Outdoor Retailer Australia (ORA) 2016 opened its doors last Sunday, offering Australia’s dedicated community of retailers, suppliers and brands a chance to come together in the one place.
As always, the three-day exhibition was a hive of activity as relationships are made or confirmed, informing the future of gear and apparel to appear in stores around the country.
“It’s been another exciting event this year,” said Greg Foord, manager of outdoor distributor, Spelean. “It’s always great to see everyone in the one place. Of course, it’s a lot of work as well.”
On the trends front, the insulated flask and bottle market has developed further, with a number of brands beginning to offer beer ‘growlers’. These products appear to have come from nowhere overnight, to suddenly be found carried in just about every insulated flask range.
“The growlers are an interesting concept that allows you to keep a few litres of beer cool for a day or two,” Foord said. “They’ve become very popular in the US, which is why we’re seeing so many of the brands introducing them here, but the Australian market is yet to really catch onto them.”
For other trends, the arms race in lighting continues as solar panels continue to become more efficient and small, while LED lights become more powerful.
To give you a quick overview of some of the newest and coolest product ideas on the market, we’ve collated a selection of our favourites below.
Mont Zero Ultralight Sleeping Bag
Mont Adventure Equipment are launching their lightest ever sleeping bag. This thing is seriously tiny when packed. Technically a two-season bag, the Mont Zero UL packs down to just one lire volume – 90 x 230 millimetres. They’ve achieved this by constructing the bag with the lightest down-proof nylon on the market and filling it with 138 grams of 800 loft down. All told, the bag weighs just 300 grams, making it perfect for ultralight fanatics or to extend the warmth and life of any older bag.
Available: End of 2016
Deuter Aircontact Series
Announced soon after ORA 2015, the current Deuter Aircontact range of rucksacks isn’t as new as some of the gear on this list, but it continues to stand out among the packs shown at this year’s expo. These bags include a large front opening and a double-layered base, all constructed from ‘Duratex’ at 330D. The fully-featured range includes stowable loops for an ice axe and trekking poles, but the icing on the cake has got to be the slim-line models for those with a slighter body shape, or the Vario Flex hip fins, which allows the bag to remain upright and secure while your hips move naturally. The sum total is a very comfortable carry at any size. Speaking of sizes, there’s quite a range beginning at 40 litres all the way up to 75.
Price: From $339.95
Kokopelli Nirvana Self-bailer Packraft from Paddlesports Australia
Having just landed in Australia, ORA was the first chance anyone would have had to see the Kokopelli self-bailing packraft. For anyone looking to mix equal amounts of bushwalking and paddling, this two kilo vessel packs down into its own bag. Throw in a pair of portable paddles and you’re ready to hit the river. Most impressive is the dry storage feature that is accessed via a zip at the back of the raft. The benefit here is a storage space that won’t increase the paddler’s centre of gravity – a common problem for packrafts with a heavy load on the front.
Introducing SteriPen’s smallest, most lightweight UV water purifier at just 76.5 grams. This device offers 5,000 half-litre treatments and it can purify each one in as little as 48 seconds, removing 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Water sensor pins turn the UV lamp on automatically when the SteriPen Pure+ is activated and dipped in the water.
Tatonka Packs Range – Tatonka’s updated range includes all the best Tatonka has had to offer previously, as well as a few more differentiated models for cycling, travel and urban users. Most noticeably, strapping around the harness system uses a new material that feels significantly softer than the preceding range. On a subjective note, I really like the new forest green colour options – hopefully it doesn’t result in an increase of bags going missing.
Black Diamond ReVolt
An updated version of the Black Diamond favourite, the new ReVolt is due to receive improvements in brightness and waterproofing. Due in early 2017, this headlamp features the same battery options as its predecessor, but shines up to 200 lumens. Most importantly, with a ingress protection rating of IPX8 this line of headlamp is now fully waterproof and will withstand complete immersion up to a few metres deep.
Available: January 2017
The new 19-piece Signal from Leatherman is designed to be the ultimate outdoor multi-tool, weighing in at 212.6 grams. Along with your usual run of knives, awls and screwdrivers, the Signal also includes a safety whistle, fire striker and bottle opener. It also comes with Leatherman’s 25 year warranty, which is quite a selling point in itself. Keep this one in mind with Father’s Day coming up.
Sea To Summit XSeal & Go
Joining Sea To Summit’s existing range of fold-down pots, bowls and cups, the XSeal & Go range combines various sizes of bowls and cups with watertight lids. The idea here is to offer the perfect food storage solution should you have leftovers from breakfast or dinner. Pro tip: add water to dehydrated meals and pack in a XSeal & Go container to begin rehydrating your food ahead of time.
Sea To Summit Hammocks
A portable hammock isn’t exactly a new concept, and they have been particularly popular among outdoor brands over the past few years. Now Sea To Summit is throwing its hat in the ring and as usual there are a few improvements on the traditional concept that makes their product really stand out. The range offers three main models, with an ultralight version, a pro single and a pro double. The ultralight weighs just 140 grams but will support up to an 135 kilogram load. Perhaps the most interesting part of the design is the simple set up of these hammocks. The no-knots-required strap system allows you to easily anchor one end of the hammock’s stuff bag to your tree of choice, then all you need to do is pull the other strap out and the hammock unfurls as you go. As always, take extra care when camping or resting under eucalypt trees.
Masters Trekking Poles
New to the Australian market, Masters is an Italian brand of trekking poles that comes in at the entry level of the market. Perfect for first time or occasional users, the poles come in a range of styles. Look out for these in your local outdoor retailer in the coming months.
Price: From $100
MSR Microfilter Trailshot
Building on the success of MSR’s previous microfilter models, this device is the most portable yet, being smaller than the size of a fist. The Trailshot is just 115 grams in weight and is capable of filtering at a rate of one litre per minute. The cartridge has a lifespan of around 2,000 litres or more and is suitable for filtering microscopic organisms out of just about any moving water source (not advisable to use in stagnant water). Simply pop the tube end in the water source and pump with a simple squeezing action – clean water comes through the pump, ready to store in whichever vessel you please.
Offering up to 190 lumens, this headlamp is designed for high-energy, intense activities. The key selling point is the addition of an ambient light sensor, meaning the Reactik automatically adjusts to the user’s requirements for optimal vision.
Klymit KSB 20 Sleeping Bag
Rated down to -7˚, this lightweight sleeping bag from Klymit ticks all the boxes for thru hikers or anyone else in need of three-season warmth without additional weight. A traditional mummy shape with insulated hood includes flexible baffle sections to insure the 650 loft duck down stays evenly spread. Weighing in at 1.25 kilos, the KSB 20˚ packs down to a size of 33 x 22.16 centimetres.
Available: Launching soon
Platypus Meta Bottle with Microfilter
New Meta Bottles from Platypus not only fold down for easy storage, they also have a pump-free microfilter option. This removes the need for carrying a separate filter and is therefore bound to be a winner for trail runners, rogainers or multisport competitors that occasionally find themselves faced with a questionable water source.
So iLL has made a name for itself in the climbing holds category, but recently held a Kickstarter campaign to launch their own range of climbing shoes. The result is a selection of fashion-forward footwear options for all manner of climber. The initial Kickstarter orders are shipping now, but it’s expected the product should be generally available from August onwards.
Price: From $179.95
A new take on the classic LifeStraw, the metallic option also includes a more advanced filter that aims to remove chemical contaminants as well as microorganisms. Unfortunately it weighs about twice as much as the original, at 120 grams. If you’re looking for a sturdier option, however, it’s well worth it. LifeStraw Steel’s cartridge life is around 1,000 litres.
Gumotex Inflatable Canoes
For paddlers looking for something a little more maneuverable than a packraft, Gumotex is now introducing its range of inflatable kayaks into the market. Coming in a range of sizes, these vessels are constructed from Nitrilon – a triple-layer laminate that provides enhanced abrasion resistance and integrity without adding much weight to the craft. The smallest of the kayaks, a single seater, weighs over seven kilograms. Will strike a chord with any paddler who doesn’t have room for a solid-bodied kayak or can’t install roof racks on their cars.
Price: From $749.95
Wilderness Wear 10K Extreme
Wilderness Wear scored a mention last year for their new Merino Fusion products, where this year it’s their use of Teflon in their socks. While this is a low cut model, there is a similar version available in a high cut. The sock itself is mostly Tasmanian merino (80 percent), but there is a certain amount of Teflon woven into high abrasion areas, reducing friction, which reduces heat, all of which reduces the incidence of blisters and pain.
Kuhl Radikl Hiking Pant
Soon to launch at Paddy Pallin, the Kuhl range of apparel is hardwearing and ideal for any outdoor enthusiast. Of particular interest is the Radikl, which combines heavy duty fabric with flexible, breathable paneling, thereby providing the best of both worlds in a mild weather pant.
Luci Outdoor Lantern
Featured in our Tried and Tested for issue 153, the Luci solar-powered lantern is a great take on a classic product. With LED’s packed into a disc with PV panels on the other side, the plastic housing inflates while in use and packs down for storage and portability. The plastic housing itself isn’t particularly rugged, but for the price it doesn’t need to be. Just lie the lantern in direct sun for 6-8 hours for a full 12-hour charge.