Couldn’t make it to the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013? Not to worry because we have a guest post from Andy Storms, a Seattle-based technical softgoods designer who specializes in carry solutions. He also runs a tiny fair-trade cut-and-sew shop in Tixkokob, Yucatán, Mexico with some very nice Mayan people. He has put together the write-up below; enjoy the read!
On day one of OR, I texted my buddy J.C. about something carry-related, as he’s one of my favorite cohorts to geek out with on this subject. He asked if I’d be interested in writing a show report for Carryology, which I was eager to do, but there was one complication; my digital camera isn’t part of my EDC set, so all I had was my iPhone. Though the guidelines for “What Makes a Good Carryology Post” clearly states that “Nice pictures are nicer,” what I was after wasn’t glamor shots of pretty bags; my show highlights are all about function and innovation; these are the things I saw that inspire me to look at carry design in a novel way.
One of the coolest things I saw was Osprey’s Nano Port commuter pack for tablet users, which they were calling the “Magic Trick” pack. It has a clear window underneath the flap, through which you can operate your tablet. The unique feature, though, is that the tablet doesn’t “live” in the flap all the time; it would be too vulnerable to impacts. The flap is connected to a padded sleeve in the back panel of the pack, and you flip the pack over to drop the tablet into the clear sleeve for use. Then, when you’re finished, you flip it back over and drop the tablet back into the padded sleeve. Super slick operation; perfect for the commuter who wants to keep creepy bus germs (or perhaps rain…) off their iPad. And you don’t have to be Howard Hughes to afford it at $99.
[Editor's note: Hex look to be doing a similar thing with their bags for the iPad.]
Though primarily known for footwear, Inov-8 makes some minimalist running packs which pack a lot of functionality into an ultralight package. The most notable thing was the placement of their hydration bladder at the small of the user’s back in their Race Pro Extreme 4; it felt really good to have the weight centered there on my body.
The Race Pro 4 is the black one on the right.
I always check out the overseas supplier section hidden away in the meeting rooms at the Salt Palace. This time I ran across Korean company Swingo, which was showing off their “Worldwide Patented Moving Rail System”, which basically uses a modified Vislon zipper tape with a custom slider to allow a fanny-pack style pouch to slide around from your back to your front. They had both standalone fanny-packs as well as a backpack with a sliding pouch at the bottom.
Australian company Henty debuted their Wingman suit bag for cyclists, a purportedly wrinkle-free solution for carrying your work clothes with you on your morning commute. The design utilizes recycled PVC ribs (from Tazmania) that keep the bag from rolling unevenly or too tightly, which should keep creasing of your garments to a minimum. In the void created by the rolling, they have hung a cylindrical gym/utility/shoe bag of heavy duty tarpaulin fabric. The suit bag also includes an organizer, as well as a small, padded pouch for a small laptop or tablet. $199.
I’m always interested in new ways to carry special payloads, and the Piggyback Rider definitely qualifies! The adult wears a backpack-style harness with handles on the shoulders and a tubular aluminum trapeze hanging below. The child is clipped into a safety harness, then stands on the trapeze and holds on to the grips on the shoulders of their draft animal, probably Mom or Dad. It is available as a standalone system, or as part of a backpack which conceals the trapeze system behind a zippered panel in the back. They claim an age range of 2 ½ – 6 years, but one of the founders says his daughter started riding around on one at 18 months. Note: There has been no proven connection between use of the Piggyback Rider and the growth of facial hair on children. So don’t buy it just so your little dude can grow a sweet ‘stache. $89-$149
If I had to give something best in show, it would be the Bootlegger modular pack system from Carryology favorite Boreas. Designer Tae Kim has outdone himself again. The system consists of an adjustable harness module with a phifertex mesh, aluminum and steel frame. This ventilated load-bearing system then attaches to one of three modules of varying volume; there’s a 13L hydration pack, a 28L “daypack”, as well as a 30L roll-top submersible dry bag, into which you can put either of the other two packs. All of this for only $199.
Some of the most interesting stuff I see at OR is what people are carrying and wearing in the aisles. Across the board, I can tell you that heritage styling in both carry gear and fashion is still huge. Other than that, I loved Taiwanese hipster Jimmy Wu’s not-so-concealed carry bag, which probably has different connotations in a country with strict gun control. I was also struck by the beautiful organic feel of the shape of this Cote & Ciel rucksack: