The annual SnowSports Industries America (SIA) trade show, the largest of its kind, hit Denver two weeks ago. Swami scoured the showroom floor to bring you his picks for new gear.
Elan U-Flex Skis and Boots for Tikes
The biggest problem with cheapo youth gear? The skis don’t flex properly, which means the sidecut of the ski isn’t engaged, which means your kid won’t feel the sensation of a carve, which means he or she will continue to brace their turns in the old Stem Christie fashion. A terminal intermediate at age four—bummer. That non-flexing ski issue is only exacerbated by the boot and binding, which on a small ski takes up more effective length, blocking flex further. Elan’s solution? The new U-Flex technology. Here, not only does the ski flex deeply thanks to smartly milled channels, but the boot flexes in the binding via a bellows reminiscent of a telemark boot. The result? Elan claims a 25 percent increase in flex.
Tecnica Cochise Pro 130 and Zero G Guide Pro
As reported from the Winter Outdoor Retailer show, the 2016/17 trend we’re most keen on is that of traditional alpine boot makers turning their attention to the backcountry and adventure ski categories. We’ll be reviewing both the Cochise and the Zero G this winter, but quickly: By incorporating new uses of trusted materials like polyether (Cochise) and Triax 3.0 (Zero G) into Tecnica’s acclaimed Custom Adaptive Shape ultra anatomical lasting, the company was able to shave gobs of weight without giving up precision skiing. Case in point: The four buckle Zero G Guide Pro weighs only 1,545 grams.
Salomon QST 106 (middle)
The first concrete evidence that Salomon was reinventing its line of skis? Last year’s Best in Test winning MTN Lab 115, which floored our powder testers for lightweight versatility without sacrificing power. Next up? The brand new QST line which takes some of the same technology (Koroyd honeycomb tips, a spaceframe wood core, and CFX Superfiber; it’s a blend of carbon and flax) and then powers it up still more for daily resort skiing. Here that layup gets backed with a layer of milled titanal. And yes, we’ll be testing the 106 in a few weeks at Snowbird.
Salomon QST Pro 120
Salomon reinvented the backcountry boot market last year with its MTN Lab offerings. This year they take a similar swipe at the adventure skiing market with the highly walkable QST Pro 120. It only weighs 1596 grams, but it’s not a backcountry boot. Meaning it looks purpose built for hiking inbounds—and then wailing back down with real skis on your feet.
Jones Storm Chaser Splitboard
Pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones teamed with pro surfer Chris Christenson to create this not-for-pros-only powder slasher—currently the fastest gliding short board on the market. An ultra-wide waist maximizes float, while surf rocker pops the nose out of the snow when you crank a bottom turn.
Salomon MTN Charge
Are you that bowl-hiking customer? The MTN Charge helmet offers a little more weather protection than the pure backcountry built MTN Lab version.
Scott Riot 18 Ski Pole
It’s a nice burly fixed length aluminum pole with twist on powder baskets and extra foam beneath the grips for sidehilling on traverses and bootpacking steeper terrain.
Nordica Speed Machine InfraRed Customization
First, the long awaited return of the much-loved Speed Machine line of all mountain boots is here. Second, that same line of boots is customizable via a slick infrared machine (in Nordica dealers soon) that, at a molecular level, heats the shell from the inside out. Stick a suction cup on the heated zone and Mr. Shop Guy can easily pull it away from bunions, spurs, or any lingering hot spots from the last pair of boots he sold you.
Salomon Drifter Hoody
Salomon claims the Drifter Hoody works two ways. Wear the breathable stretch side out when sweating to the top of a line in the Rockies; then turn the jacket inside out, and let the shiny Pertex coated side shield you from wind and cold on the descent.
DPS Foundation Wailer 106 (blue, middle)
DPS is much loved by backcountry types for its superlight powder skis. Now the company has rededicated itself to the inbounds set too, thanks to what they claim is a new, “more powerful, stable, planted, and damp” construction called Foundation. Think new laminates of bamboo, carbon, and glass.
Giro Strata Helmet and Field Goggles
The MIPS-equipped, ladies Strata blends a bombproof ventilated shell upper with a super comfy, fur-fleece inner liner, and earflaps, all in a not-that-noticeable weight. MIPS technology creates multiple impact protection, and the colors are muted-cool yet racy. The Field Goggle— with a German engineered Carl Zeiss lens—is a perfect match for the Strata. It’s built for women’s faces and makes steep lines and snowfields appear all the clearer.
Line Pescado 125 (the wooden beasts)
The ultra fat powder ski category is rife with chubby and surfy skis. But the Pescado—designed by Eric Pollard—looks to be a chubby and surfy directional ski. Meaning the binding is set back a little, and the tail is built to finish a turn. In fact, the swallowtail design pretty much won’t let you run them switch. Not that you would. Not many do. There are trees and rock down there.
Oakley Helmets and Inferno Goggle
Last year, A-Bomb released the world’s first anti-fog goggle with a heated lens. This year, Oakley jumps in the mix with the Inferno lens. The company went with a cylindrical lens in year one to more easily attach the defroster film (it’s invisible as far as we can tell) and still offer Oakley quality optics. And whoa, they also have helmets. Finally.
Marmot Cheeky Ski Pant
Marmot built an insulated, removable short into its three-layer Gore-Tex Cheeky ski pant. Hello, hamstrings that might be a bit more pliable post chairlift ride.
Head Advant Edge Boots
You can’t really see it without opening the boot up, but this new all mountain boot from Head features Hi-Top technology: The lower shell material continues up the shin (left) for what Head claims—and what reason would dictate—is faster energy transfer to the ski, with an added boost of extra comfort. Meaning you don’t have to muscle the boot to get the ski to react.
Mammut Alugator Light Shovel
At 16.2 ounces, Mammut’s new Alugator shovel is 7.4 ounces lighter than its next lightest model, the Alugator Twist, yet has the same so-far indestructible hardened and anodized aluminum blade.
G3 FINDr Ski and Scala Climbing Skin
One of the founders of Kastle (the re-launch) is behind this new 102mm ski from G3. While we don’t hand out awards until we try gear—apparently we’re the only ones—it did win show awards in Europe for a wildly milled out core reminiscent of a recurve bow. The company claims it’s both superlight and powerful. And yes, we’ll be testing them in the backcountry this spring. Hopefully with the new Scala hybrid skin, which offers a fishscale plastic up front for increased glide and traditional plush carpet underfoot for grip. Looks cool.
Spy Happy Glass and Bravo/Discrete Goggles
We’ve been fans of Spy’s Happy Lens technology in it sports eyewear for the past few years. Now they’re offering the same bad-light-omitting tech in a glass lens for driving and fishing and chilling. Possibly even cooler than that? A partnership with Discrete headwear means you can now buy a goggle with a matching tube.
Do you really want to put an awkward rectangular sport box on your sleek sport wagon? The new Thule Flow is ultra low profile and the base matches the curvature of your roof. Better still? It’s deceptively long and capable of carrying your 210cm classic skis; plus all manner of fat skis.