This past weekend mudhunny and I hit Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City, UT to check out the latest and greatest outdoor gear. And while Outdoor Retailer isn’t all about bikes like Interbike, many brands familiar to mountain bikers were at the show with the latest tech for 2012. Here are the highlights.
FiveTen had the full line of freeride and MTB shoes at the show, including the new Maltese Falcons. These lightweight, clipless-ready MTB shoes feature the company’s Stealth S1 rubber soles for incredible friction on hike-a-bike stretches. Just looking at the line you can see the company’s attention to detail with flat crank-side profiles, lace protection, and supportive ankle straps. Word is the company is also working on more XC-style offerings as well – can’t wait to see what they come up with!
Sierra Designs Rohn hydration pack: back panel and hip belt pockets.
We came across a couple new names in the hydration pack market this year: Sierra Designs and Ultimate Direction. Avid campers and hikers should already be familiar with Sierra Designs but the company recently added packs suitable for mountain biking including the Rohn 15. My favorite features of this pack: the airy, padded back panel and the oversized hip belt pockets, perfect for stashing energy bars and a small camera.
Ultimate Direction hydration pack.
Ultimate Direction is a brand that’s well known among long distance runners for their hydration belts and hand-held bottles but this year they’re moving into the hydration pack market with a full line of bags. The packs appear to be high quality and well designed so we’ll be keeping our eyes on Ultimate Direction this year.
Helmet Cameras Galore
Get ready for more competition in the MTB helmet camera market this year! Aside from cramming more pixels and features into helmet cams, manufacturers are also focusing on smaller form factors and innovative data collection on the trail.
The Replay XD claims to be the world’s smallest full HD camera which makes it a cinch to mount just about anywhere. The true bullet-cam shape is designed to fit the company’s swivel and tilt mounts and there’s an HDMI output which allows you to stream live video (separate hardware required of course). The Replay XD1080 features a 135-degree field of view which is a bit narrower than other helmet cams on the market (many are 170-degrees). The upshot: less distortion (fish-eye) but singletrack may suffer from the tunnel effect.
The GoBandit packs half a dozen sensors into a new helmet camera package set for release later this year. Like the ContourGPS, the GoBandit integrates a GPS sensor but the GoBandit adds a barometric altimeter, heart rate monitor, 3-axis Gyro sensor, and a 3D acceleration sensor. All that data can be overlaid on your video so you can check G-forces on your jumps or your pitch in corners. The entire package is waterproof and features a wi-fi link so you can use your smartphone as a viewfinder.
Heads Up Goggles
I was already familiar with Recon Instruments‘ heads-up ski Goggles from various press releases but Outdoor Retailer was my first opportunity to see how they worked in real life. Why should you care? Well, the company is getting close to releasing an MTB version of the goggles so this is sort of a preview of what’s the come!
The display isn’t exactly what I would call “heads up”; in reality you have to look down to see the screen, taking your focus off what’s directly in front of you. Still, the screen is very readable and besides all the normal GPS stuff you’d expect (speed, distance, elevation) you can also view a map of where you are. The ski version comes pre-loaded with maps from hundreds of resorts; hopefully the MTB version will have park maps as well.
It seems like everyone is finding new uses for Cocona, a breathable, waterproof coating that can be applied to yarns and materials like merino wool. Pearl Izumi is using the technology in their latest jackets and the North Face has their own flavor of Cocona called Flash Dry that’s making its way into the line. Cocona claims to produce more breathable fabrics than competitors and also faster drying materials as well. Look for Cocona to make its way into more MTB apparel in the next few years.
The outdoor industry continues to push new technology into all sorts of products and it’s interesting to see how innovations developed in other sports like mountaineering and trail running make their way into MTB products. It turns out we all just want to go faster and farther than ever before!