With Lou over in Europe, I’ve been at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City for the past few days.
Backcountry ski gear continues to develop rapidly. One of the highlights of the show so far are all the competing new Tech bindings from Fritchi, Dynafit, G3, and SkiTrab. Compared to a few years ago, or even last year, there’s some impressively rapid development on that front. Also, a wide variety of companies are making ultra-light fully carbon touring skis, another thing that wasn’t happening even a few years ago.
Here are a few tidbits I found while walking the show floor the past few days.
Heavy snow is less prone to sticking to white top-sheets (keeping touring weight down significantly). Unfortunately in the past few white skis have been made. Black Diamonds updated lightweight touring line (Megawatt and Convert pictured) have full carbon construction (and glorious white graphics).
White topsheets everywhere! Lasportiva's Vapor Nano skis are the same shape as their popular Hi5 ski (105 underfoot), but have an ultra-light construction that uses carbon nano-tubes as well as standard carbon fiber. Nice.
Also on the new ski front, Voile is introducing the V6, a smaller, lighter derivation of their V8 ski.
G3's entire ski line features some carbon fiber, and almost all have the full carbon construction featured in the Zenoxide C3 last year. It makes for a line of impressively light, stiff skis. The new Synapse line features a progressive shape and generous tip and tail rocker. It comes in a 92, 101, and 109 waist version. They are also stupidly light.
The Wasatch is where the "dawn patrol" arguably started, so it'd be inappropriate not to partake. I got out on some character building snow on Mt. Superior on Thursday morning as a brief reprieve.
I'm a big fan of synthetic insulation, and it just keeps getting better. There's a number of new technologies that approach the weight and warmth of down. This is a cool one from 3M. On the right is 3 oz of their synthetic insulation, and 3 oz of 650 down; on the left they both have 3 oz of water added. Pretty impressive. Of course there are other similar technologies out there like North Face's thermoball, and new stuff from Primaloft. It'll be great to see some more gear being made with higher end synthetics in the next few years.
While wandering around I spotted this cool fold-up wood stove. It's constructed from titanium, and folds up into the rectangle at the bottom of the photo, it even has a telescoping chimney. They're made by a Japanese company, and they guy at the booth said they aren't sold in the US.
I hear Andrew Mclean's planning a Cassin Ridge ascent with his daughters. I believe he'll be testing these toddler sized down suits on the trip. Stay tuned.
And now on to even weirder stuff. According to 3M this is what ski apparel will look like 20 years in the future. Presumably we'll be skiing on Mars, and need the full-head hood.
There’s an impressive amount of new backcountry ski gear innovations at the show this year. Of course this barely scratches the surface. We’ll have some more updates coming in the next few days.