I spent four days last week and weekend at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City. The outdoor expo, with some 30,000 industry attendees, over a million square feet of exhibition space, and thousands of vendors, is the place to see all the new and innovative outdoor products and what's going to be on sale next year in your local climbing shop.
Climbing equipment, like most other categories of outdoor products, is evolving with less new products but more innovation for existing product lines. Climbing gear manufacturers are looking to design products that are lighter, more comfortable, perform better, and are more durable than previous items. Durability is, of course, one of the key components of climbing gear since most of us abuse the heck out of our equipment when we're climbing. Climbing consumers are demanding durability, which translates to better value for the buck.
Jon Jonckers, a rep with Omega Pacific, one of the leading carabiner manufacturers, says that climbing companies are "investing in strength, durability and added safety, along with price and weight savings." While climbers have traditionally been slow to adapt new products, usually preferring their tried-and-true gear, climbers now are increasingly willing to accept and try new products.
Over the next couple days I'm going to detail some of the new climbing products that I looked at, handled, and discussed with company reps at the OR show. These include helmets, ropes, packs, power packs, and other cool items.
Photograph above: Cameron and Jonathan Hörst hold all of their dad's (Eric Hörst) climbing and training books at the FalconGuide booth at the Outdoor Retailer show last week. Photograph © Stewart M. Green