By: randosteve|Posted on: August 12, 2008|Posted in: Broken Link to Photo/Video, Gear, Gear Reviews | 1 comment

Sunset driving into Swan Valley Idaho
Sunset driving into Swan Valley, Idaho. NOT Photoshopped!

My second of two days at the 2008 Summer Outdoor Retailer show was extremely busy. I had multiple meetings with people in regards to some current and new relationships with and the store. Here are a few more new products I saw…as well as some changes to some that we are familiar with.

Arcteryx R 320 Harness
Arc’teryx R-320 Harness.

Arcteryx R 320 Harness thicknessWith the introduction of the R-320 harness this year, Arc’teryx no doubt lead the industry for the lightest, most comfortable and sexiest harness out there. With some testing, Arc’teryx learned that more padding on the waist belt isn’t what makes a harness comfortable, but rather how wide it is being the main factor. If you haven’t check them out yet, find a store that has them and take a look. We have some at Skinny Skis or check out Arc’teryx’s website to find a store that does.

Sleek Black Diamond Chaos Harness
2009 Black Diamond Chaos and Aura harnesses.

Though not quite as sleek, the new Black Diamond harness line also has a much lower profile design, but with a little bit more padding. This will probably make them a bit more comfortable that the Arc’teryx harnesses, but also heavier and more bulky. Either way, Arc’teryx or BD, I don’t think you can miss with either, but you’ll have to wait for the BD’s until next season.

Retooled Black Diamond Raven Pro Head and PickImproved Black Diamond Livewire CarabinerMinor changes to most of the remaining BD lineup, with some new colors in carabiners and a retooling of the popular Raven Pro and Raven Ultra mountaineering axes. Both will have a more aggressive pick, a larger carabiner hole and a larger area where your hand goes on the head. These are all good improvements and will make them both more attractive to end users. In addition to some new colors, Black Diamond has also redesigned the Livewire carabiner (kinda the next generation Hotwire) to make it lighter. It also has some ribs on the back to give it better grip and easier to clip ropes to. In addition, the flat surface on the bottom helps to keep draws in place. Functional additions that I’m sure all you rope-guns will enjoy.

MSR EXO 2 System
2009 MSR EXO 2 Cookset.

Thermarest NeoAirFor all you backpackers out there, Cascade Designs, mother company to ThermaRest, MSR and Platypus, also had some cool new offerings. At the shop, we’ve seen a big increase in sales of nesting type cookware, lead by many products made by GSI. MSR responded by creating some of their own and include stainless steel, titanium Platypus Wine Preservation Systemand aluminum options. The EXO 2 consists of a Titanium pot that also holds two DeepDish plates and two insulated stainless tell mugs, and makes packing you cookware easy…as well as saving space. ThermaRest has also come out with a new sleeping pad and at only 14 oz, it is nearly weightless. Though most lightweight pads tend to be relatively thin, making sleep challenging, the new NeoAir boasts a full 2.5 inches of padding. In addition, Platypus also came out with a new product to help you sleep. The new Platypus Preservation System will keep your wine as fresh as the day you popped the cork…unless you drink it all the first night. All of these products are welcome additions to the Cascade Designs lineup and will for sure make your backcountry camping more enjoyable.