The first major trade show of the new decade brought the world's outdoor industry to Munich in an annual pageant of product fondling and hobnobbing.
The emphasis at ISPO is stuff due out the following winter season, and we've enjoyed catching up with brands big and small, to check out the prospects. Though some leading names were conspicuous by their absence this time, and no one's sure how much the industry (not to mention the planet) really needs more than one of these shindigs per year, you wouldn't have known it from the mountains of shiny new kit, and the crowds on every stand. We saw a lot of product, of course, but it's fair to say that overall this wasn't a vintage show for innovation. Here are some of our highlights...
There's loads more where this came from of course, and we'll be publishing our usual round of trade show videos over the next few days.
Mammut Taiss Pro High GTX boots
One of many futuristic developments on their stand, Mammut's latest B2 offering took the Gold Medal in the Mountaineering Footwear category at the show.
At 630g, the Taiss Pro Highs are seriously lightweight boots, yet top-of-the-range materials and technologies suggest that they can provide excellent warmth, comfort and (hopefully) durability too. This includes the incorporation of Duratherm technology from Gore-Tex with a special membrane with an insulating lining layer for warmth, Mammut's proprietary Georganic 3D technology (think memory foam!) to create a snug fit, and the now ubiquitous Boa twist 'n' click closure, which allows you to quickly lace the upper and lower sections of the boot with different degrees of tightness, even in gloves. Look out for our review next winter.
- Approximately 500 Euros, available autumn/winter 2020
Rab Microlight Alpine - Recycled Materials
The Rab Microlight is up there with one of the best selling jackets in the industry, and can be seen everywhere from mountain top to street corner.
It is, simply put, used by everyone. Launched in 2008 it became an immediate (and initially quite surprising) success, and in 2018 it celebrated its 10th birthday with a major re-design. For 2020 the Microlight Alpine sees an arguably more important change: the transition to fully recycled materials, including all the down (which is then Nikwax hydrophobic-treated). The only exception to this is the zip, which is - according to Rab - a tricky thing to procure in recycled form (although we hope they'll continue trying).
It's worth mentioning that Rab aren't the only brand that are making such a move, but at the show this was the only jacket we saw that went to such lengths to create a more sustainable product.
CAMP Ice Axe Range
CAMP have always had a strong offering when it comes to lightweight ice axes. ISPO 2020 saw the launch of their latest range. This hangs together coherently, with three axes that each hit a distinct target in terms of weight or durability, to cover all bases.
As the name suggests, the Corsa Race is the lightest, coming in at a crazy 185g. As a result of its design, it was a Gold Winner in the ISPO Awards. Whilst the alloy construction isn't designed with high wear in mind, it is very much geared towards the ski mountaineering market, there 'just in case'. If it's durability that you're after then the Corsa NanoTech will likely be of more interest, as it features a steel tip to the pick and another at the base of the shaft. The final axe in the range, the Corsa Alpine, is more of an all-rounder. Although still very light, it features a fully steel pick and alloy shaft, that will likely make it a popular option for alpinists and winter walkers wishing to save weight without compromising on function and lifespan.
- Available autumn/winter 2020
La Sportiva TX Guide
If the TX4 were to have a wild night out with the Bushido II, or maybe the Kaptiva Trail, then the TX Guide would likely be the result.
Combining La Sportiva's design experience in both approach and run, the TX Guide presents something a little different: a technical running shoe, or - looking at it a different way - a climbing/scrambling shoe you can run in. Either way, we have a technical shoe that will arguably be the best product on the market for doing something like the Cuillin Ridge. The chunky deep-lugged sole combines grip on wet ground, edging ability and some impact absorption; the asymmetric lacing runs down to the toe for a fine tuned fit at the front; and the soft, close fitting upper is complemented by a decent protective rand. Think fast and light, but also adequately durable to withstand repeated jamming in cracks and smearing on slabs (though how they'll stand up to Skye gabbro is an open question).
Given that they're out in a month's time we suspect there's going to be more than one person putting their hand up to review a pair at UKC/UKH!
- Available soon
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer UL
Lightweight down jackets are nothing new of course, but this one is surprisingly wafty, at only 189g in a men's size medium (and since this fits our biggish Gear Ed. Dan, we'd say Med roughly equates to a Large in some other brands' sizing).
With top end 1000fp down, and a super thin 5d face fabric that lets it loft to the max, this feels seriously warm for its fractional weight. You could use it as an all-round midlayer, or a highly packable fair weather outer - and fear not, it also comes in more practical colours than plain white! Unlike some other mega-minimalist jackets it manages to save weight without seriously compromising features, with two decent zipped pockets and a snug fitted hood. It's nice to see RDS certified down being used here, with an audit tail from farm to end user, too.
- £380, available autumn/winter 2020
Polartec Power Air
Microfibre pollution has become a hot topic in recent years, and the bad news is that synthetic fleeces contribute more than their fair share.
Polartec have been wearing their environmental credentials on their sleeve for far longer than most, and have, they tell us, accounted for recycling over 1 billion plastic bottles to date. Now their new Power Air fabric takes on the micro plastic issue, with research showing that it sheds around five times less of this insidious pollutant than Polartec's existing fabrics. Every little helps. It does this by containing the fluffy stuff within cells, giving the fabric the look of bubble wrap. But how warm is it for the weight? We're currently reviewing a Power Air hoody, so watch this space...
- Available spring/summer 2020, from a limited number of brands
Dolomite Miage Peak GTX
We're a sucker for a good winter boot, and this one promises to be a cracker.
The Italian brand's first full-on B3 boot for some years, the Miage Peak looks like it's been worth the wait. It would be picky to point out that there is no 'Pic de Miage', though we're sure this boot would be right at home on the Domes or the Glacier of that name. With a high tenacity fabric outer, GTX lining, weight saving lacing with no metal components, a chunky glove friendly Velcro strap and a neat stretchy gaiter cuff, this looks like thoroughly up to date technical mountain footwear, and comes in at a very respectable 800g or so per boot. Loving the clean lines! We'll have to play rock, paper, scissors to determine who gets to review these babies.
- 440 Euros, available autumn/winter 2020
Grangers Goes Greener
It's tough to improve on a product that already performs well, and does so in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Grangers were faced with just such a challenge, having developed their range to a point where its performance was being continually improved, was bluesign accredited, and PFC free. Where do you go from there? A great many brands make a great many promises as far as the environment is concerned, but this - we think - goes above and beyond. As of autumn winter 2020, Grangers will be setting a higher bar by offering the following key updates:
- All packaging will be made using recycled ocean waste
- Concentrated blends will now be sold, so each bottle now provides 12 (as opposed to 6) washes
- Refill packs will be sold, reducing the need to purchase a whole new bottle
- The Bottles themselves can be sent back to Grangers, so they can be recycled/reused by the brand themselves
Measures like this should be driving the agenda across the industry.
Mountain Equipment Kryos Jacket
Maybe we're easily won over, but there's something about seeing a large, fluffy, puffy jacket that makes you lust after its warmth (especially when the jacket in question comes in 'mango').
OK, this jacket is likely overkill for around 99% of our audience, as it's designed for use in the Greater Ranges. That said, our inner geek appreciated all the small details which feature throughout the jacket, which - aside from ME's highly experienced design team - has come as a result of feedback from their athlete team, including the likes of Tom Livingstone and Uisdean Hawthorn.
The Kryos features a blend of box-wall constructed baffles, stitch-through baffles, and pleated baffles depending on where warmth is needed most. The pleated baffles are the most interesting and innovative, because their construction helps to prevent cold spots (watch the video we'll be releasing next week for more detail on this).
It'll come in both Men's and Women's versions, too.
- Available autumn/winter 2020
Osprey ski packs
Osprey have teamed up with Swiss airbag makers Alpride to make a new range of ski packs, the Soelden and Sopris Pro packs for men and women, featuring the E1 Electronic Airbag System.
These are among the lightest such packs available, but still built tough. Should you ever need it, the engine deploys an air bag in under 4 seconds, and the cool thing is that unlike canister systems the electric engine can be recharged cheaply and easily using either a USB or AA batteries, so you can even reset it in the field.
In order to suit either left or right handed users, the deployment system can be directed inside either shoulder strap - nifty. The packs themselves boast robust back systems, and a host of ski friendly features. At just under £1K this will be a considered purchase for the most serious skiers only, but what price safety? And if you don't need the security of an airbag then similar versions of the packs are also available without, at far more mass market prices.
Soelden & Sopris Pro - £950, Soelden 32 & Sopris 30 - £120, Soelden 22 & Sopris 20 - £100... All available autumn/winter 2020
Best of the rest?
Amongst the more usual fare on the stands, you can always rely on there being one or two weird and wacky products, and eye catching displays. These headless torsos are the stuff of nightmares...