The future – at last
Like nearly all technological leaps, one wonders, when it has occurred, why it hadn’t happened before. Why, for example, are there so many seams on your new waterproof jacket, when stitching is plainly a potential weak, and wet, point.
The answers lie in the shape of a jacket and the need for outdoor waterproofs to mix, and stitch together, fabrics of varying strength, durability, breathability and stretch throughout the jacket’s form: tougher fabrics across the shoulders than lower down the jacket to withstand wear and tear of packs, for example.
So, The North Face’s tech guys tried weaving fabrics with different yarn as the fabric was made. In the case of the Summit Series Fuse Uno alpine jacket ($580, 351g) that meant adding Cordura to the top area of the base HyVent fabric for strength and durability, while leaving it out lower down. Okay so far. Then they figured out how to make a jacket from one piece of material by using an origami-like pattern which was folded and stitched together. This was so successful that standard jacket seaming was reduced by more than 40 per cent.
TNF says the Fuse Uno, which has been available in the States since earlier last year, is lighter, less bulky, stronger and more durable. No matter which way you look at it, this a big tech leap forward.
It’s possible that only something that actually works could get away with a promo line that goes: ‘When your feet feel like smiling, that’s the OO’.
So, OOFOS footwear, thongs and slides ($69.99, 319g/342g) gets strong recommendation from footwear suppliers, gym and fitness centre operators and podiatrists. OOFOS claims its footwear gives ‘unparalleled’ impact absorption, superior arch support and ‘insane’ comfort while reducing fatigue and enhancing recovery – presumably from whatever your feet aren’t smiling from.
They can even be cleaned in the washing machine and come in a variety of colours.
On the level Queenstown outdoor store
Outside Sports has stores in Wanaka and Te Anau, but the latest revamped store in Queenstown, which opened last month, is the company’s flagship. It fronts onto Shotover Street and Memorial Avenue and replaces Outside Sports original 10-years-old, three-storied Shotover Street store.
As well as sales of outdoor equipment, there is an extensive rental department of bike, ski and snowboard gear as well as Marmot and Icebreaker concept stores.
Managing director John Knight said of the 700m2 single level building: “Here all staff can interact with customers. It makes it easier for us when our key points of difference are our service levels, our technically knowledgeable staff and the high quality equipment we sell.”
John (left) and Judy Knight with store manager Neil Proctor and ski retail manager Eric Wilhite
Camelbak’s Pursuit 24LR hydration pack ($279.90, 1160g) has gained plaudits overseas for, in essence, simply moving the water bladder down to sit around a wearer’s lumbar region.
This, says a reviewer for USA’s Backpacker magazine, ‘eliminates the annoying slosh of a three-quarters empty bladder’ and also adds ‘to the balance of the pack’.
The Pursuit has 21l capacity and room for a 3l Antidote water bladder. It has an independent suspension harness, front stretch and side pockets, pole attachment points and is designed to carry gear for single days in the hills.
Coffee and food/ hot or cold
Like a set of Russian nesting dolls, when you start using Stanley’s Mountain Coffee and Food systems you’ll find one utensil unscrews to unveil another, and then another. It seems to keep on keeping on; and it’s all for eminently practical purposes.
The coffee system ($119.99) has components which combine to enable about four cups of coffee to be made from ground coffee beans. There are two cups, dry storage in the stopper for fresh grounds, a boiling pot, French press to filter the coffee and, of course, the insulated vacuum flask to keep the coffee hot (for 24hr).
The Food system ($99.99) works from a similar basis, with dry storage, cups/mugs and boiling pot, but also has a spork. The vacuum flask will keep food hot for up to 13hr.
All you need is a stove and you’re an outdoors barista.
Light climbing harness
The Camp Air CR harness ($125, 289g) is particularly suited to ice, fast and light rock climbing and mountaineering.
It has a ‘no-twist’ belay loop, auto locking buckles, haul loop, four gear loops and dual ice-clipper slots. For comfort, there’s 3mm of perforated EVA foam and soft 3D mesh, breathable waist and adjustable leg loops.
Cascade gets lighter
Macpac’s well regarded Cascade packs have been upgraded and streamlined for an overall weight saving of around 400g.
The 75l dual compartment pack ($599.99, 2800g) is claimed to be cleaner and more functional. It has the latest Liberator harness with Freeload transfer system and rods which help position the pack load so that it’s in line with your natural body movement. It’ll help you carry heavy loads, with stability, over rough terrain.
Main fabric is Eco Aztec canvas with 840D ballistic nylon on the base.
There’s underlid, zippered front and stretch mesh bottle pockets, a bungee overload system and dual ice axe attachments. It’s also hydration compatible.
A new battery-powered distress flare that can provide a constant light output for up to six hours can also work in the wet and when total fire bans are in place. And, unlike traditional flares, this one won’t deteriorate over time.
rescueMe’s Electronic Distress Flare ($250, 155g) is a hand-held signalling device that uses ultra-sensitive LED lighting that is visible for up to 11km. It has three modes of operation and SOS signalling, a changeable light pattern and can be used multiple times.
It’s compact (187mm x 42mm), so will fit in a top pack or jacket pocket, and is rugged, being designed for land and sea based emergency situations.