GEAR SHOP: Outdoor Retailer 2018

Our Picks: Best In Show

Recently, we shared some of our favorite little items that we picked up at last month’s Outdoor Retailer (OR) show in Denver. Those were just the appetizer. Now it’s time for the main course. After reviewing all of our notes on everything from ultralight tents and updated water filters to new trail footwear and redesigned backpacks, here are five of our favorite new products that we’re looking forward to getting out on the PCT next year.

1. Big Agnes: Fly Creek HV Carbon Tent

When it comes to backpacking gear, there’s lightweight … then there’s ultralight … then there’s hyperlight. This latter category is for the true ounce-counters, and is typically offered by specialized cottage companies (e.g., Zpacks). Well this year, Big Agnes—one of our favorite tent manufacturers—is entering the hyperlight realm with two brand-new Dyneema fabric (formerly cuben fiber) tents. Utilizing the popular Fly Creek HV design, the 1P weighs in at a scant 1.25 pounds and the 2P at a minimal 1.38 pounds (packed weight). This includes the fully-enclosed tent (Dyneema and ripstop nylon), rain fly (Dyneema), and carbon-fiber poles. And there’s no skimping on the features. Both 1P and 2P models feature ample ceiling and living space (see specs), multiple interior pockets and large entry/storage vestibules. Of course, all this awesomeness comes with a fairly steep price tag, begging one to ponder the value of trimming a few extra ounces. We hope to take one of these for a run in the coming months before we give our final verdict.

Fly Creek HV 1P
Fly Creek HV 2p
1.25 lbs.
1.38 lbs.
19 sq.ft.
28 sq.ft.
39 in.
40 in.
5 sq.ft.
7 sq.ft.
fly creek carbon
Big Agnes' new Fly Creek HV Carbon is less than 2 lbs. of hyperlight Dyneema awesomeness.

2. Salomon: Odyssey Triple Crown Runners

Later this summer and fall, we’ll be tromping trails around Oregon to sample some upcoming outdoor footwear, including light hikers, trekking boots and runners. One of the pairs we’re most looking forward to getting our feet into are these fun and funky Salomon runners that were on display this year. Designed with the long-distance hiker in mind, and concealed underneath the vibrant, synthetic upper, these ultralight treads feature Salomon’s Sensifit technology for the ultimate in comfort and support. Underneath, they sport a Contagrip outsole for superior agility over various types of terrain—great for gliding over all that Oregon’s PCT can throw at you, from duffy forests to rugged lava fields. We especially like the extra-wide toebox, which allows for a natural foot spread and reduces the likeliness of chafing and blisters. And if you’re not hip on the rainbow design, not to worry—they’ll be available in other colors. Once we get our sample, we’ll see how they stack up to some of our other favorite runners and share our review.

Odyssey Triple Crown (m’s)
Odyssey Triple Crown (w’s)
11.6 oz. (US9)
9.7 oz. (US7)
odyssey triple crown
Salomon's Odyssey Triple Crown runner sports a wide toebox and Sensifit tech for superior comfort.

3. Mountain Hardwear: Kor Preshell Jackets

When it comes to new outdoor apparel, there’s always lots to see at OR: new pants, new shirts, new jackets, etc., often in new and/or updated styles, colors, etc. Some items are pretty cool, other items are just … meh. Regarding these new, ultralight jackets coming next year from Mountain Hardwear, they definitely fall into the former category: very cool! Coming in both Pullover and Hoody styles, the new Kor jackets are constructed of Pertex Quantum Air ripstop nylon to provide comfort, flexibility and breathability during a variety of active outdoor activities, such as hiking, climbing and mountain biking. They’re also treated with a DWR finish for repelling wind and moisture. The truly awesome thing about these jackets is their weight (under 5 ounces!), and their amazing compressibility—just wad it up into one of its own pockets and stash it away. And they’re going to be available in eight different colors! When a bulky soft shell is too much, we can see the Kor as an ideal shell option for everything from misty forest mornings to breezy summit runs.

Kor Pullover
Kor Hoody
4.1 oz.
4.9 oz.
kor preshell
Mountain Hardwear's new Kor Preshell ultralight jacket compresses into its own compact pocket.

4. MSR: PocketRocket Deluxe Stove

MSR’s ultralight PocketRocket was the first backpacking stove we ever purchased. Hence, this little powerhouse is a perennial favorite for its ease of use, compact size and superior performance. Last year, it got an upgrade in the PocketRocket 2—smaller, lighter and more stable. Next year, MSR is upping the ante with the PocketRocket Deluxe. Still at an ultralight 2.9 ounces, the new Deluxe model sports a larger burner for better wind resistance and a wider pot support for more versatility. By far, our favorite feature of this new model is the innovative piezo igniter design. Unlike most stoves that have a sparking wire sticking out of the burner (something we’ve broken on many stoves, effectively rendering the piezo useless), the piezo on the PocketRocket Deluxe is integrated into the burner in a tiny, protective housing in order to resist damage and ensure reliable operation. Hat tip to MSR for that ingenious development. Once we get our hands on one of these bad boys, we’ll see how it stacks up to our classic PocketRocket.

PocketRocket Deluxe
2.9 oz.
Boil Time
3.5 min. (1L)
pocketrocket deluxe
Bigger and better: the new MSR PocketRocket Deluxe features a wider burner and an integrated piezo lighter.

5. SPOT: Spot X Communicator

This one feels a little late to the game, with other satellite messaging devices already offering similar services and functions. But we’ve been a longtime fan and advocate of SPOT and are happy to see the introduction of this latest device. Just slightly larger than the GEN3 Messenger we’ve been carrying for the last few years, and sporting a beefy antenna, the SPOT X is a full-function 2-way text messenger that allows a user to communicate with friends and family via satellite when there’s no cellular signal available. The X also retains all the functions and features of SPOT’s tried-and-true messengers: tracking via Google maps, check-in messaging and an SOS feature for alerting Search & Rescue in case of emergency. There’s been a lot of debate over the use and effectiveness of satellite devices in the backcountry. While no satellite device is 100% reliable (there are just too many variables that can affect their performance, e.g., weather, temperature, terrain, tree cover, etc.), we lean on the “better safe than sorry” side.

3 x 6.5 in.
7 oz.
240 hrs.
spot x
At last! Spot presents their newest satellite messenger with 2-way texting, location tracking and SOS functions.

Praise for Hiking the PCT: Oregon:

Covers everything necessary for a successful, Oregon PCT adventure.
— M. Wilson

This book is extraordinary. Every detail. Every section. Every mile. I can’t get enough. — Amara J.

Best guidebook ever! — R. Nicholson

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