A trade fair with a wake-up run/race, business, new things, partying/networking, and visitors sleeping in the rough – that’s the OutDoor Friedrichshafen.
It remains to be seen which new things will prove good things, which just gadgets there but to make a profit – but interesting new things, there certainly are a few, even in the outdoors business that tries to also be environmentally conscious…
Salomon and Suunto
Salomon and Suunto, which again shared a booth, are always my first stop.
Suunto will apparently have something new in the outdoors watch space to offer later this year, but that will only be revealed then (mid-October, probably). No permission to show any images or speak of any details yet, but I can say that it’s no Ambit4 / Ambit successor. That will come later.
Salomon, of course, has a few new things to come.
The Sense line is expanded and goes into the 5th generation with the Sense 5 Ultra.
The Wings Pro 2 will become the new downhill specialist shoe.
Salomon is trying to gain a foothold in an uphill battle with the road-running shoe giants with the Sonic Pro Salomon road-running shoe.
New packs are also coming, not just with the Agile 20 AW already seen at the ISPO, but also a Sense Peak 22 liter pack… and if you want to go into the mountains but not trail running, the X-Alp collection of shoes is expanding, too.
Have a look for yourself also via my video presentation of Salomon’s new gear:
Outdoor Research, makers of my favorite rain jacket (so far), have interesting news especially on the alpinism/soft-shell front with the Ferrosi series, and of course they continue to offer their usual range of gear for fast and light pursuits such as trail running.
Again, you can have a look at the overview for yourself (this time it’s in German but with English subtitles, though):
OR became rather interesting for their heated gloves last winter; there were no news there yet, but I was told that there would be quite a few next year.
Still the main competitor to OR in my book is Montane, and they had quite a few things of interest to show.
Their Minimus rainwear is now expanding to a 3-layer Pertex jacket, the Minimus 777 (which may well be a worthy competitor to OR’s Helium II), but it’s especially the packs in their VIA trail running collection that keep catching my eye.
The 20l Dragon, in particular, is very nicely designed – and like all their packs of that collection, the vest design is now strong, and all made for soft flasks to put in pouches rather than the hard bottles they had (rather strangely) attached to the previous incarnation of that pack series.
If going for less of a long run and more of a hike, their Ultra Trail series of packs, ranging from 22 via 40 to 50 liter volume, also looks very promising – and even their (partly waterproofs) duffels for traveling were eye-catchingly good.
And you can get that overview as if you’d been there, too (again in German with English subtitles):
Pretty much finishing up with the mountain and trail running brands I was most interested in for good gear to make oneself at home in the world, I also went to Dynafit.
This sister brand to Salewa has been getting very active in the mountain trailrunning arena in Austria, with shoes as well as clothing and equipment (and they were also the ones who organized the “Wake-Up Run” at the OutDoor), so I asked them to give an overview – and this time, it’s all in English:
Their collection is a little peculiar, not least in the colorways they employ and the thin materials they like to go for, but there are quite a few things there that look to be of good use and certainly well thought-out.
Let’s see if I can get to some reviews…
Durable Performance, Fashion or Not
For pretty much the opposite in approach to color, Houdini continues to be one of the best brands I know. There is a wide selection of colors, but they are all neutral and all employed in products made to last – as they explicitly pointed out at the very center of their booth:
Here, I’m sure I will even find some items that fit in with my interest in technical men’s wear even as Houdini is far from the luxury brands that often occupy that niche (but haven’t used a silk-merino blend in quite a while, which Houdini has been using for years).
Peak Performance, on the other hand, is looking to go into that “performance fashion” area; it will be interesting to watch.
Speaking of this confluence of themes, Reda Rewoolution made me happy I took the time to speak with them.
Icebreaker‘s Cool-Lite (with merino and Tencel) begs to be tried out; Smartwool is established in the merino wool space – but Reda had been producing wool textiles for high-class brands for a while before deciding to use their expertise in a more sports-oriented collection of their own.
That little while they’ve been at it? For over 100 years.
The wool they use? Zque-certified Merino.
No “Made in China” there; they produce in Europe, and they don’t mix merino with other fibers, they make it get the properties, e.g. the stretch, they want it to have just from the knitting… and even as I don’t care much about prints, which they often make, their products look good.
In Other News…
Arc’teryx, I feel I should mention, is coming out with two new shoe models.
One, the Acrux AR Boot, will extend the Acrux/Bora liner and cover it in a waterproof shell…
…the other, the Arakys, apparently is for women to just get wet and leads into more of a focus on women…
(What’s with Arc’teryx and Dune? Arrakis series of backpacks, Arakys shoes – I wonder if that will change to avoid confusion.)
Haglöfs continues its focus on gear oriented towards light and fast activities, now not just looking towards hiking (with the L.I.M. – “Less Is More” – series) but also developing climbing oriented “Mountain Ultimate” gear. In that, their upcoming backpack already won them accolades at the OutDoor…
Not only gear that is light and made for moving easily was a theme at this year’s OutDoor in Friedrichshafen, though. There was also quite a bit of gear made more for glamping, for enjoying the outdoors in a rather more luxurious fashion.
I know Snowpeak to have gear that fits in that theme beautifully, but they managed to present a booth that was nearly empty, uninspired, and staffed by a person or two who looked nothing but bored and disengaged whenever I walked by.
What a contrast to Primus, for example.
They were certainly helped by being part of their group’s booth, which also includes Fjällräven, Hanwag, Brunton, and Tierra and tends to be lively (even, if not more so, off-hours). People there also liked to explain the camp kitchens and cutlery they presented, which looked great – and not far off, in the outdoor area, they had a Swedish freelance guide and cook who put their products to excellent use.
Now, that’s how you make visitors happy and prove the worth of your offered equipment all in one go!
Three days spent OutDoor went by quickly, with lots to see and lots of networking. Now to see if a few more tests, on the search for good gear with which to make oneself at home (not just) in the outdoors, will come of it.
In the meantime, skin is glowing, chilli’s growing…