A sneak peek at next year’s gear from the Winter 2015 Outdoor Retailer show.
By Marc Peruzzi
Atomic Backland Carbon Light Boot: The big news from the backcountry beat? Sister companies Salomon and Atomic are making a big push into this market with comprehensive lines of skis, skins, poles, and most notably boots (See “First Run” for more on the Salomon offerings). But know that the brands (both owned by Amer Sports) won’t be competing directly with each other. With its Backland Carbon line of boots, Atomic is targeting the light, fast, but skiable Dynafit TLT boot category, complete with a 98mm last and a removable tongue for high-speed uphilling. Notable: As with Atomic’s alpine boots, the liner AND shell are fully heat moldable.
BCA Scepter Carbon Alum Pole: One of the slickest new items we saw at the show was the innovative grip of BCA’s new Scepter line of poles. That extra platform on the grip serves as a scraper (to push snow off your skis while touring). It also allows for a better connection with the pole if you prefer to ski the backcountry without straps (poles are anchors in an avalanche). And the T-grip is nice for navigating steep switchbacks when you want to push down on the pole from above.
Fischer ProFoil (non-skin skin): If it works (and the Fischer crew swears that it does), then this new fish-scale style “skin” might just revolutionize ski touring as we know it. The product has been in the works for three years, but it’s recognizable to anyone who has ever XC skied with Fischer’s famed Crown line of waxless classic skis. Essentially Fischer took that kick zone, modified it to work on steep skin tracks and sidehills, extended the scales the length of the ski, and bonded it to a traditional glue skin backing. The potential upside? Fischer claims the ProFoil glides 20 percent better than a hairy skin, and since it’s made of P-Tex, you can wax it and it won’t absorb water weight.
Julbo Backcountry Goggle: The weak link in my ski touring setup? I need to go uphill wearing sunglasses so I don’t fog my goggles, but I need to stash the glasses at the summit, and then remove my goggles from the pack and put them on. Not a big deal on a one-and-done trip to a peak, but a real transition killer when you’re yo-yo-ing smaller terrain. (This is especially true now that light and breathable backcountry helmets are a reality. Why take off your helmet and goggs each time?) Leave it to the French alpinists at Julbo to find a fix. With their new for 2016 backcountry-built goggle, you simply pull the lens chassis forward from the frame to dump air like a sports shield and tuck it back in when it’s time to descend. Brilliant.
Leki Alpine Stick S Vario: Here’s one of the better takes on a fully foldable multiuse pole for splitboarding and traveling alpine skiers only interested in flying with their boots and poles. Collapsed down to its three sections, it easily stows in a small backpack. Swap out the baskets based on conditions. Leki’s spring-actuated strap releases might just save your shoulder if you hook your poles on a tree.
Rossignol Backcountry Skis: Here’s a trend we’re excited about: Metal-edged midfat, freeheeled, backcountry skis with innovative no-wax, kick and glide bases and modern attributes like rocker. For Eastern backwoods skiers, that means you can eke out off-trail turns with far more ease. For Rocky Mountain types, there’s now enough girth to head out in lower elevation, lower angle terrain when the avalanche danger up at altitude is too high. Rossi now offers a full range of backcountry skis. The 125 is 90mm underfoot and they get progressively skinnier depending on where and how you want to use them. You can now burn your snowshoes.
Fischer S Bound Easy Skin Skis: Short, integrated climbing skins are suddenly everywhere in the classic XC market, but Fischer’s Easy Skin system is the first application we’ve seen in the backwoods category. Slip the tab through the ski, press the glued skin to the base, and go. Got a long cruising descent to the car? Pull the skin to maximize glide.
Swix Down Short: Race tights feel good, they offer some proprioception, and they’re more aerodynamic. But they aren’t much fun when it’s cold and you’re just out training. So most Nordic skiers wear warm-up style pants. Here’s a better system: Slip Swix’s new Down Short over your tights. Use them for race day prep—or anytime you’re out skiing around in cold temps. The style is reminiscent of baggy mountain bike shorts. Except they’re warm.
Swix Carbon XC Jacket: Nordic skiers screamed foul when Swix retired the Carbon Jacket from its lineup. It’s exceedingly difficult to find the perfect weight XC jacket that you can wear from 20 to 35 degrees. The Carbon was it. So for 2016 it’s back.
Salomon Skate Lab Carbon Quiver: Salomon’s carbon initiative started with a carbon SNS binding. Last year it progressed to include an ethereal cheater skate boot built with the help of Ferrari. This year, Salomon’s Lab line of carbon skating gear includes a full structural carbon ski (we’re excited to try a pair at the next demo) and a brand new lighter, stiffer pole. The intriguing news? The skis aren’t out of touch price wise like the Ferrari-influenced boots. Either way, the trickle down will be impressive. Just hefting the system on the showroom floor, the weight of the ski, binding, and boot appears to be less than my current skis and bindings alone. They’re already winning endurance races on the world stage.
miscellaneous doodads and casual duds
HydraPak Collpasible Bottles: HydraPak has long made our short list when upgrading hydration pack bladders—easy to fill, easy to clean, durable, BPA-free, and featuring a closure system that’s top notch. But that’s a small market. So we’re excited to see HydraPak hit it big with these unique collapsible water bottles. Twist the cap and fill the bottle at a spring or a tap and you have a full Nalgene’s worth of water. Drink said water and the container twists back to a disc the size of a large cookie. The design frees up pack space—whether you’re ski touring (we prefer bottles over bladders for that anyway) or simply traveling through the world.
Icebreaker Wool Shorts: Sitting on a chairlift is cold. But not if you first pull on these oversized wool boxers over your base layer.
Icebreaker Reversible Jacket: Quilted merino wool on one side. Stylish wool plaid on the other. Lots of value here in terms of days worn.
KEEN American Built Footwear: It started last year with one American Built hiker. For Fall 2015 look for an entire line of KEEN shoes made in the PNW—including an insulated winter boot, the Durand Polar. Turns out Americans are willing to pay just a little extra for quality shoes made in the U.S. Who knew? We knew. Cooler still? Europeans will be able to buy Euro-made shoes as well.
Seirus Heated Glove Component System: The problem with most heated gloves? They’re primarily designed for brutally cold days on the ski hill. Meaning you probably aren’t taking advantage of the technology you paid for when you’re scraping the windshield or walking the dogs. For 2016, Seirus has a fix: Here, the inner midweight glove offers the heat source. Pull it out of the over-glove and you get dexterity plus warmth—and added value.
Snow Peak Silcone “Glasses”: Just flat out cool. As clear and elegant as crystal, but fully crushable. Car camping. RVing. Boating. Tailgating. Children.
Check back next week for more OR highlights from our editors. New outerwear, backpacks, trailgating, and ath-leisure gear coming in Fall 2015.