Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you'll have noticed that technical outdoor gear is big business these days. Actually, if you have been living under a rock, you probably know it too. You probably use a lot of that gear.
The biggest deal for outdoor brands is to scoop an award from ISPO. Also known by the much catchier name, Internationale Fachmesse für Sportartikel und Sportmode, ISPO (no, we have no idea how they reached that acronym from that) is an annual rundown of the very hottest innovation and tech for outdoorsmen, pioneers, yompers, snow punks and hill Billies.
This year everyone from North Face to Patagonia, Fitbit to TomTom turned out for the awards.
The Fitbit Blaze seized victory in the performance category, while the TomTom Spark scooped a gong too, but we're going to concentrate on the real outdoorsy stuff, here.
These are our picks from the products at the main show; they’ll be in shops this year or early 2017.
Icaros Flying Fitness Machine
From flying down the Vallée Blanche to flying down...well, anywhere else, really, the Icaros uses cutting-edge VR technology to bestow on you the powers of the ancient Greek hero. And we all know how well that ended up in the legend!
By combining a core muscle-abusing flight table and a VR headset, you can now get fitter by flying wherever you choose, without leaving your penthouse suite or high-end gym. If Fitness First gets these in, there’s going to be something a queue.
Price TBC Icaros
This avalanche airbag system was actually ISPO’s Product of the Year, winning through thanks to cutting edge tech and design.
At 640g it's the lightest airbag on the market, and only takes up 1.8 litres of rucksack space, leaving you more room for lunch or spare pants, of which you’ll be needing both in the event of an actual avalanche.
Another rather wonderful innovation is the ability to disconnect the ergonomic trigger mechanism from the cartridge, so you can practice firing the system without actually filling the room with airbag - research has found that 12% of people in accidents while wearing an airbag failed to deploy it. To seal the deal, Ortovox created the excellent Ascent (weighing from 830g) and Freerider (with included back protector) rucksacks.
Price TBC | Ortovox
Rideon AR goggles
These AR ski goggles let you slalom around space invaders that only you can see down horrorshow black runs. What could possibly go wrong? They also do more mundane things like letting you GPS track Rideon-wearing friends and general navigation info. When you're actually skiing, the info presented is kept to a minimum, with the full view only appearing when you stop.
Anyway, having undergone endless scruntiny online and a massively-over subscribed Kickstarter campaign, the product is ready to ship. The price below is a pre-order offer, so hurry, hurry!
Price $629 | Rideon Vision
Picture Hubber Helmet
Up-and-coming French clothing brand Picture is dedicated to establishing its eco credentials, and to this end has built the rather impressive Hubber helmet 100% out of corn and recycled car dashboards.
The outer shell is made out of PLA (polylactic acid), a polymer derived from corn, while the former dashboards are spun into EPS (Expandable Polystyrene) for the impact-absorbing liner. You’d never know, though: the result is beautifully finished and glossy with fantastic, simple but effective vents. If this is what the future of recycling looks like we’re all for it.
Price £80 | Picture
Eider Shaper jacket
Apparently the result of three years research and development by zip maestros YKK, the off-piste Eider Shaper ski jacket looks much like another high-end, well detailed ski jacket.
…Until, that is, you notice YKK"s new Fix A Shape zip. This flexes the fabric as it zips up, wrapping it tight to your neck and mouth to create a protective shield, but without restricting your head movement or crushing your Adam's apple. This in turn saves you from a faceful of powder and makes you look like a bad-ass ninja. Out for winter season 2017, it's big news for skiwear and urban fashion designers.
Price TBC | Eider
Now you can drink ditchwater with impunity. Lifestraw knows a thing or two about water filtering, and it's now come up with a product that looks as space-age as the ceramic nano-filter tech behind it.
This slim steel cylinder, once inserted into any old vile filthy water and given a hefty suck, will provide clean and surprisingly tasty drinking water to your parched lips. Each replaceable carbon filter can remove 99.9999% of waterborne protozoa, including Giardia & Cryptosporidium, from about 100 litres of dodgy pond muck, filtering down to a none-too-gritty 0.2 microns.
Finally, each unit sold contributes to a water charity that gives children clean drinking water for a year as a result. Come the apocalypse, you’ll be glad you invested in one.
Price €65 | Lifestraw
Petzl Reactik Headlamp
Petzl knew it was onto a winner with the acclaimed Petzl Nao, so how to go one better still? Simple: create a free app to help punters navigate the increasingly complex interface.
Soon (July-ish) both the Reactik and the Nao+ sync with your phone over Bluetooth, allowing you to check remaining charge, as well as create and upload lighting profiles for different uses.
A particularly neat idea is Live Mode, which shows the remaining burn time vs brightness in real time, so if you’re about to take on an all-night ultra-marathon you can pick an optimum level.
Price TBC | Petzl
Arcteryx Procline ski mountaineering boot
The herald of winters to come, the Procline bridges the gap between technical mountain ascents and super-slick, fast-and-light escapes on downhill skis. Until these, the options were to ski back down in a climbing boot (not enough support for anyone not sponsored by RedBull), or climb in a downhill ski boot (redefining imprecise and scary).
Now that Arcteryx has delivered a boot with 360 ankle flex (albeit limited horizontally) this problem evaporates, which should directly result in the dawn of a new breed of extreme ski/climb antics across the globe, starting from Autumn 2016.
Price from $750 | Arcteryx
Osprey Cresta rucksack
The Osprey Cresta is a rare beast: a women-specific ski pack. It’s not just about fresh and appealing colourways either, having a specifically female-mapped back support and hipbelt for maximum comfort on the hill.
Further, neat little touches include a fully-insulated hydration sleeve hidden in the strap, a robust avalanche-gear pocket with colour coded ‘panic’ zip, and a built-in dry/wet bag. Available in two sizes, 20 litres and 30 litres, this pack will be hitting backcountry near you in late 2016.
Price TBC| Osprey
Nike Command Goggles with Transitions
Nike latest cunning wheeze is to take some of the best lens technology available and pair it up with the seasonal colour palette and style you’d expect from this lifestyle giant.
The result is a series of stylish goggles that adapt to the light conditions as they happen, so there's no need to switch lenses. The Command goggles also feature serious anti-fog treatment and the engineered mesh increases airflow as well as repelling moisture to further beat the debilitating mist.
Price from £200 | Nike Vision