Additional Reporting: Will Renwick
Every year, gear testers, PRs, product designers and retailers all arrive at the massive ISPO gear expo in Munich, all there to get a feel for the trends of the next winter season and to see what kind of technological developments have been made in design and production.
As always, the Mpora team were in attendance, and we’re happy to report that there are some very interesting releases to come over the next couple of seasons, whether you're into hiking, full on expeditions, skiing, snowboarding, splitboarding, climbing or a whole host of other outdoor activities.
One of the things we noticed at the show this year were the bigger leaps some brands are taking to create products that are more environmentally friendly. As recently as last year, having a waterproof or water resistant product that’s PFC-free was something brands would shout loudly about, but this seems to be the norm now. Instead, we heard a lot from brands about using recycled materials, or at least recyclable materials. We saw a number of products that were filled with recycled/regathered/reused down, and there were also plenty that used recycled plastics for trousers and jackets.
Style-wise, carrying on from last year’s ISPO more and more brands have been releasing retro collections to sit alongside their technical ranges – things like patterned fleeces, wool-lined jackets and two-tone anoraks. Lifestyle-type stuff.
But without further ado, let’s get into the specific items, the waterproof jackets, walking boots, backpacks, skis, snowboarders and the rest of the latest outdoor gear and action sports clobber and more that caught the attention of our gear testers this year at the show.
The OMM Mountain Raid 1/2 Bag
We’ll start off with OMM’s very interesting new update to the Mountain Raid ½ bag. If you’re not familiar with the original product, it’s basically a half sized sleeping bag that joins with an insulated jacket to form a sleep system.
With this year’s release they’ve gone one step further by adding zips to the bag that create the potential to turn it into insulated trousers. Filled with PrimaLoft Gold Insulation, the idea is that you can wear the trousers around camp at night or put them on in emergency situations.
Big news from Fjällräven this year is that they’re updating their Greenland range. We’d already got a glimpse last summer at some of the Spring/Summer 2018 Greenland releases and during this trip to ISPO they were kind enough to show us what to expect for Autumn/Winter, one example being this great-looking parka made from G1000 Eco (a recycled polyester and organic cotton).
The Greenland Jacket was actually the first garment ever to be produced in founder Åke Nordin’s workshop in Sweden back in 1968, and the basic features from that item still remain.
ISPO proved to be a good show for Fjällräven as they managed to leave with two Scandinavian Outdoor Awards, including the Apparel Award for their Keb Touring Trousers and the Overall Award for the Fjällräven Lappland Hike 15-litre backpack. On the judging panel was none other than OutdoorsMagic’s editor Will Renwick who was particularly impressed by the pack’s back panel which is made from a hard-pressed, undyed coarse wool that would normally be disposed of by the European farms from which it is gathered.
We've been using jackets and sleeping bags that use Nikwax Hydrophobic down for a while now and have been aware of Nikwax's claim that it's possible for a person in a Nikwax-treated down sleeping bag to float for minutes on end.
We'd never actually seen this in practise however, that was until this year's ISPO anyway. They launched two willing volunteers off into the ISPO pop-up swimming pool and we can indeed say that as well as surviving, they also stayed bone dry.
Páramo Velez Evolution
The original Velez went down well when it was released a year or two ago, and this new ‘evolution’ of it, judging by the glimpse we got at ISPO and the swanky ISPO Gold Award it picked up, looks like a release that’ll be worth keeping an eye out for.
The waterproof system is the same as the last Velez’s, relying on a Nikwax Analogy liner that’s able to move water outwards, away from the body without the need for a waterproof membrane. The main and most obvious difference with this new item is that Páramo have switched up the zip system, throwing convention out the window and opting for two full length zips that run right from hem to chin resulting in what could well be a very dynamic ventilation system.
“Take an old-school anorak, and turn it into a jacket, add a bunch of new cool features, colours and fabric and boom, you have an ISPO Gold Winner," said a Mr Edwardsson from the ISPO judging panel.
Land Rover Explore Outdoor Phone
The 4x4 brand have revealed that they will be striding with confidence into the oligopoly that is the phone market this April through this collaboration with Bullitt – the same company behind previous CAT-branded smartphones.
Our team joined Land Rover for a trip up the Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain, and their feedback was very positive.
Expect ultra durability, waterproofness, a long battery life and some great features for the outdoors including pre-installed Viewranger mapping (with discounted packages for OS maps), an interface that can be customised to display essential information specific to your chosen activity on your home screen – things like altitude, weather systems, sea swell, tides and sunrise and sunset.
There’s also the option of sticking a magnetic module on the phone's back to not only enhance the battery life but the GPS precision as well.
There were a few interesting items highlighted at ISPO by British brand Rab, including the new Ladakh mountaineering shell as well as new versions of the Neutrino, Cirrus and Muztag jackets.
The most notable item at the Rab stand however was their relaunch of the incredibly popular Microlight, and the launch alongside it of a new model, the Microlight Summit (pictured above).
Released this Autumn to mark 10 years since the original jacket's launch, the Summit will feature 750 fill power ethically sourced hydrophobic down along with a longer cut to suit climbers. The first items will be available in the honey colour pictured or in charcoal grey.
As was the case with Rab, Berghaus also had a few new items and updates to show off at ISPO including a brand new innovation called ThinDown. Used in their new Aonach AX midlayer jacket, it’s an almost 50/50 blend of down and polyester that’s been formed into long sheets. ‘Why?’, we hear you ask.
Well, it's because this construction, Berghaus say, eradicates the need for baffles, and in turn, the threat of heat escaping through the stitches. It also means a down-proof outer fabric isn’t required, so a high-airflow fabric can be used instead to create a greater breathability throughout the jacket.
Berghaus also showed us their updated Tephra Stretch insulated jacket (above). Looks-wise it hasn’t changed too much, but the devil is in the detail. Look inside and you’ll find that it now has a ‘Reflect’ lining that’s able to bounce heat back to the body.
Already used in jackets like the Berghaus Ramche Micro Down, it’s a technology that can supposedly add 10% more warmth.
Hanwag Anros ES
Last year’s Anvik GTX by Hanwag was a boot we rated highly, and this model, the Anros ES, looks extremely similar in style and purpose.
The main difference, however, is the waterproof membrane which is the same tech that Fjallraven (a sister brand of Hanwag’s) use in their Keb Eco Shell jacket. Unlike standard Gore-Tex, this membrane is completely PFC-free so it’s a good deal more eco-friendly.
The upper of the Anros ES is built on a StraightFit last to make for a shape that gives plenty of wiggle room for the toes, and the sole, which can be replaced, is made from the same rubber that Michelin use on their winter tires. There’s also a warm inner lining that’s made from a 100 per recycled polyester. Out September 2018.
Here’s one of four items that Mammut was awarded for at the show this year. A winner in the Snowsport category, it’s designed specifically for ski touring, the main evidence of this being the clever system that allows the wearer to attach skis and ski poles to the pack without needing to take it off.
What we really like about this Autumn/Winter 2018 launch is the innovative windbreaker that you can pull out from the side of the bag with one hand while on the go to wear like a bib over your torso. Ski tourers might be the primary aim here, but this should be a very interesting consideration for trail runners as well.
Arc’teryx Norvan VD
Arc’teryx’s first trail running shoe, the Norvan VT performed exceptionally well when we tested it throughout 2017 so we’re really looking forward to getting our hands on this update to it.
The good news is that unlike the majority of products we’ve profiled in this post, this is scheduled for a Spring 2018 launch, so we won’t need to wait long to try it.
While the last model was fairly solid underfoot, this one should provide a good deal of cushioning thanks to its 3-piece midsole comprised of EVA, polyolefin and a 0.7mm TPU plate. The Megagrip outsole is a very useful ingredient that’ll make these suited to some very muddy and slippery trails.
Another item out this Spring, in fact the OutdoorsMagic team have already been out testing it in the field, so expect our review online soon.
As you can probably guess from looking at the picture, this is a really lightweight option that should suit long-distance hikers looking to keep the gramme count as low as possible. How light? Just 35g, and it’ll still safely guide you through the night thanks to its 200 lumen brightness. It’s also waterproof down to 1m and it charges via USB.
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
The first Micro Puff, released by Patagonia at the end of last year, was an item that we deemed good enough to include in our Outdoor100. Now, the U.S. brand have released a hooded version, and it's gone and picked up an ISPO Gold Award.
They call it the best warmth for weight jacket they've ever built with the credit going to the 60g of Plumafill housed inside down jacket-like baffles. We've tried it, and it is impressively warm for a 263g fully synthetic jacket.
There were loads of eye-catching new launches from Columbia, including some nice looking insulated jackets on the way and innovative trail running shoes with OutDry waterproofing.
It was this retro fleece that stood out in particular to us. It's part of a new line that you can expect to see out later this year.
As the name suggests, Pacsafe specialise in pack options that offer theft prevention for the globe-trotting traveller.
Across their range of backpacks duffels and suitcases you'll find clever things like clip-together zip pulls that would be impossible for anyone who's not familiar with them to unclip, but quick and easy for those in the know, and also slash proof fabrics. Their extensive range is well worth checking out.
One of the great things about ISPO is that you can seek out some remarkably quirky innovations. Like this, the 'modular attachable super tent' from Rhino Wolf. We spotted it in the promising newcomers section at the tradeshow.
It's a one-person tent that can be joined with other Rhino Wolf tents to sleep as many people as you have tents. Combinable tents might sound a little sketchy for camping in bad weather but the attachment method, which involves rolling and sealing, actually seems quite reliable.
And there's more. Each 'pod' comes with an integrated sleeping mat and duvet, so you essentially get an all-in-one camping package. It isn't even cumbersome, in fact it'll pack down to about the size of most two person tents.
The one we saw was made for summer camping, but we're told there's a winter version as well. You can expect that one to have a much bigger packed size.
It's just a Kickstarter at the moment so you can't get your hands on one yet, and if the campaign doesn't go well there's a chance it won't even see the light of day. Fingers crossed it does though.
Oakley used ISPO to launch their latest goggles for 2018/19, and it’s fair to say they’re pretty eye-catching. The Oakley Prizm React goggles feature really rad automated three-stage light correction lens that you can alter at the push of a button.
Of course, snowboard and ski goggles with lenses that react to the light are nothing new, but these snazzy new goggles from Oakley are seriously impressive, giving you control over your visibility like never before.
With a push of a discrete button on either side of the lens you can make your goggles lighter or darker, adjusting them to suit the conditions you’re riding in.
The internal rechargeable battery lasts for something like 220 full cycles, meaning that on a full charge, you can probably get the best part of a season out of one spell on the USB plug.
We’ve got to say, although you’ll no doubt be showing your new-found tint-changing superpower off to your friends, this is more than just a novelty trick. These new Oakley Prizm React goggles could be a game changer, assuming you can stump up the £269 asking price, of course.
Faction, the good folk who keep a certain Candide Thorvex in skis, were at ISPO showing off a handful of rather beautiful looking skis for the 2018/19 season.
Although the Candide Thorvex signature range (of which the current model model featured in our Outdoor 100, no less) got a lot of attention for very obvious reasons, we really liked the Prodigy range from Faction.
The skis are available in one of four models, handily, named the 1.0 to the 4.0, each ranging from slimmer piste-chomping skis to super wide powder skis - a simple to understand system used across entire Faction series.
The Prodigy series is designed with an eye on riding the entire mountain, and feature rather dope looking graphics done by renowned Munich urban artist SatOne.
Dragon had some new shapes on display when it comes to Goggles for the 2018/19 season. We particularly liked the new Dragon PXV goggle. If you like your googles big (which you definitely should if you want us to stay friends) then these are a pair of beauties.
But they’re more than a pair of old Dragon’s that have been on the pies over the summer. Far from it. The increased size adds a tonne of peripheral vision to the goggles. Yes, it’s a line we’ve heard a million times before as well, but having tried them on at ISPO, we can confirm that the increase in dramatic, thanks to the new Panotech lens.
As well as this, the Dragon PXV’s also feature Lumalens technology which delivers high definition optics on the hill ensuring you see all of those lumps and bumps when you're skiing or snowboarding which, when visible make for fun little features, and when you don’t, they send you fling wildly into the air before dumping you to the deck, leaving you looking like an alpine taco.
The good people at Craghoppers had a number of items they were launching in 2018/19, including a pair of outdoor-proof jeans that look really good and are ideal for that whole peaks-to-pints asthetic, and some yoga-style leggings that feature their superb Nosilife technology, which helps prevent insect bites.
What really caught our eye, though was a new retro range that they’re releasing in a small batch, and to selected retailers. The entire range features the original Craghoppers logo, and it’s all dripping in retro, yet contemporary street-wear style.
We particularly liked the Parker style coat, called the Easdale IA Jacket that's both warm and waterproof, and the two-tone waterproof windbreaker that they're calling the Stein Smock Jacket. You may well see Mpora in the queue to get these when they finally drop, and you can be assured they’ll go like hotcakes.
Colours vary, and include some pretty loud ones, but we love these Dark Moss and Dark Grape colourways, pictured.
Not the biggest name in snowboarding, but one of the most popular with those that know them, Korua Snowboards were displaying some unique and rather beautiful looking snowboards, all with the trademark white topsheet and red base.
Korua make boards designed primarily for having fun in the deep stuff, surfing your way around the mountain, and carving. They’re basically the opposite of a True Twin, super flexible park board that your 15 year old self once dreamed of doing tricks on.
We particularly liked the Concept series of Korua snowboards, which don’t have a metal edge at all. Unlike a regular snowboard which needs that metal edge to dig into the piste and help you turn, these beauties from Korua are designed to taking into nipple-deep snow and throwing around, negating the need for edges at all. Maybe not a board to take to the indoor snowdome though.
Jeremy Jones and his crew were in ISPO to show off the newest Jones Snowboard range and, as you can imagine, there were some delights on display. The board that really caught our attention was the 2018/19 Mind Expander, and Mind Expander Split (which it doesn’t take the residents of 221b Baker Street to work out is the splitboard version of the same model).
It’s an all mountain board with a big old wide nose making it perfect for dipping in and out of deep powder all day long, and riding playful lines all over the mountain, dabbling in a bit of freestyle when the mood takes (although don’t expect to see many of these ripping through the rails at the Penken Park any time soon) .
The Jones Mind Expander has been designed by Big Mountain Jeremy Jones himself, along with renowned surfboard shaper Chris Christenson. Obviously, the split variety of the Jones Mind Expander is the same sort of deal, but with that central cut that splits the board into skis for skinning up the mountain to find that precious, untouched powder that this board was designed for.
Smith, makers of goggles, sunglasses, and helmets had a bit of a curveball at ISPO unveiling, well, a pair on sunglasses. No, bear with us. These are no ordinary pair of sunglasses.
This very special pair on sunglasses by Smith, called the Lowdown Focus measure your brain activity and, along with the accompanying smartphone app, can help you focus, become more centred, live in the moment, and apparently even help you sleep.
Prior to trying them, we were a touch sceptical, but found our five minute session training our brain to focus was genuinely very relaxing and gave us a bit of a natural spring in out step afterwards.
Along with training your cognitive functions, the glasses are also as good as you’d expect from Smith, featuring the latest Chromapop technology, and looking super good.