Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Future Lightweight Gear

If you read my blog, you know that I have a bit of an obsession for gear, specifically knowing what is coming and how it might fit into my backpacking needs to increase my backpacking happiness. With this said, I wanted to mention a couple new pieces of gear coming to market which I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere. Each of these items haven’t been officially mentioned to the public, so let’s keep this between you and me :)

If you’re like me, carrying a lightweight and functional shelter is a top priority. Fortunately, the release of the “Refuge-X” by Six Moon Designs and “The One” by Gossamer Gear, both full enclosure tents, now means mosquitoes can be kept at bay and tarps can be left at home for less than 16 ounces.

As I mentioned in another blog, Six Moon Designs is also coming out with a one-man tent for taller guys. It will be made with the same materials as their Lunar Solo, but in a different design. Assume it will be lighter too. Roan Moak mentioned it will hopefully be available around late summer/fall 2009, but design and production issues may slow it down. These same issues are slowing down the re-release of the updated Cuben fiber Refuge-X too.

A better kept secret is a shelter under design by unofficially known as “The Tartan”. Supposedly, it is roughly 21 sq.ft, weighs 16 ounces, and will be about 8’ long with a width of 2-3 feet. The entire footprint will roughly be 10’x5’. It will be made of a Cuben fiber canopy and noseeum inner lining with a floor made of a new, yet unknown fabric with silicone coating. Essentially, it will be a double-wall tent for less than a pound. The release of this new shelter, which likely won’t be until Spring 2010, will no doubt have a huge impact on the lightweight industry. An unintentionally released photo is above.

Gossamer Gear, one of the few lightweight cottage industry companies I can think of who refuses to budge from delivering only highly lightweight and functional products, is also tweaking their infamous Lighttrek 4 trekking poles a bit. They are planning on adding straps to the handle and also some kind of mechanism to hold a camera. I have a pair of the Lighttrek 4’s with an early (beta) attempt at a hand strap and I look forward to the continued innovation to make these 3.4 oz (each) carbon adjustable poles even more functional. They are truly phenomenal.

As mentioned in one of my earlier posts, Mountain Laurel Designs is going to start adding a “roll-top” feature to their backpacks. To me, this makes a ton of sense as having merely a cinch-top does little to keep out falling forest duff or rain/snow. With the roll-top, and being that MLD packs are already made of the highly water-resistant and extremely durable Dyneema-X fabric, it is fair to say that a trash bag liner will be more than sufficient to keep everything out. I predict plummeting stock values for pack covers as educated lightweight backpackers will know it isn’t necessary.

Finally, and although it isn’t new, I just wanted to mention that the lightweight titanium long-handled spoon is finally back in stock at It is, as far as I know, the lightest titanium long-handled spoon on the market and is wonderful when avoiding dragging your knuckles through a bag of food is desired.

So there you go. If you know of anything else worthwhile which is on the lightweight backpacking horizon, please let me know.


The Pilgrim said...

Thanks for the post & heads up on the Tartan that's coming out, good info. I'll be looking forward to it.

The Pilgrim,

Matt Mahaney said...

I remember when Ryan first posted the pics with the shelter in the background. The whole thread went crazy. Hardly a peep about the camera he was using, but everyone wanted to know about the shelter.

Jolly Green Giant said...

Yup, you hit the nail right on the head. Ryan is the one who actually provided me with additional information about the tent. At the very least, it is encouraging and I hope there are other offerings in the cottage industry to get tent weights down.

Thanks for stopping by.

mak52580 said...

How do you feel these poles hold up to your weight? I am also about 300 lb. and am worried that they would not support me and snap if I used them to unexpectedly lose my footing and use them to support my full weight. I've heard they can snap pretty easily and given that it could be when I absolutely NEED them to work I am a little wary.

Jolly Green Giant said...

Thanks for stopping by mak52580. The poles are outstanding for what they are intended - general trekking support. To say they will hold my weight or yours isn't the intent of the product, but they do provide me with fine support which has helped me from falling down numerous times. I've put a lot more pressure on them than I intended during serious slips and they were none the worse for wear. I'd like to think that in a bad situation I'd drop the poles so I don't hurt my hands, but thus far I haven't gone to the ground because they've held me up just fine. If you "must" have something a little sturdier, then get something studier. It isn't worth your health if that's what it comes down to. Hope that helps.