Day 2 hadn’t even started when I spied the first target of the day on my way down the escalator to the show floor. Granite Gear has designed a pack, called the Nimbus Core, around the need to carry a bear canister. With a bottom pouch for soft items like a sleeping bag and two long side panels, the center of the pack is empty open space that fits a bear cansiter perfectly. The entire thing is held together by a front panel flap and straps. It’s a unique design that rethinks the needs of people who have to carry a heavy and awkward bear canister into the backcountry. It weighs in at 3 lb 12 oz.
The center space would also work well for someone hauling heavy dense gear into the backcountry like photography equipment. The pack seemed a bit wide compared to the more narrow and streamlined styles of traditional internal frame packs, but it does hold the heavy weight of the bear canister in the best location so the balance of weight should be good.
Like all Outdoor Retailer shows I ended the day exhausted with many miles on my feet.
Today was a day of meetings for backpackgeartest.org. In fact, I was so packed with meetings I had little opportunity to cruise the show and explore the cool new gadgets other than the ones I was shown in the appointments. However, I did get myself in front of a few things I wanted to mention here.
First up is the PolarMax cotton baselayers. These are made from a treated cotton designed to wick moisture from the body just like a synthetic. We’ve been told for years that cotton kills – what makes these so different? We’ll have to look forward to some reviews and find out.
One of the more interesting things I saw today was the new Steripen Freedom, available this summer. It is a 2.6 oz UV water purifier which will treat 30L of water on one charge of its lithium ion battery. They also reworked the water sensing technology on the Adventurer. I’m looking forward to trying out these new and improved SteriPens.
In between appointments I swung by the Innate booth. Innate started as a stainless steel water bottle company but has expanded their line into other products. The most interesting thing they are doing is using the scraps from other manufacturers to make new products. Instead of going into the incinerator, scraps from the manufacturing of items like Therm-a-rest mattresses are now being made into stuffsacks and other related products. In fact, I saw items in the Innate booth that matched fabric on the new Therm-a-rest NeoAirs (more to come on those in the coming days).
Keen has some awesome footwear hitting the shelves right now. A lightweight hiker called the Tryon caught my eye with its unique sole and lightweight mesh upper. Definitely something that could be useful for my style of travel in the Sierra. They also had some awesome dogs performing fun frisbee stunts. Naturally I took a picture of the dogs but not the shoes.
Lastly, I ended up with these sick Ryders Tweaker SL sunglasses. Bright pink is quite fetching on me, don’t you think? With full coverage and a nice secure fit they should be nice for running, I hope. Looking forward to trying them out.
I spotted tons of cool stuff today and just didn’t have the time to stop and check it out. Even though I spend all day viewing awesome new gear, I always feel like there is so much I miss. I’m definitely looking forward to catching a bunch more tomorrow.
I planned on nightly blogging from the outdoor retailer show but that is looking less likely due to the failure of wifi availability in salt lake city. My hotel is supposed to have wifi but they are overwhelmed with demand and no one can connect. I tried three other places tonight and it was the same story. There is good wifi in the press room at the show but it is only available during certain hours and I haven’t been hauling along my laptop (I walk over 8 miles on the concrete show floor with an already heavy pack, no thank you to more).
Then how, you may ask, am I blogging right now? I’m using a WordPress app on my phone and it only allows for basic posts.
At this point I will try to compile everything into a series that I can post once I’m back to the land of ubiquitous wifi, also known as silicon valley. In the meantime, rant over.
It was All Mountain Demo Day here at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market and I couldn’t be more excited! The Demo Day is a ‘play day’ out in the snow before everyone gets down to business on the show floor. In my opinion this is the best day of the show – it’s the one day where you really get to try out the gear and put it to the test instead of just dreaming about the possiblities.
This year’s Demo Day was hosted by Solitude Mountain Resort, conventiently located about an hour outside of Salt Lake City. The day was filled with more activities than I was able to participate in, even though I was non-stop busy from our arrival at 9:30 am until the party hour of 4pm.
The day started with a 5k snowshoe race that I had signed up for ahead of time. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I’ve snowshoed and I’ve run in many 5ks so how hard could it be? Upon checkin I was fitted with some Tubbs snowshoes to wear for the race. I was asked if I was a snowshoer or a runner and I said both, but I had never combined the two. They outfitted me with some running snowshoes, lighter weight than traditional snowshoes and with a very flexible pivot and super easy binding mechanism that didn’t pinch in the least.
It’s that time of year again! This week Salt Lake City will be overrun with thousands of outdoor gear geeks. We descend on the city to celebrate the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market – not just any trade show, this is a week of both hard work and lots of fun.
I arrive in town tomorrow night so that I can attend the Demo Day at Solitude Mountain Resort on Wednesday. I plan on lots of snowshoeing, skiing, and miscellaneous other snow fun. The show continues Thursday through Sunday at the Salt Palace Convention Center where new gear will be debuted, manufacturers will launch updated lines, and entrepreneurs will hawk their ideas and early products.
Although I expect to be busy from the wee morning hours until late into the evening, I hope to have time to provide updates here on a daily basis. Don’t be too hard on me if I slack though – a girl needs her sleep at a high-energy event like this. For live show-floor updates you can follow my twitter feed here – I’m much more likely to stay on top of that throughout the day. If you have any questions about the gear and goings-on, or want to see something specific, send me a message on twitter and I’ll try to swing by booths and get some answers and information.
We made up this hike the night before and it ended up being a great success. Borrowing from several sources we pieced together an awesome dayhike that took us past some great ruins, up a really cool old trail and road, to the top of a desert peak, then down into the depths of an old mine. The loop is about eight miles long with a little under 3k feet of gain.
In order to get to the start of this hike you will need 4WD. If you have 2WD you can still do it but you’ll have to add some distance. Referring to the map below, a 2WD vehicle can get (as of November 2010) to the intersection of Nadeau Rd and Thompson Canyon Rd as long as it is approached from Minnietta Rd. Nadeau Rd to the north and south of this intersection is 4WD only. Just north of this intersection a road angles to the northwest towards the foot of the mountains. This road is 4WD only. If you have a 2WD vehicle leave it parked near the intersection and walk this last ~1/2 mile to the start below.
About 1/2 mile up the road there are the ruins of an old crane/gate looking thing and then an old helicopter pad. Park in here somewhere – there are plenty of places to pull out, turn around, and even camp. From the parking, head south and then west up the canyon where you see old roads and mining tunnels. Follow the old road to the upper tunnel (right around the 0.6-0.7 mile marker on the track below). Just above this tunnel you’ll find old use trails – follow the most obvious one and soon it will become even clearer. You’ll be on the “China Wall Trail”, a trail built by Chinese workers who worked the mine and lived above.
Death Valley has several sets of dunes. The most accessible (and therefore crowded) are the ones a few miles east of Stovepipe Wells. A bit less accessible but still regularly visited are the Eureka Dunes in the northern part of the park. There are more dunes located throughout the park in even less accessible locations. It was one of these locations, the Panamint Dunes, that we visited on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
These dunes aren’t particularly difficult to get to, but the minimum six mile round-trip hike to their edge deters many casual visitors. The road to the parking area isn’t great either – while it’s passable in passenger car I definitely would not feel comfortable taking one on it! 2WD is okay but the blowing sand and washboarding make having a hearty vehicle a must.
From the parking spot the dunes are plainly visible across the desert. They don’t look too far away but the scale of Panamint Valley really messes with distance perception. It is a three mile walk across the desert to reach these dunes. It is dry and sandy and they never seem to be getting any closer. Additionally, the barely detectable uphill slope (1000 feet of gain) wears you down. But eventually you’ll get there.
And when you do – hopefully you’re the only one to have made the entire trek with energy to spare in recent times. If so, you’ll have unbroken, footstep free dunes to play on and photograph. Good luck getting that by Stovepipe Wells! There were two major dune crests that we climbed and played on. We got to experience some fun dune phenomena like singing sand – sounding much like the drone of an airplane in the distance. And the best part of all – we had the dunes to ourselves.