFill, which is designed to loft and feel similar to down. It’s stabilised with a tile design (Patagonia are patenting this design), which prevents shifting and cold spots.
The brand commented: “Where others have tried to create a better puffy by focusing solely on capturing the best of both down and synthetic, we achieved it by solving for the problems of each. The result is the best down-like synthetic yet created, with the warmth-to-weight, compressibility and soft feel typically associated with down, but in an ultralight, durable, warm-when-wet synthetic garment that will never clump or cold-spot.”
Filled with down-like synthetic material, this jacket won Gold
7. Blue Ice Choucas Light Harness
The world’s lightest alpine harness with openable leg loops
This Chamonix-based climbing gear company have created the world's lightest harness that you can put on without taking your feet off the ground. Weighting a mere 90g, it is lighter than a smartphone. Folded, it's as compact as a headtorch. It has all the features you'd expect from an alpine harness, including two gear loops, ice screw keepers on openable leg loops. The secret for such lightness? Simplicity: two convenient tying waist loops instead of an opening metal buckle. And on the leg-loops a handy, fast and secure patented opening system.
Lighter than a smartphone
8. Nemo Helio LX Pressure Shower
Pressure wash multi-tool
The Helio is ideal for showering, doing dishes and cleaning gear outdoors. The 22-litre water tank is pressurised via a patent-pending foot pump. You don’t need to hang it — simply fill it with water via the large easy to open top hole, set it on the ground to warm in the sun (nope, can't see any problems with this in Britain), then step on the pump to pressurise it.
Outdoor pressure-washer for you and your gear
9. Nordisk Lofoten 1 ULW Tent
The world's most packable tent
This ancient Danish brand (founded in 1901) are at the forefront of fast and light tent design. This one weighs just 490g when stripped to its lightest components, and packs away to 11 x 22cm. The poles are strong ultralight aluminium, made in very short segments to shrink the pack length to a minimum. The fabric is Nordisk’s own 7D fabric, which weish just 26g/m2. The inner cabin is fixed with a patented system to ensure flexibility and durability. A versatile touch: you can transform it into a 2-man tent by changing the inner cabin.
The world's most packable home
10. Skylotec Rider 3.0 Via Ferrata Set
The safest via ferrata set on the market
This clever set won Gold. In the event of a fall, a free-running ascender brakes automatically. This significantly reduces the distance you can fall, which helps prevent injuries. The set also allows you to rest anywhere.
A via ferrata set with a built in automatic brake to reduce fall distances
Other things to look out for next spring:
The almost seamless fly-sheet of Vaude's Space SUL 1-2P Seamless tent: vaude.com
The frictionless support of Vancouver brand Saxx's Kinetic running shorts: saxxunderwear.com
Ride On Pants from Spanish brand, Ternua, made from recycled Basque fishing nets: ternua.com
Exped's latest down mat, the TT9, which is a bombproof 4 season mat: exped.com
Katadyn's BeFree Water Filtration System 1.0 L — simply fill the soft flask with stream water and go: katadyn.com
Tierra's 100% organic jacket: tierra.com
Tecnica's thermo-form Forge mountain boots, borrowing from customisable ski boot tech: tecnicasports.com
onTracks app: you wear a neoprene bracelet on each hand and it vibrates to tell you whether to go left or right to easily follow crowd-sourced hiking and bike routes: ontracks.co
Tex-lock's lightweight textile bike lock: tex-lock.com
Start-up company Vaterland — Syrian refugees, formerly in the clothing manufacture industry, are making jackets in Germany: vaterland.me
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