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April 2015 Issue
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April 2015: Gear News

Ribz Loaded

The latest in outdoor gear news, trends and innovation

Front loader

Here’s something a bit different and, unlike the Aarn packs, which introduced a whole new way of carrying gear in the outdoors – with combined back and front packs – the eight-litre Ribz pack  ($99, 310g) is front only and it looks more like a carry bag than a traditional pack.

Ribz’s are lightweight packs in three harness sizes and either 8l or 11l capacities, which can be used in conjunction with a normal backpack to balance the load, in similar, but perhaps less scientific fashion, to the Aarn system. It also hangs lower down a wearer’s body with straps fitting across the shoulders and around the waist.

The system allows easy access to gear, drinks or food on the go without having to stop and take the pack off.

There are two pouches, each with four compartments, and each large enough for at least a one litre water bottle. Material is water resistant 210D ripstop nylon and zippers are YKK.


125 years for Opinel

The wooden handled, single blade, pocket knife made in France by the Opinel family is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Amazingly, today’s Opinel knife resembles the very earliest versions, although the handle and blade are slightly different in shape and there is now a safety ring, which locks the opened (and closed) blade in place.

The Opinel’s were blacksmiths and the first knife, designed by Joseph Opinel in 1890, was aimed at farmers and local villagers. It was a peasant’s knife and there were originally 12 different sizes, with each blade eventually bearing a crowned hand trademark.

A standard Opinel knife has a beechwood handle and high carbon or stainless steel blade, but custom models use exotic wood and cowhorn handles.

The basic-looking knife, with just five parts – blade, rivet, shell ring, rotating lock and wooden ‘fishtail’ handle – has been extraordinarily successful, becoming both a practical and design classic and emblematic of French culture. The term’ Opinel’, in the French language, now refers to any wood handled pocket or pen knife, not necessarily those made by the company.

Stretches like skin

It’s easy to be reminded after donning The North Face Alpinisto soft shell pant ($330) just how remarkable is your skin, which simply bends, stretches and reforms, without lasting effect.

TNF claims these stretch woven pants offer ‘the greatest’ stretch and mobility especially for alpine missions, as well as being durable, abrasion resistant and breathable,.

There’s a zippered thigh pocket, two zippered hand pockets and separating waist construction with built-in belt that lies flat under harness or backpack. Knees are articulated and zippered cuffs are mountain boot compatible with elastic gaiter and kickpatch.

The pants are made mainly from TNF Apex Aerobic (89% nylon, 11% elastane double weave), but polyester and Kevlar gets a look in too.