Outdoor Retailer Australia 2018

Outdoor Retailer Australia 2018

I met up with Jason Lorch from Tyres and Soles last week and we went to the ORA (Outdoor Retailer Australia show) to check out the new products hitting our shelves in the next few months. Here are a few words he put together to go with my photos from the event.

It was our second year at the ORA show and ran from the 17th – 19th June at Hordern Pavilion and Royal Hall of Industries, Moore Park Sydney. Although a little quieter than last year, there were still plenty of interesting brands and products on display.

We didn’t shoot everything as some items are still a little hush, hush, but we managed to snap a few that the exhibitors were comfortable for us to share.

Hoka One One

Hoka One One produces incredibly lightweight and technical hiking and trail running shoes. It was the first time I’d actually got up close to this brand and was blown away. The shoes offer the same levels of technical features as you’d expect from an alpine boot but using different materials and technology, they are so much lighter and less cumbersome.

Hoka One One and their latest ultra mountain runner.

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Hoka One One offer a hiking boot that can match any high alpine boot on the market, but at about half the weight

Marmot

Marmot has been around since 1974 and is a well-known brand in the outdoors scene. There were a few key items that caught out attention on their stand this year, but the star for us was what Marmot are calling their Ultra-Light rain jacket.  We like to call it the Uber-Ultra Rain Jacket because it weighs in at under 300grams!

Otter Box

Otter Box are best known for their number one selling smartphone cases, so we were excited to discover that they have now just launched a range of cooler cases. The cases come in a soft and hard version and a number of different size specifications. Each case has a set of add-ons to that you clip to the case, such as bottle opener, waterproof pouch, small cutting table and a side table and can keep items cold for up to 10 days!

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The new range of outdoor cooler cases from Otter Box

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What we really liked was the backpack version, which immediately frees up your hands to carry other gear.

Injinji

Although they still give me the creeps, the Injinji socks do offer something over traditional socks. The Injinji socks helps reduce excess toe rubbing which can lead to blisters, by wrapping each individual toe, just like a glove. Their latest designs have a certain Australian flair to them.

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Injinji have released an exciting and colourful new range. Check out the Aussie prints!

Spibelt

Spibelt offers a discreet and convenient way to carry your phone, keys, credit cards, and ID while running or on the go. The belts stretch to accommodate a large number of goods. We were surprised. We can see these move into the MTB scene at some stage. There is an opportunity here. We did drop a few design hints to the exhibitor, hopefully, it sunk in.

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Ingenious running belts that can expand to fit a huge amount of gear.

TOPO

TOPO make a range of very comfortable trail running shoes. The design is similar to the Altra shoe, with a wide toe box area allowing your feet to splay out naturally, rather than crammed into a narrow shape, which most running shoe manufacturers are still developing. This reduces foot fatigue and plants your foot in a much more natural and logical position.

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The TOPO men’s and women’s range. TOPO offer one of the lightest fully waterproof trail running shoes in the world!

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The men’s TOPO “Terraventure”.

Ultimate Direction

Ultimate Direction are well known in the trail running world for creating highly functional and lightweight running packs and vests. The Marathon Vest will be one of their lightest and adjustable running vests coming out soon. This was a sample version, so the final product may look slightly different. Be sure to stay tuned for this release!

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The latest and greatest from Ultimate Direction.

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Stay tuned for the release of this beauty!

Power Buddy

Power Buddy are going to be launching a range of silent, mobile lithium power stations. They will feature a dozen different output ports built-in, including 240V AC, Cigarette Lighter, Quick Charge USB, Type C and 12 volt DC to run and charge multiple devices while off the grid. These are so powerful that they will pretty much blow all other power banks on the market, out of the stratosphere.

We had a great chat with the creator of these models and are very excited to see the launch of these into the market, later this year. We’ll be running a test and review on these, so stay tuned!

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One of the latest Power Buddy power stations, almost ready to hit the shelves.

Adrenalin

Adrenalin is an Australian brand based on the Northern Beaches. They have been making, among other things, very high-quality wetsuits and thermal-wear for years. This year they have released a thermal jacket using their 2P technology. The jacket has outstanding breathable and wind resistance qualities, ideal for not only coastal activities but any outdoor adventure. From what we saw and felt of this product, we can safely say it will be a highly sought after piece of kit. Get in touch with them to find out more.

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The thermal and wind resistant jacket from Adrenalin.

So iLL

So iLL have moved the indoor climbing industry out of the dreary, cold warehouse walls and into the sizzle of unchartered terrains. They have a unique blend of fashion, art and climbing all mixed into one. Their design, brand and ethos are inspiring. They are a truly exciting brand worth checking out if you haven’t already.

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Bring on the bling!

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So iLL approach/fashion shoe. Achingly cool.

Sierra Designs

Sierra Designs are a massive outdoor company and have been on the scene for many years. They offer a range of entry-level products all the way up to the extreme end for the more experienced and hardcore adventurers out there.

We particularly liked their new Cloud 800 zipperless sleeping bag that has a fold over flap on the entry section, instead of the, sometimes, claustrophobic zip. This is a hybrid mix of a mummy and quilt design, giving you freedom to open up if you begin to overheat. The toe box also has a cooling down feature, with a small slit where you can slip your feet out of.

In addition to these two features, the bag also has small flaps on the rear so you can attach it securely to your sleeping mat, stopping it from slipping off. We also really liked the Australian colours.

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The Cloud 800 zipperless bag.

Gregory Packs

We don’t often see the Gregory brand out on the Australian trails, so we were happy to check out some of their latest packs. Gregory knows a thing or two about pack design and we’ve always appreciated their elegant and ‘essential only’ design features.

Gregory doesn’t only focus on hiking activities, they also offer a range of packs for mountain biking as well. Check out their Endo and Avos range.

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Gregory, elegant and highly functional packs.

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Gregory have an exciting new range for 2019.

OzTrail

OzTrail always has a large presence at these shows and although I generally just do a quick glance over what they have, this year, however, I noticed a change in their display. It seems there have been some changes in the business and this has opened up some new verticals.

One of these was a 4K video product, which to me, looks like a GoPro but with the OzTrail branding. In terms of price point, that wasn’t discussed but it would need to be competitive to go up against the other major brands who have been in this sector for quite some time. Stay tuned!

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Oztrail is taking on the giants in the adventure mini camera sector.

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OzTrail’s 4K adventure camera.

Conclusions

All in all, it was a good show with a lot of interesting brands and products on display. It was much quieter than last year and we weren’t sure why this was. I think it could do with a bit of a revamp to be honest, a new location, fresh approach and some more marketing pre-event wouldn’t go amiss.

If you’re in the outdoor industry or are interested to see what goes on, then this is one you should have on your list. For more information, check out the ORA website.

Posted by Richard in What's going on
OCR World Championships

OCR World Championships

Last weekend was the Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) World Enduro Championships or more commonly known as the OCR World Championships. Competitors ran the 10km course with 30 obstacles in it and tried to knock over as many laps as they could in a 24 hour period.  This year I was chasing Shammes AlShamsi, the only entrant from the United Arab Emirates around the course.

OCR World Championships course map

OCR World Championships course map

The Race

This has to be the toughest and most brutal race that pops up on my calendar. Whilst I think that the people who do 24mtb races and 24hr trail runs are crazy I believe (and please correct me if I am wrong) that these competitors can find a rhythm and lock into it. Obstacle course racers have to break that rhythm every 40m or so to complete a different obstacle. They do a huge variety of obstacles such as rope climbs, crawling in the mud under barbed wire, scaling walls and rope traverses across the creek.

Chasing one competitor around the course is a little bit awkward as the course is so spread out. I found the best place was around the start finish area where the greatest amount of obstacles were found making it easy to jump between one  and another. I didn’t manage to get all the obstacles I still managed to get a good selection of shots with Shammes and and managed to grab a few other folks as I was waiting for Shammes to get back around to me.

Night

This has to be one of my favourite events as I simply love shooting at night. As night fell so too did the rain and fog. Both years I have shot it it has been raining and foggy which definitely add to the atmosphere of the event. I know many photographers don’t like these conditions but I love it. To a point that is, eventually heavy rain can wear me down.

Trying to pick out that one competitor in the night though became even trickier as it was almost impossible to tell one competitor from another in the darkness and the headlights shining into my eyes. I basically just ended up shooting most people in the night and hoping one was Shammes. Its always good fun playing around with different lighting setups at night. Hopefully I didn’t blind anyone but no-one complained to me so that’s always a good thing.

Morning

I got up early for another few shots but had to shoot off before the finish due to another booking. In the early hours of the morning Shammmes, like many others, had pulled the pin due to exhaustion. I still managed to grab a few more frames before I shot off though. Being the athlete that Shammes is though he is off to Andorra this weekend for not one but 2 more Spartan Race events.

I certainly hope to be back again next year. Registration for the event has opened already. The level of fitness of these athletes just astounds me and the vibe at the event itself is just great. It is well worth checking out even if racing is not for you

The rest of the images can be viewed here on my website

Details for signing up for next years event can be found here here otherwise just come along, check it out and marvel at the strength of these crazy athletes.

Posted by Richard in Events, Obstacle Course
Scott Graham: Mountain Biker

Scott Graham: Mountain Biker

I was at the new Trailshare MTB trails on the weekend to shoot some product and some portfolio shots with Scott Graham. Scott is currently leading the competition in State Downhill series and needed a few shots to pump up his portfolio for his sponsors. We thought we should also tie in a product shoot for Tyres and Soles shooting the new AMS bike strap, a silicon strap designed to hold your tyre repair kit and spare tube on your bike.

Trailshare and its cabins

We also had an exclusive tour around the new bike park on the NSW Central Coast called Trailshare. Chief trail-builder Josh Paul Smith pointed out a few of the features on the black trail for us to session. It’s still a work in progress though it already boasts 27kms of trails of varying degrees of difficulty. We spent the day on the Black run but I am looking forward to seeing the Red trail, very picturesque from all I hear. to top it off it has its own set of cabins tucked away in the bush. The trails start right at the doorstep making it the perfect little weekend getaway for riding.

It’s a great area and I look forward to getting back up there soon and checking out some of the other trails.

If you need some images for a portfolio or some new images to upgrade your profile send me a message and let’s see what we can make happen.

Posted by Richard in Bikes, Portraits, Sport, 0 comments
Anja Camera backpack from f-stop gear

Anja Camera backpack from f-stop gear

I did a review of the Anja pack from f-stop Gear for Tyres and Soles. Like all the f-stop Gear mountain series backpacks it’s the attention to detail that makes it stand out from the crowd.

The New f-stop AJNA Has Your Back, No Matter What!

f-stop has done it again with their AJNA 40l pack. If you consider yourself a serious photographer, then you should seriously check out the AJNA.

f-stop makes great packs. They came out strong about 12 years agp and quickly became a market favourite with their Mountain series and for good reason, they’re toughversatile and comfortable. I have been using F-stop packs for a few years now and I am a big fan.

Mountain series include 5 packs (Lotus 32L, Ajna 40L, Tilopa 50L, Sukha 70L, Shinn 80L), apart from the Mountain series they also have the Ultra Light Series that include: 25L Guru UL, Kashmir 30L and Loka UL 37L.  The Kashmir UL is the pack with shortest torso length. It is suitable for both men and women with some benefits for female shooters such as the slightly curved should straps.

F-Stop Anja - Pack Review

The Ajna (orange) fits in around the middle of the range at 40L. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Features

f-stop packs are very water resistant. I’ve had mine in heavy downpours without a rain cover and there was next to no water getting into the pack, and better still, none even got close to my camera gear. However, rain covers are an optional extra and the packs do have a storage pocket and attachment loops for them.

ICU

The internal camera units (ICUs) are a great piece of interchangeable gear. It’s basically the removable guts of the bag that allows you to customise and fit your camera gear safely. I have a couple of ICU’s that hold different kits and I’ll just throw one into the pack depending on my needs. All setup and ready to go.

 Comfort

What really sealed it for me was how comfortable the Ajna felt on my back. My full kit weighs in around 12-14kgs. When I need to spend all day lugging this around, comfort is of the maximum importance to me. f-stop has not only made a pack that can store photography gear, they’ve looked long and hard at what makes a pack comfortable.

The comfort comes from an internal aluminium frame which provides the overall structure and rigidity, maintaining good shape whilst still being lightweight. Combine this with the ergonomically designed hip belt and shoulder straps, which have been injected with a gel-like material, and you get an exceptionally comfortable pack.

F-Stop Anja - Pack Review
A rare shot of myself in a photo, I’m usually behind the lens. The f-stop Ajna is incredibly comfortable when fully loaded with camera gear.
F-Stop Anja - Pack Review
A shot of Jason (Chief Editor Tyres and Soles) testing the f-stop Ajna high up in mountains. 

Storage

There’s enough storage in the Ajna to easily store all my camera gear plus food and water for a day on the hill. This is ideal as I’m out on location for long sessions at a time and need to ensure that I have everything with me.

Access to the ICU is via a padded rear panel constructed with heavy gauge catch-free YKK® zippers which opens up to give you full access to the entire ICU unit. Having this rear access means that you can place the pack down on its front, access all your gear and avoid getting mud on the harness straps and your clothing.

The main internal access is from the top zippered panel and is roomy enough for all sorts of gear, clothing etc. There are also easily accessible side pockets with full-length zippers and an expandable design, so you can cinch the pack in or keep filling it out. All zippers are heavy duty wet weather resistant and are remarkably catch free…ah heaven!

There’s also a multipurpose internal sleeve that can fit either a 13” laptop or can be used as a hydration bladder pocket.

The Little Things

The Ajna has more pockets, attachment loops, bungee cords, straps and hooks than you could possibly need on a single trip. The pack has ice axe, avalanche shovel, sleeping bag attachments but I tend to use these to keep my tripods strapped and secure.

And for storing smaller items like passport, wallet, keys and phone, there’s a zippered mesh underside lid pocket. It’s the small details like this that can make a big difference when your travelling interstate or overseas.

f-stop ajna
It’s the little things that make a big difference. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
f-stop ajna
More hooks and loops than you can throw a stick at. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Durability

Unlike many products these days the F-Stop packs are robust. Being none too gentle with my equipment, my bags tend to take a bit of a beating. They get thrown down, dropped on rough surfaces, rained on, tossed on the wet muddy ground and dragged around. To date, I have never had anything get damaged inside my pack aside from managing to squash a banana.

The packs have been designed for use in the mountains and you can see this in all the materials and parts used. The material, zippers and attachment points are all of the highest quality and can withstand years of abuse. I know from personal experience with my other F-Stop packs.

The main fabric is made from a breathable oxford-weave ripstop nylon and AdvantaTM, a thermoplastic polyurethane film giving it high tear resistance. The Ajna also features a Hypalon® reinforced base for extra protection if you drop your bag onto rocky or hard surfaces.

Key Feature List

  • Highly tear resistant, wet weather and breathable fabrics
  • Hydration system with Velcro® sealed tube port
  • 4 Internal ICU attachment points
  • Heavy-duty 3-fold carry handle
  • All-day support provided by an internal aluminium frame
  • Quick-release side compression straps
  • Adjustable sternum strap with an integrated whistle for emergencies
  • Soft Flex injection molded EVA belt and shoulder straps for all-day comfort
  • Water and weather resistance YKK® Aquaguard® zippers
  • Fast and catch-free closures
  • Reinforced base
  • Multipurpose internal and external pocket configurations inc laptop storage.
  • Accessory attachments via 16 GateKeeper mounting points (GateKeepers sold separately)

Specifications

  • Height: 59.7cm | 23.5in
  • Width: 33cm | 13in
  • Depth: 26.7cm | 10.5in
  • Volume: 40 Litres
  • Weight: 1.7kgs | 3.75lbs
  • ICU sold separately

Where To Buy/ Availability

The F-Stop Ajna is available to buy at most good photography stores. Click here to discover the full F-Stop range.

Price: $399 approx

Conclusions
  • 8/10
    Aesthetics - 8/10
  • 10/10
    Materials & Construction - 10/10
  • 9/10
    Weather Proof - 9/10
  • 8/10
    Features - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Storage - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Weight - 8/10
  • 9/10
    Comfort - 9/10
8.6/10

Summary

If you’re serious about protecting your photography kit, looking for high levels of comfort and support and a design to withstand harsh weather and an array of features, then we think we may have found what you’ve been looking for with the Ajna.

F-Stop has designed a pack around that supports your needs when out on a shoot, no matter what the weather or location, the Ajna has your back. It’s no wonder F-Stop are becoming the number one choice for amateur and professional photographers, worldwide.

 


If you are into camping, hiking, MTBing etc and wondering about new gear go check out Tyres and Soles because there is a good chance they have reviewed it.

Posted by Richard in Gear Review, Product
Ryugi Crew

Ryugi Crew

 I had the chance to shoot with some of Sydney’s finest bboys and a bgirl recently, the Ryugi Crew. I had been wanting to organise another dance shoot for a while but things were just getting away from me and personal shoots had to be put on the backburner.

  I chatted with Josh Knox who got in contact with me after i shot with the Cyber Crew. Josh has his finger on the pulse of the Sydney dance scene and got a small crew together for a shoot in the back streets of Sydney. They knew a great graffitied street so we used that as the backdrop.

  I enjoy shooting dance and the dancers are amazing to watch. It’s similar in shooting style to free-runnning in that it is very acrobatic and obviously has deep urban roots. Hoping to expand my dance work more soon and shoot other forms of dance as well. Things are in the pipeline so keep an eye out

 

Posted by Richard in Dance
Kempsey Enduro: Superflow Championships

Kempsey Enduro: Superflow Championships

Last weekend Kempsey played host to the Superflow Enduro Championship.  Rocky Trail Entertainment has been running the Kempsey Enduro for 3 years now. It is one of my favourites as I get to go stay out at the beautiful Hungry Head campsite.

It was another great weekend of racing. Though a slightly smaller turnout there was lots of new faces on track. I even met a couple of fellows who had done the drive down from Queensland for it. Pre-race rain dampened Sunday a bit and brought the hordes of mosquitos out enmass. I often wonder what bloodsucking creatures like this eat when there is no photographer sitting in the bush.

It also means a little bit of exploring new spots on the way home. This year I stopped off Middle Brother on the way home and had a look around the Blackbutt forest. I spent the night at Seal Rocks, camped at Treachery with the dingos. I didn’t get to see them though I did see their paw prints in the sand on the dunes. From there I headed to the Bombah ferry Stopping off to see the tallest tree in NSW, a 76m flooded gum called Giantis. I crossed the ferry and down the coastal road to Tea Gardens and Hawksnest a nice little detour.

The full gallery of race images is up over on the Outer Image website here

Posted by Richard in Bikes, Events
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