Top camping brands release next season’s products highlighting trends including glamping, home-gating, moto-touring and die-hard minimalist single treks.
By Eugene Buchanan and Aaron H. Bible
Camping is cranking. That’s the take-home from the tent, sleeping bag, backpack and pad category manufacturers, as consumers continue to part with their hard earned cash to venture into the great outdoors. Manufacturers are responding to new consumer demands with a slew of modern designs for everything from car camping at national parks, home-gating, adventure glamping, to minimalist excursions by seasoned trekking vets.
Much of the fanfare this season centers on a younger demographic entering the marketplace and new technologies like sleeping pad air valves that inflate in three breaths, packs that mimic natural spinal movements, to lights in tents. “There’s a big shift toward a younger crowd,” said Therm-a-rest spokesman Jim Meyers. “The style of outdoor experience being embraced by Gen Z and Millennials is one of decadent base camps for weekend adventure. We’ve dubbed it ‘Adventure Glamping,’ and the lightest and most compact isn’t a priority for this experience. They’re looking for the comfort of home away from home.”
Consumers’ increasing demands, he added, are driving an industry-wide shift toward a softer outdoor experience and they’re open to new ideas like blankets and quilts on mattresses. “Until now, these type of improvements have been slow to be adopted by traditional sleeping bag customers, despite the huge boost in comfort,” he said.
Brands like Tailgaterz, Nemo and Eureka! have taken to the comfort camping space offering 2016 products that will hopefully lock new campers into the habit of getting outdoors.
As well as comfort accoutrements, innovations in technical performance are also high on this year’s hit list. Not every consumer will be fresh to the space, and brands are well aware of more tried and trained users, looking for evolutions of old products and entirely new fabrics, insulations and mini-features. These include everything from new airier-than-ever suspension systems for backpacks to lighter-than-ever tents.
“Consumers are still wanting lighter and lighter tents,” said MSR Shelters Product Manager Terry Breaux. “We’re working hard to reduce the weight of every component used in our tents. Fabrics and poles are the obvious place to save weight but we also focus on reducing the weight of every other component. People are looking for more space for less weight.” He added that more and more consumers are also using their tents to support activities besides backpacking, such as bike-packing, pack rafting, motorcycle touring and backcountry skiing. “We’ve also seen increased interest in extremely lightweight shelters for long-distance thru-hiking,” Breaux said. “Many diehard double-wall tent customers are considering single-wall trekking pole tents or tarps as a way to save weight.”
Another noticeable growth area impacting 2016 additions to the camping category is equipment. “Interestingly enough, we’re seeing growth up and down the price ladder, and in every activity level of intensity – from casual camping to expedition level mountaineering,” said Mountain Hardwear Global Director of Product Design and Merchandising Robert Fry. “People are getting after it outside like never before. Those same folks are buying our products.”
For the most part, leading camping category brands welcome the challenges brought by a new and varied audience. However, Fry added, “It’s not easy to bring true innovation. Much of what is plied as innovation in the industry is hype and glaze… It’s the nature of a fast moving, competitive market. For us, though, innovation is all about what works best and what delights and inspires the people who use our stuff. Period.”
In the end, the products speak for themselves. What doesn’t work will deter new customers from returning and what does will keep the category on its upward trend.
Bergans Of Norway
Often credited with being the first to bring a modern anatomical frame pack to outdoor hardgoods in 1908, Bergans of Norway will build on its Spine system with a torso-length adjustable version introduced in the Trolhetta pack last season. The company’s original anatomical pack was cut and shaped by Ole F. Bergan using a juniper branch, which bent to match the natural curve of his spine. Bergan then attached the branch to his weighty, ill-fitting rucksack and the rest is history.
At Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, Bergans will premiere its lightweight alpine backpack, the Helium, reinvented with a new adjustable-torso carrying system, QuickAdjust Pro. This adjustment structure is a step above Bergan’s 2012 award winning Spine, used in the Glittertind pack, which gained acclaim at the 2012 Friedrichshafen, Germany OutDoor, and was named a Backpacker Magazine Editors’ Choice and one of Men’s Journal Gear of the Year in 2013.
The QuickAdjust Pro consists of a flat D-ring, nylon webbing and Velcro design. Sliding the D-ring into a webbing loop and securing the position with Velcro on the shoulder straps and back of the pack can adjust the torso length.
While reducing the weight of the former Helium pack by close to 15 percent, the new version maintains carrying capacity. Two new Helium packs are available in men’s and women’s versions, $189 and $169. With features like adjustable torso length, stabilizing straps, adjustable sternum straps, a 3D molded hip belt, spring steel frame, vertical full front zip and diagonal ski, ice axe and sled attachment points, Bergan’s designed Helium to be a cross-season adventure pack.
Although Helium offers the newest features, Bergan’s also updated the Skarstind line of tensioned mesh-back panel packs, adding a 48 and 40L model and updating the 32L, 28L and 22L sizes. A fresh line of hip packs was also added to Starstind for the upcoming season.
Don’t be surprised if you see a glow emanating from the staff at the Big Agnes Outdoor Retailer Summer Booth at this year’s show. It’s coming from the robust sales of its new mtnGLO tent line, now available to its entire dealer network after an exclusive six-month run with Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI). “They’re selling great, way better than any of us ever expected,” said Big Agnes President Bill Gamber. “It’s crazy how after someone uses a mtnGLO tent they can’t imagine a tent without lights.”
Several new offerings augment the existing mtnGLO line-up for next year, including the Krumholtz UL2 mtnGLO, a 4lb., 10oz. tent featuring two doors and vestibules and a Goal Zero Solar Kit solar panel integration built into the rain fly including a 7W solar panel, fan, lantern and Flip 20 battery. Also new is the 2lbs., 2oz., single door/vestibule Fly Creek UL2, updated with a new pole and hub structure for more volume, a spacious feel and integrated mtnGLO lights.
Big Agnes is also unveiling 24 new SKUs in its bag and pad category, including new women’s bags, kids bags, value bags and double bags. Leading the new offerings is the Park Series, available in down and synthetic, built for comfort with a zipper on each side. Made from 600-fill DownTek with a nylon Ripstop shell and DWR finish Taffeta lining, the Summit Park 15°F has a wider and longer rectangular shape for space, double zippers for a blanket-like feel, corner hand pockets for easy “wrapping” and an integrated pad sleeve to fit a 25-inch wide pad.
In pads, Big Agnes debuts the 23oz. Double Stuffed Double Z Air Pad, the warmest pad in its Double Z lineup, featuring two layers of PrimaLoft Silver for an R-Value of 5.8 and rating down to 0° F.
Built with backcountry adventure in mind, Brooks Range is introducing two Spring 2016 sleeping bags – the Drift 20 and Cloak 20 – to fulfill your DownTek dreams.
The semi-rec Drift 20 (wider in the upper body and foot area) features dual zipper construction with the ability to fully unzip and lay flat. With 850+ fill DownTek, halo collar and flow construction, there is no doubt the design was drafted by mountaineers who know the landscape of camping.
The Cloak 20 is a combination of 850+ Goose Down with Downtek, made wide cut (48” at widest point) with foot, neck and vertical baffle for better wrap. The small but noteworthy jewel in the Cloak 20 is its pad and foot pocket. By spring, winter snow may be thawing at the base but up the summit it’s still well below barefoot temps. Product designers at Brooks Range anticipate the chill, and it shows in the careful design of upcoming product features. Small but trip-saving details like the Cloak foot pocket not only maximize enjoyment but safety and warmth, too.
For Eureka, it’s all about customizing and comfort. “There shouldn’t be a performance loss when looking for a customizable and comfortable camp experience,” said Brand Product Manager Paul Leonard. “We’ve designed our new products to reflect this mentality as we address real consumer wants and needs.” Its new Camp Comfort Sleep System utilizes a patent-pending fabric technology to create a no-slip interface between each key component: sleeping bag, pad and tent floor. All are made with Stealth Grip fabric that, when paired, creates a slippage-mitigating system.
In tents, the company unveils the Jade Canyon three-season, cabin-style tent series: 8’x8’; 18lbs., 1oz., $299; and 10’x10’, 22lbs., 7oz., $359. Available in four and six-person models, a hybrid pole construction (aluminum and steel) reduces frame weight while enhancing strength. Its new E!luminate System – a removable reflective ceiling panel that reflects light from hanging LED lanterns – increases floor-level brightness by up to three times. The series includes the new Eureka! Media Center, a three-pocket gear hammock with a touch-screen friendly, clear center sleeve suspended off the floor for watching videos on tablets and other electronic devices.
Its new Down Range 2 Tent, 8’x5’, 7lbs., 14oz., $299, features a front vestibule with two straight zips for more configurations including awning and high/low venting. Fly openings also feature “Snivel Locks” that secure the fly in place via side-release buckles to eliminate errant wind opening.
Eureka’s new Spero Sleeping Bag, $110-$140, available in 20- and 30-degree models, both regular and long, uses proprietary Synthesis insulation, the company’s lightest, most compressible to date, where fibers are arranged in an overhanging shingle pattern stitched to the bag’s shell and lining, optimizing thermal performance. With a more generous cut and added wiggle room, the new Bero comfort mummy bag, $120-$150, uses the same Synthesis insulation and is targeted for backpackers. It is also available in 20- and 30-degree bags, regular and long.
In accessories, the Eureka! will introduce the 250lb. capacity Compact Cot, $60, which includes a mesh and foam pillow insert. The foldable, counter top height Cook Table, $100, is another addition, with a large, zippered storage cabinet for cookware. The camp-friendly Recliner Chair, $80, and 51-Lumen, 4oz. Glide 115 Lantern, $30, which can hang in the tent or collapse into a flashlight with a run time of 6.3 hours, completes the set-up.
The trend in adjustable torso packs for the 2016 camping season shows up in Granite Gear’s new Lutsen Series. Made different by their new Re-Fit System, these multi-day backpacks are highly technical in design and technology while being easy to hand-tailor to your exact size. The entire Lutsen line is one-size-fits-all thanks wholly to Re-Fit technology. Friends can swap packs during a trek or trade mid-season and still get a customized fit. Re-Fit is used in the Air Current injection-molded polycarbonate frame sheet, fully adjustable torso and fully adjustable hip belt that can be tuned by breaking the hook and loop connection. Also in the Re-Fit genre is the Re-Fit AC pack frame, made with molded air channels that work with dual-density molded foam backs and stretch mesh.
The Lutsen 35, Lusten 45 and Lutsen 55 are made in three colors (35L – $180, 45L – $200, 55L – $220), and all include shared Re-Fit construction, hydration port, internal hydration sleeve, tool loops, side stretch woven pockets, side and front compression straps and water-resistant Barrier Zipper Tricot hip belt. If you aren’t already part of the Granite cult, it might be the time to join as these easy-to-tailor packs come to market and promise to be long-lasting investments.
Following the success of last year’s update to the Baltoro and Deva overnight packs, Gregory is focusing on daypacks, trail packs and travel bags for Spring 2016. “We have a lot of positive energy in the market right now and have doubled-down on our product development to ensure we keep that momentum going,” said Gregory Director of Product Development John Sears. “We’re excited to introduce our new Freespan ventilated suspension technology to our daypacks, along with major updates across our line.”
Using an aluminum leaf spring for lumbar support and ventilation, while maximizing interior volume, the Freespan suspension system, designed to bring comfort and fit to a wide variety of body types, can be found in its new men’s Salvo and women’s Sula day packs, $99-$129, both of which are available in a variety of sizes, including 18L, 24L and 28L, for everything from travel to summit bids.
Gregory has also updated its CrossFlo DTS technology in its Zulu and Jade packs. The Zulu ranges in size from 30L to 65L, with the two largest top-loading models catering to the backpacking category with sleeping bag compartments and full-body U-zips for better access. The full-size models feature a stretch front pocket, enclosed hip pockets, compression straps and integrated rain cover. The women’s Jade will come in sizes between 28L and 63L, $139 and $219.
Miwok and Maya trail packs retain their core features, including a front-loaded helmet pocket, trekking pole attachment points and wide hip belt, while being upgraded with new technology like Biosync ATS suspension. ATS combines flexible tendons with a pliable frame to move with the body’s natural locomotion. Sizes range from 6L to 34L for men and 5L to 32L for women, $69 to $139.
Finally, Gregory’s youth backpacking line, Wander, has expanded to include a 38L model, featuring Versafit suspension, providing fully adjustable hip belts and torsos for precise fit, which is an alluring feature for youth backpackers who are constantly outgrowing gear.
Hilleberg The Tentmaker
If you’re camping with a partner or prefer some extra wiggle room during a solo trek, Niak 1.5, $795, the “lightweight palace,” as Hilleberg dubs it, is your best option. Weighing just 3lb., 10oz., the Niak includes a Kerlon 600 outer tent fabric with 22lb. minimum tear strength, making the outside layer highly tear-proof for a lightweight model. Hilleberg sees its unique Kerlon fabric as the extra “insurance” every camper needs. “The Niak holds up superbly,” said Bo Hilleberg, company founder. “Even in rough conditions. Our backcountry testers have used the Niak in Scandinavia and the U.S., as well as in the Alps and in Scotland, among other places.” The Niak also boasts a single vestibule with catenary cut outer tent walls for steady airflow. The motivation behind its design was to expand the concept of lightweight, multi-season tent options, introduced by Hilleberg last year with their Enan model. Hilleberg explained, “We used the same Kerlon 600 outer tent fabric – our lightest – and DAC NSL 9mm poles, as we did in the Enan, so the Niak is as light as we are willing to make it while still having the strength and reliability of a Hilleberg tent.”
If the name of your camping game is minimalism, the Tarp 5, $165, will be a go-to, weighing only 11.3oz. while being built with Kerlon 1000 fabric – boasting an 8kg. tear strength. For the hardcore mountaineer who can sleep in any condition, Tarp 5 is Hilleberg’s way of saying, stay gnarly, sleep sound. When packed down into its integrated stuff sack, the Tarp 5 compresses to the size of a 1-liter cooking pot. “The shape of the Tarp 5 allows the user to set the level of protection,” Hilleberg said. “Pitch it fairly high off the ground, and you get the full, airy, tarp experience. Pitch it with its edges nearly on the ground, and the weather protection is impressive.”
Although some outdoor veterans doubted Klymit’s entry into the backpack space, expectations are high as Klymit gears up to release the Dash 10.
The Dash 10, $90, has a run-specific harness and easy pump access for en-route adjustments. With a load rating of 15.5lbs., and weighing only 15.9oz., pack as much as you can shoulder without the worry of additional fabric carry-over. Adjustable straps make the pack customizable to all body types, while the design is hydration bladder and water bottle compatible.
This new pack also features Klymit’s signature Air Frame technology for comfortable movability on the trail and a different design from the anatomical, more rigid packs on the market. With more rigid packs, load is transferred throughout the body and into the hips, but only when moving in certain ranges, said Klymit. Add contortion and unpredictability to the climb, and the load doesn’t always transfer where it should. Klymit’s Air Frame uses superlight material and pressurized air, maximizing correct load distribution while tackling the turns and dips of an excursion, while keeping up with any distance.
Klymit enforced its other new pack, the Splash 25, $120, with signature Air Frame technology. Splash 25 was created for adventures on lake, river, ocean or stream. Integrated Air Frame makes the pack floatable while weighting 1lb., 5oz., with a load rating of 30lbs. The top of the pack has full roll closure.
From U.K.’s Montane, lightweight and expedition specialist comes 13 new packs ranging from ultra-running designs to haul bags. The Montane pack line is “equipment that you wear.” Matt Kemp, creator of Montane’s award-winning running packs, predicts some redefining lightweight, fully featured packs. Exploring new fabrics like ultra-light Cuben and a custom Raptor Ul fabric, paired with feedback from testers like big wall climber Andy Kirkpatrick, the new Montane packs are designed for mountain ascents and ultra distances where weight is critical but comfort is also paramount. Key themes of next year’s introductions include: a customizable new back system with shapeable, removable padding; durable new fabrics; expandable roll top designs and removable summit packs and completely redesigned systems for women.
Montane is unveiling two new trekking/backpacking packs at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. Summit Tour 55+15, $289, 70oz., is engineered for self-supported mountain trekking and world travel. The fully featured mountain trekking pack retains the lightweight ethos of Montane’s Grand Tour pack line, created for long, multiday mountain walks, whether between huts or fully unsupported. A removable, lightweight 15-liter daypack provides carry capacity for summit attempts or day hikes. Also featuring side entry and large side bellow pockets, this pack allows for efficient kit organization and easy access to essential items making it ideal for world travel.
The Women’s Grand Tour 50, $198, is an ultra-distance, touring, lightweight backpack designed for trail backpacking from the Pacific Crest Trail to classic routes in the Himalayan mountain ranges. The women’s specific Grand Tour 50 is fully featured for long distance trekking, with a split shoulder strap construction for anatomical fit around the bust. Narrow body curved hip fins and a Comfort Back Pad molded to the female form make the pack a dream for women explorers accustomed to adjusting posture to accommodate gender-neutral designs. These features combined with the new VertErgo Tour back system allow the pack to be individually tailored even further. VertErgo also supports load carrying for long periods of time to ensure comfort and stability on the move.
Three other new mountain/trail packs include the Hyper Tour 38, $399, the Ultra Tour 55, $149, and the Ultra Tour 40, $139.
Mountainsmith hits the ground hiking with a slew of new pack designs for 2016, from its new Apex line to the Lariat and Scream. “Mountainsmith is a diversified brand founded and focused on providing outdoor products with the basic principles of comfort, durability, and functionality at a cost that far outperforms their price tag,” explained Mountainsmith’s lead product designer, Luke Boldman. “Going into 2016, we’ve zeroed in on these core principles by offering an exceptional new line of backpacks and lumbar packs built to last for the long haul. By nominating Cordura fabrics for our new 2016 product line, we’re offering our customers a true investment in their outdoor lifestyle, not only for their next adventure, but for a variety of activities in years to come. A point of pride here at the Mountainsmith office is seeing a 20-plus year-old pack coming in for zipper repair or hardware replacement, but everything else looks like it just came in off the showroom floor. This happens because of our long history of using quality Cordura branded fabrics; you simply cannot beat the longevity and durability that this material offers the consumer.”
The new Mountain Smith Apex Packs, 60L $200, 80L $225, 100L $250, feature multi-point ladder suspension adjustment, right-side angled water bottle pocket, sleeping bag compartment with internal divider, smartphone compatible waist belt pockets, U-shaped zippered main compartment access, Tuning Fork waist belt frame, forward pull waist belt with V adjustment webbing, front panel stretch mesh pocket, PE Framesheet with X configuration AL Stays and horizontal stabilizer bar, Anvil Airway ridged EVA back panel padding, and more.
In the multi-day, roll-top-closure Lariat line, 65L $230, 55 WSD $220, look for many of the same features with the addition of a removable summit pack and back panel hydration sleeve. The 55 WSD also features contoured shoulder straps and a waist belt for a women-specific fit.
The new Scream, 25L $80, 55L $150, is a lightweight, minimalist, roll-top pack with dual front panel storage pockets, fixed shoulder straps, removable foam suspension frame, padded waist belt with dual zippered pockets, compression straps with quick-release hardware, deep side panel mesh pockets and 3L internal hydration sleeve. The 25L stuffs into its own pocket for summit assaults and comes with breathable shoulder straps with gel pocket, Airmesh back panel, fixed top lid with zippered stash pocket, single trekking pole/tool carry mount, elastic sternum strap and bite valve catch with safety whistle.
The new Mayhem line, 35L $140, 45L $160, also comes with packed features, including a giant opening for accessibility in tight environments, front panel mesh pocket, side panel passport pocket, angled water bottle pocket, hybrid panel loader system, wire frame load dispersion and stabilizer bar, forward pull waist belt, tool mount, and more tiny features that frame new Mountainsmith products as technical detail encyclopedias.
Mountain Hardwear Global Director of Product Design and Merchandising, Robert Fry, said the brand’s Spring collection “comes from thinking about sleeping.”
The Lamina Z/Laminina Z Bags are revamped from the popular Lamina series models. New bags take fully welded Lamina construction and zone the synthetic insulation package, making the bag warmer, lighter and built for compression. Lamina mirrors the perks of down (lightweight and compressible) while being made of synthetics. Where synthetic bag stitching leaves room for cold pockets, Lamina welds insulation into the bag without stitching. Fry attested that the spark for new products like the Lamina Z bags comes from never really being satisfied with what the industry has to offer the consumer. “And since we’re all consumers, we feel that pain,” he said.
Mountain Hardwear also invented a category of lamina-style welded sleeping bags that are roomier than a classic mummy. These “sleep-accelerators,” as the company dubs them, are called the Hotbed Bags. Designed for traditional camping vacations, hotbeds come at a notably lower price point, offering first-time campers an easy way to say yes to investing in gear.
With weight savings as its focus, MSR debuts its new Freelite series, its lightest freestanding tents built for backpackers. The new FreeLite line is available in one-person, 1lb., 13oz., $370, two-person, 2lb., 6oz., $440, and three-person, 3lb., 4oz., $500, models, all providing three-season protection and great livability. They feature DuraShield-coated nylon (10D walls and 15D floor), taped seams, reinforced stress points for protection, large doors, spacious interiors and micromesh canopies for ventilation and moisture control. The FreeLite 2 features a 29-square-foot floor and 30-cubic-foot interior, with two 14.5-cubic-foot vestibules.
MSR also gave a makeover to its ultra-light Carbon Reflex collection of one-person,
1lb., 7 oz., $400, two-person, 1lbs., 13oz., $500, and three-person, 2lbs., 4oz., $600, tents for packers striving for minimalism. A new zipperless design sheds 11oz. from its predecessors, with new Easton carbon fiber poles dropping even more weight from the carry load. All renovated ultra-light tents come with unified pole geometry to optimize headroom, color-coded stakeout loops, clip webbing for fast setup, large doors and vestibules and a variety of storage options. Like the Freelite series, the tents also feature lightweight DuraShield-coated fabrics (10D rainfly, 15D floor) and double-wall protection. At 56.5-cubic-feet, the Carbon Reflex2 accommodates two side-by-side mattresses.
Also new are MSR’s Thru Hiker Mesh House two-person shelters, $200, and three-person, $250, are made for the open trail. Both tents feature lightweight fabrics, micromesh canopies for ventilation, and room for two or three side-by-side sleeping pads. They can also be partnered with the Thru-Hiker 70/100 Wing for additional protection. “They let us use the lightweight trekking poles people are carrying in place of traditional tent poles,” said MSR Shelters Product Manager Terry Breaux. “This saves weight and volume, letting users carry a smaller pack as well.”
Spending the last two years working on its new Mountain category, the company is selling products in the U.S. this year for the first time through a select network of specialty retailers. Previously the brand was only available in Asia or online domestically.
“You have to build a pack the way people will use it,” said Mystery Ranch Co-founder Dana Gleason, of Dana Design pack fame. “That means it has to be simple for the user to adjust and wear. We’ve been building mission-based packs for professionals for the last decade, and we’ve learned a lot. We’re excited to bring this knowledge home to Outdoor, where we first started.”
The key to its success has been making packs with built-in structures for stabilization, without the need for extra straps and extra features. This ethos can be seen in its new Sphinx, 65L $300, from the Trail Collection, available in six sizes and incorporating a center zipper that fillets open for full access to gear, twin vertical torpedo pockets and hydration options, and a lightweight Adventure Frame suited for everything from weekend backcountry trips to summit attempts. The Sphinx is also available in a women’s version called the Mystic, $300, a 5.3lb., pack that comes in four sizes. At 42L, the new 3.7lb. Pitch 40, $225, from Mystery Ranch’s Alpine Collection, is available in five sizes, has enough capacity for a full alpine mission, yet is able to compress down for leads and crags. Engineered with a fully integrated frame system with removable belts for comfort on big traverses, the pack carries tools and crampons externally.
The line consists of Expedition, for years of mountain use and abuse; Trail, light and sleek for weekend thru-hikes; Alpine, for the fast peak bagger; and Every Day Carry, with the traditional Heritage look but made extra durable for year-round use. Mystery Ranch will also introduce a line of Hunting-specific packs in Spring 2016.
Nemo Equipment Inc. reaches into the 2016 season with its brand mantra to pursue uncharted paths. In tents, it debuts the Wagontop 6P, with an easy set-up pole configuration unique for a hovering 6.5-foot-high shelter. Single wall construction acts as a durable weather shield, while multiple sealable windows and a screened front porch with roll back rain fly promote airflow. Nemo added window covers for privacy. If you’re a heavy packer, Nemo’s Accessory Garage gives more room for storage.
Move to pads and accessories for the new Concerto, $400, an integrated Blanket Fold bed sheet with ranges from 20 to 80 degrees Farenheit. Made from 700 FP DownTek, the bed consists of a quilted mattress top, integrated pad sleeve and hood, and snap closure top quilt. If that sounds like too much, its ultralight cousin, the 11oz. Tensor 20R Mummy, $120, takes Spaceframe technology baffles, basically die-cut trusses of low-stretch fabric, to eliminate springiness and stabilize the sleep surface. A metalized film layer provides insulation. As for the camper who wants to bring comfort to the outdoors, Nemo’s large inflatable mattresses have led a new population of campers out of the house and into the wilderness. The decadent Nomad, 2lbs. 15oz., $200, offers six inches of plush loft, horizontal baffles and built-in foot pump – no battery-powered or 12V pump needed. Two Nomads could be joined together to make a Queen-sized bed.
Nemo extends new offerings into the sleeping bag category with Salsa, $240-$280. Using its award-winning Spoon Shape, Salsa is wider at the knees and elbows for natural side sleeping. New stretch stitching at the waist enhances space even further, while horizontal baffles insulate. The DWR shell is comprised of Insotec FlowGates and 650 FP DownTek; available in 15 and 30 degree F ratings with the 30F weighing in at 2lbs. 3oz.
Nemo’s first waterproof tube sleeping bag, Moonwalk, $280, provides an option for dry direct-to-ground sleeping. For bike packing and other ultra-light travel, the 30F, 700 FP DownTek bag has a hoodless cut with drawstring collar. A pad sleeve loads from above, helping the Moonwalk withstand dampening from rain and mud. The bag can be paired with the 7oz. Escape Pod 1P Bivy, $120, with inflatable-rib AirSupported Technology that helps it pack down to the size of a grapefruit.
The Patagon 5G Suit will be Selk’bag’s most technical model to date. For campers new to the Selk’bag revolution, think of a comfortable body suit made from your favorite sleeping bag.
The 5G model was built to promote greater freedom of mobility, thanks to the detachable bootie system that assumes wearers will use their own footwear while staying snug in the body of the suit. Velcro roll-up straps allow for secure quarter sleeves. 5G also presents consumers with a more technical construction, adding to it an improved shell material, new pockets and never-before-seen material for the 5G line called Krekran. The currently sold Selk’bag Original and Lite suits will also be upgraded with 5G features.
The Marvel Kid’s Suits bring the bravado of your child’s favorite superhero to summertime family adventures. Suit up in one of the four designs – Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Hulk or Captain America. The booties are removable, making the suit easy to transition between a backyard slumber party and trip to the grocery store.
When creating the Frontcountry Bed, Sierra Designs challenged the status quo – a zipperless bag with built-in comforter and over-sized openings. The larger-than-average openings allow for comfortable back, side or stomach sleeping. Intended more for car and destination camping, some Frontcountry models hold enough space for a twin or queen air mattress. Sierra didn’t stop at bedding: the Nightwatch Tent, $240, is lightweight and freestanding, with a retractable rainfly that is integrated into the tent body and positioned to offer unhindered visibility. Other features include an awning, large side gear closets and the new Night Glow accessory attachment, $15, that illuminates the tent with nothing but a headlamp. The light’s versatile attachment system hangs from a central hook to any ceiling loop, using an adjustable string lock. The Night Glow will be included in all standard Sierra Designs’ tents in 2016 and alo available separately.
From parent company Exxel Outdoors comes a new niche camping line and brand, Tailgaterz. The goal is to give a good first impression of the outdoor experience, making camping approachable to novice customers. “Home-gating,” gear that is easily transportable from the kitchen to the event and back home again, with multi-use and simple set up, is the push behind these 2016 products.
The Game Day Buffet, $80, folds down into a slim briefcase but expands up to a waist-high serving station. The heat-resistant tabletop made of Laminated Multi Density Fiberboard can withstand high temperatures. Added features include organizers and enough room for party supplies. The Take-Out Seat, $50, is a foldable chair with removable seat cushions that doubles as a stadium seat. The company added a side table with adjustable cup holder, which isn’t found on many folding chair models today. A nice detail is the added foot strap. The All Terrain Table Cart offers a way to haul food and camping accessories. All terrain wheels and a removable storage bag get you from car to campsite, and then double back without taking the whole cart with you. Dual storage on either side allows for dry and cool compartments, while a built-in heat resistant table flips out for a prep surface.
The Hang-N-Haul, $28, is a portable multi-pocket folding organizer made of flexible material with reinforced mesh pockets and a detachable clear pouch to sort dirty utensils apart from clean. Quick-clip adjustable straps easily hook to branches or the car door, so the organizer can be set up without hassle. Tailgaterz brings its Cool-N-Carry, $26, to market, with one main insulated compartment, two expandable side bins for dry storage, and exterior mesh pockets for smaller items. An adjustable shoulder strap makes carrying easier, and once emptied, the cooler folds down for compact storage.
Instant Party Pavilion takes only one person to set up and tear down, as opposed to traditional pop up models that require the strength and maneuvering of many. The reflective water resistant coating with UPF 50 sun protection defends against the elements and a movable panel provides shade to any side.
Sleep is a dominating theme in the 2016 camping category, and Therm-a-Rest adds its expertise to the new-offerings landscape. Since its invention in 1971, the company has focused on finding better ways to bring restful sleep to overnight outdoor adventures.
For 2016, Therm-a-Rest debuts a new sleeping pad, the NeoAir Camper SV, $140, a 2lb., 25”x77”, two-season air mattress with a “wicked fast” Speed Valve for quick inflation. Toting it as “the best combination of comfort and ease of use created in an air mattress,” the company depends on the new Speed Valve technology to inflate in one-third the time of a similarly sized mattress, and deflate in even less time. “It’s a game changer,” said Spokesman Jim Meyers. “We’ve had a great reception already, and it solves real problems for our customers.”
A roll-top closure on the Speed Valve provides a wide opening and, by blowing into the valve from even a slight distance, pressure differential is created, pulling in surrounding air to speed the inflation process. The valve inflates a Regular Camper SV, 2.5” thick and 72” long, in three to five breaths.
Raised side-rails in the Camper SV keep sleepers on the mattress, and three-inch thick WaveCore construction, forming over 100 insulating cells to double warmth without bulk, makes for insulating and stabilizing quality. The pad’s warmth is increased by ThermaCapture Radiant Heat Technology, a proprietary reflective coating that reflects radiant heat back to the user’s body. “It amplifies warmth without the excess weight or bulk of added, conventional insulating materials,” said Meyers.
Also new is the company’s 3-D construction, netting 20-percent more useable sleep surface, being introduced on its four-inch-thick MondoKing 3D. Also to premiere this summer in its EvoLite mattresses collection is the new Air Frame construction, available in the Basecamp AF Pad. “We reduced the foam inside to a simple truss pattern, much like ribs with alternating air channels, to achieve a high loft while still offering the stability of a foam core, self-inflation and packability,” said Meyers. “It combines portability and comfort with great value.”