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Camping Trades Exhibition 1979

To start the year Chris. Bradshaw, our friendly shopkeeper of Rocksport has sent in this report of the …

For those who are not familiar with this show, it is the event of the year where the camping, climbing and now the cave trade can see new wares displayed by manufacturer’s and wholesalers.  It is held at the exhibition centre in Harrogate, but is not open to the general public.

It would be impossible to review all the items on display (or even see them in the four days available) so I will give a brief description of a few of the items of interest. No attempt is made at evaluation and most items will not be available until 1980.

Bonatti Self Locking Descender.

This is based on the single Petzl type descender, but the lower roller is connected to an arm which rotates it by about 20% of its circumference.  This is then connected by an arm to a brake block acting against the fixed, upper roller.  The action of the rope on the rotating roller operates the brake unless a handle, which runs from it, is held against the body.

Down and Out Descender/Ascender.

On show as a prototype only, this is yet another self-braking descender.  This time working on an off-set cam trapping the rope when the 'deadman's handle' is released.  The really interesting feature, however, is that the device can be turned, upside-down, and the rope fed straight through to form an ascender.

CMI 'Shorti' Ascender.

From the same stable (Colorado Mountain Industries) as the '5000' Ascender, this is a non-handled jammer type ascender.  It is made from a super-strong extruded and machined body, but still has the very weak spring that has caused so much trouble on the '5000'.  When this problem is solved, it will be a useful tool, as it is easily chest mounted, and the cam can be removed for cleaning etc, and reversed if required to give either left or right hand operation.


In the same year that Bridon Ropes and Fibres have launched a direct copy of the Clog Fig. 8, marketed under their brand name of 'Viking', Clog have revamped the principle to bring out a simple descender that need not be unkrabbed to get on or off the rope. Comparable in cost to their Fig. 8, it usefully doubles a Knuckle-Duster when getting to the bar for that last drink!

They have also introduced a new lock for their spring gated krabs.  Available as a very expensive option, it is a pull and twist operation, which makes locking the gate fast and automatic.  Whether a good dose of mud will destroy it remains to be seen!

'Sprung-Rung' Ladder

At present the only commercially available ladder is either pin and araldite (which is expensive) or pressure bonded, which is finished so badly that it tears clothing to pieces. The new 'sprung-rung' ladder uses the well tried taper pin fixing, then the rung end is spun over to give a smooth finish.  Cost is similar to the pressure bonded ladder, with 25ft, 3mm wire with 10" rung spacing.

'High-Efficiency' Caving Lamp Bulbs.

As cavers generally tend to break, loose or otherwise destroy their bulbs before enjoying the 350 hours that should be expected from a mining lamp bulb, a new concept will be introduced to cavers.  This bulb is designed to give a life expectancy of 100 hours, and so can be burned with a proportionally higher efficiency.  Three versions will be available: 2.4v, .6amp and 4v, .6amp., which more or less retain the light output of the normal 1amp bulbs, but almost doubles the burning time of NiCads, 3 - cell Nifes, and Lead Acid batteries, and a 2.4v 1amp which burns brighter on NiCads.  They are sold, however, with the warning that they must be expected to occasionally 'blow' underground, so a spare must be carried or a pilot bulb relied upon.  Also, they should not be turned on within about six hours of the battery being charged, as the extra voltage will overload them too much.  The price is about 70p each.


Brendan Brew, who manufactures under the trade name of 'Mole’, is having his own specification polyester tape made.  Rumour has it that it is to be called ‘Mole-ester' .


The 8th November, saw the official launch in this country of Goretex Mk.II.  It is claimed that it requires a less rigid standard of cleanliness to keep it working - someone has heard of cavers?

Raw Material Prices

Leather is still increasing rapidly in price.  Italian boots more susceptible than others, but DOWN is DOWN.  February should see the first shipments of Chinese made Duvets (under £40) and vests (about £17.50) to join the already cheap sleeping bags on the market.  This makes them competitive with 'hollofil' which is up in price!


The usual people displayed their usual wares, the 'Hi.Pakker' and 'Mountain' from Saunders being of interest and obvious 'winners' to join their range.  The real stir of the show was not actually in the show itself, but tucked away in the basement of the Majestic Hotel.  This was the 'Hi-Tech' range of tents from a company called N.R. Components.  These are lightweight tents (from 4lb. 6oz for Z-man) which have hollow fibre glass poles permanently fixed to the outside of the tent.  The fixing is by a patented, hinged mounting, connected to a tough rubber tube which holds both fly-sheet and inner tent.  The tent is unrolled, pegged out around the edge, the half holes connected and then the tensioning straps at front and rear tightened. It takes 45 seconds.

There are three basic models, two man, large two man (90 seconds to erect) and a big rhomboid which will seat 10 to 12 people (120 seconds to erect!)  They are due to be in the shops from February 1980, at about the same time as a spot on the BBC TV programme 'Tomorrows World'

Shinabro Stoves

By sheer co-incidence, Blacks are importing these stoves from Korea, which have a remarkable resemblance to the Optimus 8R (petrol) and OO (paraffin).  The price is, about £10 cheaper in each case.