It’s never too late for more gear reviews, right? Just thought I’d share a few tidbits from the Winter OR show this past January.
Outdoor Research will be releasing a bunch of new gloves, the ones I was most interested in were their Firebrand. For my glove system I like to have a thin, water resistant liner glove, a glove shell that has a bit of insulation and also fits over the liner, and a big, warm, mitten shell. I can keep my hands warm with the gloves and liners in most conditions. The mittens stay in my pack, and are light, but provide a lot of warmth when needed, albeit at the loss of almost all dexterity. It’s hard to find gloves that work well for my system, as most don’t have a big enough gauntlet, removable liner, or aren’t waterproof. Most waterproof gloves (with the exception of OutDry gloves) use a Gore-Tex insert to make them waterproof. In my experience the insert always gets tangled up in the glove, eventually making the glove unusable, frequently at an inopportune or even dangerous time. OR has been making their Firebrand for the military for a few years, as a super warm glove for intense conditions. It is large, has a huge gauntlet (which is where many gloves fall short as well), and has a warm removable liner. It is also constructed with Gore-Tex shell fabric, and all the little seems are taped. It might be a little overkill for skiing, and might be too heavy, but I’m hoping once I take out the liner it’ll be fairly light.
Another interesting product was a new Camp harness. Lightweight (7oz) with gear loops, and adjustable leg loops that can be unclipped for bathroom duty or whatever, nice.
I liked the Klymit gas insulated clothing. This is insulated by various “noble” gases such as argon or krypton (super), that you carry in compressed cylinders like the CO2 cylinders for refiling bike tires. The system is said to be lighter than down for equivalent warmth, as well as easily regulated (till you run out of gas, anyway). I can’t imagine it is very breathable, but like many technical problems I’ll bet a solution can be found for breathability . Klymit also had an interesting uninsulated sleeping pad, that had empty spaces where no weight is distributed. It’s stuff like this that’s going to continue the lightweight revolution.
Louie Dawson earned his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design from Western Washington University in 2014. When he’s not skiing Mount Baker or somewhere equally as snowy, he’s thinking about new products to make ski mountaineering more fun and safe.