We spent most of last week at the annual OutDoor trade show in Germany where the top brands show off the new outdoors kit due to debut in early 2016. It's a heady mix of breathable fabrics, innovative footwear, traditional German Würst - that's sausages if you were wondering - 30˚C plus temperatures and fearless slack-line stunt muppets.
It's all a little overwhelming, with plenty of brands we've never heard of, but we thought you might enjoy a quick whirl through some of the more interesting new kit we saw at the show. There's everything from super lightweight mountaineering double boots from Canadian kit maestros Arc'teryx through to innovative fabric technologies from The North Face with loads more in between.
Bear in mind, it'll be a while before you can get your hands on it though, with most of the kit we've featured being due for release in spring 2016, which oddly generally means around February or March. Don't ask us, we don't make the rules...
Either scroll through all the products or jump straight to your favourite brand via the links below.
Aku | Arc'teryx | Berghaus | Columbia | Fjällräven | Haglöfs | Hoka One One | KEEN | Klättermusen | La Sportiva | Lowe Alpine | Montane | Mountain Equipment | Mountain Hardwear | Nordisk | Osprey | Rab | Scarpa | The North Face
Aku Serati GTX Boot
Designed for pure ice climbing use, the Aku Serati is fully rigid affair with PrimaLoft insulation and a Gore-Tex liner and a weight of just 820g per boot. It completes Aku's mountaineering line-up, is made from materials sourced 90% locally in northern Italy and uses chrome-free leather.
That cuff is high but flexible with a neat Velcro-fastened strap keeping loose snow out and Aku's mixed up the lace hooks with a a combination of fabric low down to avoid scragging on ice, pulley-hooks in the middle for easy snugging cup and more conventional locking hooks higher up.
The weight is around 820g per boot - light for a B3 rigid - and they'll sell for £349.95 in the UK from early 2016.
The brand, if you've not encountered it, is entrenched in the boot-making heartland of northern Italy and while it's expertise is traditionally in trekking and hiking boots, over recent years it's also developed a neat line in more technical mountain footwear.
Arc'teryx Mountaineering Boot
Arguably the most impressive thing we saw all show was the new Arc'teryx lightweight double mountaineering boot. It follows on from the brand's approach and hiking footwear launch last year and is touted as the world first 'lightweight, low volume, double boot'.
As you'd except, it's a thoroughly thought-out and immaculately engineered chunk of technical footwear that's reckoned to have the same external dimensions as a technical single-layer mountain boot, but with the plus points of a double boot with separate inner and outer.
In particular, the use of hydrophobic, fast-drying materials and Gore-Tex liners for both inner and outer boots promise both weather protection and rapid drying out even on the sort of multi-day trips where leather boots have a tendency to get damp and cold and stay that way.
More detail in a full article shortly, but some of the technology comes direct from last year's hiking shoes and boots. Claimed weight is just 950g per boot in a size 42, they should be good down to -20˚C, so around 4-5,000m and will retail for £500 from early 2016.
World's Lightest Waterproof Jacket From Berghaus
The Hyper Smock 2.0 launched this spring 2015 is, at 76g for a medium, the world's lightest waterproof 'jacket'. Except of course it's a pull-on rather than a jacket. To rectify this semantic issue, Berghaus has created the new Hyper Jacket, a lightweight, erm, jacket with a full zip using the same ultra-lightweight fabric and construction as the smock, which will continue alongside it.
It's the green top in the photo above and it's properly minimal, not even a pocket, just elasticated hems, hood and cuffs. As with the HyperSmock 2.0 it has stats of 15,000mm waterproofness / 10,000g/m2/24hrs mvtr (breathability) plus uses the same 10mm minimal seam tape that saves weight. Oh, weight, yeah, just 100g for a large size version, so that should be closer to 90g for a medium. Price will be £120, so £20 more than the smock.
There's more from Berghaus too, watch this space for a full report later in the week.
Columbia's Radical OutDry Extreme Waterproofs
Arguably the most interesting thing we saw at the show, OutDry Extreme aims to eliminate the problem of water repellent treatments wearing off by using a technology which puts the waterproof membrane right on the outside of the garment. It's based on the OutDry technology used on Columbia and MHW gloves and footwear.
In really simple terms, it means no more wetting out of the outer surface of the garment as that's where the waterproof PU sits rather than under the outside fabric. The looks are distinctive too with a sort of vinyl-esque texture and external taping.
The guys from OutDry say that development has taken six years and that over the past year some 600 people have been beta-testing sample jackets with impressive results. Of course they would say that, but the respected Outside Magazine in the States seems impressed too, describing the new jacket as 'The most breathable rain jacket we’ve tested'. They add that it's not the lightest, but it doesn't wet out and seems very durable too.
Interesting stuff. We've been promised a testing sample of our own shortly and we're looking forward to seeing how it copes with the UK summer and beyond...
Fjällräven's Lightweight Tents
The Swedish brand's arguably best known for its retro-styled G1000 clothing, but it also does tents and for next spring 2016, the range gets revamped with existing models tweaked with a hybrid construction - think zoning for tents with panels of heavy duty fabric where they're needed and lighter material elsewhere to save weight.
There's a new Nylon TripleRip material proofed with four layers of silicone coating on both sides. The poles are upgraded too and are now DAC Featherlite Alloy, plus pole sleeves have been enlarged so they can take two sets of poles for added strength in winter if needed.
The tent in the pic is the new Abisko Shape 2 a tunnel tent with an extended porch and multiple opening options. Interestingly the poles are different diameters again to save weight where possible. Total weight is given as 2320g, not bad given that palatial porch...
Haglöfs Roc Helios 25 Pack
Part of the Swedish brand's 'Mountain Ultimate' collection, the lightweight Roc Helios 25 is a minimalist climbing pack weighing in at just 625g and made from a 210D Cordura Polyamide that's light but still tough, a bit like sail fabric.
It has an unusual back-panel opening so you can get easy access to the contents, a minimal foam pad back system and the bare essentials like a pair of miniature axe loops, a rope strap up top and a handy shock-cord stowage come compression system.
One for the serious weight shavers - we suspect it's not going to be super comfortable - there are no top strap tensioners for one thing - but if you're aiming to keep grammage to a minimum, it's the next best thing to a plastic shopping bag...
Haglöfs Gets Camo!
This was our favourite legwear of the entire show courtesy of Haglöfs and it's Intense Series tights. Obviously the camouflage print is designed to help you blend seamlessly into the background wherever you happen to be running. Awesome stuff and a perfect match for the new Haglöfs fell shoe, more about which shortly...
Hoka One One Goes Hiking...
Innovative French brand Hoka One One is best known for its super-cushioned running shoes, which have made a big impact on the ultra-runnng scene over the past couple of years, but for this autumn, it's bringing its distinctive mix of fat-soled lightweight EVA cushioning, curved, easy-rolling outsole and bright colours to the hiking market with the new Tor Ultra hiker - above.
The uppers are a mix of leather and Nylon mesh, there's an eVent waterproof lining and the outsole uses a combination of sticky Vibram Megagrip rubber and Hoka's own RMAT compound which mixes EVA and rubber for a mix of cushioning, light weight and grip. The high ankle cuffs are surprisingly soft and flexible and despite the chunky looks, weight per boot is just 485g for a size 42.
Price will be £160 once they're out in late summer. If want a similar gig but with less 'distinctive' looks, there's also a more sombre brown leather boot called the Tor Summit. Both boots are also going to be available as a low.
KEEN's Younger Versatrail Trail Shoe
At first glance you wouldn't necessarily realise that the new Versatrail is a KEEN shoe, look more closely though and you'll spot the toned-down, more discrete toe-bumper and KEEN's speed-lacing system. Overall though it's sleeker and slimmer visually.
It's a hiking shoe not a running one and has features like Aegis anti-bacterial treatment, a tongue using new foam rubber padding for increased comfort, a one-piece sole unit which extends up the back of the heel and an EVA Zorb insert for better cushioning.
It still has KEEN's high-ish volume fit, but the different styling means, hope KEEN, that it'll appeal to a different customer. We quite like it.
And that up there? It's the latest masterpiece from Scandinavian leftfield masters of the waterproof chap, Klättermusen - it's called the Fjorgyn Anorak and it's an ultra-lightweight, ghostly white waterproof pull-on made from a semi-transparent 2.5-layer fabric weighing in at just 48g/m2.
It has, as far as we can see, no zip, uses quirky cuff fasteners and has a hem configuration based on the, erm, Sami Kort, the traditional tunic worn by Laplanders we think. Looks great in a white way and will costs lots too probably, but you'll likely never see anyone wearing the same top….
The Climber's Hiking Boot From La Sportiva
This is the new La Sportiva Trango TRK. It's not the first time the brand has made hiking boots, but it's the first time it's picked up on the distinctive styling of its range of Trango technical boots. It's quite a cool-looking customer with a distinctive slightly glossy coating over the upper, a Vibram outsole with a climbing zone at the toe and a Gore-Tex lining.
We reckon the distinctive looks will appeal to climbers looking for a hiking boot with La Sportiva's neat fit and to hikers who like the idea that they look a little like climbers… or something like that. Available in Spring 2016 for £170.
Lowe Alpine's Air Zone Gets Awesomed!
The big news from pack maestros Lowe Alpine is that the ventilated Air Zone back system is being overhauled for 2016, erm, again. The biggest change is the complete elimination of plastic bits from the back system, instead the trampoline mesh gizmo is just 100% pure tensioned mesh.
In addition, more of it has been cut away to reduce weight and allow more air to reach your roasting back. It's lighter too and the gradual narrowing of the actual air gap over the years has made for a more stable carry. The Pro 2 versions also get an adjustable length Centro back system, but the whole range benefits from the mesh modifications, not just the Pro series.
Neat looking modifications to an already impressive pack with the hips fins and shoulder straps also getting some subtle improvements.
Montane Fireball Verso Pull-On
This one's out this autumn 2015, which is to say August time. It's an interesting new fast-moving / trail-running insulated top from Montane using a new PrimaLoft Silver Active insulation. The new filling has been formulated not to migrate inside the jacket and to be very breathable, which in turn means brands can use more permeable fabrics for greater comfort when things get sweaty.
The interesting bit here is that the Montane Fireball Verso Pull on is reversible with more wind-resistant fabric on one side and more breathable on the other. Choose one for greater warmth and protection, the other to stay cooler when moving.
It's not a 100% original idea, Berghaus did something similar with its Hypertherm Jacket, but it's a neat idea and makes for a more versatile top. Price will be £100 and in the shops late summer 2015.
Montane's also going to be using the PrimaLoft Down Blend mixed down and synthetic fill in a new Black Ice Jacket 2.0 with the fill in 'Gold' version claimed to be equivalent to 750+ fill power down, but with superior water resistance. More about that to follow.
Mountain Equipment Ups Its DryLite Game Again
We reckon ME's Gore-Tex shell jackets are some of the best out there with an outstanding cut and a super-dependable design, the good news is that for next spring, the brand's drastically improved its own-brand DryLite range too with a brand new three-layer version of the fabric.
It has the same Swiss-developed fit and thorough design, including one of the best hoods we've used, as the Gore-Tex versions and the new fabric looks and feels top notch. Plus although the samples we saw at the show had standard water-resistant main zips, the production jackets will get swish YKK Aquaguard Vislon ones as used on ME's top-end shells.
All that and the more featured Ogre Jacket (left) will sell for £230 and the Odyssey (right) £200. We reckon that's a lot of jacket for your money and with a hydrostatic head of 20,000mm and breathability also at 20,000, performance should be good.
Ueli's New Mid-layer From Mountain Hardwear
Mountain Hardwear's partnership with Ueli Steck continues with more clothing and equipment being developed in conjunction with the Swiss Machine for next spring - Steck is currently part-way through his 82 Summits project to climb 82 summits in just 80 days linking the ascents by cycling between the mountains.
The brand was showing off Ueli's layering system, developed by him, but slightly more compromised for use by normal climbers and mountaineers - the shell jacket for example, is a full jacket rather than the pull-on design favoured by Ueli.
This is the Thermostatic hoodie, a close-fitting thermal layer with matching legwear using a proprietary fleece fabric and simple design. The matching pants have three-quarter length zips, a close fit much admired by OM's commercial manager Chris, and feature Thermal Q Elite panels in strategic areas like the thighs. The hoodie pictured will retail for £85, not bad for an elite mountain mid-layer with hood.
Nordisk's 1500g Shelter And Sleep System
We kind of liked this. It's a mat, sleeping bag and tent that combined weigh less than 1500g and fit into a 20-litre minimalist pack. The mat is the new Grip 25, a sculpted self-inflator that uses zoned tubes to place more padding where it's needed and weighs just 340g.
Then there's the Oscar +10 sleeping bag with a central zip, which uses recycled synthetic fill to give an extreme rating of -2˚C and a limit one of 10˚C with a weight of 380g - impressive for a synthetic - and finally the 770g Nordisk Telemark 1 ULW single-person tent.
A ready-made, one person, mild conditions lightweight sleep kit. We're quite impressed to be honest.
Osprey's Revamped Kestrels And Kytes
The big news from Osprey was that the lightweight Kestrel (men's) and Kyte (women's) hiking packs get an extensive overhaul for 2016 with the Airspace back panel now having diagonal ridges for better air flow and tweaked hip-belts and shoulder-straps.
The harness how has rolled over edges to the shoulder straps for neater looks and smoother lines. Other changes include a relocation of the packs' rain covers to a compartment in the base, brighter colours and in the case of the 38L and larger versions, a new side-zip entry option to make it easier to get into the main compartment.
As usual Osprey has done a neat job on looks as well, check out the women's version above with the contrasting harness details and we like the way webbing daisy chains have been artfully tucked away under flaps so they're accessible but but discrete. All-in-all, a neat upgrade to a nice pack range.
Rab's Technical Women's Kit
Again more about this in a separate report shortly, but it was great to see Rab focussing on technical women's kit for early 2016. For starters there's a new women's-specific take on the excellent lightweight Flashpoint jacket, which launched for the boys this spring. It's also tweaked with a Pertex branded fabric - same performance, softer feel inside.
There's also a women's version of the breathable Windveil windshell, a new women's only Vapour-rise 1 jacket with zoned heavier and lighter lining in different areas, a tab-down helmet hood and and both chest and hand-warmer pockets for use while walking or climbing.
There's also, up there, a women's version of the lightweight Continuum Jacket which joins the hooded version launched last winter and strikes another blow for equality in the insulation stakes. A bundle of highly packable warmth full of 850+ hydrophobic goose down. Think 240g and a price tag of £220.
Scarpa Goes Running
You might remember a running shoe from Scarpa called the Spark which emerged a few years back in response to the US market. We actually really liked it, but it's been led away and shot in the mean time. Now though, or at least in early 2016, there's a new range of Euro-designed running footwear described as the 'Alpine Running Range'.
Designed in the Alps, there are three models aimed at beginners, enthusiasts and deranged fanatics respectively. The Atom pictured above is the latter has a 4mm heel to toe drop - the others are 6mm and 10mm respectively - and a more minimal construction.
There still looks to be plenty of padding for those hard-packed alpine trails though and it'll be interesting to see how they go. Also back is the Zodiac approach shoe, more about that later.
More Fuseform Technology From The North Face
There's something secret brewing in the world of The North Face's Summit Series mountain range, but elsewhere we noticed the brand's Fuseform technology where a single piece of fabric gets multiple textures and eliminates joins has also spread from waterproofs into both windproof fabrics and even fleece insulation.
The green jacket up there is the Fuse Eragon Jacket and is a 120g windproof which, if you look closely, features a different and rougher fabric weave on the shoulders to give better abrasion resistance without adding weight. There's also a seriously light 140g waterproof, we think, which uses the same 15D fabric as the windproof, but as a face fabric on a 2.5 layer material. Interesting stuff...