The WildeBeat

The audio journal about getting into the wilderness.


The WildeBeat edition 151: Summer OR 2008

This is a supplementary transcript of our audio program. CLICK HERE to listen to the original program, and see the associated show notes.

Your favorite outdoor gear outfitter goes shopping for next year's goods at this trade show, and BackpackGearTest is there too. This week on The WildeBeat; Summer O-R two thousand eight.

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News from the Wildebeat, the audio journal about getting into the wilderness.

This is program number one fifty one.

I'm Steve Sergeant.

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RICK ALLNUTT: It sure is a big show.

STEVE: That's Rick Allnutt. He's a tester for BackpackGear Test dot org. This was Rick's first visit to an Outdoor retailer show.

RICK ALLNUTT: I am amazed by the number of brands that I recognized, walking the isles. What I've enjoyed the most was that all of the gearr that I've come to know of over the last four or five years has their manufacturers represented. When I go into a local sporting goods store, only a tenth of those brands are represented. And it was really nice to see that all of these manufacturers had gotten together and that we were able to talk to many of them in one place.

STEVE: Before I continue with this week's show, I've got a favor to ask.

STEVE: The WildeBeat is a nonprofit public service. Our mission is to educate, and inspire people to appreciate America's wild public lands. Our hope is that if you discover a wild place, explore it, and develop a love for it, you'll want to take care of it. We distribute these programs free to you, but they cost us real money to produce and deliver. That's where you can help.

STEVE: Our job is to help you get into the wilderness. That's different than some for-profit media, who's main job is to sell some advertiser's goods and services. By supporting the WildeBeat, you'll help inspire new people to discover wild places. You'll help people to do it more safely and to minimize their impact. You'll help people discover why these special places are so important to preserve. To do all of this, the WildeBeat needs your financial support. Please listen at the end of this edition for more details on becoming a member.

RICK ALLNUTT: Everybody's really interested in making conscious efforts to use recycled materials, and to be socially conscious about the kinds of materials that are used in outdoor equipment. I saw socks and shirts that had been made from spun fiber that had been spun from used and discarded soft drink bottles and other plastic items like that, and I saw the same kinds of recycled materials that were being used in insulation. I also saw an unusual assortment of other fibers, such as the use of coconut; and also powdered coconut used in materials to reduce the retention of odors in various kinds of garments, which is always important to the backpacker.

STEVE: Tester Christopher Nicolai is eager to test a couple of hot products.

CHRISTOPHER NICOLAI: One really cool item is the GoMotion sternum light. It's a light that basically attaches to the sternum strap on your pack, rather than being a headlamp on your head. The great thing about this is that when a light is on your head, it really cuts down on your peripheral vision at night, but when you can lower that light down below your eye level, you have a much wider range of vision. It's a really exciting thing. I plan to use it while biking and hiking, and really, it's a multipurpose light.

CHRISTOPHER NICOLAI: Another really cool product that I saw is called the Sparky. It's a one-handed mini fire starter. It's brand new from Ultimate Survival Technologies. It weighs less than an ounce. I think point eight five ounces, and it's an emergency fire starter. They actually market it along with a small piece of parafin, and during the demonstration that I saw, you could actually take little shavings of this parafin and light a fire right on top of water if you needed to, so it's a very handy, very lightweight and compact emergency fire starter.

STEVE: Rick was also dazzled by a product he saw.

RICK ALLNUTT: Gerber has a line of LED flashlights that work much like a number of other lights that have been on the market for several years now. The really new thing that I saw that I think is absolutely facinating, is that the battery compartment is built so that this will run on either a CR-123 battery, or a double-A battery, or a triple-A battery. All that one needs to do is to drop that battery into the battery compartment, and the battery compartment is designed so that the battery will fall into the proper slot. Of course, like all other LED flashlights, this one runs for a great number of hours, and it's really bright.

STEVE: Ken Bigelow is a tester from Salt Lake City, Utah.

KEN BIGELOW: Another cool product was the Bushnell Onix GPS series. It's actually currently on the market. They are working to integrate some mapping software, and they hope to get it out sometime in mid to late October. But one of them has an XM Radio built into it, which will stream Doppler so you can actually get the Doppler weather report on where you're at, where you're headed. Any of the local stations that are programming to the weather service, it definitely has some application for those mountain areas or where there's lot of storms.

STEVE: Here's more from Christopher Nicolai.

CHRISTOPHER NICOLAI: A new product that I saw from Sigg, who makes aluminum bottles, is that they're coming out with a wide-moluth bottle. This product isn't available yet, but it's expected later this year or early next year, and the neat thing about that is that I do a lot of camping with my water bottles, and to fill a small-mouth bottle can be a little bit challenging, especiallly in the winter when you're dealing with colder temperatures, you want to have a little bit greater margin of error as you're pouring water into your drinking containers.

CHRISTOPHER NICOLAI: One of the really exciting things that I saw at the show is the Insect Shield technology. Basically, Insect Shield is the next generation of Buzz Off. It's a permethrin-based product that's been infused into any fabric that will repel bugs. This new Insect Shield technology is being integrated into several different lines of products. I saw some great products from Cocoon. Some of their liners, sleeping bag liners, that this insect Shield is being used in. So, I'm really excited to try out some of this Insect Shield technology in some of the products that I picked up. And we will be testing some of this for BackpackGearTest, as well.

STEVE: One new product hit the jackpot, because all three testers commented on it. Here's Ken Bigelow and Rick Allnutt.

KEN BIGELOW: Therm-a-Rest has a new pad out. It's inflatable. I would describe it as revolutionary. It's a couple inches thick, it's very lightweight. It compacts down just unbelievably small compared to anything else on the market. -

RICK ALLNUTT: The Cascade Designs Therm-a-Rest NeoAir pad, which is one of the best insulating and softest mattresses I've ever seen. I've laid down on this mattress and felt my warmth coming back up toward me. And this mattress is supposed to come out on the market this coming spring, and I really look forward to it coming out. It weighs ten ounces for a full-length seventy-two-inch mattress, and I think this is going to be a great hit.

STEVE: My thanks to Rick Allnutt, Christopher Nicolai, Ken Bigelow, and the editors at Backpack Gear Test, for making this edition possible. Please remember that these opinions are those of the individual contributors, and don't necessarily reflect those of Backpack Gear Test, or of The WildeBeat. Backpack Gear Test is looking for qualified testers. To get qualified, you start out by writing reviews of gear you already own. After that, you could be offered free gear to review. Active testers can be invited to scout new products at the O-R show. Find out more at our web site.

STEVE: We'd like to hear your comments or questions about the gear mentioned on this show, or about anything else we do on the Wildebeat. You can call our toll free comment line at 866-590-7373, or e-mail us at comments at WildeBeat dot net.

STEVE: WildeBeat members can download the complete reports by our BackpackGearTest reviewers from our WildeBeat Insider web page.

STEVE: As a free, listener-supported service, we depend on you to help support our work. You can help by making a tax-deductible membership donation to our project. Membership levels start at sixteen dollars a year, and full membership is forty eight. For a limited time, become a WildeBeat member and get a weekend's worth of meals from Alpine Aire foods, books from Wilderness Press, access to bonus audio content, and more, as thank you gifts.

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Our official website is WWW dot WILDEBEAT (that's W-I-L-D-E-B-E-A-T) dot NET. If we helped you get into the wilderness, could you help us do the same for others? Just click on our support link and become a member. The WildeBeat is produced by Steve Sergeant, with help from Jean Higham and Kate Taylor, as a nonprofit educational project of Earth Island Institute.

This has been The WildeBeat, program number one fifty one. Thank you for listening.

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Next time -- getting oriented.

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