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The Columbia Ultrachange Parka is unlike any other Columbia jacket I've seen and tested. Columbia gave me the opportunity to test one this past winter and here's what I thought.
Columbia Ultrachange Parka Review Features
- Omni-Heat thermal reflective and insulated liner
- Omni-Wick EVAP advanced evaporation
- Omni-Dry ultrabreathable waterproof fully seam sealed
- 3-point Interchange System
- Liner with breathable stretch panels
- Attached, adjustable storm hood
- Helmet compatible hood
- Vented hand pockets
- 2-way center front zipper
- Waterproof zippers
- Drawcord adjustable hem
- Skinny seam seal tape
- Contoured sleeve cuffs
- Backpack compatible
- Abrasion resistant chin guard
- Drop tail
- 24 oz (Shell: 11.2 oz. Liner: 12.8 oz.)
- Center back length: 29.5”
- MSRP: $450
Columbia Ultrachange Parka Review ReviewThe Columbia Ultrachange Parka truly is a few steps above any other Columbia jacket I've tested. I was very impressed with it. The Ultrachange is 3 jackets in 1. It comes with an outer shell and a liner jacket. You can mix and match to get the protection that you need. The shell is lightweight coming in at 11.2 ounces. It's not the lightest on the market but that is still good for a protective shell. It is made with their Omni-Dry and Omni-Wick EVAP for weather protection and breathability. The jacket surface is textured which gives it a couple of extra design points. From a performance standpoint the Ultrachange shell gets a 4 out of 5 stars from me. It is great with weather protection. In the rain water would bead up and run off. It shed snow and buffeted wind. It does lose a star on breathability. It did seem to perform better than other Columbia jackets I've tested but I still overheated pretty easily. To help with venting the oversized hand pockets are vented. The shell is packed with other features as well. The arms are plenty long, no sleeve hiking when I extend my long arms. They do feature drop cuffs, giving your hands a little extra coverage. Velcro closures help keep the sleeves closed and in place. A full-sized, brimmed hood features three adjustments to keep the hood in place, even in the gnarliest winds. A drop-tail helps keep your rear dry and powder out. A rubber-lined bottom hem and two drawstrings also help keep the jacket in place. All pockets feature waterproof zippers with generous pull tabs that are even big enough for winter gloves to use. Two hand and one chest pocket help keep your belongings organized. For the hikers out there the hand pockets are big enough to fit skins, though the mesh vents will let the melting water in. From a durability standpoint I'd give the shell 3 out of 5 stars. After a winter of use water still beads up and runs off, however, the fabric is prone to tears. First run through the trees (not even gnarly trees) I came away with three little tears in the right sleeve. Nothing a little duct tape won't fix, but for a $450 jacket, I'd like to not have to worry about skiing trees. The liner jacket jacket is filled with synthetic insulation and lined with Omni-Heat. On it's own, it's a good cold weather jacket when you just need protection from the cold. The shell will give slight water protection but not much. It does feature stretch panels under the arms for cooling and movement which is a nice touch. It does feature two large, lined handwarmer pockets, which help the liner stand out on it's own. The Omni-Heat lining helps give some extra warmth performance. The liner does fasten into the shell with three loop/snap closures. Pair the shell with the liner and you have a formidable winter jacket. Fully weatherproof and extremely warm. I dug the full Ultrachange for night skiing trips and cold days at the resort. I usually wore just the shell when hiking for turns and the just the liner around town. The Good
- Good feature set
- Fabric durability
Bottom Line:Each year Columbia gets better and better and the Ultrachange is the best I've seen from them yet. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Ultrachange Parka Review [gallery]... Read more...
After what can only be deemed as an abysmal start to the ski season, with months of high pressure and facets, we're finally seeing some precipitation up here in AK, and I've finally had a chance to get out and ski in my Outdoor Research Vanguard Pants.
Outdoor Research Vanguard PantsThe Vanguard Pants, new for winter 2012/2013 are a highly waterproof, highly breathable softshell ski pant with lots of sidecountry features such as a Recco reflector and a beacon pocket. Available in both Men’s and Women’s designs, the Vanguard looks to be the pant that will stand up to all sorts of weather, no matter who’s wearing it! Overall, I'm enjoying the pants. So far, they're as waterproof as OR says they should be, offer great mobility for touring and appear to be fairly burly. Errant Alders are no match for the material on the Vanguards...
- Most waterproof softshells I've ever worn- After 3 hours of resort laps in Alyeska's infamous "Mixed Precip" (read: rain), my legs were still dry. The pants were soaked, but my legs were still dry. I then wore them for a 4-day Level 2 Avalanche course, and spent all my time sitting in pits I dug. I came home dry each day.
- Beacon pocket- I love this thing. The pocket is actually mesh pocket inside a pocket with a clip to keep your beacon attached to you.
- Dual sided thigh vents with double zippers. Dump heat fast, but don't worry about fumbling around with a one way zipper to get them zipped back up.
- The Vanguards are HUGE. Definitely try them on, or order a size smaller than you normally would. Consistently a size small in Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear and other Outdoor Research Products, I chose a size small in the Vanguards. Even in my ski boots, the pants drag on the ground, and I've maxed out the elastic waistband adjustment to keep them from sagging down to my knees. The size guide indicates that a Small should have a 29 inch inseam. I'd put mine at about 34 inches.
- The pockets may be overkill. I love the beacon pocket, but don't have a ton of use for the 2 mid thigh pockets in addition to the 2 front and 2 back pockets. On the plus side, I guess I'll never run out of space for CLIF shots...
Check 'Em OutOutdoor Research Women's Vanguard Pants or Outdoor Research Men's Vanguard Pants... Read more...
All it takes is one look to know that Osprey poured a ton of thought and development into the the Osprey Variant 37 Backpack. My experiences with the Variant 37 this summer were great and I'm looking forward to a full winter of using it. Oh yeah, Osprey sent it to me to test and review a some Oregon summer ski mountaineering trips.
Osprey Variant 37 Backpack Features
- Material: Matrix (420D nylon), Cordura (315D)
- Support/Suspension: HDPE frame sheet
- Removeable waist belt
- Hydration Compatible
- Ski Carry
- Climbing Gear Loops: 2
- Ice Axe Loops: 2
- Adjustable tool bungees
- Crampon compression pocket
- Glove friendly buckles
- Three-point haul system
- Underlid Pocket
- Wand Pocket
- Weight: (small) 3 lb 4 oz, (medium) 3 lb 6 oz, (large) 3 lb 9 oz
- Volume: (small) 2075 cu in, (medium) 2258 cu in, (large) 2441 cu in
- Price: $178.95
Osprey Variant 37 Backpack ReviewOut of the box I was stoked when I put the Osprey Variant 37 Backpack on for the first time and it fit me perfectly. I'm not that tall but I've had problems in the past with finding packs that fit. The Variant is jam packed with the features you want and a none of stuff you don't care about. The main compartment is big and open. The hydration sleeve is easy to access when empty and an easily fit a 100 oz resevoir. The top compression strap doubles as a rope strap. The extendable lid moves as your loads expands or shrinks. A spindrift collar rolls up under the lid but can unrolled to keep snow out. The lid also features top and under pockets. The crampon compression sleeve is large enought to fit crampons and an avie shovel blade. Side compression straps help keep contents in the sleeve and a small mesh patch at the bottom lets water drain. The "adjustable tool bungee y-clps" were a little funky to figure out but once I did I was a fan. When cinched down they are extremely secure. Definitely one of the better designs I've seen. The ice tool holsters are secure and have a beefier fabric behind them to protect from sharp edges and points. The tool holsters are versatile enough to hold an avie shovel handle. Each side features a wand pocket that doubles as a bottle holder if your so inclined. The ski carry loops were wide enough to easily fit my 115mm tails and carry in the a-frame style. The waist belt is removeable/stowable and features two gear loops for your alpine rack. It is about 3 inches wide and comfortable over a ski jacket and pants or over just a shirt and pants. Shoulder straps were comfy as well and shaped to stay out of the way. Performance was strong both on the uphills and on the down. The profile is slim enough that I didn't bump my elbows when skinning or hiking. On my Mt Hood trip I carried a fair amount of gear and the heavy load was stable and carried well. On ski descents I was able to cinch everything down tight enough to keep it from swaying around. The combination of all the compression straps, shoulder straps, and waist belt kept it secure on my torso. I was able to ski variable snow in variable terrain without worrying about the load. The layout of everything on the pack made the process of "load skis, unload skis, get the ice axe and crampons, stow it all, etc" a relatively painless task. One thing I did think was missing was some sort of side access. It always seems no matter how you pack you always need to fish something out of the bottom of the pack. On the side of the mountain, in the snow, it would have been nice to be able to get to the bottom of the pack without having to unload. The Good
- Great feature set
- Climbed and skied well
- No side access
Bottom Line:The Variant 37 is awesome. It's a strong performer for ski mountaineering. Buy Now: Pick up the Osprey Variant 37 Backpack ... Read more...
Made for trail-side lunch and snacking the Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container won't let you down by letting your food go cold. Innate sent me a Shiru to test and review and here's what I thought.
Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container Features
- Material: Double-wall Stainless Steel
- Capacity: 0.55 liters (18.5 fl oz)
- Dimentions: 3 x 7 inches
- Weight: 14.8 ounces
- Price: $22-$28
Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container ReviewThe Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container is made to be a lunch container. The short and squat shape makes it ideal for eating your warm (or cold) meals. Unlike your typical thermos for liquid, the opening is wide enough to eat out of without feeling like your fishing for your food. No need to dump your lunch out either. The short nature allows you to easily scrap the bottom to get all of your lunch. The Shiru is made of double-wall stainless steel. It's rated to keep your food hot for up to 5 hours, especially if you take 10 minutes to "preheat" it before you put your hot lunch in. It can double as a cooler to keep your lunch cold for up to 10 hours. In testing I've had food in it for close to the 5 hour limit and when I opened it up, it was still hot. The inner lid features a steam release valve to both depressurize the container and prevent steam burns when as you open the container. The inner lid is also insulated to help control heat loss through the top. The inner lid is wide, making it easier to open, even with gloves on. A rubber gasket seals the liquid inside so even if it tips, it won't leak. I didn't experience any leaking, but stay on the safe side and make sure it remains upright in your pack. The outer cap is also insulated, providing even more heat-retaining value. Keep an eye on it though, it can loosen on it's own because it only has a couple threads I've used it in my pack for cool weather hiking and skiing. Although my biggest use has been for breakfast at work. I typically mix my oatmeal in it and by the time I get to work it's ready to eat. The Good
- Great for lunch
- Retains heat extremely well
- Easy to eat out of
- The outer cap is only a couple threads and can loosen on its own
Bottom Line:The Shiru is the container to use to keep your lunch warm. Buy Now: Pick up the Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container [gallery]... Read more...
As temps drop and we start seeing snow on our higher peaks in Alaska, winter is officially on the brain. Early fall is one of my favorite times of the year- not because of the changing leaves or cool, crisp mornings, but rather because early fall means new gear! Time to play with all the new toys coming out for the 2012/2013 winter! So far, here's what I'm getting stoked about for ski season:
A Pair of 163 Praxis MVP Custom Ordered SkisSay who? Praxis? If you aren't familiar with Keith O'Meara's custom shaped skis out of Tahoe, get familiar, and fast. Praxis has been around for years, cranking out some of the most innovative ski technology with incredibly high quality. As world class caliber skiers such as Drew Tabke and Kevin O'Meara begin to ski Praxis skis and bring notoriety to the name, more and more people have been drawn to the brand. Keith, the man behind the curtain, has directed his focus towards making smaller batch, custom skis designed to fit a variety of riders. For my season-long pleasure, I will be skiing a pair of 163 Most Valuable Praxis, or MVP skis, in the "soft" flex with the graphic of my choosing. All of Keith's skis are available for immediate purchase as his original designed model, or available to be custom ordered for flex (choices of soft, medium, medium/stiff and stiff), layup (triaxial fiberglass or a carbon/triaxial fiberglass blend), length, and graphic. Choose from Praxis's badass graphic library or upload your own! Best part? All this customization comes at little to no extra price. Pick your own flex and graphic for free. If you'd like to add the carbon there is a nominal materials fee increase, and if you'd like to upload your own graphic, there's a small fee for that as well. Look to hear more about Praxis and my new MVPs later in the season. Men's and Women's designs, the Vanguard looks to be the pant that will stand up to all sorts of weather, no matter who's wearing it! I'm excited to test out the GoreTex softshell material up here in AK, and see how it holds up to our heavy wet snow. Men's version, which features a lobster-claw style 3 finger glove design. Read more...
What exactly is a "Compounder"? Adhesive substances? Nope. Fractions? Nope. An awesome jacket meant for whatever you can throw at it? Yep. Columbia continues to step up their game. The Columbia Compounder Jacket is great all-around jacket for those who like to get out doing a lot of different things. Columbia sent me the Compounder to review this spring and summer.
Columbia Compounder Jacket Features
- Fabric: 100% 2.5 layer polyester plain weave
- Omni-Dry ultra breathable waterproof fully seam sealed
- Omni-Wick EVAP® advanced evaporation
- Attached, adjustable, helmet compatible storm hood
- Drawcord adjustable hem
- Waterproof zippers
- Drop tail
- 5 pockets
- Internal key clip
- Abrasion resistant chin guard
- Center back length: 30 in
- Price: $300
Columbia Compounder Jacket ReviewThe Columbia Compounder Jacket would fit well in the "all-around" jacket category. It is a strong performer in a lot of different conditions. The combination of the 2.5 layer Omni-Dry construction was more than enough to keep the weather out. From rain storms, to blizzards, to 40 mph winds, the Compounder kept the weather at bay. I had full confidence when I wore it. The thing that sets it apart from other jackets is the Omni-Wick Evap technology. This is supposed to make the Compounder ultra breathable by using "a special compound that disperses sweat quickly across a broad surface area for accelerated evaporation.". I'm a sweat machine so I was very excited about this. I came away from testing with mixed feelings. Overall it does a decent job. In cold conditions it did well moving moisture. When temps were warmer I was sweating more than the jacket could move. It's definitely not an "active" jacket for running but it does well for hiking, backcountry skiing, resort skiing, or other activities that don't have high levels of output. To be completely fair, other shells have a hard time keeping up with moisture management. With that in mind, though, the Compounder is one of the better performing jackets when it comes to moisture management. It does come with full pit zips which help with additional ventilation. The hand pockets are mesh lined so if things get bad you can open them up as well. The downfall to the mesh pockets is when you get sweaty whatever is in your pockets will get soaked. The two hand warmer, two inside pouch, and one chest pocket allow you to carry way more than you need in your pockets. The fleece lined chin area keeps your face from getting rubbed raw. The drawcord hem will help keep the weather out. The Compounder is relatively lightweight and packs down pretty small. I've kept it stashed away in my pack for when I need it. Once again it's a good all-around jacket so it won't get as small or as lightweight as some shells out there. The hood is big and adjustable. It will fit over many helmets and can snug down tight. It handled 40 mph crosswinds on Mt Hood without shaking or flapping loose. I was able to adjust it small enough to give good coverage of my face. The length is long enough to give good coverage for when your skiing but not so long that you look like a dork when you wear it around town. The Good
- Great all-around jacket
- Lightweight and pack able
- Relatively breathable
- Mesh pockets allow contents to get sweaty
Bottom Line:The Columbia Compounder is a strong contender. It's a good all-around jacket. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Compounder Jacket[gallery]... Read more...
A couple of weeks ago I made my first climbing attempt of Mt Hood in northern Oregon. The weather conspired against us with snowstorms and 45 mph winds. It was planned to be a ski mountaineering trip. The plan was to skin as high as possible then don crampons and ice axes for the summit push. The descent would be skis from the top of the Hogsback to the base. While the weather wasn't our friend we still skinned our way up through the resort and had a good ski descent. Another attempt later this month will be likely. Here's my gear list for the trip. I err on the side of caution and may have carried a little more than others would.
- Columbia Compounder Jacket
- Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket
- Patagonia Powderkeg Pants
- Patagonia Midweight Capilene Top
- Patagonia Midweight Capilene Bottoms
- Stoic Inbounds Glove
- Black Diamond Powerstretch Fleece Gloves
- Patagonia R1 Balaclava
- Julbo Orbiter Goggles
Ski and Climbing Gear
- Black Diamond Kilowatt Skis
- Fritschi Freeride Plus Bindings
- Black Diamond Method Boots
- Black Diamond Ascension Skins
- Black Diamond Whippet Pole
- Black Diamond Traverse Pole
- Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe
- Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro Crampons
- Backcountry Access Tracker DTS Beacon
- Voile T6 Tech Avalanche Shovel
- Black Diamond QuickDraw Guide Probe 300
- Petzl Ecrin Roc Helmet
- Petzl Reverso Belay Device
- Couple of shoulder length slings and locking carabiners
- Osprey Variant 37 Backpack
- Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag
- Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp
- GSI Glacier Stainless Dualist Cookset
- MSR Pocket Rocket Stove
- Vapur Element Bottle
While most of the Lower 48 is enjoying summer climbing weather already, we're just barely transitioning out of full on winter up here in AK. Unfortunately, that transition means some rainy days amidst the snow. To keep me warm in the rain or the snow, I've been reaching for my Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket.
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket Specs
- Highly weather-resistant/breathable WINDSTOPPER® shell fabric; taffeta lining
- PrimaLoft® ECO 60g insulation
- Double-separating front zipper
- Zippered napoleon pocket (great for stashing a CLIF shot!), plus a zippered internal chest pocket and two handwarmer pockets. One handwarmer pocket is intended to double as a stuff sack.
- Stretch binding on cuffs
- MSRP: $225
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket ReviewThe Havoc is a synthetic insulated jacket, taken to the "next level" with Windstopper material integrated into the exterior of the jacket. What a great idea! Eric raves about this also in his own review of the Havoc. Why don't all synthetic puffy coats come with Windstopper? No added weight or bulk, and added warmth. Good thinking on Outdoor Research's part. I used the Havoc as my primary insulation layer for ski touring, and often used it as my outer layer as well. The Windstopper material made it so that I didn't need a shell over the insulation to keep the wind chill out. Awesome. When I heard about the Havoc, I was a bit concerned that it might be less packable/pliable due to the Windstopper shell. Not so. My Havoc packs down smaller than my old Patagonia MicroPuff does, and comes with the added benefit of the Windstopper shell. Win win!
- Primaloft insulation keeps you warm, but what really adds to the heat of this jacket is the Windstopper exterior. No biting chills accidentally making it through the jacket.
- Sizing is right on and equivalent to the rest of their line.
- The hood is a great size. Big enough to fit over a hat or a climbing helmet (not a ski helmet), but not giant. Not stowable, but that doens't phase me.
- Handwarmer pockets have a fleece lining inside them. Bonus!
- I wish the Havoc came with a stuff sack for stowing in my pack when I'm not using it. One of the handwarmer pockets is intended to double as a stuff sack, but it seems a bit cumbersome. I like having a separate bag that I can just jam things right into without worrying about accidentally ripping a zipper.
- The Double Separating front zipper makes it a pain to zip up sometimes. Since both parts have to be all the way down, it seems I spend a lot of time fumbling with that.
Bottom LineA well designed synthetic insulation jacket with the added bonus of a Windstopper shell. Check out the Havoc here!... Read more...
Recognize this scenario? Time to load the car for the family trip. Ah crap, we over packed! Get the extra cargo capacity you need with the Yakima Rocketbox Pro 11 Cargo Box.
Yakima Rocketbox Pro 11 Cargo Box Features
- Capacity: 11 cu ft (311 liters)
- Ski load Capacity: 5
- Snowboard Load Capacity: 5
- Dual-Side Opening
- Push Button Opening
- SKS Lock Core Included (with key)
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 89 in x 24 in x 15 in
- Weight: 38 lbs
- Price: $349.00
Yakima Rocketbox Pro 11 Cargo Box ReviewThe Yakima Rocketbox Pro 11 Cargo Box is the mid-size choice in the Rocketbox line and it's the most economical. Technically it has the smallest capacity, however, it is longer than the Rocketbox 12. The "Pro" in the name refers to the upgrades to the line from previous models. It comes with features like for dual-side opening, a push button latch, and an upgraded bar connection system. The exterior is also more sleek in appearance. The Rocketbox Pro 11 is good sized box. It's long enough to hold skis and has enough capacity to haul a bunch of gear. I've been able to fit three pairs of skis, poles, and a snowboard in it at the same time with room to spare. If you purchase it through the mail you will have to assemble the box yourself. Have no fear it's a straight forward process. Yakima does provide easy-to-follow, detailed instructions and there is a short video available on Yakima's website as well. One thing to note: the keys are taped to the box, not inside with the other parts. Took me a few to find them. The roof mounting system has been changed up from the previous Rocketbox line. The old style was a combo knob and camming lever to secure the clamp. The new style is just a red knob. Adjust the clamps forward or back and then tighten. This simplifies the system. I will say though, if you take your cargo box on and off frequently the new system won't be quite as efficient. One big benefit is the Pro 11 is dual-side opening. Gone are the days of only mounting the box on the passenger side of the car or having to walk around to load/unload. It also comes with a push button to make opening easier. It features a more narrow profile so you can actually fit other attachments on your roof rack with the box on. It will also fit round, square, and factory crossbars. To facilitate the dual-side Yakima has employed pivoting hinges on the inside. They are made of plastic and it seems this could be a potential point of failure. Chances are unlikely but it's worth noting. You'd either have to really yard on the lid or use it excessively. All in all the Rocketbox Pro 11 is money. I've been using it all winter and it's been a trip saver. Well worth the investment. The Good
- Dual-side opening
- Can fit a ton of gear
- Great Price
- Some assembly required (only a negative if you don't like putting stuff together)
Bottom Line:Great box, good versatility, most economical choice in the line. It's been a trip saver for me. Buy Now: Yakima Rocketbox Pro 11 Cargo Box [gallery]... Read more...
The Columbia Triple Trail Jacket is a jacket to span all seasons. It'll be at home on the trail on cool spring days, keep you dry in camp during summer storms, and keep the white stuff at bay during mid-winter touring sessions.
Columbia Triple Trail Jacket Features
- Shell fabric: 100% nylon 3L Heat with Omni-Tech waterproof-breathable finish
- Stretch panels: 89% nylon/11% elastane 3L Heat Cyberstretch
- Lining: Omni-Heat® thermal reflective
- Waterproof, breathable and fully seam sealed
- Attached and adjustable storm hood
- Zippered vents beneath sleeves
- Hem features adjustable drawcord
- Zippered hand pockets
- Zippered interior security pocket
- Waterproof zippers throughout garment
- Center back length: 31 in
- Price: $299.95
Columbia Triple Trail Jacket ReviewThe Columbia Triple Trail Jacket isn't like Columbia jackets of old. Prior to the Triple Trail my only other Columbia jacket was the Bugaboo with the zip out fleece when I was 12. That Bugaboo set my perception of Columbia, which remained for 18 years. The Triple Trail has changed that perspective for the better. The Triple Trail features a three-layer nylon laminate with strategically placed stretch panels so the jacket moves with you. The seams are all fully seam sealed to give true waterproof protection. The Omni-Tech finish keeps water at bay. Columbia used waterproof zippers throughout the entire jacket (helps with the clean look) and the zipper pulls are substantial enough that you can grab them, even when wearing a thick winter glove like the Columbia Omni-Heat Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves. The Triple Trail is fully lined (including the hood) with Omni-Heat reflective fabric. The tiny dots reflect back body heat (similar to a space blanket) but the space between the dots allows for breathability. The Omni-Heat lining keeps you warmer. It features two zippered hand pockets which are HUGE! They literally span from the hem to your shoulders. The first thing I thought of when I put my hands in was "these would be perfect pockets for your skins when running laps". But the interior isn't waterproof so you'll just end up soaking your layers. They are extra roomy. I would have loved to see a chest pocket on the jacket, but I don't know how it would have fit with the big pockets. The interior features one zippered pocket and open top pocket. As with most all "waterproof, breathable jackets" the Triple Trail is solid on the waterproof, but not as much so on the breathability. It does feature long pit-zips to help cool you down but I did overheat and sweat when exertion levels started to rise. Maybe I'm just warm, but I still have yet to find a shell I can wear when skinning without overheating. Both the hem and hood are adjustable. The hood features a stiff brim which will keep it from sagging when things start to get wet. The hood fits well but won't fit over a helmet. The Triple Trail would be a good jacket for 4 season use. Keep in mind, with the versatility there are compromises that are made. It is less packable than a dedicated rain jacket. But, you can wear the Triple Trail skiing and have full weather protection. The Omni-Heat lining adds bulk and weight, but it's warmer. If you want one jacket, the Triple Trail is a good way to go. The fit is good. I'm 6' tall and 180 lbs and the large fits me nicely. There is enough room that I can wear a medium weight mid-layer and still have free movement. I have long arms and I can extend them without the sleeves pulling up over my gloves (this makes a big difference for me). The jacket is cut long which makes it extremely nice for skiing. Overall I was extremely impressed with the Triple Trail Jacket. My perception of Columbia changed from that a mediocre outdoor brand to a brand that is now making premium outerwear. The Good
- Well made
- Breathability is all right, but I still overheated in it
- No chest pocket
Bottom Line:The Triple Trail Jacket is a solid jacket. It's well-made and a versatile jacket. If you want 4-season protection, you've got it. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Triple Trail Jacket [gallery]... Read more...
Looking for a good all-around softshell jacket? The Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket will fit the bill. From running, to urban cycling, skiing, and hanging out the Moab brings solid performance.
Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket Features
- Fabric: 87 % polyester, 13 % elastane, 100% polyester backing, DWR finish
- Windproof rating: 20 CFM
- Merrell Aeroblock™ provides high wind-resistance and breathability
- Merrell Conductor thermal fleece inside provides versatile heat retention in varying conditions
- Bonded, lightweight Merrell Conductor fleece backing
- Drawcord adjustable hem
- Zip-secure hand pockets / chest pocket
- No shoulder seam construction for greater water resistance and improved comfort under a backpack strap
- Center back length: 30 in (size large)
- Price: $128.95
Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket Review
The Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket is a versatile softshell. The Aeroblock fabric provides good protection from the elements but actually breathes fairly decently too. It truly keeps pace with you as you begin to heat up. Of course in the most stenuous of exertions you'll get too warm but you should just take your jacket off anyway. During moderate exertion I didn't sweat out of the jacket. The DWR finish provides some rain protection but it won't keep pace in anything more than a light rain. The Moab is definitely at home in cold, dry, or snowy conditions. I typically won't run in jackets but with the Moab on cold days I could run in it without getting too warm.
The fit is good. I'm 6' tall, 180 lbs and the large fit me nicely. It does fit a little loose so you have some room for mid-layers.
The chest pocket and hand warmer pockets are fleece insulated but the inside of the pocket is the smooth side of the fleece. All pockets feature weatherproof zippers which are nice addition. I would have liked to see more substantial zipper pulls though. The thin pulls are a little awkward when wearing winter gloves.
The clean design and lines of the jacket keep it simple and you can pull off wearing the Moab out to dinner after a day on the hill without looking like you're wearing a ski jacket.
One thing that I would to have love to see with the Moab is a hooded option. On a versatile jacket a hood would cap the deal for me.
- Zipper pulls are thin for pulling with gloves
- No hood option
The Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket is a versatile jacket and a great price point.
Buy Now: Pick up the Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket[gallery]... Read more...
Make your baselayers work a little bit harder. The Columbia Midweight Baselayers work harder for you with the addition of their Omni-Heat lining.
Columbia Midweight Baselayer Top Features
- Fabric: 86% polyester/14% elastane
- Omni-Heat thermal reflective
- Omni-Wick advanced evaporation
- Form fit
- 4-way comfort stretch
- Ergonomic seaming
- Thumb holes
- Price: $59.95
Columbia Midweight Baselayer Bottom Features
- Fabric: 86% polyester/14% elastane
- Omni-Heat thermal reflective
- Omni-Wick advanced evaporation
- Form fit
- 4-way comfort stretch
- Ergonomic seaming
- Gusset detail
- Price: $54.95
Columbia Midweight Baselayers ReviewThe Columbia Midweight Baselayers are a good all around baselayer for multi-season activities. In the fall and spring they work as stand alone layering pieces for cool weather exploits. I've found the top to be sufficient by itself for trail runs down into the 30s. In the winter they pair well as part of a layering system. The Omni-Heat reflective lining helps keep in additional warmth. As Columbia says "keeping you up to 20% warmer". When I first looked at the lining as I pulled the pieces out of the package I was skeptical. I thought it was going to feel like tin foil rubbing on my skin. I couldn't have been more wrong. The Omni-Heat lining is smooth and soft on the skin. I didn't notice it at all and it's surprisingly comfortable. The 4-way comfort stretch fabric helps with mobility and keeps you from feeling restricted when you're moving. The antimicrobial properties work wonders and you can even get away with wearing the pieces multiple times between washings. You know how typically with synthetic layers as you pull on your shirt for the second time you get repulsed by the stench? This isn't the case with the Columbia Midweight baselayer. The antimicrobial properties keep the smell at bay. The fit is definitely athletic. I'm 6 feet tall and 180 lbs and the large top and bottom fit me perfectly. One thing I will say on the fit is the arms are cut a little high so fits tight through the armpits. On the bottoms, do yourselves a favor gents and get the pair with the fly. I don't get why they'd make them without. The Good
- Warm & versatile
- Top fit a little tight through the armpits
- No fly on certain bottom models
Bottom Line:Looking for a solid baselayer to span multiple seasons? Get the Columbia Midweight Baselayers. Buy Now: Columbia Midweight Baselayers [gallery]... Read more...
I used to only think of Julbo as the glacier sunglasses company. That's not the case anymore. Julbo gave me the chance to test and review the Julbo Orbiter Goggles and here's what I thought.
Julbo Orbiter Goggles Features
- Material: Lightweight nylon frame is flexible and accommodates large faces
- Breathable dual density foam membrane
- Silicone-accented strap and easy clip secure to fit all helmet sizes
- Camel Photochromic lens (cat 2-4) new high end polarized lens
- NXT technology
- Front venting
- Anti-reflective coating
- Anti-fog coating
- Price: $200
Julbo Orbiter Goggles ReviewFirst off, out of the box the Julbo Orbiter Goggles look great! Let's face it, if you're going to shell out more than $30 for goggles, you want a pair that look good. The Orbiter has good styles and the frame designs are clean. The Orbiter is made to fit bigger faces, so ladies you'll want to check out something like the Julbo Eclipse Goggles. I found the Orbiter extremely comfortable and can thank the breathable foam for that. After all day wear, I didn't get any goggle fatigue. The Orbiter is also comfortable with a helmet. The strap "wings" (as I call them) position the strap to go with the curve of the helmet instead of making the strap stretch straight from the frame. This was huge in terms of on-helmet comfort. The Orbiter also comes with a strap extender so you don't end up with foam imprints after wearing the goggles for awhile. The strongest and most notable feature is the Camel lens. The Orbiter comes with a couple of lens options but just move past the rest and go straight for the Camel. The Camel lens is a polarized photochromatic lens. For the uninitiated, photochromatic is essentially a "transition" lens that changes from light to dark based on the amount of sunlight. The Camel lens is rated as a "2-4" on the scale which means it does well in relatively low-light conditions to bright conditions. The product photo shows the lens at the lightest and my photo shows it at it's darkest. Throw in the polarized coating and you have a lens that is hard to beat. All that combined makes the Orbiter an awesome goggle. I already have a favorite goggle but now I am having to reconsider my choice. The Good
- Camel Lens (polarized, photochromatic)
- Good Style
- Price - it could be hard to shell out $200 for goggles but they are worth it
Bottom Line:The Julbo Orbiter Goggles is a great goggle and worth every penny. Buy Now: Pick up the Julbo Orbiter Goggles[gallery]... Read more...
For just a couple of seasons now, Sierra Designs has been turning out some great gloves. But in my opinion with the Transporter glove they have now hit the mark almost dead-on, design-wise. Let me tell you why these gloves have become my go-to glove every day this ski season... First of all, they are an under-the-cuff design. I prefer under-the-cuff, for the simple look it provides and that you don't have a gauntlet bunching up all your jacket around your wrist. Sure, sometimes when you take a digger you'll get some snow on your wrist. But that's not a big price to pay for much more comfort, in my view. Second, the leather (which covers about 80% of the exterior of the glove) is very soft and supple. The touch they provide is perfect when holding ski poles or buckling boots, or trying to blindly grasp a zipper pull on your pit zips. Many gloves think that stuffing the glove with lots of insulation and wrapping it in Cordura and tough rubber palms will make them perfect for skiing. But the fact is, no matter how insulated your gloves are, your hands will get cold real quickly if they are so bulky that you constantly have to take them off to zip your jacket, buckle your boots, etc, etc, etc. The Transporter eliminate this practice of off-and-on almost entirely, because the fine leather makes them perfect for all-day use. Third, the gloves have burly knuckle guards -- which I always appreciate. Good for smacking away tree branches when skiing in the glades gets a little tight. The burly knuckle guard on the back of the hand are about the only piece of non-leather material on the gloves. The knuckle guards on the back of the fingers are black leather. Also, I love the lining material -- very plush, without pulling inside-out when you take the gloves on and off. This is a huge advantage over so many other gloves. If they come inside-out, for me that is a real annoyance -- sometimes a deal breaker. You won't find that with the Transporter glove. Finally, I love the out-stitching on the palm-side of the fingers. Almost everywhere else on the glove it uses normal sleek stitching (so that the bead of the closure is internal and not visible). But the out-stitching on the palm-side edges of the fingers provides just enough grippy feel to make it much easier carrying skis than if they used the same smooth seam the rest of the glove uses. I really only have one complaint -- and that is that I wish it came in some really bold colors. I don't mind the tan "work glove" sort of look. Kind of a cool, utilitarian "ski patroller" look. A tough guy look. Pretty cool. But I do get people joking that it looks like I have my yard gloves on, and I'm going to go rake some leaves once the lifts close! But honey badger don't care. When I was working at the slope-side ski shop cranking bindings for tourists, I skied in my tan all leather work gloves most of the time! So I could do my ski shop work, and blaze out the door for some turns whenever a free minute came up without taking a minute to change gloves. But I think this Transporter glove is so well built, a great glove that many folks would love, that instead of just tan & black leather I would absolutely love to see this glove in red and black leather. Or blue and white leather. Or hey ---- why not lime green? It is a great glove that performs, and as such it can afford to amp up the colors of the leather if it wants to. If you are in the market for gloves, I very highly recommend these gloves. They aren't big heater gloves for polar expeditions, but for almost any sort of ski day in the Rockies they are certainly warm enough and the all-leather feel gives them great dexterity. SHOP NOW: Search for Sierra Designs gear....Read more...
With the Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves gone are the days of frozen hands and fingers. Columbia gave me a pair of gloves to test this winter and here's what I thought.
Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves Features
- Fabric: 100% goatskin leather
- Omni-Heat electric, thermal reflective, and insulated
- Techlite battery compartment
- Outdry waterproof
- Split cowhide palm patch
- Long gauntlet
- One-hand shock cord hem adjustment
- Nose wipe
- Precision fit grip
- Price: $399.99
Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves ReviewWhen I first heard about the Columbia Electric products I was highly skeptical. Adding electric heat to products has been tried in the past, rather unsuccesfully. This time around though, I think Columbia is on to something. The Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves are an all around good glove. First let's look at the heat. Operation is easy, just press the Columbia logo on the back of each glove. The heat comes in three modes: high, medium, and low. The button alternates colors when on: red for high, yellow for medium, green for low. On a full battery charge you'll get 2.5 hours on high, 3 hours on medium, 4 hours on low. The heat that is produced is more of a slow, radiating heat as opposed to a burst of heat. I've found the best heat performance comes from preheating the gloves before my hands were cold. The gloves will heat your hands back up after they are cold, but with the slow, radiating heat it does take some time. It won't be quick like a typical hand warmer. The gloves charge via micro-USB and take about 3 hours to charge. What I like about the cords is they are a micro-USB to USB combo which gives you a few different options for charging using the single cord and any available USB port. The gloves do come with everything necesary to charge, including 2 USB cables, 1 USB wall adapter, plus international adapter plugs. The gloves are lined with Omni-Heat reflective fabric which is supposed to reflect the heat that would ordinarily dissipate out of the glove back into the glove. I did find that the thumbs aren't heated. A little research shows a heating wire may cross the thumb but my thumbs still got cold. Without the heat, the Bugaglove is still a great winter glove. I found it preferrable for skiing. The goatskin leather is durable and very weather resistent. It's pliable, even in cold conditions. The gauntlets are long which is great when skiing or anytime you have to dig around in the snow. The gloves are bulky so dexterity is compromised similar to what you see for most winter gloves. The Outdry fabric is awesome and it definitely keeps your hands dry. My biggest gripe with the glove is there isn't a soft nose wipe. The specs say it's there but it's not. Any amount of time spend outside, especially skiing, and your nose is going to run. Goatskin leather isn't very good at wiping or absorbing. Sizing is good. I normally wear a size XL glove because I have long fingers. The XL in the Bugaglove fits me perfectly. Overall I've had a good experience with the Bugaglove. Are they worth $399? I'd be hard-pressed to say yes. It's a cool concept but I don't think it's worth it, yet. If you have the money to burn, go for it. Columbia is definitely on to something and I'm looking forward to future iterations of Electric. The Good
- Electic Heat
- Materials are high quality
- Good performing ski glove
- No nose wipe
Bottom Line:Warm glove, good glove, cool concept. If you have the money, spend it. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves[gallery orderby="title"]... Read more...
The highly versatile Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket is a jacket that could fit just about everyone's needs.
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket Features
- Highly weather-resistant/breathable WINDSTOPPER® Insulated Shells fabric; taffeta lining
- PrimaLoft® ECO 60g insulation
- Fully adjustable hood
- Double-sliding front zipper with internal stormflap
- Zippered napoleon pocket; zippered internal chest pocket with media port
- Two zippered handwarmer pockets; one doubles as stuff sack
- Stretch binding on cuffs
- Dual drawcord hem adjustments
- Price: $224.95
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket ReviewIn short, the Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket is one of the best jackets I own. It's lightweight, versatile, and extremely comfortable. Outdoor Research got so many things right with the Havoc. The lightweight Primaloft insulation is just enough to help take the chill off on chilly fall days and when paired with a nice mid-layer it's great for cold winter days. The Havoc packs down to be about the size of small loaf of bread so it won't take up much room in your pack. I was skeptical of the value on Windstopper on an insulated jacket. I'm sold though. I think the lightweight nature of the jacket would let the wind though. The combo of the insulation and the Windstopper gives the Havoc an edge on the cold. I couldn't believe how comfortable the Havoc is. I've worn it all day (literally all day) and I didn't get of of the typical annoyances you get with other jackets when you wear them all day. It's also at home just anywhere from keeping you warm on the chair, as a belay jacket, hiking, and camping (even works for biking around town in the winter time). A couple of notes on the hood: it's insulated, adjustable, can fit over a climbing helmet (but not a ski helmet), and it's non-removable. It also doesn't "stow away" at all. Hand warmer pockets are fleece-lined and roomy. Internal pocket does has a headphone port if you're into that sort of thing. The jacket stows in one of the hand pockets. The fit is nice as well. It does run "true to size". I'm 6 feet, 180 lbs, and the large fits me nicely. It does have room so if you wear a mid-layer (I've worn it with a fleece before) you won't be feeling squeezed. The Good
- No way to stow the hood
Bottom Line:Hands down the Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket is one of the best jackets I've owned. It's made it's way into my permanent collection. Buy Now: Pick up the Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket [gallery]... Read more...
Osprey is the backpack brand that many others aspire to be. It is focused squarely on extremely well-designed high end packs as a primary competence. As such, it can charge more than many other brands can. Because if you've ever tried an Osprey pack, you know that it is built like a German car --- endlessly engineered for performance, above all. My favorite Osprey feature? The easy-to-grab zipper pulls, shaped like an O. It's an ingenious tiny little thing that makes them so much easier to use. With a long-time reputation for performance long-trek backpacks, Osprey also offers packs for the growing segment of backcountry skiers and snowboarders who simply need a sidecountry excursion pack. The Osprey Karve 16 is precisely that: an excursion pack. The Karve 16 is named as such because in the M/L size it has a gear capacity of 16 liters (or, 980 cubic inches). That makes it quite small --- not a full daypack, compared with most backcountry ski packs (for comparison, the ubiquitous Dakine Heli Pro ski pack is 1200 cubic inches). But definitely a nice, compact size for resort skiing at Alta or Alpental when you never know if you might pop out to the backcountry for a run. So the Karve is appropriately dubbed as a sidecountry pack, and that's what I believe it to be ideal for: carrying your hydration pouch, skins, a small avy shovel and probe, and that's about it. Maybe a ProBar or two. But for being such a compact pack, it has some excellent features. It has a diagonal ski carry system which, once you get it figured out, is ideal for carrying today's wider skis. Thankfully most Osprey gear comes with a small instruction manual that you'll want to study to get the most out of it. The Karve is lightweight, which is one of its best qualities. It weighs in at just an ounce over two pounds. It sports a pocket for your hydration bladder, and stowage for your straw in the shoulder strap to save it from freezing. It also has external sleeves that are just large enough for a probe and a shovel handle, with a back panel for the shovel blade. The Karve also boasts diagonal compression straps and a small "personals" pocket on the back for wallet, cell phone, keys, etc. The main panel compartment can hold your skins, but not much else. And of course the pack's suspension has a hip belt and sternum strap, and a well-structured spine panel. As a sidecountry pack, the Osprey Karve 16 is an excellent pack. For full days in the backcountry, you'll probably want something more sizable. But for trips out into the North and South backcountry at Crystal Mountain for example? Or a quick spin on a snowmobile? Osprey appears to have hit the high mark once again. SHOP: Search for more Osprey gear....Read more...
New for the 2011/2012 season, the K2 SideKick is just wider than the GotBacks (102 underfoot), but not as wide as any of the twin-tipped team skis, like the MissDirected (117 underfoot). A member of k2's Backside Adventure series, the Sidekick became my primary backcountry ski for the beginning of the season. After a few months of skiing it, here's my general impression.
K2 SideKick Skis- The Details
- 139/108/127 profile
- Available in 153, 160, 167 and 174 lengths
- Sidecut = 21m
- 8.6 lbs per pair
- MSRP: $699.95
K2 SideKick Skis- The ReviewThe largest ski in K2's Backside Adventure series, the Sidekick is advertised as the "do-it-all" pow slaying machine that will also keep a good, quick turn in the trees. After skiing on it for a few months, I'd say that's mostly true. We've had an epic start to our season up here in AK, with each Sunday for the past 5 weeks bringing a massive storm that dumps between 30 and 40 inches. However, we've also had some crazy wind events, so I've had an opportunity to ski the SideKicks in both feet of fresh and on some more variable terrain. So far, I've been impressed. They have super decent float in deep snow, especially considering that they're only 108 underfoot. The traditional camber helps for the hard pack sections, and All Terrain rocker keeps your tips up in both the pow and crud. I was most surprised at how "turny" the ski was on harder snow. I own a few other pairs of skis with a similar sidecut, but the combination of progressive sidecut and traditional camber on the SideKick makes it quite a snappy little ski. If you're not really on the ski, you'll suddenly find yourself facing uphill and wondering how the hell that happened. After skiing a few runs in-bounds, I got a much better feel for how to initiate a turn with the SideKicks, but that did seem to be the case across all conditions. She makes nice, tight turns if you're on top of things, or runs amok the opposite direction if you're half-a$*ing it. That being said, the SideKick maintains its float in the powder, and has no trouble straightlining down bigger lines and making beautiful, swooping, faceshot instigating turns. The All Terrain Rockered/early rise tip handled speed well- you won't see the chatter that you often see with bigger, full rocker, non-cambered skis. I mounted my SideKicks with a pair of the new Dynafit Radical ST bindings, so overall, it's a lightweight and very backcountry oriented set-up. The features of all of K2's BackSide Adventure series skis include flat tails, for easy plunging into the snow for anchor construction and holes drilled in the tip and tail which allows for emergency sled construction if need be. I have yet to need to utilize either of these features, but it seems like a sweet idea. I do, however, miss the rockered tails that most all my other skis have, which is sacrificed for the flat tail design of the BackSide Adventure series skis. As I mentioned in my initial blurb about the SideKicks, K2's skis seem to run long. I own a pair of Moment Reagans, size 168, an older pair of Karhu Berths, size 165, and when I stood my new K2s up next to them, I assumed that at 167, they’d sit right in the middle. Not so. They tower over the Reagans. I checked in with our local ski shop and the 167 seems to be on par with what all other ski companies call a 172-173. So, definitely check the skis out in person. They still skied great for me, but be sure to get a look at the ski before you order one- you might want to size down from what is your normal size, even with that All Terrain Rocker and early rise tip. Overall, seems to be a great intermediate to advanced level ski. Skis the pow well, and turns well on hard pack if you know how to drive it.
Check 'Em OutK2 Sidekick Skis... Read more...
Icebreaker, the veritable king of the wool world, has your back if you still don't have a gift for that active individual on your holiday gift list. The Icebreaker Tech Top, a midweight base layer, has almost all the functional features you'd want, and will keep the winter chill away for any outdoor activity.
Icebreaker Tech Top Details
- Icebreaker 260 g/m2 Merino Wool
- 3 Way Collar- Zipped up, zipped down or rolled down
- Drop tail hem
- MSRP: $110
Icebreaker Tech Top ReviewAfter making the Tech Top my go to piece for my last several ski tours, I am loving it! I have worn it for 10+ tours and haven't washed it yet- no stench! For my full "wool vs. synthetic" commentary, see my review of the Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings (which, coincidentally, I have worn on all the tours I've had the Tech Top out for). The heavier weight wool provides ample warmth on the cooler days, but might be overkill for the milder days.
- Thummies! Though I'm sure that's not the technical term, the Tech top comes with the ever-wonderful thumb loops which I refer to as thummies. Keeps your sleeves from riding up as you layer. I love it.
- Stink free and fuzzy soft. I'm not going to re-argue the benefits of wool here, but I continue to be a fan. After multiple wears, the Tech Top isn't smelly or scratchy. Go wool.
- The Tech Top isn't incredibly long. Though the back side is longer than the front (that's your drop tail hem), the front could use to be a bit longer. It worked fine for layering, but I would have loved to see it about an inch longer in the front.
- No pocket. I love the Napoleon pocket on layers like this and was a bit disappointed to see that the Tech top didn't come with one. That's usually my go-to location to stash my iPod and a CLIF shot.
Bottom LineA great cool weather layering piece that keeps the stink at bay.
Check it OutIcebreaker Tech Top... Read more...
K2 has been working hard to develop a wider selection of backcountry equipment, known as their "BackSide" line. From shovels to probes, K2 is really ramping up production of items that a resort to backcountry convert might need. Among the BackSide line is K2's Trim-To-Fit Climbing Skins, climbing skins compatible with k2 skis only.
K2 Trim-To-Fit Climbing Skins: The Details
- 125mm wide
- Available in a variety of lengths to correlate with k2's skis (153 to 188)
- Come with Z clip system, which works on skis with tip and tail holes
- Includes off-set skin trimming tool and storage bag
K2 Trim-To-Fit Skins: The Review
Good SkinI've been using the K2 SideKick skis with my K2 Trim-To-Fit skins a fair amount so far this backcountry season. It's been dumping since early November, and backcountry season has been jamming. When I first received my K2 Trim-To-Fit skins, I was stoked to see that their skin trimming tool follows the same principle that G3's does, since I loved that one so much last year. Trimming skins no longer requires the painful "lay the skin down, trim one edge, move it over, swear about how you didn't reposition it right, do it again, eventually get the other side trimmed" action that other companies skin trimming tools require (come on Black Diamond, get with the program). The offset skin trimming tool was easy to use, though not quite as precise as I'd like in a few areas. If you stray away from the ski edge by a micro-millimeter, and then wish to give the skin a second pass to ensure your whole edge has the exact same amount of ski edge showing, it's tough to do with this tool. However, if you get it right the 1st time, you're stoked. Super easy, takes less than 5 minutes per ski! So far, my favorite part of the K2 Trim-To-Fit Skins is the attachment system. Currently being the owner of a pair of G3 skins, a pair of Black Diamond fixed length skins and a pair of Black Diamond's GlideLite Skins, I can say, without a doubt, that K2's attachment system is the most secure, easiest to manipulate and least likely to get snagged on errant alders, branches or other skinning hazards. That being said, I think it's also the downside of the skin in the sense that you can't use it if you don't have holes in your skis. So, you're looking at drilling your skis, or simply only using these skins if you have K2 skis. In terms of glide, traction and general skinning ability, I'd say I would rank the skins somewhere in the middle of the pack. The glide isn't nearly as smooth as other skins, and definitely a bit more work. Hopefully with that decreased glide comes increased long term durability. They're holding up so far, but we'll see at the end of the season. Uphill traction seems to be on par with my G3 Skins, and slightly less than my beefy Black Diamond Ascension Skins.
Bad SkinThe "Glue Saver" or skin saver sheet with these is awful. Flimsy and very prone to attracting dog hair. Toss it, immediately, or you'll accidentally cover your skins in the crap that had radiated towards the skin saver. Personally, I don't ever use the skin saver sheets on any of my skins, but the material on this one is not your traditional "plastic coated screen" material, and whatever it is, it seemed to have a static cling that drew dust, dirt, human hair and dog hair right to it. Not what I want on my skins.
Bottom LineA great choice if you've got K2 Skis. Moderate glide, moderate traction and a great attachment system.
Check Em OutK2 Trim to Fit Climbing Skins... Read more...
Winter is in full swing up here, which means that both Alpine and Nordic ski season are jamming. For me and my dog Baker, this means more opportunities to practice skijoring using our Ruffwear Omnijore Joring Harness System. What is Joring? Joring is any sport where your dog essentially pulls you while you are moving as well. While skijoring is certainly the most common, with the release of the Ruffwear Omnijore Joring Harness system, Ruffwear has opened the doors to all sorts of joring activities. Mountain Bike-joring, skijoring, mountain board-joring, skatejoring… Whatever you want do do, Ruffwear makes it so that your dog can come along, and pull you along the way.
Ruffwear Omnijore Harness System Details
- System consists of 3 parts- dog harness, towline and human harness
- Dog harness is adjustable at multiple points and available in 3 sizes
- Human harness has a water bottle holder, snack pouch and removable leg loops to keep the harness in place.
- Towline has color coded attachment ends, and an internal core of shock absorbing material keeps the bouncing to a minimum
- MSRP: $149.95
Ruffwear Omnijore Harness System ReviewBaker and I have been practicing our skijoring for about a month now, and while Baker still needs some work, the Omnijore harness has been great! For many years, the only way you could get a skijoring harness was to order a specifically sized harness for your dog, much like a sled-dog harness. If you wanted a harness for any other sort of joring, your options were limited to modifying a skijoring harness to meet your needs. The Omnijore is a huge leap forward in technology- Ruffwear has taken its great harness design and made it into a functioning joring harness that is adjustable, making the sport much more accessible to the general population. The system breaks down into three separate parts, and Greg with Ruffwear gives you the full low down on how to attach, adjust and fit each piece here in this YouTube video. Overall, I found it very easy to use and to adjust for my dog and I. The harness slips easily on and off Baker, and the under-belly strap clips on very easily. I had to adjust the harness for the first time that we were using it, and after that, it was all ready to go. All of the webbing that surrounds your dog has a sleeve over it, so as to avoid chafing and discomfort. Of course, the Omnijore harness still come with the same great features we've come to expect from Ruffwear's regular dog harnesses- a burly handle, in case you need to help your 4 legged friend up into the car or unexpectedly have a need to pick them up, a light loop, to attach a Ruffwear Beacon or other safety light to, in case you're joring in darker conditions, and easily adjustable straps. The human harness is great as well- I love that it comes with a built in water bottle holder and snack pouch. While I've been using it, I've left the leg loops on. If you and your dog are new to joring, I would recommend using them for a while! As Baker and I start and stop moving, the motions are not always the most fluid, and the leg loops help to keep the harness from riding too far up or down. My only complaint with the human harness is that it might not go small enough for all users. Ruffwear's website says that it fits waists from 27 inches to 48 inches. At 5'4" and 120 lbs, I have to cinch down the waist belt to the max to get it to stay on, and I know I'm not the smallest woman out there on Nordic skis! Layering helps, but keep the waist belt size in mind if you're looking to purchase the Omnijore and you're on the smaller size of life. The towline, the third and final piece of the Omnijore, mimics the construction of Ruffwear's Roamer leash, with a few modifications. The internal bungee core allows for some shock absorption, which is nice while you and your hound are still learning to jore. The end of the towline attaches to the dog harness with Ruffwear's Talon Clip, which is easy to operate even with gloves on, and is color coded so you remember which end goes to the human and which end goes to the dog. The end attaching to the human harness allows for full range of motion from side to side, so you won't get pulled off the trail immediately if Fido decides to veer slightly to the left!
Bottom LineA well though out, well designed harness system for you and your hound. If only the Omnijore also guaranteed good joring skills out of my dog!
Check It OutRuffwear Omnijore Harness System ... Read more...
A lightweight, compressible shell for those "light-and-fast" days, Mountain Hardwear's new Drystein Jacket offers the waterproof protection of a 3 layer shell with the breathability of a softshell. I had the opportunity to put the Dry-Q Elite fabric to the test up in Southcentral Alaska during our Fall to Winter transition, which is notorious for rain, sleet and snow.
Mountain Hardwear Drystein Details
- Composed of Mountain Hardwear's Dry-Q Elite Waterproof Breathable Fabric (see below for more info)
- Weather-resistant stretch side panels add breathability and replace pit-zips
- Helmet-compatible hood
- 2-way watertight front zipper
- Adjustable cuffs and drawcord hem
- Chest-high hand pockets accommodate a harness or pack
- Interior zip pockets
Mountain Hardwear Drystein ReviewWith Mountain Hardwear's debut of their Dry-Q Elite fabric, they've also debuted a whole new line of shell jackets, including the Women's Drystein Jacket. At 1.4 lbs, this waterproof breathable shell is lightweight, packable, and still highly waterproof. Check out the photos- after hours outside in a downpour, the Dry-Q Elite was still beading and repelling water beautifully.
The Down-Low on Dry-QWhat is Dry-Q Elite? Composed of 3 layers, Dry-Q Elite is a completely waterproof yet completely breathable fabric that essentially “turns on” as soon as you start your activity. According to MH, traditional waterproof-breathable fabrics require that the inside of the jacket (the part touching you) must reach a certain level of humidity before the material will breathe. With Dry-Q Elite, this technology is “always on.” The theory is that as soon as you start to sweat, this fabric begins to breath, eliminating that gross clammy feeling that is usually associated with sweating in a shell jacket. After several ski tours in the Drystein, I can say that this is true. I toured with my Drystein on, and never once got gross and clammy inside.
The DrysteinOverall, I loved the Dry-Q Elite fabric. I'll definitely be purchasing more Dry-Q products in the future. However, the fit and design of the Drystein were not as versatile as I would have hoped. The arms are very narrow for a shell, making layering difficult. I was able to wear a wool zip-up and a t-shirt under the Drystein and that was max capacity. Even my Patagonia NanoPuff wouldn't fit under the Drystein without major shoulder constriction. The problem wouldn't have been solved by sizing up, as the waist and length fit perfectly. A larger size and the shell would have become a dress. So, if you're looking for a light-and-fast waterproof breathable shell that you won't need to worry about wearing multiple layers underneath, you're stoked about the Drystein. If you're a fan of layering, as I am, another Dry-Q Elite shell, such as the Asteria, might be more your speed. I like to be able to get to the top of a peak and toss my insulation later on, and then put my shell on over that, so I can protect my insulation from getting wet. However, if you don't need that room for layers, the Drystein fit is perfect- long enough to provide good coverage, nice motion in the sleeves despite them being narrow, and a great overall width of the jacket. I will definitely reach for my Drystein when I hit the trails for an all day excursion in Fall or Spring and want to know that I'll be protected from the elements, no matter how hard it rains! However, at $425 a shell, I wish the Drystein was a bit more versatile.
- Dry-Q Elite Fabric is unmatched. Waterproof in a monsoon, and the most breathable shell I've worn to date.
- Pliability of Dry-Q Elite makes it very easily packable
- Helmet brim and adjustability are fantastic, and make it easy to keep the water off your face but not lose your peripheral vision.
- Shell design prohibits layering due to constricting shoulder fit
- No pit zips- though the Dry-Q fabric keeps you from getting clammy, there's no way to immediately get a rush of air, which is nice after a big push of activity.
- The pockets aren't waterproof- they're mesh. Open them up mid-monsoon and you'll have a soupy mess inside your jacket. The zippers are watertight, so as long as they're closed, you're good.
Bottom LineA waterproof breathable shell that truly is both waterproof and super breathable. Best used for light-and-fast, minimal layering needs kind of situations. Check out the Mountain Hardwear Drystein Jacket... Read more...
Going on a long road trip but don't have enough room in the car? What about too many kids in the family for the luggage room in your vehicle? Wife (or husband) that packs too much? Take the anxiety out of packing with the Yakima Rocketbox 11 Cargo Box.
Yakima Rocketbox 11 Cargo Box Features
- Cargo Capacity: 11 cu ft
- Dimension: 89" x 22" x 14"
- Weight: 35 lbs
- Bar Compatibility: Round, Square, most factory crossbars
- Price: $329.00
Yakima Rocketbox 11 Cargo Box ReviewOur family car used to be a Toyota Corolla. For any long or gear intensive trips the Yakima Rocketbox 11 Cargo Box was a trip saver, especially after we had kids. Long gone are the days of being so crammed in the car with gear. In terms of capacity 11 cu ft doesn't sound like much but I was pleasantly surprised with how much we could fit in the box. A typical trip the Rocketbox will be packed with a climbing pack with a full rack, rope, kid carrier backpack, umbrella stroller, camp chairs, fishing poles, family tent, and a few other smaller items with some room to spare. In the winter time the Rocketbox 11 is great for hauling your planks (single or double) to and from the mountain. The 89 inches of length will fit just about any pair of skis and boards are no problem. It's a great way to keep your boards from getting coated in road salt and grime. I've been able to fit two pairs of skis, a board, and two pairs of poles in the Rocketbox 11. There may have been enough room to fit another pair of skis or another board but I haven't tried. I have the slightly older model of the Rocketbox. Even so, it was extremely easy to install. The updated hardwear is even easier. Just place the box on your rack, slide the clamps until they engage the crossbars, and then tighten the knobs to fit. I have been able to install the box myself (read pick it up off the ground and lift it onto the car) without any issues. The 35 lbs of weight isn't bad, it's just a little awkward with it being so long. Security hasn't been an issue for me. The single lock keeps the box locked down tight. The three latches, one at each end and one in the middle, help prevent the lift from being lifted. I've tested this with just my hands and the lid wouldn't budge. The price could seem daunting but it's really not. We've been rallying our cargo box for almost over 3 years and it still looks and functions like brand new. We will get more than enough use to make up for the cost. The Rocketbox 11 is the most economical choice of the long boxes in the Yakima line. The Good
- Extremely durable
- Easy to install
- Can fit a lot of gear
- If you have a big family or a LOT of gear to carry, get a bigger size
Bottom Line:The Rocketbox 11 is a great value and can give you that extra bit of cargo capacity you need. We've never looked back on our decision to go with the Rocketbox 11. Buy Now: Pick up a Yakima Rocketbox 11 Cargo Box today [gallery]... Read more...
Just as it's started dumping up here in Alaska, new toys from K2 have arrived, begging to be skied! The K2 SideKick will be my primary backcountry ski this season. I'll be mounting them with the new Dynafit Radical STs, so look for a full review of both the Sidekicks and the Radicals after I've had an opportunity to get out and ski them.
K2 SideKick Details
- 139/108/127 profile
- Available in 153, 160, 167 and 174 lengths (see sizing info below!)
- Sidecut = 21m
- 8.6 lbs per pair
- MSRP: $699.95
Check 'Em OutK2 SideKick Ski K2 Trim-To-Fit Skins... Read more...
enigma [ɪˈnɪgmə], noun a person, thing, or situation that is mysterious, puzzling, or ambiguousLooking for a shell jacket to protect you from all the elements? Continuing to be true to their mantra "Designed for Adventure," Outdoor Research has cranked out some incredible equipment for Fall 2011, and among that line is the Women's Enigma Jacket. The Enigma truly is an enigma- a lightweight yet durable GoreTex shell jacket at a super reasonable price. How often do you find that combo?
Outdoor Research Enigma Jacket: The Details
- Gore-Tex PacLite main body/Gore-Tex 3L Pro Shell fabric on shoulders and arms
- Entirely seam sealed
- Helmet compatible hood
- TorsoFlo™ double-sliding side zippers open fully from hem to armpits
- Two hand pockets with water-resistant zips and two internal stash pockets
- MSRP: $320
- Check out the Enigma Details on YouTube
Outdoor Research Enigma Jacket: The ReviewThe Outdoor Research Enigma Jacket has been a life saver thus far this fall in Alaska. With rain coming in feet, not inches, I'm always grateful to have good gear so that I can continue my outdoor pursuits, no matter the weather. From daily walks with my dog to ice climbing on the Matanuska Glacier, the Enigma has kept me nice and dry. I'm looking forward to making it my primary backcountry shell when ski season gets rolling. A word about sizing- the Enigma seems to be built to accommodate layers underneath, which is a great thing. However, if you were thinking about sizing up from your normal size to have room for a few extra layers, don't. You'll be swimming in GoreTex. The Enigma is built with that extra room already in the width and the sleeves, and I have plenty of room for my R1, Patagonia Micropuff or a mid-weight down jacket, and I ordered the same size I would have had I not been planning to layer.
- The full side zips aren't as weird as you'd think they'd be. I've never had a problem with them coming undone from the bottom up as I was concerned I might. I am not sure how much more ventilation I really need than your average pit zip, but the full zip doesn't seem to take away from the design in any way, so why not? I see where it could be nice to be able to fully unzip your sides while wearing a pack, and really get some ventilation.
- Because of the zippers running all the way down the side, the drawcord for the bottom of the jacket actually only runs through the back half of the jacket. Again, seemed weird at first, but I ended up loving the ability to cinch down the bottom of the jacket without the front of the jacket looking like a rumpled mess.
- The PacLite/ProShell combo makes this jacket lightweight yet bomber.
- A great value at $320. Most other companies are charging in excess of $400 for their GoreTex shells, some even more than $450. For much less, you get a solid jacket with all the features that you need in a shell.
- The pockets are not made of GoreTex material. So, if it's pouring rain and blowing sideways, and you think you'll warm your hands up by putting them in your pockets, well, you'll wish you hadn't. Though the zippers are water resistant, and the direct interior of the pocket has a small strip of GoreTex, the rest of the pocket is mesh. If precipitation is coming in from any direction besides straight down, you'll find the inside of your jacket a bit wet if you've used the pockets. It was never a problem for quick "in and out" trips into the pockets, but the few times I went to stash my hands to avoid moisture and cold temps, the lovely Alaska fall weather (read: feet of rain and blowing wind) found its way right inside my jacket.
Bottom LineA GoreTex Proshell/PacLite hybrid that keeps you dry for a decent price.
Check It OutOutdoor Research Enigma Jacket... Read more...
It's after Labor Day, which means it's officially time to get amped about ski season. To add to your stoke, the guys and gals at Matchstick Productions are releasing their 2011 Ski Film "Attack of La Nina: The Bitch Is Back," on September 17th in Boulder, Colorado. Don't live in Boulder? Don't despair. The 2011 Tour is going around the globe, from Norway to Vermont to Indiana (what?!? Do people in Indiana even know what skiing is?!?). Check out the MSP Website to find out where they're coming near you. After last year's phenomenal movie, "The Way I See It," the Matchstick crew has a lot to live up to. However, with the best winter in 50+ years for most of the West due to the lovely La Nina, some amazing skiers and what promises to be another shred-tastic soundtrack, I'm willing to bet they'll deliver. Look for a full report after the tour has come to Alaska, but for now, here's just enough to leave you wanting more... [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNI0ZKPA48A[/youtube] ...Read more...
I've had a number of base layers in my day -- most of which haven't survived, because of a few rips or sometimes just their general grunginess after a fair amount of usage. And there are more than a few of those that were tossed after having been loaned to a friend, whose B.O. unwittingly sped the item along its path towards the rubbish heap. For those of us in this camp that is constantly searching for base layers that treat us right, a new material is in town: Agion Active. As eVent fabric opened the doors to a world beyond Gore-Tex in the outerwear category, perhaps Agion Active will do the same to move us beyond some of the age-old options we've lived with in base layers (Capilene, anyone?). Agion Active is built to be anti-microbial to fight the stink of normal base layers. It's secret sauce? A fabric finish technology that Agion claims is capable of making gear and materials that never smell. Agion says the cornerstone of this technology is silver, which doesn't surprise me -- for years silver has been considered a home remedy for killing microbes. That's where the term "silver spoon" comes from -- some claim that during the terrible infections and plagues that spread throughout Europe years ago, the wealthy would give their children a spoon made of sterling silver to suck on and it would help kill any germs they might incidentally ingest. As a result, to this day many individuals looking for natural alternatives to antibiotics, etc, will take a bit of colloidal silver (sometimes to unusual effect). So it makes sense that this same approach could be used to kill smelly microbes in materials, namely base layers in this case. Having used the shirt in a number of quite sweaty situations such as skinning into the backcountry in mid-winter or skiing hard all day at Snowbird in mid-June (yes, the lifts are still open!), I can say that this shirt is not nearly as stinky as most of my other base layers. I'm pretty stunned, in fact. I even loaned the shirt to a few friends who tried their best to stink it up -- and the shirt has not come close to reaching the stink level of other materials. At first impression, I would say that Agion Active has some good potential. What's more, it's a finish that can easily be applied at the end of the manufacturing process -- meaning that it could possibly be used to promising effect for products other than outdoor gear, such as carpets and pet products. Seems like Agion may have taken some old medicine and put it to creative new use. SHOP: Search for more base layer gear....Read more...
Is it a hat? Is it a face mask? Neck warmer? The balaclava is kind of weird piece of gear, but it's extremely versatile and well worth having. The Patagonia R1 Balaclava is about as straight forward as it gets. I picked mine up for bike commuting this winter and I won't get another winter without it.
Patagonia R1 Balaclava Features
- R1® stretch fabric (made from 41% recycled polyester) provides wicking warmth, breathable comfort
- Lightweight and very compact
- Face opening can be worn above mouth or under chin
- Fit is smooth and clean without being restrictive
- R1: 6.8-oz 93% polyester (41% recycled)/7% spandex. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program
- 56 g (2 oz)
- Price: $35.00
Patagonia R1 Balaclava ReviewOut of all the balaclavas I researched the Patagonia R1 Balaclava was about as simple as they get. There's a ton of options with a lot of "specialized" uses, depending on what you want it to do. I was looking for something that I could use mainly for bike commuting but could also work for other cold weather pursuits. I liked the simplicity. The R1 fabric is a lightweight fleece with a small waffle pattern on the inside. It's extremely soft to the touch and didn't irritate my face at all. The face mask is big enough and stretchy enough that I could wear it either under my chin or pulled up to my eyes. It was very warm and yet slim enough to fit underneath my bike helmet. With that in mind it would also fit under a ski helmet, sled helmet, or even a climbing helmet. It was warm enough that on my coldest commute day (-7 degrees F) it kept my head and face warm. The extra bonus is when you wear it, you feel like a ninja. The Good
- Face mask could fit under your chin or pulled up to your eyes
- Looks really cool
- I couldn't find anything bad
Bottom Line:What's there to say about a balaclava? The Patagonia R1 Balaclava is a simple, versatile design, warm, well made. Buy Now: Patagonia R1 Balaclava Name ... Read more...
As I've grown wiser in my days, I've come to appreciate some of the finer things in life. I've found that I love wearing lightweight natural or synthetic insulation, but I also dig wearing lightweight, breathable shells. Most of the time, I appreciate having them separate so I can layer at will, but every so often, it is nice to have an insulating, bombproof jacket for ultra-cold days on the slopes or around town. With the Patagonia Nano Storm, you get Primaloft One insulation, all stuffed into a waterproof/breathable jacket with all the goodies you'd expect from Patagonia. While many insulated jackets can tend to feel bulky, awkward and heavy, the Nano Storm is none of that. Next to natural down insulation, Primaloft One is as good as it gets. It's ultralight, packable and warm. The Nano Storm is a simple jacket, but the combination of insulation and weatherproof exterior makes for a solid one-two punch that makes this jacket stand out. I especially appreciated the insulation on a single-digit ski day at Solitude Mountain Resort. The body of the jacket maintained excellent warmth all day, but in those cold temps, the sleeves did get a little chilly. Keep that in mind... you may want to still wear a little thicker mid layer when the temps drop into the singles. Some of the nice touches of the Nano Storm stand out during use. Stuff like the extra threaded ports for the hood drawstrings, soft-lined handwarmer pockets and waterproof zippers all add up to make this jacket a winner. I love the feel of the insulation as it really feels natural and non bulky in use. Other insulated jackets I've worn tend to feel heavy or cumbersome -- not so with this one. Patagonia's H2No and Deluge DWR exterior proved to provide excellent protection from the elements as it simply sheds moisture. As with many insulated jackets, it doesn't breathe as well as a straight shell does, but it does breathe as well as I'd expect it to and will stay warm even when wet. I really dig the attached hood for its insulated comfort and overall design. The rear drawstring keeps everything properly situated on your head and the visor brim kept its shape well and provided extra face protection from the elements without hindering visibility. The two major complaints I've got with the Nano Storm are that the sleeves could be articulated a little better and a removable powder skirt or grippy hem would be nice additions to this jacket. On the sleeves, I found the cuffs and forearm areas to bunch up instead of sit flat with my natural arm and wrist movements. An anatomically-cut cuff would likely reduce this while improving the fit when wearing gloves. And, while skiing, I found I had to re-adjust the hem every so often as it would ride up. Some grippy material or a removable powder skirt would mitigate that issue. The Good
- Ultralight insulation
- Very compressible
- Waterproof H2No fabric keeps elements at bay
- Comfy handwarmer pockets are like a refuge for your hands
- Waterproof zippers reduce bulk and weight
- Glove-friendly zipper pulls
- Hood fits well and adjusts with a single pull
- Could use a removable powder skirt or grippy hem to keep it in place
- Sleeves could be more articulated for an improved anatomical fit
- Sleeve insulation can be lacking when temps drop to single digits
My Verdict: Patagonia Nano Storm JacketThe Patagonia Nano franchise is in good hands now with the Nano Storm Jacket. The Primaloft One insulation is ultralight, packable and warm down to single digits. I dig this jacket for the slopes and around town and appreciate all the goodies it has to offer. This is a great jacket with lots of features at a reasonable price. Buy Now: Patagonia Nano Storm Jacket... Read more...
The quest continues. For the 3rd year in a row, I look for the perfect alpine touring boot. Having tried out the Black Diamond Shivas, the Black Diamond Swifts, and the Scarpa Divas, I find myself becoming somewhat of a boot aficionado. This year's endeavor? The Scarpa Shakas. Anyone remember the Skookums? These are a newer, Women's specific version of that same boot. Just as stiff, just a burly, but with a women's specific fit. Here's the rundown:
Scarpa Shaka Features
- Buckles: 4 + Active Power Strap
- Liners: Intuition Speed Pro Womens Liners
- Sole: Skywalk Active Sole
- Weight (sz 25): 3lbs 10oz for one boot
- Binding Compatibility: Alpine Touring and TLT (Dynafit and G3 Onyx/Ruby)
- Forward Lean: 19-23 degrees
- Flex Index: 110 with Ski Tongue, 90 with walk tongue
- MSRP: $719
Scarpa Shaka ReviewOf this year's Scarpa Women's alpine touring boot line, the Scarpa Shaka is built to be the "burlier" of the two available boots, with an emphasis on its versatility between inbounds and outbounds skiing while still being fairly lightweight (looking for the lighter, more touring oriented boot? Stop here and check out the Scarpa Gea). I've had the opportunity to ski the boot both in bounds and for some resort days, and Scarpa has hit a nice mix with the Shaka. The Shaka is a more "touring oriented" boot in the sense that it is not the traditional alpine-wrap style boot, and comes with both a "Ski Tongue," which makes the boot a stiffer 110 flex, and a "Walk Tongue," a 90 flex, intended for longer tours. I had a chance to ski the boot with both. The touring tongue, while offering less resistance for longer tours, creates an unusual flex patter in the boot when skiing down, and seems to "bottom out" at a certain point while flexing. This occurs when you've flexed the boot to the point where the bottom ankle buckle and top over-the-foot buckle hit each other due to lack of support in the tongue. I am not an aggressive skier by any means, but still found it easy to overflex the boot with the touring tongue. However, the boot performs much better with the "Ski Tongue" installed (imagine that... the Ski tongue skis better!). Though the touring is not quite as easy, for day tours, it's certainly manageable. I'd say the trade off of increased resistance when touring is worth the significantly increased flex pattern that the boot offers when skiing with the stiffer tongue. I skied the Shaka in bounds for some Tram laps at Alyeska and felt like it performed just as well as my Alpine boots- handled the crud well and was responsive. The Shaka has many of the same features as the old Skookum- the active power strap above the 4th buckle really does act as a 5th buckle, providing more support than your average power strap. It's wider and thicker, creating that much more support for you as you flex the boot. It also has a movable spoiler on the rear of the boot, which is a nice feature for those of us with mondo calves- you can move the spoiler down so as to not completely cut off circulation to your feet by crushing your calf muscle. Or, for those of you who like a bit more height in the back, you can add that by moving the spoiler up. The Shaka also has the same "power ribs" along the back of the boot, intended to give it even more stability and burl. Despite all these features, the Shaka manages to keep it's weight down at an impressive 3lbs 10oz for 1 boot (sz 25). Not bad! The lighter Scarpa Gea weighs in at 2lbs 15oz. So, we're talking a difference of just over a half a pound per boot. Now, the most important part- the fit. The Shakas are ideal for people with high volume feet. The toe box is wide, the heel is wide, and there is a lot of general space in that shell. This, for me, was a deal breaker with this otherwise well constructed boot. I have a narrower heel, so even with a good Thermomold of the liners and a butterfly foam pad on the back, my heels were a-movin' in these boots, which made touring difficult without wrenching down all the buckles. However, if you're a lady with a higher volume, wider foot, this is the way to go! Scarpa has made a solid boot that skis well and tours well, and if the fit is right, you're stoked.
- Burly yet lightweight boot
- Comes with Intuition Liners, hands down the best liners on the market.
- The idea of a "touring" tongue is well intended, but it doesn't ski well. Stick with the Ski Tongue for performance, even if it means more difficult touring.
Bottom LineThe Shaka charges like an alpine boot on resort days and is still light enough to be your regular backcountry boot. Buy Now: Scarpa Shaka Alpine Touring Boot... Read more...
Sierra Designs has had our back with killer technical gear since 1965, the golden age of backpacking and camping. With everything from tents to mens technical clothing, they have been a solid and impressive brand. They have never been about flash -- they have always been about making gear that performs for the most technical athletes, but also works for the common man. That same ethic is now extended to a new 2011 line of gloves for snowsports and cold weather activities. One of the most eye-catching of the gloves in that line is the Enforcer. Sierra Designs' Enforcer glove is clearly for snowy play, from backcountry skiing to ice climbing. It is a gauntlet style over-the-cuff glove with convenient dummy strings (so that when you take your gloves off on the ski lift you don't lose them, they just dangle from your wrists). Of course, be aware to not just let the gloves dangle there for too long on precipitous days, or else the insides will fill up with falling snow and get cold and wet as will any glove that you leave exposed like that. The Enforcer glove boasts Sierra Designs' Tropozone waterproof/breathable insert as well as Thinsulate insulation. It uses at least two different thicknesses of leather in the palm -- a thick black leather for the high-wear zones, and a thin and supple tan leather where you need dexterity. An extra plus? There is a nice quarter-moon pad on the heel of the hand. One impressive bit about the Enforcer glove is that its fabric seams are welded -- making the fingers more waterproof than stitched seams and much more flexible and free-moving than most box-style stitched glove fingers. The fingers are also well-articulated to improve the natural fit and grip over ski poles or an ice axe. The Enforcer glove also has a waterproof zippered pocket on the back of the hand, presumably for a hand warmer. But having used these gloves in the field I have to say that the zipper is too small to conveniently fit a hand warmer into it. You'd have to really shove it in there. But it's perfect for a car key or those bills you want to have on-hand when you meet a yeti in the backcountry that wants to cash a cool hundred. The Good
- Welded fabric seams
- Well-articulated fingers
- Waterproof, breathable, burly
- Dummy strings
- Comfortable lining that doesn't tend to pull inside-out
- Excellent, I mean excellent leather material on the palms
- Good fit for a gauntlet-style glove, if that's what you're looking for
- Zippered pocket on back of hand doesn't seem very useful at the current small size -- I would prefer using that space for some knuckle padding, and ice climbers would especially appreciate that
- No significant ventilation for warmer days
My Verdict: Sierra Designs Enforcer GloveWith the Sierra Designs Enforcer glove, you have a gauntlet that surpasses most other gauntlet-style gloves I've seen. The palm materials are exceptional for good touch and durability, and the welded seams and articulated fingers make for excellent dexterity. If you don't mind the zippered pocket, and you're looking for a gauntlet-style glove, this is the one for you. Retail price is $109. Search for Sierra Designs gear... Read more...
The Black Diamond Kilowatt Ski is my one ski quiver. What used to be one of the fatter skis in the Black Diamond line-up now falls in the middle of their line in terms of widths. It's a favorite and the go to ski for many and it became my ski this season. I've had my eye on the Kilowatts since they first came out. This year I finally decided to lay down the cash and pick some up for myself. I wasn't disappointed.
Black Diamond Kilowatt Ski Features
- Length: 155 cm, 165 cm, 175 cm, 185 cm
- Dimensions: [155 cm] 121 / 95 / 109 mm; [165 cm] 123 / 95 / 111 mm; [175 cm] 125 / 95 / 113 mm; [185 cm] 127 / 95 / 115 mm
- Turn Radius: (155cm) 18.5 m, (165cm) 20.5 m, (175cm) 22.5 m, (185cm) 24.5 m
- Construction: Torsion Box Formula One
- Core: poplar
- Base: sintered
- Tail: raised
- Weight: (Pair - 185cm) 8 lb 6 oz
- Recommended Use: Backcountry skiing, telemark skiing
- Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
- Retail: $579
Black Diamond Kilowatt Ski ReviewThe Black Diamond Kilowatt Ski is made to be a backcountry ski. When looking for a ski to buy this season I was looking for one that would excel at touring but it had to also be burly enough to handle variable resort days. The Kilowatt is a good "all around ski". It has enough width in the shovel and underfoot to keep you afloat on the powder days. In the powder the 'watt is a fun ski to ride. It's responsive, it has good float, and it kept me smiling turn after turn. In touring mode it was nice. My previous skis were an older Atomic twin...in terms of touring, the Kilowatt was a massive upgrade in performance. It was smooth and easy on the feet and legs on the skin track. The Kilowatt definitely held it's own at the resort. I pulled a handful of days at the resort skiing everything from tracked powder, to chunder, hardpack, and groomers. It's stiff enough to keep from tossing your around in the crud and it isn't noodle. Being wider, to get it on edge on the groomers took a little work, but once it was there, it held at high speeds. It definitely isn't a 'carving ski' but when you have to be there, it can be fun. I have mine mounted with some Fritschi Freeride Plus bindings. For me with most of my skiing now in the backcountry and some days at the resort, this is an ideal setup, and I can "get away with" a one ski quiver. The Good
- Great ski, fun to ride
- Awesome in the powder but can handle any variable condition
- Solid construction
- If you plan on being on more handpack than soft stuff, go with something a little more narrow with a little more sidecut
Bottom Line:The Black Diamond Kilowatt skis had me grinning from ear to ear. This ski is awesome. Buy Now: Pick up the Black Diamond Kilowatt Ski[gallery]... Read more...
I was first introduced to the Smith Vantage a year ago at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2010. At that time, I was busy testing the ultralight Smith Maze ski helmet, but the Vantage immediately caught my attention. It borrowed from the construction of the Maze, but stepped things up in overall protection, function and versatility. The hybrid shell construction of the Vantage allows for a much more solid feel while at the same time reducing weight and overall bulk. The result is a lightweight, low-profile helmet that's loaded to the gills with every imaginable feature. With the Vantage, you get adjustable ventilation via onboard sliding vent closures. Unlike other helmets, these louvers slide into place at the surface of the helmet as opposed to at the liner. So, if you pogo, your lid won't collect snow like a cheese grater inside the exposed vent ports. The surface-level ventilation adjustments are split into two zones, called Dual Regulator. While the helmet fits like a champ and weighs less compared to the leading competition, my favorite feature remains the Dual Regulator because it's so useful. Just the other day, I used the vents to their full capability on a backcountry ski tour. On the descent, I opened the rear vents but kept the front vents closed. The result was quick evacuation of excess heat without the brain freeze effect. When we got down to the bottom and were bushwhacking our way out of a gully, I opened the front vents for maximum ventilation. Because of the pinpoint ventilation control, I was able to quickly maintain a comfortable temperature without overheating or fogging up my goggles. New for Fall 2011 (as tested), the Smith Vantage ski helmet will feature the Boa Helmet Fit System. This is an improvement over the previous design in that you can easily adjust the size of the helmet with one-click precision in or out. Compared to the old system, the new Boa adds yet another industry-leading feature to what is arguably the best ski helmet on the market today. The Good
- Dual Regulator ventilation allows you to pinpoint ventilation needs
- Low-profile design
- Lightweight construction that doesn't skimp on safety
- Zip-in audio can be added or upgraded on-the-fly
- Boa Helmet Fit System is easily dialed
- Superb overall comfort for all-day fun
- Bungee goggle strap design is easy-to-use
- Mini brim does dig into goggle foam if you place your goggles on your forehead when not in use
- When it's really blowing and cold, some of the permanent vents can let in more cold air than I'd like
- All these bells-and-whistles don't come cheap ($180, no audio)
My Verdict: Smith Vantage Ski HelmetWith the Smith Vantage, you get industry-leading performance packed into a lightweight, low-profile design. The kicker is the Dual Regulator ventilation system that allows you to adjust the front and rear vents independently. With the Boa adjustment system on tap for Fall 2011 (available now), there's no stopping the Vantage from global slope domination. Buy Now: Search for the Smith Vantage Ski Helmet... Read more...
Beacon- check. Probe- check. Shovel- check. Compact and lightweight, the G3 SpadeTECH Elle Shovel is the one for you if you're a sidecountry skier who makes sure to take all the correct equipment with you each time you head out, and you're tired of fighting to get your pack zipped because your shovel is too big!
Details: G3 SpadeTech Elle Shovel
- Compact Size- The SpadeTECH Elle Shovel was designed for female skiers, who usually have smaller packs. The size allows you to fit it inside your smaller pack, and not have fight with your zipper to ensure that it closes.
- T Handle- Easy to grip, the handle was ergonomically designed so that it's easier to hold.
- Reduced Blade Size- Aimed at being a more efficient shoveler as opposed to just using brute force.
- Handle and blade detach. This seems like such a simple feature, yet I can think of a few shovels that don't have it, which is an even bigger pain for fitting the shovel into your pack!
- Material- Durable yet lightweight aluminum. Never ever ever would I purchase a plastic shovel- I don't care how durable the manufacturer says it is. Plastic snaps. G3 has it right by making their shovels out of aluminum.
Bottom Line: G3 SpadeTech Elle ShovelIf you're an occasional backcountry or sidecountry female user who is tired of trying to jam that huge shovel into your daypack, this is a perfect solution. It's lightweight, durable, easy to assemble and comfortable to shovel with- a great choice for lots of female skiers out there! You'll actually be able to close your daypack with this one, as opposed to having your shovel blade sticking out the top. It'd also function fantastically as a mountaineering shovel- great for digging out a tent platform. However, if you're an avid backcountry user, conducting snow studies and practicing avalanche burial and recovery scenarios on a regular basis, I'd say that opting for G3s AviTech shovel is a better choice if you're only going to own 1 shovel. Its larger blade makes for more efficient shoveling and a better platform for snow studies. While it's bigger that the SpadeTECH Elle, I'd say that size difference is a bonus. The pack I carry for most all tours, day or week long, is big enough to accommodate a large shovel. Compression tests in facet-y snow are more difficult with the SpadeTech Elle shovel, since the blade's surface area doesn't cover the entire area of the column you'd be isolating. If you have proper shovel technique, you're going to move more snow with a larger blade than a smaller one for rescues. That being said, sometimes it's nice to have that smaller shovel for sidecountry days. Having options never hurt anyone, and I'll definitely take my SpadeTECH Elle on those days. Big backcountry days, I'll still reach for a larger shovel. So, be sure to assess your shovel needs- if you're an occasional user, or looking for a versatile shovel that you can use in the backcountry and also as a mountaineering shovel, the SpadeTECH Elle shovel is definitely the way to go. Lighter, fits in your pack, and, as a bonus, the graphics match the G3 Alpinist Elle Climbing Skins. Who says you can't kick backcountry a@$ and look good at the same time? If you're a heavy backcountry user looking to conduct regular snow assessments and recovery scenarios, look more towards the G3 AviTECH shovel.
Buy NowAre you diggin' it? Pick up a G3 SpadeTech Elle Shovel today!... Read more...
No one likes to be that person at the car who's fumbling with their skins when the rest of the crew is ready to hit the trail. Rest assured, with Genuine Guide Gear's Alpinist Elle Climbing Skins, that won't be you. I hate being the one who holds things up , (and worse, being the girl that's holding things up) struggling to rip skins apart, and bouncing from one friend to another, each grabbing and end of your perma-stuck climbing skins and pulling for dear life, only to result in someone losing their grip and landing on their behind. We've all been there. Well, maybe not all of us. Those lucky people who bought G3's climbing skins as their first pair probably haven't been down this embarrassing road. With G3's RipStrip Technology and non-toxic, solvent free adhesive, they've achieved the finite balance in all things sticky- sticks to the skins and to each other when we need it to, comes off/apart easily when we don't. Add a laminated tail strap and a revolutionary tip connector and the single best skin trimming tool on the market and you've got one hell of a product. For those of you who read my initial review of the Alpinist elle skins, you know they had me with their skin trimming tool. Easy to use, no repositioning required; it is amazing. Even if the skin itself didn't outperform my others, I would have been a convert for life, just for the ease of trimming. However, the details that G3 addresses in their skin make sure that after you're converted, you're just as satisfied as you were right after trimming that first edge.
Details: G3 Alpinist Elle Climbing Skin
- Synthetic plush skin with a non-toxic, solvent free adhesive and integrated RipStrip Technology- The RipStrip is what keeps you from struggling to get the skins off your skis or off each other, reducing skin to skin adhesion. They still have plenty of stick when you need it, but no more fumbling to get them apart!
- Tip Connector- No more tip loops! If you've got a square edged ski like me (I've been riding the Moment Reagans this season), this will be the only skin that actually functions for you. The pivoting steel heads have the lowest profile of any skin connection out there, and once they're on, they're not moving. For those of us with those square edged skis- regular tip loops won't work, since there's no taper at the end of the ski. The pivoting tip connectors of the Alpinist Elle Skins allow you to turn them and toss the skin right on- no post factory modification involving duct tape required!
- Tail Connector- Instead of adjusting your metal clamp portion once, and then snapping it on and off the ski each time (which results in some unslightly loss of ski graphics at the tail of your ski), this tail connector has a fluid metal tooth that you bring to the ski each time, and then pull tight on the plastic tail strap. To remove, instead of snapping off the metal tooth, you release the tension on the tail strap, and then the metal tooth can be freely moved away from your skin. This took some getting used to, but in the end, it seems significantly more secure, and damages the end of my ski less. The tail connector is also laminated into the skin itself, so no worries about rivets coming undone and losing a tail piece.
- Sizing- Skins come in sizes from Extra Short to Extra Long, accommodating skis from 153cm to 199cm. Each length comes in widths that range from 70mm to 140mm. Price ranges according to skin length and width.
- Skin Trimming Tool- Don't believe me when I say it's the best one out there? Check out this video from G3.
Bottom Line: G3 Alpinist Elle Climbing SkinsG3 has nailed it. Lightweight, easy to rip apart, innovative tip connectors and a rad skin trimming tool. It glides well, folds up to be nice and small (stuffs easily into the front of my size small shell jacket for the ski down) and seems to be holding up well.
Buy Now: G3 Alpinist Elle Climbing SkinsTrim a new pair and never look back with your Alpinist Elle Climbing Skins. Dudes, looking for the same amazing technology but not such a pretty pattern? Check out the Alpinist Climbing Skins. Same great features but without the "Elle" and sweet blue skin graphics.... Read more...
Backcountry season should be ramping within the next few weeks here in AK, and I'll be testing out some Genuine Guide Gear (G3) women's specific skins and shovel all throughout the Chugach Range. My skins and shovel arrived in the mail a few days ago, and I just had a chance to cut my skins- while the full review will come later, so far, I've been really impressed. After only owning Black Diamond climbing skins for years, when my new G3 skins arrived, I left them in the box for a few days, dreading the disaster that is skin cutting. Lay the skin down, cut one side, move it, cut the other, curse when you haven't gotten it exactly even, leave to have a few beverages, come back and still be frustrated with the fact that the skins aren't totally even and you've wasted an entire evening on such a simple procedure. This couldn't have been further from the truth with my G3 skins. Their skin trimming tool ROCKS. Yes, that's right, ROCKS. In all capital letters. It's that good. They've designed a tool that allows you to lay the skin down once, trim both sides without moving it, and, oh yes, leave the exact correct amount of edge showing. Check it out! [gallery] Be sure to look for a full review of both the Alpinist Elle Skins and the SpadeTECH Elle Shovel in a little bit. For now, check out Gear.com's selection of G3 gear, and dream of cutting your skins with ease....Read more...
Scarpa's new women's AT boot, the Shaka, is in for the ride of its life up here in AK. An unusually rainy winter, with temp fluctuations and rain crusts galore, the ski season in AK has been variable, to say the least. I'm looking forward to testing the Shakas out and seeing how they perform in both varied touring and skiing conditions. Of the two new women's ski boots Scarpa has released this season, the Shaka is the burlier of the two, boasting incredible skiing ability while still being lightweight. The Shakas come with both ski and touring tongues, making the flex index "flexible," an Alpine Style Intuition Speed Pro ThermoMoldable Liner, a 4 buckle design with a power strap, and Dynafit compatibility. Look for a full review coming soon, but in the mean time, be sure to check out the Scarpa Shaka Alpine Touring Boot or other Scarpa Boots here on Gear.com.Read more...
Truly impressive overall, the Helly Hansen Verglas 3L is one solid hardshell jacket for skiing, climbing or other technical backcountry needs. Slipping this jacket on, the fit is spot-on for efficient outdoor pursuits. Without much extra material, the Verglas 3L has enough size to accommodate a fleece or light puffy insulation layer, but not much else. For me, the cut and fit of the Verglas 3L is a huge plus. The size Large fits my 5'11", 170 lb frame perfectly, so keep in mind that this trim jacket has an athletic cut. The quality construction is evident in every detail of the Verglas 3L. Everything is as expected -- from the adjustable hood to the grippable zipper pulls. Some of the other nice features include the vented collar to expel moisture when fully-zipped and prevent your breath from condensing inside. It actually does seem to expel moisture a bit better than a solid collar does. The Verglas 3L does fit comfortably under a pack and wears well. It has grippy rubber patches on the tops of the shoulders and on both hips to keep your shoulder straps and waistbelt in place on the jacket -- a nice little touch. Chest pocket access is great with a pack on, but the handwarmer pockets are essentially put off limits. The waterproof zippers reduce bulk and keep out the elements quite well. Speaking of elements, even a solid 34-degree wet, sloppy snowfall couldn't penetrate the shell. I spent a good hour in solid, wet snow and it was impenetrable. Durability has been great thus far, but I'll report back after a few car wash ski exits (scrub oak, aspen and fir variety). I've stashed this jacket in my ski pack and it compacts down pretty well -- about what you'd expect from a 3-layer hardshell. It's my hardshell of choice as I roll it up and toss it into the bottom of my Osprey Kode 30 backpack for the downhill. The articulated fit is nice and efficient without excess bulk, which is perfect for backcountry adventures. The zip off powder skirt is a nice touch and can be removed to lighten the load a bit. I kept it in place and appreciated the extra protection it provided. The articulated sleeves feature an angled cuff to better match your natural arm movement. It does help keep the cuffs in place, but not as well as it would if Helly Hansen had chosen to add some grippy patches ton the inside cuff. Mated with my Swany X-Claim gloves, the cuff did work its way off the midsize glove over time... again, some lightweight grippy on the interior of the cuff would minimize this -- a small change that hopefully can be made. Unfortunately, my jacket has a sizeable crease in the visor (likely my fault for not packing it so well) and it now doesn't sit quite right. I'm trying to work that out so it doesn't interfere with my vision but for now, it still insists on folding down right in the middle where a crease has been set. I just need to be more careful when packing it away in my ski pack. The Good
- Tough as nails
- Excellent waterproof capabilities
- Breathes well for this type of material
- Great athletic fit
- Love the tall collar and breathing ports
- Articulated sleeves with angle-cut cuffs add to the overall comfort
- Zip-off powder skirt is great to have
- Sleeve cuffs could use some grippy material to keep in place
- A bit spendy at $425
Bottom Line: Helly Hansen Verglas 3L JacketThe Helly Hansen Verglas 3L jacket has impressed me from the get-go with its efficient fit, smart function and overall quality construction. When considering a bulletproof hardshell, the Verglas 3L stands up there with the best jackets on the market with a few added touches (breathing ports in collar, zip-off powder skirt, grippy shoulders and waist, etc.) that are unavailable elsewhere. Buy Now: Visit HellyHansen.com... Read more...
What an incredible journey. Watching Greg Hill creep closer and closer to his 2 million vertical feet goal in one year has been nothing short of amazing. The fact that he skinned, climbed and skied his way to his goal is that much more astounding! Congratulations, Greg!
PARK CITY, UTAH (Jan. 3, 2011) – On Jan. 1, 2010, Backcountry.com-sponsored (other sponsors include Dynafit and Arc'teryx) ski mountaineer Greg Hill set his altimeter watch to zero and set off on his mission to log 2 million vertical ski-touring feet — all self-propelled, counting only the up — by Dec. 31. After 266 days of climbing and skiing backcountry terrain in Canada, Chile and Argentina, Hill’s New Year’s resolution and yearlong quest became a reality on Dec. 30 when his watch hit the 2 million mark on Rogers Pass outside of his hometown, Revelstoke, British Columbia. “The incredible feeling of no longer having this immense goal looming over my days is amazing. So much has gone into this tiny number on my watch – so much dedication, perseverance and passion,” said Hill, 35. “We all have dreams. I’ve realized that the fact is you have to work hard to achieve them and if you work hard enough it is possible to accomplish them.” Joined by his wife, mother, stepfather, two brothers and a crew of friends for his final push on a bitterly cold day, Hill’s watch eclipsed 2 million at 1:30pm on Bonney Moraine – a special place for Hill, with impressive mountain views and untracked powder. It was the culmination of a long, exciting year inundated with emotional highs and lows, travel and a healthy amount of skiing. All of Hill’s 2 million vertical feet were logged completely under his own human power –no chairlifts, trams or gondolas. “The toughest part of this challenge was the continuous need to always be on it – averaging 38,500 feet a week every week for a year,” said Hill. “Any time off meant extra huge days ahead. December was my biggest month where I covered 238,000 feet.” Hill averaged 7,570 feet per day, scaled 71 peaks (including a handful of technical first descents) and powered through 77 days where he logged more than 10,000 vertical feet. To put Hill’s extraordinary and superhuman feat in perspective, it is equivalent to: running more than 200 marathons in a year, climbing Mount Everest 69 times and skiing back down, and taking the stairs up the Empire State Building four times and Eiffel Tower five times a day for 365 days. Now imagine accomplishing this in remote, high-altitude mountain ranges in avalanche terrain with 40 pounds of gear strapped to your back. As the final days of 2010 loomed over Hill, he skied into the night lit by headlamp to maximize his daily vertical consumption. Hill completed his yearlong goal with style and grace and admits that being surrounded by family and friends for the finale was more emotional than anticipated. “Every day during the last week of the year I was pushing out an extra hour in the evening with friends to be able to finish with a bit of grace,” said Hill. “Finishing was way more emotional than I thought it would be. When I hit 1 million and 1.5 million I was alone. It was so great to feel the support and psych of all my friends and family as I achieved this crazy goal – I most definitely cried.”More Info: Visit GregHill.ca... Read more...
With good tunes and lots of big lines in deep pow, "The Way I See It" is the ski movie you've been craving. Looking for a good ski movie that is low on the jibbers and bad rap, and high on sick lines and good tunes? Look no further than the recently released Matchstick Productions film "The Way I See It." The film strikes a good balance between the teenagers in jackets that look like dresses and big mountain skiing. Clearly, I'm biased. I don't ski to ski down stair rails, to wear bright green/pink/orange/blue ski jackets that come down to my knees, or to wear my pants at my ankles while jumping over boxes and onto concrete steps. Personally, I feel like that "scene" has dominated the ski movie industry as of late (save Powderwhore), which isn't something I'm stoked about. I ski to ski powder. And I like my ski movies to be full of it. So, keep that bias in mind as I provide you with my impression of "The Way I See It."
The Way I See "The Way I See It"As the first big ski movie of the season shown at Alyeska Ski Resort, everyone was pumped to head to the opening of "The Way I See It." You know that vibe, when everyone is chomping at the bit to get back on skis, and wants to drool over some powder to get stoked for the season (especially when you know your home mountain has some serious screen time in the movie). As the film began, and scenes of epic mountains, a helicopter and some big lines filled the screen, I knew it was going to be a good movie. Then, as the sound got cranked up and the familiar guitar riff of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" played so loud that it resonated inside my chest, I (and the rest of the crowd) went wild. A ski movie that opens with big mountains and Queen!? I'm in. As the rest of the film unfolded, it did not disappoint. With skiers like Bobby Brown, Ingrid Backstrom, Arne Backstrom, Sean Pettit and countless others, plus a soundtrack featuring Queen, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Postal Service and Weezer, the boys at Matchstick Productions hit the nail on the head. A perfect mix of park and pow, I've never enjoyed a ski movie so thoroughly. Shot in locations from Alaska to Tahoe to Switzerland to Colorado to Japan, "The Way I See It" takes you on a worldwide journey, truly showing you how these athletes see skiing and the world around them.
Check It OutView the teaser yourself. But be prepared, much like a good first date, it'll leave you wanting more.
HoliGEARLooking for a a gift for the skier or snowboarder on your list? Matchstick Productions "The Way I See It" is sure to bring Christmas cheer, disguised as powder skiing and Queen. Buy Now! Matchstick Productions' "The Way I See It" Ski Movie... Read more...
You'd expect someone to be skeptical of a known shoe company jumping into the apparel market. I know I was when I received the Merrell Men's Ridgedrift Softshell Jacket from Merrell to review. After testing this jacket the skepticism has been shoved aside. The Ridgedrift is legit.
Merrell Men's Ridgedrift Softshell Jacket Features
- Merrell Opti-Shell™ waterproof, breathable softshell fabric
- DWR finish
- Drawcord adjustable hem
- Waterproof, mesh-lined pit-zips remain open for optimal venting
- Zip-secure hand pocket/chest pocket
- Shaped cuff increases coverage from elements
- Price: $178.95
Merrell Men's Ridgedrift Softshell Jacket ReviewThe Merrell Men's Ridgedrift Softshell Jacket is a great jacket for a variety of activities. I had the Ridgedrift out on everything from the daily bike commute, playing in the snow with the kids, winter hikes, light rainy days, grocery store runs, and temps ranging from the teens to the 40s. The Ridgedrift offers a lot of versatility. The fabric was fairly stiff for a softshell when I first received it but after a little wear it has loosened up. The combination of 96% polyester and 6% elastine gives enough stretch to not limit your movements when you are getting around. The DWR keeps the jacket (and you) dry in light rains and light to heavy snowfall. Like just about any other softshell out there, if the rain gets heavy or long you'll wish you had a hardshell. The waterproof zippers are a nice addition and give the jacket a more streamlined look and better performance. I will say though, the zippers are stiff and take a little more effort zip up and down, usually requiring two hands. The shaped cuff and velcro-cuff adjustments keep the jacket down and around your gloves, even when you are stretching. I have a positive ape index (my arm span measurement is longer than I am tall). I have issues with sizing and sleeve-length. Usually to get the arms long enough I have to bump up to an XL. I have the large in the Ridgedrift and it fits well in the body and the arms are long enough. I wouldn't wear this jacket for aerobic activities such as running, fast skinning, or anything like that. While it is a softshell I didn't find the breathability enough to help keep me cool while working hard. The pit-zips help but it wasn't quite enough for me. The Ridgedrift is a great jacket for skiing the resorts, hiking, your around town needs, and even playing in the snow with the kids. The Good
- Good fit
- Good Construction
- Breathability isn't enough for aerobic activities
- Stiff zippers
Bottom Line:For being a footwear company Merrell is making legitimate headway into the apparel market and the Ridgedrift is a great example of this. If you're considering getting a softshell jacket for a variety of activities consider the Ridgedrift. Buy Now: Merrell Men's Ridgedrift Softshell Jacket Name ... Read more...
Salomon has never been a ski company that sits around waiting for innovation to happen. They have actively developed some of the most legendary skis the industry has ever seen. The XScream series was my first foray into the modern mid-fat and I have since skied a number of their skis and loved every turn. Now, their ski designer, Bertrand Krafft has announced his latest design... the BBR ski. View Specs: BBR 8.9 and BBR 7.9 Spec Sheet (PDF) Check out the details I do have on the Salomon BBR ski below.
12.06.2010– Ogden, UT— Salomon, the leader in technical design innovation in mountain sports, introduces a radical new design in alpine skis. The BBR ski is the latest innovation by Salomon ski designer Bertrand Krafft, (aka: BeBeR) the shaper behind groundbreaking innovation in skiing, the X Scream Series and Pocket Rocket. Inspired by the spontaneity and freedom of action found in water sports, the BBR ski offers the liberty to carve, cruise, float and play. BBR is unlike any ski ever made. The patented “V” shape redefines skiing on all types of snow. An oversized tip and rocker shape enable it to float in powder and adapt to uneven terrain smoothly and predictably. With a narrow waist and pintail, a short radius and short effective edge on-piste, BBR provides great carving and outstanding edge grip on harder snow. The result is an incredibly playful ski, with great performance in any situation. “With BBR it’s all about having fun,” says Jean-Yves Couput, Salomon Global Brand Manager. “This is the ski that helps get you that day on the mountain you’ll never forget. The freedom and adventure of your best days are exemplified in this revolutionary innovation.” The BBR launch unveiling kicks off with the Shape Your Adventure Tour, a nation-spanning road trip to a number of ski areas in the U.S. allowing skiers to test the fun factor first hand. Salomon athlete Seth Warner will haul a cache of BBR demo samples to virtually every area of the nation throughout the winter to give consumers a sneak peek and ultimate ride. Salomon officially launches the BBR at the SnowSports Industries America trade show in January.Buy Now: Search for Salomon Skis... Read more...
When you wake up to the sound of artillery shells shaking your house and a report of 23 inches of fresh snowy goodness, you know you're getting out of bed and moving quickly. When you look outside and see bluebird skies, you kick it into the next gear, and dress yourself while running for the chairlift, hoping you get those pants buttoned before you run into your buddies in the lift line. As you're grabbing your ski gear essentials, be sure to grab a pair of the Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings to keep your legs toasty while you're shreddin. The Icebreaker GT line of baselayers takes wool long underwear to the next level. The GT line adds 3% lycra to the high quality merino wool that Icebreaker is known for, which means you've got some stretch and give in your undies. The added Lycra also makes sure that your long underwear will retain its shape, and you won't have to deal with saggy bottoms by the end of the day. The GT line also boasts reflective graphics, so if you want to wear the layers separately for an early morning run, you know people will see you as you flash by.
Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings: The Specs
- Athletic fit baselayer
- 97% New Zealand Merino Wool, 3% Lycra
- GT Express Leggings are available in a 200 weight (lightweight) and a 260 weight (midweight)
- 260 (Midweight) Leggings are ideal as a baselayer for snowsports and cooler temps
- MSRP $100
- Baa Code: Every piece of Icebreaker product comes with a code, which allows it to be traced from sheep to production. Icebreaker prides itself on it sustainable ethics and transparency of production, which is awesome.
Icebreaker GT Express Leggings: The ReviewHave you made the switch from synthetic to wool baselayers yet? In case you're not quite on board, here's the low down: Wool doesn't retain stink, like synthetic fabrics do. We've all got those gnarly synthetic baselayers that no matter how many times you wash them, they will forever smell like you spent 3 years living in the same shirt and not showering... Ok, so, 1 point for wool. The synthetic advocates come back saying yes, we may be stinky, but wool is itchy! Not so with Icebreaker's merino wool blend. Their wool is soft and just as comfortable as any synthetic out there. Score now? Wool 2, Synthetics 0. Here's the kicker though- the fibers in the wool actually work with your body. As you heat up, it wicks more heat and moisture away from your body. When you're cool, it warms your body up. The merino wool's got smarts. Checkin' in with that scoreboard again, I believe we've got Icebreaker Wool at 3, and Synthetics at 0. To give a bit of credit to our plastic amigos, synthetics are certainly less expensive. So, let's call that Wool 3, Synthetics 1. But at the rate you're replacing those smelly synthetics, the initial investment is worth it for the quality, in my opinion. Icebreaker has taken an already phenomenal product with their wool baselayers, and made it even better in the GT line, with the addition of the Lycra. My only complaint with the 1st generation of Icebreaker Baselayers was that they didn't retain their shape as well as the synthetic long underwear I had (yes, yes, I was once a synthetic wearer). With the Lycra spandex, the GT express leggings are a skiers dream for a baselayer. They've got some give, keep you warm, and retain their shape over multiple wears. While I won't have an opportunity to wear the GT Express Leggings as an individual piece for a while (winter's in full swing up here in AK), I look forward to running in them when the temps warm up a bit and the trails thaw. The flatlock stitching and ergonomically designed seaming will come in handy when I'm cranking out the miles. So, this morning, when the artillery shells were shaking my house and I had feet of fresh snow in my front yard, I did reach for my Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings. And yes, I did manage to get my ski pants buttoned before I met up with friends in the lift line. Buy Now! Icebreaker GT 260 Express Legging! Also, be sure to check out Gear.com's selection of Icebreaker gear and the full Icebreaker GT Line!... Read more...
Last week, as we all sat around and ate turkey, I'm sure that conversation about "What are you most thankful for?" came up in many a home. Health, happiness, friends and family made the list for most. As I spent my Thanksgiving mired in 2 feet of fresh snow that mixed in with rain, sleet and yo-yo like temperatures, I found myself thankful for my Merrell Falconry TriTherm Jacket. The Merrell Falconry TriTherm Jacket is a 3-in-1 jacket, sporting a down insulative later that can be worn individually, a waterproof breathable shell that can also be worn individually, and the M-Connect System that allows you to wear these both as one lightweight, warm and waterproof jacket when conditions dictate. I primarily used the jacket in its "connected" form, or simply used the inner down layer, and was impressed each time I used it.
Merrell Falconry TriTherm Specs
- 2.5-layer Merrell Opti-Shell: Waterproof, breathable outer shell with 6% elastane, so it's stretchy!
- Inner jacket: 800 fill goose down insulation, so you know you'll be warm
- M-Connect System: Inner and outer jackets connect using this snap-together system
- Fully seam sealed
- Pit zips through both the inner and outer jacket
- MSRP = $498.95
Merrell Falconry TriTherm: The GoodNow, no one likes to admit that they stereotype. It's not a super positive aspect of any one's personality. However, when it comes to gear, I think we all do it, to one extent or another. When you think Merrell, what comes to mind? Like many, I immediately think shoes. Awesome, super versatile shoe company. So when Merrell asked me to review their Falconry TriTherm Jacket, I was surprised. I had no idea they were in the business of making "withstand all the elements, keep you warm and keep you dry" outerwear. I was stoked to give it a try! After wearing the Falconry for a little while, here were my favorite features:
- The M-Connect system, which connects the inner insulation with the outer shell, cuts down on bulk. Normal 3-in-1 jackets have a zipper system with about 8 million zippers, which make the jacket bulky and inflexible. The M-Connect system cuts down on that bulk.
- Flexible Shell: The outer shell has some stretch to it, but still maintains that waterproof ability. No more scratchy, stiff shell required.
- Low-down pocket on the arm: If you ski at a resort that has the little RFID cards instead of scannable passes, you know what it's like to be that person with your pass in your upper shoulder, trying to wing yourself back and fourth to get the scanner to read you and open the gates. The arm pocket on the Falconry is by your wrist, so you can just wave your hand to get the gates to open, as opposed to doing that "fully body rubber chicken dance" that we all know. Major bonus points.
- Inner jacket= Super stylish. I love to wear the TriTherm to walk around town, then take off my wet shell when I get inside, but still stay warm with my inner down jacket.
- Lightweight and packable: The shell stows into its own pocket, and 800 fill down makes the inner layer about as light as they come!
Merrell Falconry TriTherm: The Bad
- Down is rough for those of us in wet environments, since it loses its insulative qualities when wet. Despite the amazing outer shell, sometimes that inner insulate does get wet. However, it's the down that keeps the jacket light, so it's not necessarily a bad thing, just something to keep in mind if you live in a super wet climate.
- I'd love to see a powder skirt on this jacket! Great for skiing on days when you need more warmth, or for those tours when you want an extra layer for the down, but you want a shell only for the up. A powder skirt would make this jacket perfect!
A ski premiere is always an experience. You make sure to wear a really tough looking jacket, snag face time with the athletes, and possibly walk away with a headband during the giveaway. Had the chance to hit the Durango Powderwhore film the other night and it did not disappoint. Doesn't matter if your heels are locked down or knuckle drag, this movie pleases all audiences.Check out the Powderwhore crew and go buy a t-shirt to show your powderwhore pride (downhill skiers welcome).... Read more...
As you consider your choice in outerwear, do you stop to think about the company behind the logo? While I'm not going to get into the details of what some of the big brands do or don't do with their profits, I will say that Sherpa Adventure Gear has quite an inspiring business model that might make you think more about your choices in outerwear. This Summer, I had a conversation with president and founder, Tashi Sherpa, and he outlined some of the great programs they have in place to benefit Nepali Sherpa's and their families. That conversation has stuck out in my mind and continues to give me warm fuzzies every time I put on the Varun jacket. Sherpa Adventure Gear Varun Jacket Features:
- Recycled polyester outer shell
- Nylon lining
- Nylon/Polyester softshell side panels
- PrimaLoft Eco (40 gsm) insluation
- Laser-cut hand pockets have zip closures (with garages)
- Concealed interior chest pocket will hold a music device
- The recycled polyester shell fabric has an eye-teasing, variegated grid pattern
- Colors: Kharani, Suntala, Tibetan Coral, Num Blue
- Weight: 12.7 oz
- MSRP: $140 USD
Sherpa Adventure Gear Varun Jacket ReviewPerhaps the warm fuzzies I'm feeling are not only from the feel-good story of SAG, but also from the PrimaLoft Eco insulation that keeps things toasty. While I've tested a slew of synthetic insulated jackets over the years, this one has some unique features that puts it into a category all its own. The difference boils down to the softshell underarm and side panels. This allows the Varun to breathe better than other synthetic puffies on the market. While it does encourage breathability under pressure, at the same time it does allow some wind penetration, so take the bad with the good breathability. The recycled polyester exterior sheds moisture well, but isn't supremely waterproof in a full-on downpour. The nice thing with synthetic insulation is that it won't lose as much insulative properties when wet. Slipping on the Varun, this jacket just feels well-built and comfortable. PrimaLoft Eco is light, warm and comfortable and is a great choice for this piece. The sleeve cuffs and hem are welded for reduced bulk and improved fit. I dig the efficient fit with articulated elbows for an extra glove-like feel. The fit isn't completely athletic, but it's by no means relaxed. I'd call it a good mountain fit with just the right lengths and coverage all-around. Zipping it up, I loved the zipper backing as it provides solid wind protection yet it stays out of the way for easy zipping. It has some sort of stiff layer sandwiched in there... I like it. I'll continue to push the Varun this Winter in challenging backcountry conditions, so stay tuned for updates. The Good
- Excellent overall quality and feel
- PrimaLoft Eco insulation is light, packable and warm
- Love the softshell underarm/side panels for breathability
- Comfortable collar height and diameter
- Nylon lining makes for easy on/off -- even with long-sleeves
- It feels good to support Sherpas and their families
- Hard to find
- Softshell panels do allow some wind penetration
In for review- The Merrell Falconry Tri-Therm Jacket, just in the nick of time! Winter has commenced here in Alaska, and every day brings a new mix of precipitation. Rain then snow, snow then rain, sleet, sun, then on to a rain/snow mixture, with temperatures changing hourly. Needless to say, a perfect place to give the Merrell Falconry Tri-Therm a run for it's money! The Falconry Tri-Therm is a 3-in-1 jacket, sporting a down insulative later that can be worn individually, a waterproof breathable shell that can also be worn individually, and the M-Connect System that allows you to wear these both as one lightweight, warm and waterproof jacket when conditions dictate! Look for a full review coming soon, but in the mean time, be sure to check out the Merrell Falconry Tri-Therm or other Merrell Jackets on Gear.com...Read more...
The coveted "Gear of the Year" award by the editors of Outside Magazine is the goal of most outdoor gear makers. With The North Face Kishtwar Jacket, it really comes as no surprise as initial tests have been extremely-favorable. I've seen the Polartec PowerShield Pro fabric in action, but have yet to try the Kishtwar. I've been pitching this jacket to anyone looking for a waterproof/breathable shell since I first saw it at Outdoor Retailer in January. This one will be flying off the shelves of your local REI. Buy Now: Find the Best Price on The North Face Kishtwar Jacket Read the release below:
10.06.2010 – SAN LEANDRO, Calif. — The North Face, the world’s premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technically advanced outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear, and Polartec, LLC, the developer, manufacturer and marketer of Polartec performance fabrics today announce The North Face Kishtwar Jacket was awarded “Gear of the Year” by Outside magazine. The Kishtwar is crafted of ground-breaking Polartec Power Shield Pro, which delivers the best combination of weather protection and breathability ever offered in a single fabric. "The Kishtwar just might be the ultimate soft shell. It’s made with a brand-new fabric from Polartec that somehow manages to be impressively breathable but also remarkably tough, windproof, and water-resistant,’" said Sam Moulton, Buyer’s Guide Editor at Outside magazine. "Add it all up and you've got a versatile soft shell for everything from backcountry skiing to cool-weather hiking." The holy grail of softshell jackets, the Kishtwar Jacket is designed for highly aerobic endeavors in foul weather. Polartec Power Shield Pro allows a high rate of air permeability that significantly improves moisture transport compared to softshells that do not allow airflow, while offering superior water resistance. The hydrophobic, microporous, polyurethane membrane stops water from penetrating while still allowing airflow. The Kishtwar features high abrasion resistance, four-way stretch and non-restrictive fit. “The Kishtwar is a revolutionary solution to adventurers who, until now, often had to choose between breathability and protection,” said Philip Hamilton, Vice President of Product for The North Face. “Working closely with longtime partner Polartec, we were able to create a solution. We are honored the Kishtwar stood out during Outside’s intensive testing process.” “Serious outdoor athletes and guides have been asking for a fabric like Polartec Power Shield Pro for years,” said Nate Simmons, Global Director of Marketing for Polartec. “Recent breakthroughs in membrane technology have finally made this combination of water resistance and air permeability possible. The North Face created an all-business jacket with the Kishtwar that will answer the needs of the most demanding users.” Outside magazine’s Buyer’s Guide features the latest and greatest of outdoor product and gear, as the ultimate guide for outdoor enthusiasts. Outside’s testing team looked at more than 50 of the best new jackets, and put a dozen through the paces on a wide variety of conditions, activity and terrain, including a mountain climb in Iceland, a trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal, and an adventure race in Patagonia. The North Face Kishtwar Jacket was also awarded “Gear of the Year” by National Geographic Adventure. http://on.natgeo.com/9ellZK For more than 40 years The North Face athlete team has defined the limits of what is humanly possible, and continually works with The North Face Research Design and Development teams, creating innovative designs that push new technologies and inspire cutting-edge products. Watch the Kishtwar in action – video: http://tnfvideo.com/video/kishtwar-jacket/ For more information on Polartec, visit www.polartec.com For more information on The North Face, check out www.thenorthface.com Visit Outside magazine at www.outsideonline.com About The North Face The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1968. Headquartered in San Leandro, California, the company offers the most technically advanced products in the market to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snowsport athletes, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company's products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running, and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains. About Polartec, LLC Polartec, LLC is the developer, manufacturer and marketer of Polartec performance fabrics. Polartec products range from lightweight wicking base layers, to insulation layers, to extreme weather protection and are utilized by the best clothing brands in the world. In addition, Polartec fabrics are used extensively by all branches of the United States military including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Special Operations Forces.Buy Now: Find the Best Price on The North Face Kishtwar Jacket... Read more...
With more and more backcountry travelers heading out into uncontrolled terrain, nothing is more important than proper route-finding and safe backcountry travel protocol. Of equal importance is the proper gear should an accident occur. Tops on that list of gear is a beacon, probe and shovel in the hands of everyone in your posse. As beacons have become more widely-used, it's become more and more important to make them easier and easier to use. The all-new Ortovox 3+ avalanche beacon represents the latest in technology to deliver ease-of-use in an ultra-compact package. This transceiver is shipping to retailers now. Read on for more details.
Salt Lake City, UT (September 2010)—Buried alive in snow is not a comfortable thought or experience, thankfully the new 3+ Avalanche Beacon by Ortovox will have you out even faster. The 3+ is the first 3-antenna device with Smart Antenna Technology™, intelligent positioning system that analyzes the position of the antennas and automatically switches to the most optimal transmission. In short, the 3+ makes all other avalanche beacons more efficient at finding you. The 3+ Avalanche Beacon represents a significant and important forward step in backcountry safety technology. Utilizing Smart Antenna Technology™, the 3+ is the first avalanche beacon to automatically recognize which of its two primary antennas is best positioned to emit the strongest flux line for rescuers to pick up. “There’s never been an avalanche beacon like this,” said Ortovox USA CEO Marcus Peterson, “A lot of energy and investment has been spent making transceivers get better at searching. The 3+ is undoubtedly the best at being found.” The 3+ is no slouch at finding people either. A large real-time display with directional arrow and distance to the victim helps hone your rescue quickly and intuitively. The display deck also allows for a visual, easy-to-use overview of multi-burial situations that allows the rescuer to flag a victim once they are found. Additional features include rubberized housing for added protection, lighted display for night searches, switchover in case of a follow-up avalanche, optimized search acoustics and visual representation of victim proximity (in addition to metric distance). Best of all, Ortovox 3plus Beacons ARE NOW SHIPPING and will be available online and in specialty retail stores near you shortly. About Ortovox All over the world, backcountry skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers and military special forces have one thing in common: mountains and snow. Driven by their passion for improving the backcountry experience, Ortovox is a worldwide leader in developing new product solutions designed to make winter sports safer and more fun. This is why Ortovox has been the #1 selling avalanche transceiver and safety equipment brand worldwide for over 25 years.More Info: Visit Ortovox.com... Read more...
When it comes to outerwear, everyone claims their fabrics are both waterproof and breathable. We've all used Gore-Tex, Pertex, eVent, Hyvent and the like with excellent, acceptable and poor results. Sometimes breathability wins out over waterproof and other times the opposite is the case and you're left wearing the equivalent of a plastic garbage bag. In recent times, I've been impressed with some of the new house-brand laminates in the market and this year Spyder is making some very bold claims with the introduction of their new OSMO Technology. On paper it appears to provide all the right ingredients to perform on the hill, but the real world is always the best testing grounds. Regardless, it's great to see Spyder offering a new fabric that is aimed at providing critical breathability in their high-end ski jacket line--because nothing is worse than wearing a sweatbag. Read on for the full details from Spyder:
08.26.2010 – Boulder, CO – The average person has 2.6 million sweat glands that produce up to a liter of sweat an hour. In cold environments, it’s imperative to move moisture away from the body to maintain dryness and warmth and avoid hypothermia. Spyder, the world’s leading skiwear and mountain based apparel brand, wages war on the cold with their new proprietary OSMO technology to dissipate moisture and help maintain your core body temperature. Featured in the high-end men’s and women’s 2010 Legend collections and Kyd’s Authentics line, OSMO technology is a super breathable laminate system featuring a 30,000g breathability rating and 20,000mm waterproof rating. This exclusive system achieves world-class breathability based on the inherent properties of osmosis, the diffusion of fluid through a membrane. Spyder’s OSMO edge was developed through the integration of an exclusive three-part system; the garment’s outerlayer, a laminate that provides breathability ratings never witnessed to date in skiwear, and an adhesive that bonds the laminate to the outer fabric. These three elements pull water vapor away from the interior through the garment to the exterior. The OSMO technology conversely blocks larger water molecules of melted snow and rain so they cannot pass through the outer shell toward the body, thus keeping the athlete warmer and drier. Long, cold days on the mountain never felt better. OSMO with X-STATIC® MVT+ silver technology is also released within Spyder’s 2010 line. A laminate utilizing pure silver throughout the membrane, the technology will provide OSMO’s superb waterproof/breathability while also utilizing the natural, permanent performance properties of silver. Bacterial growth on waterproof, breathable fabrics greatly reduces their effectiveness by clogging the cellular structure of the laminate. Spyder chose X-STATIC® MVT+ because it inhibits the growth of the bacteria on the membrane, allowing it to retain its breathability performance and protect from odor. As the natural silver properties of X-STATIC MVT+ never recede, the performance benefits will be with you for the life of the garment.More Info: Visit Spyder.com... Read more...
Peanut butter and jelly. Captain and Tennille. Scooby and Shaggy. Whatever combo you want to call it; local rising ski company, Surface Skis and local crazy-huge headphone company, Skullcandy, have announced a co-branding and marketing partnership with three Skullcandy-branded skis, poles and matching Skullcandy headphones. Park rats will rejoice as their entire ensemble will now match... horray! The nuts and bolts of this are big for both camps, but I see it as a huge step forward for Surface. Aligning with Skullcandy offers huge advantages as their presence is a huge force in the action sports world. Congratulations to both. Looking forward to these new designs this Winter. Here's a little more info:
Surface Skis, the fastest growing brand in freeskiing, which is the fastest growing segment in all of snow sports, is pleased to announce their partnership with Skullcandy, leader of core audio products. The partnership consists of three co-branded snow skis, poles and matching Skullcandy Icon 2 headphones for each ski graphic. An official launch party will be held this coming July at the Windell’s Ski/Snowboard camp in Mt. Hood, Oregon. Surface Founder/President, Mike Schneider commented, “Watching Skullcandy evolve the last few years has been a huge inspiration to our brand. We are honored to have an industry leader like Skullcandy choose us for a collaboration of this magnitude. This collaboration is the first of its kind in the ski community and we are excited to see what emerges from here.” "Skullcandy was born on a chairlift - This collaboration with Surface was just meant to be," said Dan Levine, Chief Merchandising Officer of Skullcandy. "We are beyond excited to partner with a company that shares our same beliefs and passion for the snow. We hope everyone else enjoys the hard work that has gone in to this project as much as we will this winter." Follow Surface and Skullcandy the entire month of July while they are Mt. Hood promoting the collaboration with daily updates on Skullcandy.TV, Twitter and an official launch party at Windell’s Ski/Snowboard Camp featuring a surprise-guest hip hop artist the last week of July.More Info: Visit SurfaceSkis.com/Skullcandy... Read more...
I've wanted a super lightweight insulated jacket for a number of years now, but I never pulled the trigger until recently. I needed a jacket and threw down for the Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover. The Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover is light in weight, small when packed, but packs a big warmth punch. As soon as I put it on I knew I made the right decision.
Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover Features
- Ultralight ripstop recycled polyester face fabric with Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish
- Lightweight 60-g PrimaLoft® One polyester insulation provides excellent warmth and compressibility
- Deep center-front zipper allows for easy ventilation
- Stuffs into a self-storage left chest pocket with reinforced carabiner clip-in loop
- Elasticized cuff and hem seal out wind and trap in warmth
- Shell: 1-oz 15-denier 100% recycled polyester. Insulation: 60-g PrimaLoft® One polyester. Lining: 1.4-oz 22-denier 100% recycled polyester. Shell and lining have a Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program
- Weight: 289 g (10.2 oz)
- Price: $150
Patagonia Men's Nano Puff Pullover ReviewI like Patagonia, their products are hard to beat in terms of durability, quality, and function. The Nano Puff Pullover is no exception. I got the jacket for cool summer nights, camping, and ski tours. So far I've only been able to test on cool summer nights, camping, and other mountain evenings that run passed sundown. I love this jacket. It provides just enough insulation to keep you comfortable when it gets cool. I just may be stating the obvious but the jacket isn't meant as a stand alone insulation piece when it gets bitter cold. It'll be a great mid-layer insulation piece paired with a shell when temps plummet. I love the fit of the jacket. I'm 6'0" tall and about 180 lbs. I do have a positive ape index (arm span longer than your height). My ape index measures almost 6'4". Usually I have to buy XL jackets to get sleeves that don't pull up over my wrists when I put my arms by my side, reach out, or reach over my head. I bought the Nano Puff Pullover in a size large and the fit is perfect! It gives me enough room around the chest and torso to move without restriction and the length comes down to just past my waist. The arms are perfect! When extending or reaching over my head the sleeves don't pull up over my wrists. The Nano Puff Pullover is surprisingly lightweight and packs down about the size of a small melon (see the photo to the right). Just small enough to throw into your pack for any outing. Or it can be clipped to the outside of your pack with the sewn carabiner loop. The Nano Puff does feature a Deluge DWR coating to provide some moisture protection in light rain/snowfall. The Pullover doesn't have handpockets. It was made to be a lightweight piece. Handpockets didn't make the cut. Given how I'll use this jacket I'm fine with it, but a lot of people will want handpockets. The chest pocket is roomy and can accomodate keys, wallet, and phone if necessary. I have the Nano Puff in the pullover, there are options for the Nano Puff Jacket and the Nano Puff Hoody. I want the hoody and will probably pick it up this fall. The Good
- Strong warmth-to-weight ratio
- Perfect for 3 season stand alone use
- Patagonia craftsmanship
- If you don't like pullovers this model isn't for you
- The nylon inside sticks to your bare skin if things get a little sweaty
- No handpockets
Bottom Line:The Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover is a great choice for a lightweight, 3 season insulation layer. It's well constructed and will last through serious use and abuse. Buy Now: Pick up the Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover ... Read more...
It's been quite some time since I've skied, ran or walked in standard insoles. I can't honestly remember the last time I slipped my feet into any stock footwear. Not only do I have flat feet, but I'm aware of the benefits provided by specialized insoles, like the Superfeet Red Hot Winter insoles. Superfeet insoles are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and purposes. The Red Hot (Mens) and Hot Pink (Ladies) are winter-specific insoles made to help cradle your feet in ski boots, snowboard boots or insulated Winter boots. I exclusively used them in my ski boots (Dynafit Titan TF-X) this season and had extremely-positive results. For years I've been swearing by Surefoot's custom footbeds. And, don't get me wrong, they are still absolutely outstanding, but they do cost a pretty penny ($199). The Superfeet Red Hot footbeds provide nearly the same support and comfort for a fraction of the price (MSRP: $50). To fit these inside your ski boots, you'll need to trim them down to the same size and shape as the factory footbeds. I just held the factory insoles against the Red Hots, traced them and trimmed away. Once fitted, I then took my Dynafit boots to a bootfitter to have them heat-molded to my feet. The result was the most comfortable ski boots I've ever owned. I've been very impressed with the all-day comfort in my ski touring boots and the solid feel of these footbeds. I have instant power transfer from my foot to the boot which translates into more confident and comfortable skiing and walking. While it's hard to say if the Outlast and reflective materials did improve the warmth of my boots, I can say that only once did I experience cold and numb toes. The Good
- Excellent value compared to custom footbeds
- Very comfortable walking and skiing
- Instant power transfer to the boots and skis
- Easy to trim and fit
- Could mis-trim them and render them useless
Bottom LineFor the money, the Superfeet Red Hot Winter insoles are a great option to improve ski boot fit and all-day comfort while increasing performance. Buy Now: Buy Superfeet Red Hot Winter Insoles... Read more...
If you're like me your first experience with GoLite might have been when you saw a lightweight backpack that was small on features but light as a feather and thereby hard to forget. From the mountains of Colorado sprang a company that I think has set the bar for performance gear in the "light is right" circles. But that's not just inclined to backpacks. Since my first encounter with the brand 5 years ago, GoLite has made great strides into the worlds of lightweight footwear, hiking clothing and performance jackets like the Trinity Jacket which I scored a deal on earlier this year. When I head out into the backcountry there's one piece of gear I like to have stuffed into my pack, ready to break out if the elements turn nasty - an insulated jacket. Until now it's always been a down jacket, but when I picked up the GoLite Cady 2477 synthetic jacket I had a good feeling about it, especially when it weighs in at just one pound. Here are some features that standout: GoLite Cady 2477 Jacket Features
- Lightweight - just 1 pound
- 100% recycled shell material
- Water resistant shell
- 50% Olefin, 50% recycled polyester insulation
- Pit zips
- Two handwarmer pockets
- Very smooth and small zippers
- $150 retail price
GoLite Cady 2477 Jacket ReviewWhen you're carrying around a jacket in your pack just waiting for the conditions to be right to don it, you might start to wonder if it's a good call to carry "dead" weight. If there were a negative with the Cady it's the sizing which could only be concluded as generous or that it's completely off. Unless you like a baggy fit, I recommend sizing down so you don't waste money in shipping back an exchange. I'm 6'4'' and about 210 so I typically wear an XL jacket but the Large actually fit quite well. What could have been a negative in sizing gave me a good athletic fit that went well as a layer or an outer. During one particularly frigged ski tour this winter I had the Cady under my shell and on my most recent spring climb and ski decent of Mount Watson I used it on the summit and for the ski descent as my outer shell and if functioned equally well in both situations. The shell material is both water resistant and wind resistant and despite it's lightweight insulation I was quite surprised how much warmth it provided. I've never been one to measure warmth to weight ratios, but I would suspect the Cady is at or near the top of the list I'm sure someone has conjured up. In the cold wind atop a mountain the zipper pulls are great if you're wearing gloves and the zippers lightweight and more importantly flawless when it counts most. There's nothing worse than when you're on top of a windy peak trying to zip up your insulating jacket only to have the zipper catch on the nylon since its being puffed out. Talking zippers, I can see that come this spring and fall with the multi-directional front zipper this will be my companion on rock climbing outings where you can zip up from the bottom to belay and be free of the cool breezes while my buddy leads the next pitch. I didn't use the pit zips much but they are a nice feature to add to an insulating jacket. I can only imagine the R&D guys at GoLite were struggling with the added weight of two pit zips to an already featherweight jacket but the marketing and likely field testers won out on this feature. The Good
- Smooth zippers with easy to grip (with gloves) zipper pulls
- Water resistant and wind resistant shell
- Packs down very small
- Pit zips on an insulated jacket is a nice touch
- Recycled materials in the shell and insulation - thanks for thinking of the environment GoLite)
- Inconsistent sizing
- I did have a couple of small snags on the shell from backpack and ski use after 10+ days
Bottom Line on the GoLite Cady 2477 Synthetic Insulated JacketFew if anything in my backcountry skiing pack weighs less and delivers more security and comfort than the GoLite Cady. It's a well build and well thought out jacket that I'm certain will be seeing more summits, ski descents and adventures both as a back up jacket or as the main event. Buy Now Grab the GoLite Cady 2477 Jacket for your next climb, backcountry ski or backpacking adventure.... Read more...
I've been using the POC Skull Light XP helmet (comes with optional visor) while skiing this winter and I have been very impressed. It isn't perfect (low ventilation, limited adjustable sizing, and some issues with the visor) but it is by far the most comfortable ski helmet I've ever worn. For those of you unfamiliar with POC, it is a higher-end producer of helmets, goggles, and protective gear for skiing and biking. They make exceptional armor for ski racing, and the style for all their products is quite clean and unique. I have enjoyed this helmet when skiing big mountain on my rocker skis or when bombing the groomed on my Nordica Fire Arrow 80s. The Skull Light XP helmet is not a full-face helmet, and it has soft ear covers instead of hardshell ear protection. Some prefer the burliness of the latter, but I much prefer a helmet that is easy on / easy off. Also, on warmer days it's easy to take out the soft ear covers and let your ears feel some wind to cool down. It works for the desert fox, why not for humans too? The Skull Light XP appeared to be a perfectly cylindrical fit, whereas most people's heads are not exactly shaped that way. I was worried that it would pinch my forehead (my head is longer fore/aft than it is wide). The first moment I put it on it seemed a touch tighter than I was used to for the size. But within an hour of wearing it I felt it had shaped very well to my head. Reality is that I'm always quite worried about purchasing a helmet that is too tight --- but usually they pack out very quickly to be too big. The POC fit was snug at first, and it quickly compressed to be just right. The helmet has a lightweight feel, without much slop. No room for a beanie under it -- and I think that would be too warm anyway. The Skull Light doesn't have much in the way of ventilation, but with the removable earpieces I'm not worried about that. I tried the helmet with both a pair of Smith Phenom goggles and a pair of POC Iris Bug goggles (the Iris Bug are shown in the pictures at right). Both fit very well into the shape of the helmet face. One interesting element of the helmet is the visor. I like it because it makes me look more like I'm wearing a baseball cap than a helmet -- kind of like when wearing the Smith Variant Brim helmet. However, the visor is quite long. It is a welcome shade to your eyes on sunny days when glare can be annoying. And like a baseball cap, it blocks a bit of your vision upward. I haven't yet tried a backflip while wearing this helmet yet, but I can imagine that could be a little unnerving to have your upward vision cut short by just a bit. The visor on the helmet is easily removable with one flat-head screw on each side. The worry I had with the visor was that it would block me from resting my goggles on the forehead of the helmet when standing in line or when bootpacking, skinning, or otherwise working up a sweat that could threaten a fog-job on my goggles. The great thing about the 2-screw style of the visor is that you can lift it up and place your goggles on the rim of the helmet if you wish (see picture at right). However, this also means that if you lift your chin much while skiing at speed (like when riding up the wall of a halfpipe) then the visor catches the wind like a sail and flips up. That can get real annoying in those situations -- I wish they had some smaller versions of the visor available to purchase for the helmet. I would really like to try the POC Synapse XP helmet which appears to have a shorter visor. But I wish POC would make a visor similar to the Variant Brim from Smith. FYI -- the helmet does not have a clip for the goggle strap. This worried me at first, but then I realized that I didn't miss it much. Some prefer to put their goggles into their helmet strap, then pull their goggle frame forward over the top of the helmet and then down onto their face. Without a goggle clip, you will instead place the goggle frame on your face first and then pull the strap back over the top of your head to put it in place. If you have some goggles with a clip, this is even easier. But if you've put on a goggle strap extender, then your strap's clip is non-existent anyway -- so it's the same either way. The Good
- Very snug but comfortable fit
- Lightweight feel
- Smooth profile
- Attractive style (in this author's opinion)
- Chin strap is comfortable, easy to adjust
- Soft earpieces are warm but easy to remove
- Visor shields glare, and makes your head look less like a torpedo
- Visor lifts to allow you to rest your goggles on the helmet rim (see picture)
- No goggle strap clip
- Visor can catch the wind like a sail
- Minimal ventilation, except for removable earpieces
- Limited adjustability for different-sized heads - does not have circumference adjusters like many helmets (bike and ski) do nowadays
Bottom Line: POC Skull Light XP helmetWhile this POC helmet lacks some adjustability, and the visor takes a little getting used to, it is an exceptionally comfortable fit with a slim profile and lightweight feel. Buy Now: POC Skull Light XP helmet... Read more...
Looking at my notes from Outdoor Retailer a few months back, I've found a few treasures that I wanted to be sure to pass along. This one comes from the folks at Dakine with the re-design of the popular Blade ski pack. The complete overhaul utilizes lightweight materials and is packed with even more features for more demanding backcountry ski tours or extended trips. Most notably is the asymmetrical backcountry toolkit pocket that's built for quick-access to your shovel and probe when precious seconds count. Slipping it on, the pack feels ultra-comfortable and is likely a stable partner on long or demanding ski descents. Features of the 2010 Dakine Blade Pack:
- Volume: 2300 cu in
- Cross and vertical snowboard carry
- A-frame or cross ski carry
- Both top-load and back access entry
- Insulated hydration sleeve
- Asymmetrical toolkit access
- Billowed stash pocket for ropes or other misc gear
- Weight: 3.9 lbs
- MSRP: $135
It's impossible to notice my affinity towards Merino Wool, really. I mean I hardly wear anything made of the stuff except, well, my socks and my shirt and my hat and my base layers. Well, ahem... I suppose I DO have some sort of a Merino fetish. There's something about natural Wool fibers for moisture management, anti-stinkyness and warmth that pure synthetics can't seem to match. I/O Bio, purveyors of Merino Wool everything, gave me an opportunity to test the Contact Loose Tights over the past month and I must say they are sweet. I really dig the 3/4 length, for starters. Without the bulk from bunching them up above my ski boots, things feel much more comfortable overall. The warmth of these midweight tights is just right for every activity I do. I can vary up the outer shell thickness to compensate on colder days (like the Core Concepts Uncle Ben Bib) or wear a thinner pant (like the Sierra Designs Mantra) on warmer days. I like the loose fit of these base layers as they feel comfortable for apres ski activities as well. Most times I can't wait to rip my base layers off because they are so snug-fitting. It may be a personal thing as I feel the same about socks in general and bike shorts, don't even get me started. Anyway, lounging around in the Contact Loose tights is comfy and natural. My biggest gripe is that there is no fly... did I happen to get a Women's version or something? Come on guys, a fly please. The Good
- Merino is soft-to-skin
- Resists odor
- 3/4 length is perfect for skiing
- Excellent moisture-wicking performance
- No fly... what's up with that?
Bottom Line: I/O Bio Contact Loose 3/4 TightsLoose-fitting Merino Wool base layers... what more could you ask for? Buy Now: Search for I/O Bio Clothing... Read more...
I’ve been able to take these goggles out on a few backcountry trips as well as inbounds at Solitude Resort on an ultra-cold day and Alta Ski Resort on a powder day and have been thoroughly impressed. The foam conforms to my face very well for a comfortable, all-day fit. I also like the style… yeah, a little loud, but not completely over the top. Overall vision has been top-notch with superb clarity. Under cloudcover, I could have wished for a brighter lens tint, but these are pretty darn solid as a single lens of choice. The lenses seem pretty scratch-resistant as they have yet to incur any scratches–even after some up close and personal encounters with low-lying branches. I’ve got to call these out a little more for their fog-free performance. You see, I tend to fog up nearly every pair of goggles I’ve owned. Truth be told, there are circumstances that can fog up even the best goggles, but I’ve put these through their paces and have yet to have them fog. Sweaty hikes, long traverses at Alta and hard-charging runs in deep powder… nothing has phased them. Fog-free goggles? Decidedly so thus far. The Good
- Spherical lens provides distortion-free vision
- Excellent fit with a variety of helmets (Smith Maze and POC Skull Light)
- Has been fog-free in a variety of temperatures and conditions (and I’m a fog machine)
- Excellent pricepoint
- No strap clip
Bottom Line: Scott Fix Ski GogglesEasy on the wallet and excellent, fog-free performance on the snow, the Scott Fix goggles are a wise choice if you like being able to see your next turn well in advance. Buy Now: Search for Scott Fix Goggles... Read more...
When people think of Sierra Designs, they undoubtedly think of their great tents and sleeping bags. While their shelters and mummies are some of the best in the business, they also have a solid selection of outerwear for backpacking, skiing and hanging out in the mountains. For years, I've used Sierra Designs outerwear and have found it to be of high quality at a more palatable price point. A great example of this is the Sierra Designs Mantra Fusion Jacket. This is their top-of-the-line shell and has all the great features you'd expect from every other high-end shell on the market, but at a fraction of their cost. At a very reasonable $259, the Mantra Fusion is a real bargain for what you're getting. So, what are you getting? Lets dig into that.
FeaturesThe Mantra Fusion Jacket is the best of the best waterproof-breathable rugged laminated mountain hard-shells. It is a fully featured, mechanical stretching shell with a full range of motion and ample storage for summer glacier trekking, south of the equator skiing and high mountain expeditions.
- Fully Fused PVC-Free Seams
- Helmet Compatible, Fully Adjustable Hood with Visor
- Adjustable Hem
- Adjustable Cuff
- Removable, Zip-Off Snowskirt
- Underarm Vents
- 1 Internal Mesh Dump Pocket and 1 Internal Zippered Mesh Pocket
- Interior Tricot Chin Guard
- Condor Construction
- Weight: 1 lbs 10 oz
- Colors: Black, Gator, Hot Sauce, Moth/Ash, Thunder
- MSRP: $259 (yes, indeed!)
ReviewAs mentioned above, I've always been impressed with the value provided by Sierra Designs outerwear. The Mantra Fusion Jacket is a fully-fused jacket, meaning all seams are fused instead of stitched. What this means is that there is no need for seam tape and no potential for the stitching to allow water to leak through. It also improves breathability at the seams by reducing the amount of material through which water vapor must pass. The result is a very sleek-looking and functional shell. The 3-layer waterproof Tropozone shell has just enough 4-way stretch to it to make it even more comfortable under use. The cut is definitely not athletic... more of a traditional mountain cut with enough length to keep you covered under all conditions. With the zip-off powder skirt, this jacket can be streamlined for backcountry use or used as a killer resort-style shell. Speaking of that, the fit and styling is very resort-friendly so you don't look like an Arc'teryx granola-eater inbounds (which I'm often accused of). Weather protection is as expected... superb. Wind, rain and snow sheds off this jacket with aplomb and you just keep charging. The waterproof zippers are easy to use and have great zipper pulls. The soft brushed lining in all pockets takes the edge off when used bare-handed. The interior is also lined with an ultralight brushed material to help take the edge off and help move moisture away from your body. The Good
- Excellent pricepoint
- Comfortable 4-way stretch fabric
- Dependable weather protection
- Hood is easily-adjusted and functional
- Pockets galore
- Breathability is great
- Zip-off powder skirt gives this inbounds/backcountry flexibility
- Cut could be trimmed down just a bit for a more streamlined fit, which would also reduce weight a tad
- Hand pockets are hard to zip/unzip one-handed
- Non-continuous Velcro attachments on cuff limits micro-adjustments
Bottom Line: Sierra Designs Mantra Fusion JacketMy take on this jacket is that it is a great resort-specific shell or a general-purpose shell for camping, hanging out, etc. It's not quite svelte enough for hard-core backcountry use, but zipping out the powder skirt does reduce some of the unnecessary bulk should you wish to haul it along for a serious mountain adventure. The price really separates this jacket from the crowd... it is a great overall package. Buy Now: Mantra Fusion Jacket from SierraDesigns.com... Read more...
The day before Thanksgiving back in 1996, my brothers and I were on our way to Purgatory for a day of skiing. My brother was driving 55 MPH on hard pack snow and flipped the Jeep Cherokee we were driving. We did one full rotation and landed on our tires. After the car stopped rolling we were in shock. The only thing I remember from that day is the smelly dude who towed our car home and the Yakima rack imprinted in the snow after it popped off the top; completely held together. Yeah, Yakima is tough. If you have had a similar experience or just tired of your crusty old ski rack, the Yakima FatCat 6 ski rack. For the record, we kept the rack and used it for ten more years. With Yakima rack systems being completely universal you have no excuse not to splurge on a new plank carrier.
CapacityThe FatCat totes six pairs of skis. And were not talking grandpa's old Hart 360 210cm skis, were talking the big fatty fats all of us our riding on these days. Do you ever get snowboarders remorse? Ya know, when the knuckle-dragger in the crew slaps his board on top of the car with the huge bulky bindings. When I put my wife's board on top for the first time I found quickly the FatCat is lifted, creating room to put the board bindings down. The gate closes easily too. Its one thing to say a rack can carry an amount of skis but you still need to close the stupid thing. The latch near the lock looks like it was extended this past year as to compensate for the ski width and doesn't rely on the cushion compressing to make room to lock it down. However I think they could take the gate closing a little more aggressive for next year.
InstallationWe are talking easy. I'm betting Jeff Foxworthy will have contestants install one of these puppies on that 5th grader show because a kid could seriously do this. Screwing this on my Subaru factory bars was so easy I felt like I was cheating. After 5 minutes, I thought I wasn't done. "No way should it be this easy!" And with the universal mount you don't have to scramble over to a bike shop and figure out the difference between Q24 and Q26 parts and than come to find the shop doesn't have the part you need. Yeah they can order it but c'mon, we all know setting up the rack is what you do RIGHT before the trip! The rack folds forward and backward to tighten it down on your bars making it so your not losing pieces. And if you do lose the bolts, they would be very easy to replace at a hardware store. The rack is completely threaded which has been a huge improvement from past years.
Low ProfileThe rack is shaped to be as aerodynamic as possible. I remember the old school racks how they were flat against the wind as your driving. This horizontal design can't be blamed for your crappy MPG that your Hummer is getting. One thing you will also love is how easy this rack is to store when not in use. All the pieces stay together and can fit in a tucked away spot in the garage. If you want to lift the rack on it's side, the part is inside the rack opening. You open the gate, and prop up the stand. Boom. The Good
- You won't even know its there.
- $209 gets you the rack and the security locks. Fair price without having to run around the internet finding every piece.
- You can have the kids install it.
- Great capacity. What you see is what you get, even with the big planks.
- ahem...uh Gear of the Year anyone?
- Completely universal. Your buddies Amanti breaks down, switch the rack over to the Outback. No worries.
- Making the gate easier to close should be a focus for next year.
- Each rack should be wider. Really making it a good solid ride for the planks.
Bottom Line: Yakima FatCat 6 Ski RackThe main theme with this gear piece is integration. I'm sure Yakima was tired of getting those phone calls about the little plastic piece Aunt Joan threw away thus making the whole rack unusable. Which in turn really makes this rack an economic booster because for those Thule people wanting to cross over to the other side can because Yakima racks are all universal. BUY NOW: The Yakima FatCat 6 Ski Rack w/ Locks.... Read more...
When you drive into Durango Colorado and want to fit in, a gear box is required. Slap on 85 stickers from your favorite brands and organizations you support and any New York newbie could make their BMW blah blah blah score a free brew at the drive-up espresso lane. Third row seating is cool and all but the only thing you can really tote around is milk and a half-pint of soy butter. That won't work for a weekend in Moab. Ladies and gentleman of the online world, I present the SkyBox 12 by Yakima.
Easy InstallNew racks are fun and all but I hate the amount pieces they come with. It's like getting a robot that can make you bacon and eggs in the morning but you have to put him together. Lame. The SkyBox 12 really has nothing to it. Crack open the case, lay it on top of the car, loosen up the hinges, slide it forward, and do it quick enough to not miss the fresh powder at East Castle. Inside the box you loosen up the hooks that slide forward on to your rack. Ready for the sweetest part of all? The attachment goes with ANY bars or factory racks. Square, round, triangle (not sure thats out yet) or flat; this baby fits. Now that's what I call convenient. The slide back and forth to fit the settings your car has which really made it easy. I mounted the rack on my Honda Pilot on to Yakima round bars in about 15 minutes out of the box all by myself. The hardest part of it all was getting the box actually onto the car while my wife watched The Bachelor.
SecurityI know the economy is tough but the SkyBox 12 eases up the wallet tension quite a bit. You don't have to hire that big muscle dude to watch your planks while you grab an egg mcmuffin in the morning. He'll find work somewhere, I'm sure Shaun White needs some help fending off the ladies with his new found bling. One thing that turns me off a bit with the SkyBox is when I goto open it I always forget my key. I have to get the key open it, and than I have to leave the key in the keyhole while I meddle with my things. From a security standpoint its awesome because I'll never lock my keys inside the gear box. It does take some getting use to.
How Much Gear Can I Fit?The 12 version is pretty slimmed down but with my style car that is what I needed. FYI - Don't go get the big SkyBox 18 and slap it on your '79 pacer. The number is how many square feet it can store. Here is what I put in mine:
- big boy 189 Bluehouse Mavens (139 underfoot)
- my wife's 144 Snowboard
- her 155 K2 Dawn Patrols (she never uses but insists on bringing)
- both our helmets
- ski poles
- sparkling pomegranate juice to enjoy at lunch
- Install is unbeatable.
- Quality is amazing. I ran into a stucco building with this on my car and it took it like a champ. The box cracked but I was going about 5 mph and I didn't realize it. (Feel free to comment on what an idiot I am.)
- Easy to open and close.
- I don't care for the double side opening. Too many moving parts and I haven't used it in the 4 months of ownership.
- No organization inside the box. I wish they had a net or some slick tie downs to keep my goods from rolling around. (Or maybe I need to drive slower.)
- Yakima should have an object sensor before you run into stucco walls. Maybe when you get within 10 feet it could say in a robotic voice, "Slow Down Moron. Your about to make contact with an unidentified object." It would probably jump the cost up $500, just saying. BOTTOM LINE: Hey its a gear box. Yakima has been making them forever and this one has some seriously convenient install parts. Just make sure to ease up on the weirdo, "My Angels Can't Keep Up With Me" stickers. BUY NOW: The Yakima SkyBox 12.
On my surfing trip out on the pacific northwest coast, I got to take a pretty cool new gadget with me! Piled into my Tacoma, along with the dog gear, surfboards, wetsuits, camping supplies and people was my GoPro Surf Hero Camera. This sweet camera fits in the palm of your hand, mounts to your wrist, your surfboard (or a helmet, for other sports), and it's waterproof! I was able to take pictures under water, in the water and take videos of my horrible attempts to surf!
GoPro Hero Cameras- The Specs
- Mounting info: The hero cameras are intended for action sports- so depending on which mount systems you purchase, you can take it on your wrist, mounted to your surfboard, mounted to a helmet, or mounted to a part of your car. The specific model I tested, the Surf Hero, can mount to your surfboard (via a sticky plate on the front, or a mounting system that uses the hole in the back of the board where your leash threads through), or you can wear it on your wrist. I opted to wear it on my wrist when I used it. Couldn't quite bring myself to permanently mount anything to my baby.
- Camera: The Hero series cameras now come in High-Def. So when you purchase a HD Hero, you are getting a 1080p 5 megapixel HD camera.
- Audio: Built in microphone, with automatic gain control. I was really impressed with how well the camera picks up sound.
- Storage: The Hero uses an SD card to store pics and video. Not included. I'd recommend a larger card, so that you don't have to deal with clearing out video and pics during the day.
- Power: Runs on 4 AAA batteries. Recommended lithium.
- Housing: Waterproof to 180 feet.
- Size: 1.6” x 2.4” x 1.2”
Surf Hero- The Good
- You can take pictures and video while surfing! I know, this sounds stupid as one of the "good" features, but really! Helmet cams have been around for a while now, but GoPro ventured into the water with the Surf Hero, and it's awesome. Now, you can show your friends videos and pictures of all the sweet waves you rocked, instead of just talking about 'em.
- Excellent picture and sound quality considering the size of the camera! Check out some of the pictures I've loaded- all were taken with the Surf Hero.
- Super lightweight! Despite mounting it to my wrist, I hardly ever noticed it when I was paddling out. With housing, the Surf Hero weighs about 6 oz.
- Photo modes: When you've got the Surf Hero in Picture mode, you have a choice of single shot mode, triple shot mode, self timer mode, or auto shoot mode, which will take pictures every 2/5/10/30/60 seconds, depending on how you set it. Awesome for getting pictures of a whole ride in! You don't have to stop and snap, it does it for you.
Surf Hero- The Bad
- Buttons- with gloves on, it's hard to manipulate the "shoot" and "select" buttons for choosing which mode, and then taking pictures.
- After reading the manual, and playing around with the camera for a bit, I still had a fair amount of trouble selecting the correct mode. I would end up with continuous pictures shooting when I wanted video, video when I wanted self timer, etc. While I'm sure that this would ease with more use, the overall initial user friendliness was a little dissapointing.
- Wrist mount- awesome for when you want the camera to go with you, not your board. However, the wrist mount clearly wasn't made for people with smaller arms. I had to rig my own duct tape deal to make sure it stayed on, because even secured at the smallest setting, it was too big for my wrist.
- Battery life: even with the lithium batteries, I was getting about 2 hours of use before having to change the batteries.
- If you're used to immediate feedback when taking digital pictures, don't expect that from the Surf Hero. To keep it light and small, there is no playback LCD screen on the camera. You just have to wait til you upload those pictures and be surprised!
Surf Hero- Bottom LineI was impressed! Despite some technical difficulties, I was stoked to have my Surf Hero with me. I got some beautiful pictures, and I know that as I get more familiar with how to operate it, I'll get even more. It's already packed in my "Surf Box," along with my wetsuit and board wax, ready for my next surfing adventure.
Buy NowCheck out the Surf Hero Cameras or other Go Pro Cameras through our vendors!... Read more...
Built for strategic sidecountry sorties, the streamlined Black Diamond Bandit Avalung pack is built to carry just enough gear to take you safely into and back out of the backcountry. The built-in Avalung is one of the best selling points of all BD ski packs. While you can't guarantee you'll still be conscious if buried in a slide, you'll darn well be grateful you've got the life-breathing snorkel if you do. The Bandit is the lowest-volume ski pack (a mere 690 cu in) in BD's lineup and offers little in the way of frills. It's simple back panel and minimalistic interior offers just enough for the sidecountry yo-yo skier or for those who ride the heli or cat on a frequent basis. I got to test the Seth Plaid version, but there are more mainstream color options as well. I used the Bandit for quick backcountry tours and found the size to be quite tight for all my stuff. Granted, I tend to haul the kitchen sink, but still... I was forced to live without a few items because there was simply not enough room. The small outside pocket on the top of the lid was only capable of carrying a couple of ProBars and a slim camera, so keep that in mind. That said, I appreciated the lightweight feel of the Bandit (due primarily to me not taking along so much stuff) and, of course, the built-in Avalung--it's just one more thing to help you in case the worst happens. Particularly nice is the insulated hydration sleeve that worked great with my Hydrapak bladder. The Good
- Lightweight and simple
- Built-in Avalung
- Great for inbounds pursuits and sidecountry missions
- Just big enough for a 3-4 hour tour... barely
- Fits my full-size Voile shovel
- Built-in, insulated hydration sleeve (cha-ching)
- Simple ski carry system
- Tight fit if you're like me and tend to carry extra gear into the backcountry
- Simple back panel could use some updating compared to the competition
- No separate toolkit divider for quick shovel and probe access
- A single, tiny outside pocket
Bottom Line: Black Diamond Bandit AvalungIf you're looking for simplicity in a backcountry ski pack but still want to be as prepared as possible, check out the Bandit and leave Burt Reynolds at home. Buy Now: Search for the Black Diamond Bandit Pack... Read more...
Osprey is a pack company headquarted in Cortez, Colorado which has been around since 1974. The packs are made in Vietnam where the company founder now lives. The Kode 30 is the mid range size of the Kode Snow Series designed for slack country and day trips. This pack features two main compartments - the front one for your avi gear and a rear loading main compartment to keep your other gear dry. The rear compartment is supported by Osprey's Lightwire support frame which allows the rear pocket to hold its form when it is not zipped up. One of the top pockets also contains a helmet strap to allow you to carry your helmet when you are not skiing down. This pack can also carry a hydration pack, which includes an insulated pocket on the shoulder strap. The medium sized Kode 30 weighs 3lbs3oz/1440g. It sits quietly and comfortably on your back while skinning up or skiing down.
Osprey Kode 30 Features and ReviewThe main compartment is accessed from the back of the pack by a large zipper with two large loops on the zipper handles. The zipper can open the entire size of the rear compartment allowing full easy access. Opening the zipper only along the top of the pack also allows easy removal and packing of items into the compartment without fully opening the pack. There are two straps from the front to the shoulder straps that must also be undone to fully open the rear compartment. These straps are a part of the suspension system. The Livewire support frame helps to hold the packs shape while accessing the main compartment. There is also a small mesh pocket in the main rear compartment to secure keys and other small valuables. The front pocket holds your avalanche gear and is large enough to carry a 320m probe. There is a smaller pocket on top of the pack that contains the helmet carry straps. Between the Avi pocket and zippers for the main back compartment is a fleece lined pocket for your goggles. I also kept my sun glasses and small gloves in here for easy access. The large hip belt pockets offer easy access to many small items that can be stored there. The large loops on all the zippers are great. They allow for easy gripping with your gloves on. All pockets are accessed via zippers. It would be useful to have a pouch that you can easily slip items in and out of without a zipper.
Typical Pack ContentsFor a typical day tour I carry; down jacket, Gore-Tex jacket, spare climbing gloves, downhill gloves, extra toque and balaclava, 500ml thermos, 750ml water bottle, lunch bag, extra softshell jacket, skins. The Good
- Comfortable fit, very good suspension system and ventilation
- Compartments to separate dry and wet items
- Easy access from back
- Bomber construction
- Both diagonal and A-frame ski carry systems are quick to set up and comfortable. The A-frame was more stable. The diagonal may be more difficult with wider skis.
- All pockets are zippered, nice to have a more easily accessible pocket
- Can not expand like other top loading packs
- Cumberson when you have to access the avi and main compartments. You can't have both open at the same time.
- Snow will collect on top of the zipper of the back compartment which has to be cleared before you open it.
Bottom Line: Osprey Kode 30A great day pack for short or longer tours. Worked great for inbounds too since it is quite compact so when you have to take it off and place it on your lap when going up a chair lift it is comfortable to hold and not cumbersome. Really comfortable suspension system. Very good ventilation on your back at all times. Buy Now: Search for Osprey Kode Ski Packs... Read more...
I heart thin socks. Yes, indeed, I do heart thin socks. I heart thin socks for trail running, mountain biking and skiing. While I typically wear ultralight socks, some shoes and some ski boots require a tad thicker arrangement and that's where the Lorpen Tri-layer Merino and Primaloft Light ski socks have come in handy. As they say, they are "not too thick and not too thin," but just right. Lorpen built these with a combo of Primaloft yarn and Merino Wool--a killer combo for warmth and moisture management. They have been the perfect match for backcountry skiing with my Dynafit Titan ski boots. The triple layers have been excellent at moving he sweat away from my foot while keeping my toes warm. They are a little thicker than my typical ultralight, but after thermo-molding the liners in my boots, they take up that little bit of extra volume just dandy. The extra bit of shin padding has come in handy on a few chunky crud days too. Here's a little more about the construction of these socks:
The first layer, closest to the skin, is made of PrimaLoft Eco-Polyester, a synthetic fiber that is designed for performance and comfort. It combines 50% recycled material with PrimaLoft virgin fibers to create a high loft, thermally efficient insulation. PrimaLoft is also lightweight and water resistant. The second layer, or middle layer, is made of Merino Wool, a natural fiber that can wick moisture away from the foot while providing softness. Merino wool also features anti-microbial/anti-odor properties and is machine washable. The third layer, made of Nylon, is highly durable making the sock resilient and long lasting. The nylon fibers are concentrated in the toe, heal and shin where the sock gets the most abrasion.
Bottom Line: Lorpen Tri-layer Merino/Primaloft Eco Ski SocksThese are a great pair of ski socks for those who prefer a lightweight, but not ultrathin ski sock. You'll appreciate the warmth, comfort and moisture management they provide. Buy Now: Lorpen Tri-layer Ski Socks ... Read more...
I had a great time catching up with the crew at Outdoor Research. Hailing from the homeland of Seattle, we have a good time talking rain, Cascade Cement, green trees and new outerwear. For Fall 2010, Outdoor Research is essentially jumping into the sidecountry at Crystal Mountain with full avie gear and the new Access Jacket and Pants along for the ride. I've always been impressed with OR's high-quality, but less-known products. However, many of their pieces are lost in the shuffle of their intended market. Not so with the new Sidecountry Collection. These pieces are built for hard-charging resort skiers who need extra breathability because they slay the pow, or because they like to hike for a few extra turns in the sidecountry at their local resort. Construction looks superb and the fit is a tad baggy (resort-style), but not obnoxious--just comfortable. Features of the Outdoor Research Access Jacket and Pants:
- Gore-tex Shell
- Light insluation (Enduraloft)
- Side ventilation (as opposed to pit zips) for efficient cooling while carrying a pack
- Cargo pant-style--very nice looking
- RECCO equipped
- Zip-off balaklava stowed in the hood
- Light brushed fleece lining for moisture wicking
- MSRP: $365 (jacket) / $265 (pants)
Tucked in the back corner of the Salomon booth at Outdoor Retailer was a little-known product release for the backcountry skiing crowd--Salomon's first backcountry ski boots. The new Quest boot line features all the downhill goodness Salomon is known for, all wrapped in a touring-friendly design. While these aren't for long-range backcountry ski tours, they are for hard-charging inbounds and out in all conditions. For my type of skiing, these may just be the single boot to rule them all. Yeah, they are going to be a little heavier than dedicated touring boots, but if you ski both front side and backside and only have the funds for a single boot, these will likely be a safe choice for overall performance. A few key features of the Salomon Quest ski boot line:
- 3 buckle design
- Burly powerstrap
- Interchangeable Contagrip soles (DIN or AT/Dynafit Blocks)
- Thermo formable liner
- 3.86 lbs each (Quest Pro Pebax)
- Magnesium Backbone for improved power
- Tour/ski mode
Welcome to my new favorite pair of resort gloves, the Kombi Jon Olsson pro model (full disclosure: I received a free sample from Kombi Sports to test out). They are not perfect for every application, make no mistake. I don't like them for backcountry touring, for example, and I wouldn't want them for warm weather skiing (like in the spring). But for everyday skiing at the resort on moderately cold days, they really perform for me. Kombi is a long-time trusted brand in ski gloves, and their latest offering does not disappoint. Most of you probably know Jon Olsson --- the Swedish skiing phenom who lands every trick from halfpipe to slopestyle with uncanny balance and style. These gloves are certainly worthy of that type of freeride skiing. The Kombi Jon Olsson model glove is white with emerald green trim. The back of the hand is a combination of Cordura-style material and white neoprene. The neoprene gives some stretch and some cushioning, and the heavier material adds durability to the equation. The cuff is built low-profile so that it fits under the sleeve of your jacket, which is a style that I definitely prefer to gauntlet-style glove cuffs. The palm of the glove is gray leather with a green design silkscreened on them. I love the feel of leather for the dexterity it provides, but the downside to leather is that it is not nearly as super-grippy as some gloves (like Grenade) that have rubber overlaid in the palm. Leather is much more durable than most materials, but after one day's use on the Alta people-mover rope tow from Collins to Albion, it was already showing some wear (see detail pic with this article). Another good thing about this glove is that it does NOT have plasticky material between the fingers, a poor design that I've seen with many gloves that claim to be 'tough.' The problem with plasticky 'tough' material between the fingers is that material like that seems to conduct the cold directly to your fingers. Leather and other materials don't seem to have that tendency. The Kombi Jon Olsson glove has a puffy-style nylon between the fingers (see detail shot), which makes them less bulky between the fingers and improves the feel between your fingers. One downside is that the glove seems to be a little long on the pinky for my hands. But other than that, the fingers fit well. Not well enough to handle small zipper pulls, but well enough to buckle boots, adjust backpack straps, etc. The final thing I like about these gloves (other than the cool look) is that they have a loose-fitting material inside that allows for loft and trapped air for warmth. It feels like little sleeping bags for your hands. The one downside to that design is that if your hands get sweaty, it can stick to your hands and feel like you're pulling the fleecy material inside out a bit. That's why I prefer the gloves for cold-ish days instead of warm-ish, and for resort skiing instead of backcountry skiing where you become more heated and sweaty. All in all, they are a great go-to glove for most days at the resort. I wouldn't use them backcountry touring, but they are an excellent new-style glove for resort skiing. BUY NOW: Search for Kombi gear....Read more...
At Outdoor Retailer this week, CamelBak is introducing a new product in their wearable hydration lineup (RaceBak and VeloBak) built specifically for Winter sports needs. This time, their wearable hydration technology is built into a fleece vest that would be worn as an insulation layer. For skiers or snowshoers who want to go lightweight and not wear a backpack, this looks like a great option. Another benefit is that with it worn inside the shell, it will better prevent freezing. These products will be available in Fall 2010 with an MSRP of $100 for the Men's or Women's PowderBak system. See below for more details:
CamelBak®, the inventor of wearable hydration, is further expanding the line with an innovative new product for winter sports. PowderBak™ is a performance-oriented, full-zip mid-layer with an integrated hydration reservoir. In designing PowderBak, CamelBak addressed the specific apparel, climate and agility requirements of winter athletes to offer the most convenient and effective hydration solution on the mountain. It’s as easy as zip and sip. PowderBak is made with QuickFit™, CamelBak’s proprietary compression fabric that offers optimal moisture-wicking and quick-drying capabilities in a lightweight, breathable material. It also features HydroPouch™, an innovative compartment that comfortably supports and stabilizes a baffled, low-profile 72 ounce reservoir in a mid-layer that is lift friendly and utilizes core body temperature to help prevent freezing. "The combination of cold weather, altitude and a day on the mountain is a quick recipe for dehydration, and it’s not always easy to get a quick drink during the day" said Jon Austen, Director of Product Management for CamelBak. "We developed PowderBak to make it both easy and comfortable to stay hydrated for several hours, so you can trade water breaks for a few extra runs."More Info: Visit CamelBak.com... Read more...
The Kombi Proline 180 base layers are available in both Men's and Women's styles with crew and zip neck options. Women's bottoms are also available in a 3/4 length option (why not for men?). Kombi uses a full-synthetic blend of 90% polyester and 10% Spandex for stretchy-ness. The outer is soft and slick, which is excellent if you are putting a fleece jacket or mid-layer on top of these since the sleeves won't get all bunched up. While the exterior is slick, the interior is brushed polyester for next-to-skin comfort and moisture management. I've been using these for both backcountry skiing and winter trail running. The fabric maintains its comfort under use as the brushed lining wicks away moisture and keeps you comfy. I ran into some issues though after finishing my activity where the back of the top held the moisture a bit longer than it should have (which made for a cold, wet back). The two-tone zip neck (tested) is very nice looking and comes in 3 colors (mercury/iceberg, black/grey, salsa/truffle). The single-color zip-neck option is a little less expensive and is still comes in 3 colors (orange, black or white). Crew neck tops feature an abstract design on the left side and are available in 3 colors (black, mercury skyline, iceberg). The Good
- Comfortable fabric to the touch
- Bottoms are good for cold-weather running tights
- Zip-neck is perfect height and diameter
- Plenty of color options (most of the time
- Bottoms are super long... no way they will work with ski boots
- Tops are pretty baggy overall, a more athletic fit would be preferred
- No thumb holes
- Moisture dissipation isn't as efficient as some
- No fly on the bottoms
I've been known to rant about crappy-looking topsheets in my day. The half-naked ladies or Iron Maiden-esque designs just don't do it for me and would be quite embarrassing around my wife and my kids. Yeah, yeah... I know many of you could care less and would die for a half-naked Heidi Klum on your skis, but not me. No sir... not going there. What's cool about some of the smaller ski manufacturers is they do design contests where you can submit high-quality artwork for use on their skis. I know that Bluehouse Skis does this and G3 just announced their version today. Read on to find out how to get your art noticed:
Everyone who’s ever strapped on a pair of skis has looked down at the graphics and wondered if they could design something better. Once again, thanks to Genuine Guide Gear, they have a chance to find out – and potentially win a free pair of the skis they design. Genuine Guide Gear is inviting aspiring and professional designers and artists to submit their designs for a new top sheet on a G3 ski. One winner will be chosen for each of three contest periods: January 15 - February 14; February 15 – March 14; and March 15 – April 14, 2010. “SkiGraphiks is back by popular demand and we are excited to invite everyone to play,” says Naheed Henderson, G3’s Marketing Manager. “This year’s contest is boosted by more opportunities to win,” she continues, “and the judging of this year’s entries will be influenced by votes from the online community.” Pleasantly surprised by the high number of entrants from around the world last year, Henderson anticipates the return of this popular contest will attract even more design entries this year. To enter the G3 Ski Graphic Challenge, participants can visit www.genuineguidegear.com and click on the SkiGraphiks icon to review details on how to play, submit entries, plus review and vote on all contest submissions. G3 will take the lead from public votes to choose a winner for each contest period. All three winners will be awarded a free pair of G3 Tonic or Zest skis, printed with their unique graphic. The first (February 14) winner will also claim a free pass to the Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Festival in Nelson, BC from March 4 – 7, 2010, including lodging, where they will be awarded their custom skis during a Saturday night event at the festival. More Info: Visit GenuineGuideGear.com... Read more...
But what if I want to haul more than one pair of skis? That's the biggest question I've got for the latest in ski rack designs--the Raxstars ski rack. Simple in design and I'm sure solid in performance, the Raxstars ski rack is portable (it can fit in your glove box), lockable, simple and affordable (so long as you're only carrying one pair of skis). At a mere $24.95, it seems like a great option for on-the-fly ski carrying or slipping a pair of skis onto an otherwise-occupied set of crossbars, but the cost savings and ease-of-use quickly dissipate with each pair you wish to carry. Again, I don't want to discount American ingenuity and entrepreneurship, but this has limited appeal considering the money and effort needed to carry 4 pairs of skis on a regular basis. I'd just fork over $120 and get the Thule Universal Flat-top 4 if it were up to me. Here's a Youtube Video demo of the Raxstars ski rack: Read on for more information from Raxstars on this new ski rack:
Structured Solutions announced the launch of their new Raxstars™ portable sport racks. Establishing a new category of rack systems, Raxstars attaches to any factory auto rack with a crossbar and allows outdoor enthusiasts to mount their skis, snowboards or kayaks in just minutes. Raxstars are quickly removed and are small enough to store in a glove box or under a seat. At $24.95 (MSRP), Raxstars will appeal to families and outdoor addicts who need a safe, secure and affordable transport system for their gear. Traditional rack systems can cost more than $100 with a time consuming installation that stays on the roof year round. The Raxstars innovative locking clamp design secures outdoor gear to the vehicle’s crossbar without tools and provides five times more locking force than standard roof-top carriers. Besides economical, Raxstars is small and versatile so it can serve as a primary carrier system, or a backup system. Skiers with full ski racks or with different sports accessories won’t have to add racks or switch out accessories. When not in use, the Raxstars portable racks does not stay on the roof rack—no added wind drag or noise from your ski carrier being left up all summer. Several Raxstars can fit in the glove box or just about any vehicle’s storage compartment. Raxstars are available for sale on the company website www.raxstars.com and through specialty retailers around the country. About Structured Solutions: Structured Solutions llc has earned global recognition as the leader in the development of innovative, safe and easy-to-use tools. Last fall, Structured Solutions launched two newly designed wheeled snow shovels to compliment the original Wovel®, named one of the best new inventions in 2006 by Time Magazine. The innovative Folding Frame SnoWovel debuted in a new category of hybrid tools, combining safety for the user and the environment together with high-performance.More Info: Visit www.Raxstars.com... Read more...
I recently picked up a pair of Gordini SureShot 2 goggles to test out (full disclosure: they were provided free from Gordini). I have long been a fan of Smith and Arnette, and even an occasional pair of Scott or Oakley goggles. But this was my first chance to try out an offering from Gordini. Gordini has long been known for their gloves (at our house we have a couple of pairs, including our favorite all-around winter glove the Gordini Deerskin Lavawool: http://gordini.com/products/men/gloves). The Gordini brand has also made a solid space for themselves in the goggle market. The model I tried out, the SureShot 2, is a testament to why that is. GOOD GORDINI: The Gordini SureShot 2 is well-priced, very solid goggle that is sure to please because it doesn't miss on critical areas like standard helmet compatibility (with the face frame) and good ventilation. The SureShot 2 has vents along the front-top of the lens, and standard foam-covered vents along the top and bottom of the frame. No fogging for me when I used them on a cold day. As is to be expected, the SureShot 2 boasts 100% UVA and UVB protection. While testing these goggles I spoke with a retinal surgeon from the University of Iowa (the top ophthalmology program in the US) and he said that you don't need to get the expensive brands of sunglasses and goggles to get all the sun protection you would ever need. As long as it has 100% UV protection, you're good on that front. So the SureShot 2 fits the bill there, and for half the price of premium brands (msrp: $60)! The peripheral vision is good, though the frame of the goggle itself is a bit big for my small face (see accompanying photo of me at Alta). The goggle strap is very burly - much wider width than most other goggles on the market - which makes it quite comfortable when worn over a beanie. While the face foam isn't as plush-perfect as more spendy goggles, it isn't uncomfortable either. It uses two different layers of foam, and a third soft layer of material against the skin. The lens is a bit of a rose tint, which gives it great versatility. The metallic lens coating is effective but makes the goggles look a little eighties, in this author's opinion. However, there are many different styles for the SureShot 2, so you don't have to get what I got. I got the Gun Metal gray color with the blue mirror lens. Click here to see all Gordini goggles, including the more aggressive treatments of the SureShot 2. BAD GORDINI: No clip on the strap. I don't know why Smith is the only goggle maker that seems to make their goggle straps with clips - perhaps other goggle makers are just cutting costs? Regardless, I always think that the lack of a strap clip is a huge downfall because you can't extend the strap to fit larger-sized helmets. To complicate matters further, the Gordini goggle strap is shorter than most other brands I've tried. While the SureShot 2 fit very well on my Smith Variant Brim helmet, my helmet is only a size Medium and I had to extend the Gordini goggle strap all the way just to work with my helmet. Without the possibility of extending the goggle strap, I wonder if the goggle frame would sit flat on your face or if the short strap would cause pulling. Also, the lens worked well for me but I wish it had a system like the Smith I/O for swapping out other tints. Granted, this is only a $60 dollar goggle - not $180 like the Smith. But for only $60, you're not going to get a distortion-free spherical lens like the Smith either. But in reality many folks don't care about that, when it comes right down to it. All in all, for the price ($60) the Gordini SureShot 2 is a great goggle in lots of cool colors with just a few key shortcomings - mostly revolving around the goggle strap's lack of extendability. BUY NOW: Click here to search for goggles....Read more...
When Backcountry.com announced the release of their Stoic line of outerwear and apparel, I was stoked. While some "house brand" products can be pretty ho-hum, Backcountry has a way of producing very technical and usable products for committed outdoors enthusiasts. Take the Backcountry.com Stoic eVent shell, for example. That jacket continues to be my top choice for ultralight all-season protection and can be found in my backpack on nearly every backcountry ski tour I take. With those high expectations, I embarked on an adventure with the new Stoic Welder Insulated Softshell jacket. While this jacket leans more towards the resort side of the spectrum, it's still built with a nice cut and all the features you'd come to expect from a hard-core outerwear manufacturer. Most noteworthy is the welded softshell exterior. While most jackets still utilize stitching, Stoic has chosen to weld nearly every seam on this jacket (hence the name Welder) for a more streamlined and lightweight feel. The seams are a little stiff, but you eliminate the need for taped seams and all the garbage that comes along with it, so the tradeoff is minimal. If you've ever worn a Kjus jacket, then you know how comfortable a quality ski jacket can feel. Well, I'd put the Stoic Welder Insulated jacket pretty much on par, comfort-wise, to a Kjus jacket. Yes, it lacks some of the fancy bells and whistles that Kjus is known for, but for almost a third of the price, you're better off going for this jacket. The softshell fabric is stretchy enough to make all movements feel natural and comfortable while the lightweight insulation isn't bulky at all, but provides enough warmth to keep the notoriously-cold bodies nice and toasty. Of course the jacket has fleece-lined pockets galore with easily-grabbed zipper pulls (for use with gloves on) and pit zips. The pit zips are nice to have, but they are backed with a mesh lining that prevents full-on opening. This is good and bad, but I think mostly bad. The mesh lining prevents snow from entering, but it also reduces their effectiveness. So, for those of us who forget to zip up the pits before dropping into the waist-deep goodness High Ruslter at Alta, you'll be stoked, but you'll not be able to dump heat as well on the long traverse. The overall function of this jacket is great and I look forward to putting it through its paces through the remainder of the season. The Good
- High-quality feel without the huge pricetag
- Welded seams simplify construction and reduce bulk
- Fleece-lined pockets are comfy cozy
- Cut is just right... not super-athletic, but not baggy (I'll call it form-fit)
- Zippers all zip up/down with ease with or without gloves on
- Pit zips
- Muted, classic styling
- A little extra backside coverage helps
- Mesh-backed pit zips reduce ventilation
- Hood is a little difficult to adjust on-the-fly
- No powder skirt (not a huge deal, but some prefer it)
Final Thoughts: Stoic Welder Insulated JacketMy final verdict is very positive on this jacket for inbounds use. It's comfortable and extremely warm. You'd be hard-pressed to find its equal at this price. Buy Now: Search for Stoic Welder Insulated Jackets... Read more...
Core Concepts was founded with the intent of creating overwhelmingly-functional activewear for outdoor athletes. The entire system from base layers to outerwear is built to work in harmony and function at a high-level. Each piece is built well and is offered at competitive price points in the market. This Winter, I've got a pair of the Core Concepts Uncle Ben Bibs. I'll flog them skiing both inbounds and in the backcountry as well as other Winter activities.
Features of the Uncle Ben Bib
- Waterproof and breathable (20k/15g) stretch shell pant
- Lightweight Schoeller® Dryskin Extreme bib upper
- Fully taped seams
- Zippered chest pocket
- Two zippered hand pockets and one cargo pocket
- Double-snap closure at waist
- Zippered vents at thigh
- Schoeller® Kevlar reinforced scuff guards
- Built-in adjustable gaiters
- 100% nylon Shelter Stretch shell
- Colors: Black
- MSRP: $220 - buy now
Core Concepts Uncle Ben Ski Bibs - Quick ThoughtsI've had these for a few weeks and have finally been able to take them out into the Winter weather. My initial take is they feel very high-quality and have some great features. I appreciate the Schoeller fabric of the bib to keep the snow out but also maintain wearability. The fit of the Uncle Ben isn't snowboard-style baggy, instead it's an efficient fit that's both at home in the resort and in the backcountry. The side zips are critical to dumping heat while skinning and the front pockets and zippered cargo pocket add to the versatility. The cuff and gaiter is a bit bell-shaped, so they fit very easily over ski boots. This is great for ski or snowboard boots, but does present some challenges for wearing with lighter-weight boots for other activities, like snowshoeing, shoveling snow, etc. I'm liking these bibs overall and will post my long-term thoughts after giving them the full beat-down. In the meantime, head on over to Core Concepts to see their full line of products. More Info: Visit CoreLayers.com... Read more...
The Jackson Hole Air Force is legendary in skiing circles. These guys were pushing the limits of the terrain and the patience of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The film is airing across the country now in ski towns nationwide, or is available on DVD for small-screen viewing. From Swift. Silent. Deep.
Swift Silent Deep is a documentary ski film about a revolutionary underground band of rebel skiers who called themselves the Jackson Hole Air Force. Swift Silent Deep opens the book on a notorious group of hardcore ski bums who checked authority as they explored the out-of-bounds terrain of Jackson Hole and unwittingly became the fathers of the extreme skiing movement. This great ski movie features incredible archival ski footage and a great cast of characters, including Benny Wilson, Howard Henderson, Scot Schmidt, the founders of Teton Gravity Research, Warren Miller, and the late Doug Coombs. Swift Silent Deep is a must for any ski film collection.
View the Swift. Silent. Deep. TrailerMore Info: Visit SwiftSilentDeep.com... Read more...
After getting back from my surf trip to the northwest, I came home psyched for the seasons to change and for winter to begin. Having got my fill of water time in, I was getting psyched to start surfing water in a different form: ski season! 4 days and 6 loads of laundry after my Oregon/Washington Trip, I turned around and headed up to Big Sky, Montana, to help some buddies set up their backcountry ski yurt for Montana Backcountry Adventures. Montana Backcountry Adventures, started by a couple of "old ski bum bros from Tahoe," encompasses 3 very unique backcountry experiences based out of Big Sky, Montana. MBA consists of The Bell Lake Yurt, a 20' diameter backcountry ski yurt situated in the heart of the Tobacco Root Mountains, The Montana Dinner Yurt, a fine dining experience at Big Sky Ski Resort, and new for this year, The Shedhorn Grill, an on-mountain eatery blasting reggae and grillin' burgers at Big Sky Ski Resort. The Bell Lake Yurt, which sleeps up to 6 guests, allows backcountry skiers to access some amazing terrain with a moderate approach. The guys at MBA offer a variety of ways for you to access those sweet couloirs of Branham Peaks or the beautiful bowls of Bell Lake Basin that sit just behind the Bell Lake Yurt; fully inclusive trips or overnight yurt rentals. New to the backcountry scene and wanting a seasoned pro to show you all the sick shots? A Montana Backcountry Adventures Guide will meet you at a local coffee shop, coordinate logistics with you, take you into the yurt (a 3 mile snowmobile transport to the trailhead plus the additional 3 mile, 1700 foot skin up the yurt), cook for you, and serve as your in-house resource for locating all the sweetest pow stashes. A backcountry aficionado and just wanting to reserve the yurt for your own use? MBA is psyched to help you out with that too! Self service yurt rentals are totally possible- the guys just require that you take an "Orientation Guide" with you your first time up there, so you know the best and safest way to get to the yurt, etc (You're only required to have an orientation guide for the 1st little bit you're up there- so if you've got a multi-day trip planned, the guide heads back down right after showing you around, and you've got the place to yourselves!) After you've been up with an orientation guide, so long as you have a "group leader" with first aid and an Avalanche 1 certification, The Bell Lake Yurt is yours to enjoy without a guide. However you arrive at the Bell Lake Yurt, with or without guide, you're stylin' when you get there! 6 cots, wood stove for heating, propane stove for cooking, kitchen supplies, and a nearby pit toilet- what more could you need? Each season, The Bell Lake Yurt gets transported into its home at 8500 feet just below Branham Peak by some combo of helicopter, a caravan of Toyota Tacomas (seems to be the vehicle of choice up there in MT), snowmobiles, ATVs and sheer manpower. As a member of the "Salt Lake Contingent" of Montana Backcountry Adventures (read: one co-owner of MBA and several friends enticed into hard labor with the promise of out of state beer and possibly some skiing), I headed up to the Tobacco Roots to assist with the manpower section of yurt installment. 2 days, countless loads, and a few cases of Moose Drool (no, not actual Drool... A great beer brewed by Big Sky Brewery) later, the majority of the yurt materials were settled up in their home, just below Bell Lake. The guys up at MBA plan on setting up the yurt in the next few weeks, now that all the materials are up at the site. Peak yurt season begins in the end of December, so the guys are crankin' to make sure the yurt is set up and dialed before the big snow flies. Don't worry though, there's already snow- when were were up there in mid-October, there were FEET of snow on the ground already. Psyched about The Bell Lake Yurt? So was Skiing Magazine. Be sure to check out the article in this month's magazine or online. So psyched that you want to head up there and check it out yourself? Check the online reservation calendar to see when the yurt is available. Make your reservations soon, the yurt fills fast, especially on weekends. Follow the Bell Lake Yurt blog or check out Montana Backcountry Adventures on Facebook for current updates on snow and skiing conditions....Read more...
I've got some central pieces of clothing that keep surfacing - no matter the season, no matter the sport. One of those is a Pearl Izumi Optik Jacket which I use for biking, running, and even backcountry ski touring. But what I don't see is why so many companies make so many niche-focused pieces for each of those individual sports, when they all seem to require similar performance. Lightweight, compact, breathable, warm. So...why isn't someone making something billed as a cycling-to-skiing crossover mid layer? Sure, a bike jersey or jacket might require a shorter cut in front than a ski jacket. Same with climbing (I learned that the hard way when I bought a Mountain Hardwear climbing jacket for skiing, and the front always rode up above my belt buckle). But I think having a form-skimming thermal cycling jacket that's a little long in the front is a small price to pay to make it worthy of skiing cross over. So this year I'm looking for a great versatile base-to-mid layer for ski touring, trail running, and even a bit of cold weather cycling. I want it to be bright-colored for when I'm in avalanche country. And I keep coming back to cold-weather cycling jerseys and jackets as my best options. Check out the Forza Thermal Jacket, or the Capo Atlas Thermal Jacket, or even this cycling jacket by Castelli. Maybe I'm just uninformed, but for now I'm thinking that cycling gear is the first place to look for versatile base and mid layer items. So that's where I'll keep searching. And to all you clothing manufacturers out there -- if you have some mid-layer jackets and such that are designed to be crossover items for multiple sports, let me know! Sorry if I'm just missing them....Read more...
Extra-thin socks have been standard-issue my ski socks now for years. I prefer the close-to-boot feel and have typically had a very slim, race-fit with my ski boots. I have since come off that just a tad in favor of all-day comfort instead of rock-solid race-fit, but I still prefer a thin sock for skiing. From the legendary mills of Bridgedale, I now have in my hands (and on my feet) a comfortable, moisture-wicking and thin pair of ski socks, the Bridgedale Ultra Fit, Ultra Lightweight ski socks. They are thin, but have been built with lightweight support in mind (hence, they aren't just a simple thin sock). Built with WoolFusion (Merino Wool, Polypro, Nylon and Lycra) yarn to provide comfortable, stink-free and moisture-wicking performance, the Ultra Fit socks look and feel promising. At this point I've only worn them on dry runs indoors as I'm getting dialed in for the ski season, but the fit and comfort out the gate is phenomenal. Just the right mix of materials for elasticity, support and comfort with minimalist weights in high-flex areas for a bunch-free fit. I will provide a detailed report on performance during the season, so stay tuned. Features of the Bridgedale Ultra Fit ski socks:
- WoolFusion yarn blend: 38% Merino, 38% Endurofil, 22% Nylon and 2% Lycra
- Lightweight fit for snug-fitting boots
- Machine washable (see care instructions)
- 3-year Guarantee!
- Colors: Grey or Black
- MSRP: $24.95
Looks like Backcountry.com is stepping it up with their new Stoic brand. I've been very impressed with the variety of Backcountry-branded gear I've reviewed in the past and envision the new Stoic pieces to be even better. Here's the news release on the official launch of Stoic.
Sheets of light-density snow blanket the mountains before an epic powder day. Solid ice has finally formed on a classic mixed line that rarely exists. The suffocating deluge that has kept a climbing team holed up in their tent for five days at 20,478 feet has abated, giving way to a welcoming ridge of high pressure for the first ascent summit push. It’s game on. It’s time to thrive in your element. You need Stoic. Stoic is a new line of premium technical gear that has captured, cultured and distilled mountain adventure into everlasting bomber apparel. Every Stoic piece works as part of a whole. Whether you seek an ascetically spare shell system or a fully featured alpine expedition suit, an ethereal second-skin base layer or a bulletproof backcountry bib, Stoic delivers. Every feature, fabric and construction method is tried and thoroughly tested not only by human hands, but by the terrain and conditions that surround us, and the community of alpinists who share and stoke our drive.More Info: www.stoicgear.com... Read more...“Stoic is made for people whose gear and skills are tested by alpine terrain and conditions,” says Bill Hartlieb, Stoic Brand Manager. “We built this line with the innovation of welded construction and weather-protecting materials, and an ideal synergy of weight, function and durability to provide maximum comfort and performance when you’re charging in the mountains.”Stoic has a fresh fall ’09 line-up, featuring a number of super technical pinnacle pieces:
Stoic Bombshell Insulated JacketWeighing in at less than two pounds, the fully weld-seamed Bombshell Insulated Jacket is your new backcountry friend that quietly keeps you warm and dry thanks to Cirrus microfiber synthetic insulation and a proprietary Bombshell waterproof breathable material that allows a bit of stretch. The burly Bombshell Bib flows unobstructed with your every move, from precise front-pointing to dynamic knee-dropping while farming turns.
Welder Collection: Softshell & GlovesThe softshell jacket Welder Collection – Lo, Hi and Insulated – will out-breathe the best Lamaze gurus and fend off precip like a Cockatiel’s oily feathers. And for your digits, the softshell Welder Glove features fused dynamism with superior dexterity, welded technology and a wool liner that means warmth and comfort for your hands.
Ladies Bombshell PantFor the ladies, both in- and out-of-bounds, the Bombshell Insulated Ski Pant uses the same comfy flat welded seams and just the right amount of Cirrus insulation on the legs. The adjustable waist pants combine inbounds fashion and side- or backcountry function. Stoic is the more focused newcomer, born from its predecessor, Backcountry.com brand gear. Over the past three years, what is now Stoic has been formed and refined with the help of feedback from hundreds of members of Backcountry.com’s Gear Guru community. It’s the honed and tested result of the people that push their gear to the limits and tell us about it. Core gear users helping build gear for other core users, that’s Stoic.
Spyder, the world’s leading skiwear and mountain-based apparel brand, announces the debut of a completely re-engineered speed suit for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics to be worn by the U.S. and Canadian teams. The new race suit system incorporates three key innovations that will improve the suit’s aerodynamics and result in significant time savings for North American athletes. It will be available for consumer purchase in 2011.
“The focus of Spyder’s research during the last few years has been about how we can make our speed suits more slippery against air,” says Spyder Product Director Phil Shettig, “Our goal is to manipulate airflow properties to make all of our suits faster against the competition.”Spyder refined the surface texture on the top face knit, reducing the co-efficient of friction against wind. The new slippery surface has less texture than past fabrics, and was tested in wind tunnels to shave off precious hundredths of seconds from racers’ times, a margin by which many ski races are won and lost. To replace traditional padding, Spyder worked with d30™ Labs to create a pad that has 40% less volume than prior protection. d30™ pads are made from intelligent molecules that flow during movement, but reactively lock together on impact to absorb shock. The padding system is more aerodynamic due to its lower profile and a lack of abrupt edges that can “catch” wind. Finally, Spyder moved their protective pads from their slalom and GS suits to a separate underlayer in order to reduce the amount of thread, seams and needle holes on the outside fabric, all of which contribute to wind friction.
Phil McNichol, former U.S. Ski Team Men’s Alpine Coach says, “Spyder is at the forefront of developing these technologies through wind tunnel and on-snow testing. Without a doubt we will have the best technical advantage at the Vancouver Games.”Spyder’s Slippery Technology is the latest in a long line of innovations that have historically allowed Spyder race suits to stay far ahead of the competition. From the brand’s first padded slalom sweaters in 1970s to the Speedwyre suits that were banned by the FIS in the 1990s for being “too fast,” Spyder will once again charge ahead and separate itself as the leader in speed suit engineering. About Spyder Active Sports Spyder revolutionized ski apparel in 1978 with a padded slalom sweater designed "for racing, by racers." Spyder products continue to dominate the race circuit and are the choice of the US Alpine and Canadian Alpine World Cup Ski Teams. Renown for integration of high-tech fabrication, function and fashion, Spyder is the world’s leading skiwear and mountain-based apparel brand. Based in Boulder, Colorado, Spyder products are distributed in over 50 countries worldwide. In 2008 Spyder acquired Cloudveil Mountain Works, credited as starting the modern day soft shell revolution. Cloudveil draws inspiration from its home-base of Jackson, Wyoming, building innovative and functional apparel for the outdoor, snowsports, fly fishing and casual apparel markets. For more information, visit www.spyder.com and www.cloudveil.com ... Read more...
Continuing to lead in the realm of new media, Teton Gravity Research is proud to announce its most recent ski and snowboard film, Re:Session, now available on iTunes for distribution and purchase. The 65-minute ski and snowboard film is available for digital download for $7.99. Making use of the latest forms of digital distribution is a growing trend for TGR. When TGR launched podcasts on iTunes 3 years ago (a free service where subscribers can download weekly high-resolution video webisodes to their computers or iPods) an organic subscriber list of over 70,000 quickly amassed. TGR was also one of the first action sports company’s to launch it’s own iTunes Studio, where customers can buy it’s films and television shows.
“As a youthfully-driven multi-media company, we’re very aware that we have to embrace new forms of media,” co-founder of TGR, Todd Jones said, “whether it’s opening up our films for digital download, selling digital music, fostering online community or producing podcasts, we’re constantly on the lookout for creative new ways to distribute our message.”In recent years, TGR’s online brand has taken off. TetonGravity.com currently boasts more than 300,000 unique visitors and over 5 million pages views every month. With over 25 percent of those users coming from outside the US, digital distribution in iTunes could make a significant impact on sales and brand awareness.
Todd Jones said, “When you think of all of the hassles and costs of international distribution, digital formats offer instant, easy and inexpensive options for everyone. We are pushing to expand into the international iTunes market in the near future.”Buy Now: Visit TetonGravity.com... Read more...
I just got word of the release of the new Kastle FX ski line for the 2009/2010 ski season. At first blush, these skis appear narrow (well, they are), but they are built for hard-core mountaineering ascents and descents with highly-technical terrain and variable snow conditions. With Chris Davenport driving product development, that all now makes sense since hauling your butt to the top of a 14-er requires lightweight gear that will work in a variety of conditions--not just wide-open pow. The typical European "touring" skis are ultralight and super-narrow. While the FX74 and FX84 aren't fat skis, they are built with lightweight materials while still offering extra girth to make the ride more enjoyable. Here's more detail on the new Kastle FX ski lineup:
Austrian ski brand, Kästle Ltd., announces the release of its FX line for the 2009-10 ski season. Two models, FX74 and FX84 kick off Kästle’s new Freeski Mountaineering collection. Freeski mountaineering combines the physical challenge of backcountry skiing with the technical ability required for high alpine accents. This evolving sport requires tremendous experience and skill as well as lightweight, high performance gear for efficient climbing and fast ski descents. “Skiing has changed dramatically in the past few years: boundaries have been pushed and the modern skier demands more their equipment,” states Kästle Ltd. president, Siegfried Rumpfhuber. “We’re excited to introduce our new breed of skis that combine the performance of a freeride ski with an alpine touring weight range. We anticipate that weight-to-performance ratios will be a main focus in ski engineering in the next couple of years and we hope that our FX skis are setting the bar high.” Both the FX74 and FX84 models feature Kästle’s proprietary dual Hollowtech technology, a lightweight sandwich sidewall construction consisting of two fine titanal laminates and an ash / silver-fir / poplar wood core. Dual Hollowtech technology reduces the mass of both the tip and tail of the ski dampening vibration, allowing faster edge transition and providing better tracking. With a 112 mm tip, a 74 mm waist and a 100 mm tail, the FX74 prefers short to medium radius turns ideal for tight couloirs to open tree skiing. The lightweight construction (6.7Ibs / pair) makes for effortless hikes without sacrificing the performance of the ski whether in difficult off and on-piste conditions. The MSRP is $980. The FX84 (122-84-110) is a smooth and stable ski boasting the response and control to handle any speed, terrain or snow-condition. The FX84 (7.7Ibs / pair) is the ultimate ski for off-piste excursions yet has the versatility to carve on groomers. The MSRP is $1,080. "The FX 84 has been a godsend for me because I finally have an ultra light mountaineering ski that doesn''t compromise on performance,” Chris Davenport, Kästle Team Athlete. “The FX 84 allows me to ski fast and with confidence in all sorts of conditions. It truly performs like an alpine ski but allows me to climb without being bogged down with added weight. I think the FX will define a whole new category in skiing" The FX skis and custom skins will be available in North America and Europe at selected retailers this fall. Skis will be sold flat to allow for individual set-up with various AT binding makes.... Read more...
Electronic devices, argon gases... what will the modern ski jacket look like next? Well, the future is now with the all-new Mountain Hardwear Radiance and Refugium jackets that include a built-in, flexible battery pack to power the integrated heating elements or external devices such as mobile phones or an iPod.
Cold and unconnected? Mountain Hardwear solves both problems this winter with the industry’s first pre-wired jacket that not only provides on-demand heating, but also simultaneously provides power and re-charging capabilities for handheld electronics including GPS devices, PDAs, MP3 players and digital cameras. More than 60 percent of the U.S. population uses handheld electronics to stay connected, oriented and entertained, whether riding a lift, skiing in the backcountry, attending a winter sporting event, or walking the streets of SoHo. Mountain Hardwear partnered with Ardica Technology, the creators of the Ardica Moshi Power System, to deliver today’s “plugged in” consumer this year’s jacket of choice. Now available at retail, Mountain Hardwear® Men’s Refugium and Women’s Radiance jackets are designed with a specialized, integrated pocket to accommodate the portable Ardica Moshi Power System, which provides power necessary to generate heat into critical areas of the jackets, as well as power for handheld devices through cables located in the jacket pockets.Learn more: Visit Mountain Hardwear.com... Read more...
- Enjoy 8.6 hours of continuous heat on the low setting, and 3 hours on the high setting.
- Runs power on any electronic accessory requiring less than 10 watts - cell phones, MP3 Music Players, GPS devices, lights, satellite phones.
- Rechargeable power source. Charge electronics by a USB cable (included) – provides approximately 20 charges without needing a recharge.
- Head Monster 95 Skis
- Full Tilt Konflict Ski Boots
- Merrell Catalyst Jacket
- Smith I/O Goggles (the best on the market)
- Cat skiing at Keystone, CO
- POC Helmet
- Line Prophet 90 Skis
- Lift tickets to Alta, Schweitzer, Squaw Valley, The Canyons, Loveland, Deer Valley and others
- More and more stuff!
I just received the following release from Intrawest (owners of Whistler-Blackcomb, Copper Mountain, Steamboat, Tremblant, Winter Park and more) about their new helmet policy. I think it makes complete sense... I've worn a ski helmet for nearly 15 years and can't see why anyone wouldn't wear one, but that's just me. Here's the release
SAM Magazine--Vancouver, B.C., October 1, 2009--Intrawest announced that starting this season, the company will recommend that all visitors at all of its North American resorts wear helmets. In addition, there will be mandatory helmet requirements for all youth participants in ski and snowboard school programs, as well as students participating in freestyle terrain park programs, regardless of age. The age span requirements will vary from resort to resort, but will be between three and 12, 13, 14 or 17. A helmet will be included with all kids' rental packages at Intrawest-owned outlets and parents can no longer use an opt-out clause for certain programs and activities. The company will also step up efforts to educate both employees and customers on the importance of helmet use. In fact, much of Intrawest's future marketing visuals will contain helmeted skiers and riders. As for employees, by 2010-2011, Intrawest will require employees to wear a helmet while on-duty in the terrain parks and staff at the ski and snowboard schools will also be required to use a helmet if they are participating in any program that requires mandatory helmet use by the guest. Several resorts will begin these helmet use guidelines this season, with the rest coming on board for next season.Do you think this is going overboard or do you think it's a smart move that more resorts will follow? ... Read more...
What has 25 water bottles, a lumbar strap, and three zippers? The Mountainsmith Recycled Day Pack of course! Except the water bottles are in, well, a different form. Pretty impressive Mountainsmith has stepped it up by re-using that much plastic for their bags and still sustain a good performing waist pack. The pack can be used for just about everything. I have seen photographers pack this full of padding to rally a SLR camera, moms packing it with diapers, and soil scientists using it to carry planting supplies in the field. Compared to the previous models of the Day lumbar pack, I noticed this model has a zipper upgrade making opening easier with one hand. The straps are trimmed down a bit also, it can be annoying when you have an airport travel bag that seems to have unnecessarily long straps flopping around. Light or Heavy, it doesn't matter When I hit the farmers market to pick up my favorite cranberry-jalapeno salsa, I sport the pack on one shoulder briefcase style. After picking up the freshest produce I throw the shoulder strap across the chest to help carry the extra weight. Then when I want to buy that really heavy rock sculpture I strap on the lumbar strap to transfer the weight on the hips. The Day pack exceeds versatility expectations. The Day pack offers 854 cu. in. capacity compared to the trimmed down sister version, the Tour, coming in at 488 cu. in. If you aren't carrying 850 cubic inches of stuff around you probably want to nab the Tour pack. If the Day pack isn't filled up it can be a bit annoying with the sagging empty space. The outer yellow bungee has been great for attaching a rain jacket and the lower compression straps help suck in the un-used space. The top gear loops are very easy to grab on to when passing the bag to someone else. Compared to the Osprey Float bag, the Day gear loops are way better. I can never seem to grab the Floats tiny top gear loop and end up grabbing a handful of material. The Day shoulder strap comes off literally with a snap which has been really nice for hiking use. Other waist packs have their shoulder straps sewed on making them less versatile. The lumbar straps also tuck away when not in use, nothing says 'gomer' more than un-used straps flopping around while at the coffee shop. My Criticism To make this bag more competitive against other waist packs I would include a cell phone holder. I know us outdoor gear freaks all think we don't carry a cell phone, but lets be honest. Mountainsmith makes the Amp Cell Phone holder so maybe retailers might consider selling it as a coupled deal to keep up with the times? However maybe keeping them separate would be cool to mix and match colors and give us the ability to put the holder exactly where we want. The inner hideway pocket is made with a nylon that I think could be replaced with a felt material that is attached to the inner wall of the pack rather than the outside wall. I found when I had my keys in the pocket it was a pain opening the zipper and retrieving other stuff inside. More colors than a kaleidoscope Mountainsmith offers a TON of colors to choose from in all their waist packs making this a great gift idea to fit any personality. I like their design and I'm glad they are keeping it the same. I really hope they don't do multi-color in the future, their style is untouchable. BUY NOW: The Mountainsmith Recycled Day Lumbar Pack....Read more...
I have to admit that I love football season. It means the temps start dropping, rivalries heat up, and old friends start emailing each other again. It means speculation and conspiracy theories about the BCS and all that drama runs rampant. It also means any underdog can triumph so I'm watching my Cougars, Huskies, and Utes with lots of anticipation! And fall always means that you start into that great time of anticipation and gearing up for ski season while the smell of snow is in the air.... Having suffered four major shoulder injuries in my skiing career (not unlike a typical quarterback might suffer) this fall my eye is on some of the good protective gear that's out there. My favorite brand is POC. They make gorgeous and functional helmets, gloves, and gear for ski racers and downhill mountain bikers. But I am shocked at the prices. Over $300 for an armor shirt? Almost $200 bucks if you want a set of elbow pads and knee pads? So this fall I was looking at football gear and I see Reebok making sets of shoulder pads for juniors for sale around $50 (see third pic at right). Sure, it doesn't have the spine guard. But couldn't Reebok integrate some spinal protection, lighten up the structure and profile of the shoulder pads, and still come in under $100 with a bike/ski offering? What about brands like CCM that produce hockey and lacrosse protective gear? I've got to believe they could do it too. And skateboarding is a great example of competitively priced armor -- you can find sets of of knee/elbow pads from Pro-Tec or Triple Eight for under $40. It may not be as full-featured as other brands, but it is half the price. Maybe I'm missing some technological wiz-bang thing that POC and others have, but I'm glad to see Race Face making something that at least approaches that price point: The Rally Body Armor shirt that is currently going for about $120 from JensonUSA (see pic of black armor shirt at right). Maybe I'll have to check it out. And if any of you can guide me into understanding why POC and some others have such high prices, please comment below and point me in the right direction. I guess I just don't know what justifies the prices of some armor brands out there....Read more...
Over the past few years, it seems like both the amount of ski binding manufacturers have decreased while a slew of others are hitting the market as re-badged Tyrolia bindings. I suppose that's not too out-of-the-ordinary given the fact that 1) the manufacturing technology is expensive to develop and tool and 2) Tyrolia makes a solid (but sometimes heavy) binding. The reason this is coming to mind is that after thumbing through the Powder Magazine Buyer's Guide, I kept wondering why half of the ski bindings listed were even on there. Of the 12 bindings listed, 3 of them were Tyrolia (4Frnt Deadbolt 15, Head Mojo 18 and Fischer X17), Two of them were Look (Rossignol Freeski2 180 and Look PX 14 XXL Legend) and two were Salomon (Atomic FFG 16 and Salomon Sth 12 Oversize). So, in reality, there are only 8 ski bindings to feature, not 12. I suppose this is really not much of a surprise or a big deal, just a gee whiz moment on my part. But, just be aware as a consumer when shopping for ski bindings. You may be able to get the exact same binding at a lower price because it's not branded as a Marker, Salomon, Tyrolia or Look. And, another suggestion... if you don't know how old your ski bindings are, it's probably time to pick up some new ones. With surefire killer deals this Winter, now is a great time to shop. Buy Now: Search for Ski Bindings...Read more...
I just got this press release from Garmont about their new 2009/2010 ski boot lineup. While things have only been refined for this year (e.g. new colors and tweaks here and there), the lineup continues to impress both inbounds and in the backcountry. We've been big fans of the Garmont Radium, Endorphin, Axon and G-Ride for years. Now with their no-nonsense alpine boots, like the Shaman, you can ski Garmont boots tele, backcountry or at the resort.
August 28, 2009 - Backcountry, Skiing, and Powder magazines have hit the newsstands with their gear guide issues. Among the three magazines, Garmont ski boots have been awarded Backcountry Magazine Editor's Choice Awards, Skiing Magazine Official Ski Test Selection, and Powder Magazine Skier's Choice Awards. Totally 14 awards for the 2010 ski season, Garmont won awards in all of their boot categories – Alpine Power Performance, Alpine Freeride, Ski Mountaineering, and Telemark. The most award-winning boot in the Garmont collection is the new Prophet NTN Telemark ski boot. “Outstanding tester response, exceptionally high scores, and category-leading overall performance contributed to our selection of the Prophet and Voodoo as 2010 Backcountry Magazine Editors' Choices,” said Backcountry Editor Drew Pogge. Paul Parker comments, “When we decided to develop an NTN boot, we weren't going to modify existing boots. We committed to a completely new telemark boot design, using what we had learned from our new a.d.d.™ Overlap AT boot design, and the unique anatomic fit of our newest Alpine and AT collection. We were committed to taking telemark skiing to the next level. It's gratifying to have that effort acknowledged.” The new Voodoo and the softer flexing, lower-cuffed Kenai Telemark boots, built for the 75 mm bindings system, feature the same award-winning a.d.d. Overlap design. One tester's comment on Voodoo was, “Smoooooth flex... It fits great out of the box, and drives like a European sports car on the Autobahn.” Voodoo won Backcountry Editor's Choice and the Skiing Official Ski Test Selection. Women's Elektra also won Skiing's award. Skiing magazine complimented Garmont's powerful Alpine model Shaman saying, “Bravo to Garmont for not messing with a good thing” and “Testers universally admired it.” Skiing Magazine comments “Garmont did its homework here, drawing from veteran designers with years of successful race-boot engineering.” Garmont focuses on designing ski boots for skiers who seek adventure and extraordinary experiences. Garmont boots have skied many noteworthy lines on the feet of ski mountaineers Chris Davenport, Kim Havell, and Dave Watson. Earlier this month, Dave Watson skied the Bottleneck on K2 from 8350 meters to Camp 3. In June, Kim Havell skied from the summit of Denali as part of the “Electric Eels,” all female expedition. Last Spring, Davenport completed his quest to ski four of the highest and most famous peaks in the Alps: Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa and the Eiger. View all of the award winning boots at www.garmontusa.com/awards.htmlBuy Now: Search for Garmont Ski Boots... Read more...
If you haven't seen this video of Kendall Card reviewing the 2008-2009 lineup of Bluehouse Skis, behold it here for your enjoyment: ...Read more...
This past weekend, I headed down to Moab for my last multi-sport weekend before it gets way too hot down there. I grabbed my climbing gear and my road bike and headed south with the intention of some cragging on Potash Road and a ride through Canyonlands National Park. After a sweet day of biking, my partner in adventure suggested something a bit more exciting than the Potash crag- Ancient Arts, a well-known tower in the Fisher Towers area outside Moab. Looking at my gear, I was never so happy to see my “Oh S#!t” kit packed inside my duffel. This little orange stuff sack and its contents come with me EVERYWHERE, including on multipitch climbs. Knowing that I had my little kit with me, I transitioned my day from a day at the crag to my first day of desert tower climbing. I thought I’d offer you some insight into what I bring with me any time I go outside, and why I chose the products I do. Much like the Boy Scouts “10 essentials,” this kit is what I consider my essentials any time I go outside. Do I use every part every time? Nope. Have I been SUPER psyched to have it with me on a few specific occasions? Absolutely. For all the products that our vendors carry, I’ve included a link to a more detailed review. Be sure to give it a click and check out specifics for each product. 1. Granite Gear Air Bag: Keeps all the below items with me! Lightest stuff sack I've been able to find that is still durable. 2. Purell Hand Sanitizer Wipes: Like carrying hand sanitizer with you, but with the added bonus of it being in wipe form, and no danger of it exploding all over your stuff if you change altitudes. Sanitize your hands and wipe off grime at the same time. 3. Coppertone Kids SPF 30 Stick Sunscreen: Wear sunscreen (anyone else remember that sweet song!?). To avoid getting it all over your hands before a climb, I'd use a stick form, and my fav is Coppertone Kids. It's waterproof and lasts for 6 hours. 4. Adventure Medical HeatSheet Emergency Bivvy: Super compact, and keeps you warm in a pinch. 5. Leatherman Juice Xe6 Multitool: 18 tools in one, including 1 straight knife, 1 serrated knife, screwdrivers and pliers. Great for unlocking frozen 'biners, severing cord, chopping up dinner or opening the post-climb celebratory beverage. 6. Mini Bic Lighter: Never know when you’re going to need to set something on fire! 7. Honey Stinger Energy Gel or Clif ShotBloks: Delicious! Quick energy when you really need it. Be sure to avoid that bonk! 8. 1 Luna Bar: Something with a bit more substance to snack on. 9. Charmin To Go Toilet Paper: No internal cardboard roll, just TP rolled on itself in a great tiny plastic container to keep the sand out. Great for emergency poos, nose blowings or wiping off your bloodied hands from the gnarley desert chimney you just sent. 10. Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets: If you ever end up somewhere and you’re out of water, yet have access to some source of liquid (snow, river, ice), iodine will keep you hydrated and bacteria free! (ok, there are 11 things. No one ever accused me of being good at math!) 11. Black Diamond Spot Headlamp: I never, ever, ever, ever leave without a headlamp. Even when you’re leaving at 6am. You never know what’s going to go down that is out of your control, and adding darkness to an already deteriorating situation makes it that much worse. Depending on the environment and weather forecast, I sometimes also take my Marmot Ion Windshirt, which compresses small enough to fit into my original granite gear stuff sack along with all of my other crucial materials. So, at full retail, the emergency kit I've put together costs about $80 dollars if you don't include the Leatherman (the most expensive item on my list, by far). If you're good with watching for deals, you can easily put the whole thing together for under $50, and then add the Leatherman the next time it goes on sale! The whole thing weighs about 2lbs (Leatherman also weighing the most). This way, I've got the essentials I feel I need, instead of some formulaic kit! Not too shabby for a homemade essentials kit, huh?...Read more...
We're big fans of The Ski Journal. No other ski publication has the quality feel of this limited-circulation beauty. With only 7 issues under their belt (it's a quarterly), The Ski Journal has already captured plenty of well-deserved attention. I particularly enjoy the high-quality photos and insightful articles filled with soulful recollections of killer powder days and the glory days of yesteryear. This Summer, let The Ski Journal keep your winter wanderlust in check with its pages of winter bliss. You can browse the featured articles from the latest issue online and then subscribe to get it in your home for years to come. Subscribe: Visit TheSkiJournal.com...Read more...
The partnership brings together two organizations with longstanding and successful environmental records. TEKO will support several JHMR sponsored events, including the popular Steep and Deep camps. In addition, TEKO and JHMR will develop creative, cross-promotional programs at retail, designed to expose more people to all that the Jackson Hole resort has to offer.
“We are thrilled to enter this partnership with Jackson Hole,” said Chip Coe, CEO of TEKO. “Our two companies share a deep respect for the environment as demonstrated by our mutual and unwavering commitment to its conservation. Also, as a producer of both winter and summer high performance socks, TEKO has a natural place at Jackson Hole year round.”JHMR has long respected the natural beauty and ecological significance of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem that surrounds it. The resort maintains a comprehensive environmental program that was developed in harmony with its environment. In 2006, JHMR achieved ISO 14001 certification, the second of only two ski resorts, and one of the smaller companies in the US, to achieve this recognition. ISO 14001 certification is the most widely known and respected environmental stamp of approval, which demonstrates responsible management of environmental impacts.
“Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is focused on partnering with companies that share our environmental values and we are proud to add TEKO to our team,” said Jerry Blann, President JHMR. “It is great to see a manufacturer in the outdoor industry that has met the high demands of adventure seekers while not compromising on their corporate mission.”For more information about Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, visit www.jacksonhole.com About TEKO: TEKO Socks: Best Socks ON the Planet, Best Socks FOR the Planet. Based in Boulder, CO, TEKO was founded on the belief that making high-performance outdoor products doesn’t have to leave a heavy impact on our ecology. Using only high-performance fibers and sustainable manufacturing processes, TEKO creates performance socks that are safer for the environment. From the raw materials, all the way down to the recycled paper packaging, TEKO’s product line features environmentally sound materials, such as organic tekoMERINO™ Wool, organic tekoCOTTON™ and tekoPOLY™ recycled polyester. TEKO buys wind energy credits to ensure that 100% of the electricity used in manufacturing and operations is put back onto the energy grid from clean, sustainable American Wind. TEKO is unique in that their eco-friendly commitment extends to its entire product line, supply chain, and daily business practices.... Read more...
Despite my attempts at changing the weather with my summer-oriented dressing, it doesn't seem to be working. To brave the snowing weather, I've been running around in my Backcountry.com Shift Hooded Softshell Jacket. I've had a few different softshells before, but never one with a hood. I'm never going back! In terms of weight, I'd say this softshell falls in the midrange. Certainly heavier than the Mountain Hardwear Transition Jacket, but not as heavy as the classic Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Jacket.
Backcountry.com Shift Hooded Softshell Jacket
- Wind-Resistant Polar-Tech PowerShield Lining: Makes the Shift wind resistant yet breathable. Certainly not the most wind resistant softshell I've owned, but definitely the most breathable. So, if you're looking for a jacket with less wind resistance but more breathability, the Shift is right up your alley.
- Pockets galore: Inner iPod pocket (if you're like me and wondering what exactly makes it an iPod pocket, it's that small hole that your headphones can come out of without keeping the pocket unzipped), outer upper sleeve pocket that's just large enough for an ID, credit card and GU shot, plus fleece lined hand warmer pockets.
- Sizing: This is the only area I'd say the Shift goes a bit awry. Normally an XS to a S in jackets, I am a Medium in the Shift. Also, I have a shorter torso, and it fits me perfectly. If you've got a longer torso, I'd be sure to try it on!
- 4 Way Stretch Material: Makes it a great jacket to run/ski tour/climb in. It moves with you!
I just got an email from the crew at Bluehouse Skis. They have a limtied number of skis and they are putting them up on the block via reverse auction. Don't worry... it's not to complicated. They will lower the prices every day until the inventory is gone. If you think it's a good enough deal, you better pull the trigger because with every passing day, quantities get lower and lower.
Bluehouse Skis End-of-year Reverse AuctionIt's been another incredible year and although resorts are beginning to close, with a 140+ inch base in many spots in Utah there will surely be skiing until June. What a perfect excuse for you and your friends to pick up the last of the Bluehouse inventory at year end pricing and still ski it for another two months! End of Year Liquidation We just took stock of the remaining Bluehouse inventory and found we only have a few pairs of bindings, a few pairs of the Shoots, and a handful of Mavens. Given the very limited quantities of our remaining inventory, we figured we might as well have some fun cleaning out the Bluehouse Basement, so here is the deal we have for you to help us get rid of the remaining product: REVERSE AUCTION. Many of you are probably already familiar with the concept of a reverse auction, but for those who are not, I'll explain....a reverse auction is just as it sounds - an auction in reverse. Instead of bidding up an item as you would on eBay, we set the original price. The price will then be dropped every couple/few days by increments that we choose. So long as product is available you can purchase the skis or bindings at the then current price. You bid on a product by purchasing. But here's the catch: if you hold out too long hoping for an extremely low price and the product sells out before you pull the trigger, you are out of luck. When the product is gone, the product is gone. (Seriously, we have very limited quantities to begin with so we don't want whiney emails when you complain to us that you missed your chance to snag a pair of Shoots or Mavens). Starting Prices:
- Mavens - $350
- Shoots - $350
- Look Px18 - $260
- Look Px15 - $225
- Look Px12 Jib - $160
Throughout the ski season, I had the opportunity to try out a few different pairs of AT boots besides my Scarpa Divas. Most recently, I tried out a pair of Black Diamond Shiva Alpine Touring boots, and thought I'd share my experience in this sweet new boot. After years of designing skis, Black Diamond ventured into the boot market this year, releasing a whopping 9 new boots! With 6 tele boots and 3 AT boots, Black Diamond has done a great job addressing their target market- backcountry skiers. Since they've been making probes, avalungs, skis and all sorts of backcountry gear for a while now, the would seem to be the experts on anything backcountry.
Black Diamond Shiva Alpine Touring Boot- Design
- Alpine overlap construction- allows for a bit more rigidity in the boot
- Liner- Liners are thermo-moldable with a BOA lacing system. For those skeptics out there, the BOA has been bomber in testing and held up just fine! Keeps your liners nice and tight.
- Interchangeable sole blocks- The Shivas come standard with a dynafit compatible rockered lug sole. However, if you want to use this boot in your alpine bindings, you can! With purchasing the Alpine Sole Blocks, you can change out the sole of your boot to be compatible with whatever binding you chose.
- Tour mode- there's no tongue with these guys, so the whole upper cuff of the boot pivots forward and you're not fighting that tongue as you move forward. Though not the lightest boot on the market for touring, the extreme pivot on these boots does make touring easy.
- Ski Mode- these boots have been rated at a 100 flex index, and based on the other AT boots I've tried, I'd say that's accurate within the realm of Alpine Touring boots.
Black Diamond Shiva Alpine Touring Boot- FitBlack Diamond boots are lasted for those with a wide, yet low volume foot. Toe box is the widest currently available in AT boots, yet the heel is narrow and supportive. These boots are definitely low volume! If you've got a lower arch, a narrow heel and wide toes, these boots are PERFECT for you. The Alpine Overlap design allows for some pretty tight torquing of the buckles on the forefoot as well, so you can really take up volume if you need to. Comes in sizes 23 through 26.5. The 23 measures in at 277mm (6mm bigger than Scarpa's equivalent size 23), so they run a slight bit bigger than other AT boots, but not much. Overall, I was impressed. A bit stiffer and a bit heavier than my other boots, they made for a better crossover boot into the resort! Check It Out! Black Diamond Shiva Alpine Touring boot... Read more...
Over the years I've been real particular about which ski socks end up on my feet whether it be for backcountry skiing or resort skiing there is a certain type and often times brand of ski sock that will end up on my feet time after time. For backcountry skiing I like a more thin sock and almost always go strictly merino wool. For resort skiing, my ski sock of choice is a synthetic sock that's medium thickness with padding on the shin and a good heel cup. So it was when I recently donned the Wigwam Snow Xenon Pro ski sock, that I was particularly interested to see how my feet responded. To give it the full review I spend a couple of days backcountry skiing with them and then a couple of resort days. I lucked out by skiing in cold stormy temps, warm spring temps and a day of standard Utah bluebird powder.
Backcountry SkiingMy first outing with the socks was a long one - a 9 hour tour that took me up and over Timpanogos (click link for video), skiing from the summit and down the front side. Our hike out was a little over a mile on a dirt trail and then an hour of riding in the car back to Aspen Grove where we started. When we got back to the car I realized that my feet were comfortable enough that I chose to wear the socks home, another hour drive. Despite all the skinning, bootpacking and climbing with crampons I didn't have any hot spots. The socks were a little thick for my likes while backcountry skiing/touring, but they were comfortable. The only complaint is that they were warm, which on this particular day when it warmed up to solid spring temps it was a bit much. My next backcountry ski day in these socks was a very cold and stormy day touring in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Once again, comfortable feel, no sliding of the socks which happens a lot with socks and they kept my feet warm. I had a meeting to get to after my tour so the socks were on my feet for nearly 9 hours and almost as cozy as my Wigwam Mountain High hiking socks.
Resort SkiingI skied the Wigwams on a day of skiing Alta with my son so we were sticking to groomers in the blue to light black range. With my alpine boots which are a bit more roomy (read: older) than my touring boots, the socks were a perfect fit. Not too thick, not too thin - medium thickness in spots, thin in others, just like I like it. My most recent chance to ski with these socks came Saturday when I was at The Canyons once again with my son. We skied 5 hours in all types of terrain. Afterward we went to Old Town Park City for some eats and then home. I ended up wearing the socks all day and the coolest part, aside from the comfort, was the fact that my feet weren't sweaty. The Snow Xenon Pro's pulled the moisture away from my feet and dried out very fast. Aside from the surprisingly great comfort of this ski sock, I was also quite impressed by the fact that the sock didn't slide down my leg as so often happens at the end of a long day. They stayed in place during skiing, hiking, climbing and kicking it around the house.
Features of the Wigwam Snow Xenon Pro Ski Sock
- Stay put leg and top that won't slide down
- Lightweight design
- 32% stretch nylon, 30% merino, 21% olefin, 12% X20 acrylic and 5% spandex.
- Cushion sole and shin
- Snug yet comfortable heel cup
- Virtually seamless toe closure
- Foot hugging fit
Ski poles are ski poles are ski poles, right? Well... if you're satisfied with some $10 metal pipe poles with hard plastic grips, then you're set. But, if you're looking for comfort and function in the backcountry, then there's no sense in looking anywhere but Black Diamond. The BD Carbon Fiber ski poles are the gold standard (or should I say carbon standard) when it comes to durable backcountry poles. Here's what Black Diamond has to say about them:
A backcountry essential, our lightest adjustable poles are built from a lightweight combination of ultra-strong 7075 aluminum and featherweight carbon-fiber for excellent balance and an optimized swing weight. The solid FlickLock® mechanism makes height adjustment simple and secure. Carbon Fiber Poles come with BD ¾ Baskets and our comfortable, grippy dual-density grips.Having used several adjustable-length ski poles over the years, I can truly appreciate the power and ease-of-use provided by the FlickLock mechanism. Easy-open and easily locked-down, the FlickLock holds your adjustment in place come hell or high water. No need to worry about your poles getting shorter throughout the duration of the tour like you do with twisty poles. I've found these poles to be very durable (I've whacked my fair share of dead Aspen branches) and sturdy when they need to be. The 3/4 baskets are sweet when touring in firm conditions since they still allow the tips to hit the snow first instead of getting basket deflection and whiffing like Babe Ruth. The dual-density grips are comfortable in all temperatures and swing weight is perfect. I don't think about these poles at all while out in the backcountry--and that's a good thing. The only negative I've found is with the baskets. They tend to twist around so you don't always have the open side facing front. The Good
- FlickLock mechanism holds adjustments in place
- Dual-density grips are comfy
- Swing-weight is perfect
- Durable and stiff
- 3/4 baskets are good and bad, but they twist around at will
I don't know about you but I'm rough on gloves. I put them through the ringer. I guess between backcountry skiing, resort skiing and all the hiking I do with my skis that gloves don't stand a chance. The fact of the matter is that beyond being built tough a glove has to be dexterous, warm, and just feel good on the hand. Otherwise, why bother, right? Over the years I've had a number of gloves from companies like Reusch, Black Diamond, Swany, Gordini, and Head but it had been a while since I slipped my hand into a pair of Swany gloves. My first pair of Swany ski gloves lasted me for a few years and were some of the best I have ever owned. But like all of my gloves, they too saw some extra stitching after some time but still gave me an extra year or so of enjoyable use in the mountains. It was with anticipation then that I tried out the X-Change II.
Review of the Swany X-Change II Ski GloveFirst slipping on the Swany X-Change it was quite comfortable and not too bulky. The fingers are pre-curved to add to the fit and feel. I was glad to see a glove with "idiot cords" which I really like since I take my gloves off and on quite often for photos or to dig into my pack or jacket. The gauntlet is minimal, unlike some gloves that feel like they go to the elbow. I was stoked on the design. My first time using the X-Change II was on a SUPER cold day with air temps at -5 degrees and wind chill near -15. They felt good on my hands as we set out to skin up to the top of Wolf Creek Pass here in Utah. But after a few minutes I got cold hands and my fingers never warmed up. I shrugged it off and figured no glove would keep me warm that day. Over the next few times skiing I would say that these gloves were more cold than warm. I started to wonder if the plastic like material that was on the inside of the fingers was conducting the cold and making my hands cold. I do get cold from time to time regardless of the glove, but it was more often than not that the Swany X-Change II had me tucking my fingers back into the palm area to warm up. I found a pattern one day after skiing Alta where we hiked to Gunsight and High Eddies. When I did something to warm up my hands, like hiking, the gloves seemed to stay warm. So I made sure that over the next few times skiing that I was warm to start out with and they performed better, but still not to my demands. I've now put almost 3 months of use on these gloves over 25 days of skiing (resort and backcountry) and they are starting to show some wear and tear on a couple of seams. I didn't notice it until riding the lift at Brighton last Tuesday when we were enjoying 25" of new powder. If I had to estimate how long they will hold on, I'd say that I could put another 10-15 days on them until they would need some stitching. Remember, I said at the start, I'm harsh on gloves. But this was my experience with this model.
Features of the Swany X-Change II Ski Glove
- Uni-pull cuff cord is easy to use
- "idiot cord" so that you don't drop them when you take them off
- Quick release strap for better fit
- AquaGuard lock-down zipper utility pocket - fits a heater pack
- Swany Dry Lining tri-plex insulation with Dryfinger II insert
- Leather reinforced palm