From new sports (bikepacking!) to epic expeditions (high school twins will make first descents in Antarctica!), Outside is laying down 22 bold predictions about the people, trends, and gear that will shape our world in 2016. View the full article on OutsideOnline.
Bikepacking Will Displace Backpacking
Bikepacking--long-distance backpacking trips by bike instead of foot--has exploded of late, inspiring websites, e-zines, specialized gear, and even films. Try it and it's easy to understand the passion. "If somebody loves mountain biking and camping, it's the perfect storm," says Logan Watts, editor of Bikepacking.com, which features more than 70 routes complete with GPS coordinates. "The great thing about it is that you can tweak a bike you already have, use a soft bag that straps to your frame, and just take off." Newbies can use their own bike and a backpack, but Watts suggests a few essential pieces of gear to help distribute the load.
1. Revelate Sweetroll Handlebar Bag ($100)
With roll-down closures, this waterproof system from bikepacking market leader Revelate enables easy packing and fast deployment of an ultralight tent and sleeping bag. An accessory pocket stashes tools, and webbing loops let you strap on extras.
2. Revelate Tangle Frame Bag ($90)
The sleek Tangle wedges in neatly between your frame tubes and can fit a camp stove, a jacket, a sleeping pad, and plenty of grub.
3. CamelBak Skyline 10 LR Hydration Pack ($130)
The LR stands for Low Rider, and it rests in the lumbar position, easing the load on your back during long rides.
4. Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion Seat Eystem ($185)
The Mr. Fusion is a little pricier than other under-saddle bags, but it's fully waterproof and comes with a clever stabilizing rack that secures to your seatpost.
5. Salsa Deadwood Bike ($2,599)
This bikepacking-specific ride matches drop bars with 29-inch-plus wheels and three-inch tires (wide but not quite fat) so you can roll efficiently over rugged terrain. The sturdy steel frame has numerous braze-ons, enabling all kinds of bag-attachment configurations.
Environmental Power Rankings
The issues that will be most important in 2016
The technology keeps improving, more areas are becoming viable, the cost is going down--and utility companies are freaking out.
Position change since 2015: +1
Wildfires continue to set records, but the Godzilla El Niño winter will bring much-needed moisture to the western United States.
Position change since 2015: -1
3. Overall Hope for the Human Race
If private businesses can drive the renewable-power industries and pan-political coalitions can protect the sage grouse, we might just have a chance.
Position change since 2015: Previously unranked
4. Carbon Emissions
Countries gathering in December at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, in Paris, will commit to a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases; the entire GOP presidential field will immediately denounce the whole thing as "a bunch of malarky."
Position change since 2015: -1
No longer ranked: Jonathan Franzen's climate essays
These Olympians Will Become American Heroes
Gwen Jorgensen, Triathlon
For the past decade, the U.S. women have been middling performers in triathlon; their last medal came in 2004. This summer in Rio, they will dominate. And they'll be led by Jorgensen, currently number one in the world and easily the field favorite. Earlier this year, she went undefeated in 12 World Triathlon Series races. With teammates Sarah True (current world number three) and surging Katie Zaferes, Team USA has a good chance to sweep the podium.
Carlin Isles, Rugby
The world's ballsiest sport is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1924, when it was large-squad. (In Rio, the teams will be smaller and the matches shorter.) Isles is the hardest-charging player in the game--he clocks a nearly Olympic-caliber 100 meters and hits hard enough to have made the Detroit Lions practice squad.
Adeline Gray, Wrestling
An American woman has never won Olympic gold in wrestling. That will change next year. Gray, the reigning world champion and current world number one, grew up tangling with the boys and should make short work of the field.
Cuba Will Live Up to the Hype
Currently, the island is in a sweet spot between unexplored and overexposed. The tourism sector is developed enough to be accommodating, and the U.S. will soon lift the travel restrictions that have deterred law-abiding Yanks. Here are some itineraries, suggested by Cuba-crazy contributing editor Patrick Symmes.
Cuban seas are some of the best preserved in the Caribbean. David Guggenheim, known as the Ocean Doctor, runs scuba tours to Gardens of the Queen, an island-filled shelf off Cuba's southern coast (from $7,500). Surfers should head to Cuba's east coast, which faces the Atlantic's big rollers.
The western valley of Viñales is famous for steep, crenelated 1,000-foot karst towers called mogotes. The Cuban government banned guides from leading clients up them, but a plan to change that is expected to go into effect soon. Check out cubaclimbing.com for updates.
Head for the Hills
The lush Sierra Maestra is the country's longest mountain range. Some of the peaks are off-limits, but there are hiking trails in Turquino National Park, named after the 6,476-foot mountain, Cuba's tallest. Hikers must hire a guide; find one at the park entrance.
Augmented Reality Will Reach the Masses
Augmented-reality glasses display computer-generated imagery and data onto a lens, allowing you to see the real world and the virtual stuff simultaneously. While the technology has been around for years, it's been so expensive that only elite athletes had any reason to splurge on it. That will change in 2016 with two lower-cost devices that allow amateur skiers and cyclists to get in on the game.
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, GogglePal will ship in January and cost $225, far less than the more feature-heavy RideOn AR ski goggles ($899). A beeper-size GPS unit with a six-axis gyroscope attaches to the strap and tracks stats like speed and vertical drop. That information is then displayed via a projector, about the size of a nickel, that attaches to the inside of the lens. You can also view a map that shows the location of your friends on the mountain--as long as they're wearing GogglePals, too.
In the cycling world, 2016 will bring the Senth IN1 ($300). The glasses display directions and point out hazards in the road such as cars and other cyclists. This type of AR--which recognizes and interprets real-world information--is more complicated, however, and some say that low-cost companies struggle to do it well. "There is so much image processing that needs to happen. Good AR is difficult to achieve cheaply," says Cody Karutz, hardware manager at Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab. But while the Senth IN1 may not prove to be a serious competitor to the Recon Jet ($499), the leading cycling smart glasses on the market, expect a contender soon.
Your Next Diet Will Be Customized
Forget Atkins, paleo, and South Beach. Personalization will dictate the food you'll eat in 2016. At WellPath, consumers answer questions about themselves, upload data from their Fitbits, and get a custom shake mix and daily vitamins designed for their needs. At Infinit Nutrition, you schedule a consultation with nutrition professionals or elite athletes to discuss goals and the physical demands of your activity, and the company creates a just-for-you sports drink with the optimal calories, carbs, electrolytes, and taste profile. You can even add protein and caffeine. The formula is saved on the site and can be tweaked before you reorder. "People think customization is cumbersome or difficult," says Michael Folan, a ten-time Ironman finisher who is president and CEO of Infinit. "But it enables you to be very specific and simplify your day." Plus, he insists, "We end up being about half the cost" of the off-the-shelf stuff.
Biolite Will Save the World with a Stove
If you camp, you've seen a BioLite CampStove, which uses kindling to cook your oatmeal while generating electricity to charge a phone or camera. But the greater contribution from founders Jonathan Cedar and Alec Drummond may be the store they're opening in India, which will sell a home-powering stove aimed at the developing world.
The HomeStove is an 18-pound version of the CampStove. Cedar says it produces ten times fewer emissions than the smoky fires that three billion people now use to cook with worldwide. It also produces electricity, something 1.2 billion people still don't have.
There are currently hundreds of clean-burning stoves aimed at the same market, but few burn as cleanly as the HomeStove, and even fewer provide electricity. University of California at Berkeley professor Kirk Smith, who studies these stoves' impact, says BioLite could have staying power. Though the stoves don't burn as cleanly as he'd like, "they're one of the better ones out there," he says.
Cedar, 35, believes BioLite has an edge due to what he calls a "parallel innovation" business model. "The profits from the recreational markets help get things off the ground in the developing world," he says. It's a model other outdoor companies are using, too: recently, MSR announced that it had worked with a nonprofit to create a soup-can-size device that can purify water using table salt and a moped battery.
NGOs are taking notice of BioLite's plan. The company has received more than $5 million in grants from groups like USAID and another $5 million from venture capitalists. BioLite has already sold 10,000 HomeStoves and in November 2015 was slated to open its store in Bhubaneswar, in eastern India, where it hopes to sell 100,000 units for $50 each.
The company also recently introduced the NanoGrid, a combination battery, flashlight, and lantern that can store power from the stove for later use. Next up, Cedar hopes to develop refrigeration and water-purification technologies that can also be powered by the HomeStove. "Broadly speaking, we want to reinvent everything the grid does, but on a personal scale," he says.
Anyone Will Be Able to Run a Marathon from Their Living Room
Didn't land a spot in your favorite road race? Pretty soon you'll be able to switch on your tablet and toe up to a virtual starting line. Boston's Outside Interactive (no relation) allows runners to participate in races even though they live thousands of miles away. A pilot effort was held in summer 2015 at the New Balance Falmouth Road Race, the famed seven-miler on Cape Cod. One hundred virtual participants paid a reduced entry fee to download an app, then placed the screen before them on a treadmill and competed in a remote-runners-only category. The app shows footage filmed from a Segway before the race, providing a Kenyan's-eye view of cheering fans. Pace and incline can be adjusted manually with on-screen prompts to match the POV, or a device on your shoe will automatically slow the video to match your speed. The company is now talking with organizers of several running events nationwide to make their races available. Says founder Gary McNamee: "Our internal motto is, 'Making treadmill running suck less since 2011.' "
For the full article, visit the OutsideOnline feature "The Outside Guide to 2016."
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