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Protection from the cold in your pocket: The OutDoor presents innovative gear

Equipment is one of the core sectors of the outdoor industry and will continue to be an important driver of the industry’s image in 2014

Friedrichshafen - To heed the call of the mountains, you need to have just the right equipment. Demand for hiking, trekking and camping accessories is high among outdoor athletes and is one of the pillars of the outdoor market, along with shoes and apparel. Equipment like tents, sleeping bags and backpacks has long been an important contributor to the industry’s image. The latest innovations and trends will be on display at the OutDoor trade show, taking place from 11 to 14 July 2013 in Friedrichshafen.

A lot of companies can make clothing, but only outdoor specialists can make real outdoor equipment. For the outdoor industry, the equipment and accessories business is considered something of a life insurance policy. These products require all the skill the manufacturers can muster.

In the opinion of Neil McAdie, head of sales at England’s Equip Group, brands which focus on equipment and have strong products with clear and outstanding characteristics have an advantage. Carolyn Budding, head of marketing at competitor Terra Nova, explains: "Consumers look for something to compare a product against. They don’t necessarily need the most inexpensive product, but they want to know if their product keeps the promises it makes. In the functional hardware market, that can be determined transparently and easily - in the case of clothing, the assessment is more subjective.

Weight continues to be an important factor in tents. After all, you have to be able to carry the tent in a backpack during the day. The Telemark 1 from Nordisk, currently the lightest one-person tent, weighs in at just 770 grams (1 lb 11 oz). Ultrafine 10 denier nylon, a carbon frame, titanium pegs and Kevlar rigging ensure wind stability. The Exolight III from Jack Wolfskin is somewhat heavier at two kilograms (4.4 lbs), but is made for two people. Salewa’s Essence Ultralight II is in between these two in terms of weight. The designers from Bolzano have reworked the idea of a single-wall tent. The result is a tent suited to every climate zone, from the jungle to the Alps, that doesn’t end up feeling like a damp, dark cave.

Bergans also makes points with light weight: "Weight is naturally a topic, especially in regard to backpacks, as we are showing with our new backpack line”, says Christoph Centmayer, who is responsible for marketing and communication. "But our customers are also interested in comfort and that sometimes conflicts with low weight.” Protection against water is also becoming more important for the next summer season. The Canadians at Arcteryx as well as America’s Mountain Hardwear are bringing new backpack technologies to Europe. The secret in both cases: the material is waterproofed from the inside, so that details can be added to the pack’s exterior. Whereas Arcteryx uses AC 2 sweat technology in its Alpha FL Pack, Mountain Hardware is presenting the first waterproof backpack with an Outdry membrane.

Deuter is celebrating this summer: Thirty years ago, the company from Gersthofen, Germany invented its air comfort system. "It keeps the pack from clinging to your sweaty back after a long hike”, says Martin Riebel in explaining what was a quantum leap in comfort at the time. Fjällräven and Gregory, on the other hand, are taking on new target groups. Gregory is repositioning their Everyday collection, whereas Fjällräven is betting on the "urbanauts” who it hopes will fall in love with its Briefpack No. 1.

Germany’s sleeping bag manufacturers Yeti are fighting for every last gram with their Fever Zero, a super lightweight sleeping bag. With a total weight of only 280 grams (9.9 ounces), this bit of protection from the cold fits in your pocket. Necessity is the mother of invention for the manufacturers of down sleeping bags. "In the year 2014 we expect that down sleeping bags will become significantly more expensive due to shortages of high quality down resulting from the bird flu in China”, explains Herbert Horelt, CEO of Haglöfs Deutschland GmbH. The company is already reacting to this development by presenting a completely new range at the OutDoor that combines down with artificial fibres. Competitor Tom Strobl, CEO of Invia, also thought ahead. "Our new matrix series is pretty exciting - it includes hybrid sleeping bags with Primaloft and hydrophobic down.”

The OutDoor 2013 is open from Thursday, 11 July until Sunday, 14 July, to trade visitors only (Thursday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). More information is available at www.outdoor-show.com.

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