With coLAB09 looming I finally got around to writing up some of my notes from last years show. Although I was not one of the judges as a designer and user of outdoor equipment I did have my personal favourites. They are listed in order of popularity with the shows voting visitors.
1. Beacon Bag - From the start I was worried about weight with this product as one of the key features of any safety equipment is making sure that people take it in the first place. With three layers of fabric a battery and wiring this was in danger of never making it onto the hills. Having said that with all the positive feedback on the site regarding its potential applications rather than considering it as a replacement for the individual bivi bag, it quickly became apparent that there was a market for a group use emergency sleeping bag.
2. Linelight - I wasn't a judge so I was allowed to have a favourite and I thought this was quite clever. I had seen spoke lights for bikes that do the same thing and I was interested to see where the concept could be taken and the fact that the light could have so many uses won it for me. I think John would of had a fight on his hands had the sample worked or if the concept could have been shown through video.
3. Waterproof Zip - This is one that we all want to work, but the problem was always going to be how you make the next step. This was the product with the most instantly commercial application.
4. Foamless Boulder Mat - Over the years there have been a number solutions to the problems of cushioning falling climbers from every increasing heights. This was a neat idea using the very latest technology. In the end it just proved to expensive to take forward.
5. Morph - There was no denying Liz's enthusiasm for the product and this contributed to such a niche product coming high in the competition. A year or so ago I was lucky enough to have spent an afternoon with Dave Macloud studying his gripwork. The subtle nature in the changes in his grip could make or break a movement. As grades increase we are going to see more of this type of customisable grip.
6. Coire Stove - I wasn't bowled over by this design, there are a lot of stoves on the market and many suit my needs more. However Martin is passionate about this product, and may well be the first son of coLAB on the market. Hopefully Martin can tell us a little more on how he is getting on.
7. Double Skin Pans - Simple effective design, as pot design is suddenly becoming more techy this could be the next big thing.
8. Retracta Map - Not a new idea, retractable promotional devices have been around as have retractable ski maps. But it was definitely a solution to a well known problem, however I just think it created more problems than it solved.
9. X1 - Very much a concept and as such difficult to comment on, also being the biggest technophobe in the office I am not best to comment, what's wrong with shouting!
10. Flo Pack - The most impressive artwork and prototyping went into this entry, but this was no guarantee of success. It was all very pretty but I read once that 'less is more, but just enough is just right'.
My advice to contestants is that designs that provide a solution to a problem will capture peoples imagination. But don't create a problem that doesn't really exist and then try to solve it. My top tip would be that safety sells.