GearScout spent the summer alternating between Red Bull and airplane scotch as we traveled the U.S. to build our compendium of new and coming-soon gear.
All of it will end up on http://militarytimes.com/blogs/gearscout/">the GearScout blog over time, but we decided to give you a peek at our favorite new recreational and tactical gear after canvassing industry shows such as Outdoor Retailer and the ADS Warrior Expo.
See below for a photo gallery of the items highlighted in this story.
Marmot Plasma 30 sleeping bag
As the down fill power number in a sleeping bag rises, you get a better weight-to-warmth ratio, and 900-fill down is about the best down insulation you can find. Marmot used the primo puff along with some new technology to produce its lightweight Plasma sleeping bags. Coming in 15- and 30-degree models, the bags have pockets of insulation running from top to bottom instead of side to side. To keep the insulation where it needs to be, the company uses fabric curtains — Marmot calls them Flow Gates — to create baffles that allow you to shift insulation, making the bag warmer or cooler where you like. It takes some beating to get the down to move between Flow Gates, so it shouldn't shift on its own during normal use. The new baffle setup and more efficient down reduce weight and makes the Plasma one of the lightest bags on the market.
• Available from REI in December; mid-January for other retailers.
• Weight: 22.7 oz.
• Price: $419.
Producing power while you walk has long been promised by tech prophets. It's finally showing up in the form of the nPower PEG. At less than a pound, the PEG (Personal Energy Generator) is a titanium-clad, kinetic-energy-harvesting battery that stores the power of your strides and saves it to be transferred to your electronic devices. It's basically a piston that glides up and down within a tube as you walk. An onboard lithium-ion rechargeable battery caches the power and charges devices attached to the unit's mini USB port. NPower includes a set of iGo power tips to get you started. There's a blacked-out and beefed-up version in the works for battlefield use that's otherwise identical to the commercial version. The PEG puts out 2.5 watts in temps from minus-22 degrees to 140 degrees. The PEG generates enough power while the user is walking to run an iPod nano indefinitely.
• http://www.npowerpeg.com/">Available now online.
• Weight: 11.9 oz.
• Price: $150.
The GriGri has been almost unchanged since I was in high school. It's a nearly foolproof belay device that locks off a rope when a climber falls. The cragger's staple belay device finally gets an update this year, making it 25 percent smaller and 20 percent lighter. Petzl also tweaked the shape of the cam to make rope control a little smoother and accommodate a slightly wider range of single rope sizes. Everything else you trust about the GriGri is the same: stainless rope contact surfaces, stamped diagrams for use on the device and three colors so you don't grab your partner's during exfil.
• Weight: 6.5 oz.
• Price: $95.
Ops-Core Base Jump
The new Ops-Core Base Jump helmet represents the closest thing to a universal sports helmet on the market today. It's the first helmet that combines nonproprietary snap- and slide-on accessory mounting with a multisport, tactical, nonballistic shell. The Base Jump's onboard accessory-mounting options are a huge boon to anyone who needs to quickly and easily mount lights, cameras or night-vision optics.
• Price: $142-$239.
Arc'teryx b360 harness
The b360 starts where the full-featured x350a leaves off. Arc'teryx tweaked the dimensions of the all-arounder to set it up for success on the big wall. If you're hanging for a while, you'll appreciate the even wider swami belt on the b360. Don't bother to look for any padding, though. Arc'teryx is using its Warp Strength technology to make a harness that's as comfy as it is lithe. There's no heavy or bulky padding to add weight to your climb or take up room in your pack. Adjustable leg loops are conical for comfort, and six gear loops keep your gear organized.
• Weight: 360 grams.
• Price: $175.
Granite Gear Core pack
The Core came about when Granite Gear was asked to design a pack for medics that could carry a Skedco roll-up litter. Partly based on the tactical Special Mission Patrol pack, the Core is a great way to carry a bear canister or any other awkwardly shaped camping gear that requires easy access. The pack holds about 2,400 cubic inches in addition to whatever is stuffed in the Core's core for a total capacity of about 4,000 cubic inches.
• Available in spring.
• Price: $260.
Black Diamond GridLock Screwgate belay carabiner
The occupational and recreational climbing gear catalogs of past seasons are littered with novel shiny bits that seemed like a can't-miss idea at the time. We're not promising the funky-looking Gridlock 'biner won't end up on the island of misfit climbing gear someday, but it looks like a darn easy and safe way to clip in to a belay without worrying about your 'biner flipping or crossloading.
• Look for it this spring.
• Weight: 27 oz.
• Price: $19.95.
Nemo Litter Bivy SE
The Litter Bivy SE is a unique bivy that sets up around a Stokes-type extraction litter. Rotor wash, snow, rain and dust all complicate patient care during helicopter rescue operations. The Litter Bivy SE provides environmental patient protection during any mode of litter transport but was designed for use in aeriel extraction and transport. The bivy is made up of two pieces of 70-denier fabric, top and bottom, that stores rolled up and deploys quickly using Velcro tabs, a zipper and three flexible poles. All of the clear windows zip open to allow patient access.
• Price: $495.95.
Arc'teryx Talos combat uniform
Arc'teryx has been making tactical outerwear to keep you going in the cold and wet, but now the company is stepping up with a combat uniform for hot, dry and even fiery conditions. The Talos is a ripstop nylon and cotton blend, no-melt, no-drip combat uniform that takes advantage of every advancement in materials and construction to provide a performance uncompromised by price. If you can afford a set of BDUs that will have a street price of about $400, you'll be treated to a lightweight uniform with no solid colors showing through your chest rig, roll-up sleeves, pit zips and identify-friend-or-foe tabs up top. On the pants you'll get suspender loops, internal gaiters, knee pad pockets, reinforced knees, calf pockets for tourniquets or mags, and a tough-gusseted crotch.
• Available in five sizes, only in MultiCam, in early 2011.
• Price: $180 top, $220 pants.
Misty Mountain ISH-S harness
No climbing harnesses on the market recognize the need for flexibility in operations as well as the new Integrated Stealth Harness System. The ISH-S is a modular approach to the combat harness that starts with a rigger's belt ($50) and adds a retention tether ($160), quick-attach leg loops ($88) and a chest harness as needed. The belt is designed to be worn as a regular BDU belt but adds a lot of capability, including front and rear tie-in points, load-bearing gear loops, choice of a pass-through or snap-in buckle, and sewn-in stiffeners to accommodate a sidearm. Once you're in the rigger's belt, stepping up to leg loops and a chest harness is as easy as snapping them in place. The leg loops are the straightforward adjustable variety. The chest harness has some tactical tricks, such as a little MOLLE webbing, single-closure snap buckle and dual adjustments up front to keep the tie-in centered. The whole system is Berry Amendment compliant — conforms to requirements to be made in the U.S. — and can be purchased in pieces or as a kit.
Surefire G2X and 6PX
Surefire released a quartet of new lights at Outdoor Retailer that lowers the entry price of the brand's two-cell hand-helds. The new additions are the polymer-body G2X and the aluminum-body 6PX. Both come in two versions: a "tactical," momentary, single-stage tailswitch, and a "pro" dual-stage, clicky tailswitch (similar in operation to the E1B Backup). The tactical versions put out 200 lumens, while the pro versions do 80 and 200 lumens. To lower the price, the new lights have redesigned heads that are fixed in place. They aren't removable, as they are in the G2 and 6P, but the lights do retain the lock-out tailcap.
• Price: $55/$65 for the polymer-body G2X Tactical/Pro; $69/$79 for the aluminum-body 6PX Tactical/Pro.
Camelbak Big Jump
The new CamelBak Big Jump is a 4,200-cubic-inch jump-certified ruck that features a fully integrated, wraparound jump harness. Some neat features are the snap-together zipper pulls, the internal radio harness, shoulder straps that stow in the back panel, topside external load straps, and a reinforced handle for lowering line use. It's made from 1,000-denier Cordura fabric and will come in coyote tan and Universal Camouflage Pattern. CamelBak is putting the final tweaks in place and is working out the pricing.
Tactical Tailor PRC-152 Pouch
Your radio sits in its holster with its display facing outboard where it's impossible to see without pulling it out. How many times have you pulled it up and out of its pouch to check a frequency or battery level? If you you've done it once, then Tactical Tailor's hinged radio pouch is for you. Pop the lanyard, and the radio tilts away from your body and reveals the display at an easy-to-read angle. Simple. Neat.
• Available in tan, foliage or MultiCam.
• Price: $30
Benchmade Mini Infidel
The Infidel was Benchmade's first out-the-front automatic knife, and it proved quite popular. It wasn't a big knife, but some guys don't want to give up any more room in their pocket than they have to. The Mini Infidel cuts the size down without giving up an ounce of the don't-eff-with-me allure. The double-sided D2 steel blade is tough enough to hold an edge, but easy enough to sharpen. The OTF operation is more than just cool — it's a practical and safe way to get a blade into action when you've only got one hand to work with.
• Price: $400.