OR Show Completo — Winter 2009


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Salt Lake City, in the halls of the Salt Palace convention center, last couple of days. You could easily see a downturn in attendance numbers compared to the last few shows, due no doubt to our economic woes. Even so, things were upbeat in a lot of corners, with old timers such as myself sharing how we’ve just kept on keeping on through many other stale periods. Best example in my case is when my web and writing work dried up after 9/11, so I concentrated on building WildSnow.com and created the massive pile of content this website has become. Ever onward. To that end, the rest of my show reports:

Backcountry Skiing

Timex launched their new Expedition altimeter watch (to left). I'm still a fan of altimeter watches, but no one offering seems to have all the features I want. Expedition has a super big LCD (a want) that can present tons of information but it doesn't have a control lock and the light-on duration is too short. Even so, I'll probably give one a shot at some point. Yep, that's a funky old Suunto Vector on the right for comparo. I picked the Vector up on the cheap just for this trip. It's been ok but the lack of dual times, short light duration and lack of control lock continue to be the Vector's downfalls. But if the price is right, whatever...

Backcountry Skiing

Gibbon Slacklines (pictured above) had a nice booth that featured athletes bouncing around on their interesting style of slacklines. Basically, these things are made from the jumbo ratchet straps used by folks like truckers to secure loads. Tensioning is easy, click click click. The line is really wide, however. Cheating?

Gibbon Slacklines

Backcountry Skiing

Ah yes, G3's new ski graphics.

Backcountry Skiing

Saint model tip sports this this photo of prayer flags, or is it laundry hung out to dry? Perhaps the idea is that before the big drop you say a prayer, then after that you launder your underwear?

Backcountry Skiing

This is interesting. I'd heard Fritschi was coming out with a new binding. My hope was for something Tech compatible or at least a radically different frame type binding. Instead, the Eagle is just a Diamir evolution. Main difference is the walking pivot is 25 mm farther back than that of other Fritschi bindings, meaning a much more ergonomic and efficient stride. Safety release at the toe is said to be smoother, and heel operation is said to be more facile. The combination of light weight, step-in entry/exit and downhill performance that Fritschi offers is still unequaled, so check out the Eagle if you're looking for bindings in this category.

Backcountry Skiing

Check these out. People have played around with split skins for years, ever since skis got wider. But without something connecting the skin strips they're super hard to handle (guest of wind = spaghetti pile). Black Diamond offers a version with a connector material in the middle. Lighter than full skins and better glide. BD will also offer a 100% Mohair skin this year. Hmmm, are the youngsters over there in SLC maturing and laying down lower angled skin tracks or something? Also, if you can't decide to go full mohair or stay nylon, BD will also offer their 'fear of commitment' 65/35 nylon/mohair model.

Backcountry Skiing

Seth Morrison wanted an Avalung pack but he didn't want to look like just another guy with just another BD pack, so this is his model. Kinda cool, actually.

Backcountry Skiing

The McLean redheads. Andrew, all I can say is, always stay ready to duck.

Backcountry Skiing

Big news we reported a while ago is how K2 consolidated their backcountry ski line into one series they're calling Backside. This chart shows how the new models translate to last year's planks. Main things to remember for many of us is that the Baker is now the BackLash and is 4 mm wider at the waist, the Backer SL is now the WayBack, and the Shuksan is now the BackUp. I have to say I'll miss the Shuksan and Baker names, as they harken to such amazing places. But getting rid of all the complexity of having telemark and AT models is something we welcome.

Backcountry Skiing

K2 is also trying to round out their backcountry line with climbing skins and adjustable ski poles that use a nicely designed cam lock. The skins are sourced from Climbing Skins Direct, but have a very nice tip and tail anchor system that uses the tip/tail holes in all BackSide series skis. Speaking of which, a lot of people continue to question or just plain dislike having tip and tail holes. K2 solved that by making the holes look more finished, and selling the skis with plugs in the holes.

Outdoor Research

I also spent quite a bit of time at Outdoor Research. Good to hear they’ll continue making their Tremor pant, though it’s slightly changed with a bit more seam welding instead of stitching. Louie’s favorite jacket, the Motto, will also continue. Best new piece is their Alibi jacket, which is body mapped with four different fabrics and includes a built-in helmet liner/hood as well as wrist gaiters.

Beyond specific gear, OR appears to still be working hard to provide truly solid clothing that works well in harsh weather. At the same time they’re continuing with items such as Tremor pant that may not be suitable for a long day in a PNW storm, but are perfect for moving light and fast in just about any other type of weather. In other words, they have a really complete line that we’ve found is well worth looking at whenever we need to re-work our layering systems.

On top of all that, an inside source told me that OR may be working with a well known skier as a consultant to develop a line of clothing that’s backcountry ready but with a more youthful cut and look. I’ll welcome that, because WildSnow bloggers such as Dave and Louie are well aware of how important clothing performance is, and at the same time frequently disappointed in how difficult it is to find a pair of technical pants with a full cut.

Speaking of clothing fit. I was joking around with a guy at Outdoor Research about how something like their Tremor pants appear somewhat trim and tight in the North American market, but while spectating a ski mountaineering race in Europe, my Tremors were the baggiest thing there out of about 2,000 people. Human nature. Fashion. It’s frequently worth ignoring the latter, but fun to ponder and play around with nonetheless.

Comments

29 Responses to “OR Show Completo — Winter 2009”

  1. Tyler January 26th, 2009 9:16 am

    Lou,

    Funny that you should mention the fit of clothing – NA vs. EU. I am 35 yrs old, but not a fan of the baggy look. I have welcomed the new trimmer jacket designs, but I really havent found that in the pants yet. In fact, I was thinking about asking you how you like the Dynafit Mansalu pants that I saw you in while over in the EU.

    For touring in these UT and similar climes I dont need goretexy clothing. I want breathable, stretchy, and light. 99% of touring is like nordic skiing and I would prefer trim stretchy pants. Unfortunately, I just havent found anything in the NA market that really fits that bill. Patagonia is very close and I’d love to see other options.

    You’ve had a great couple of weeks!

  2. stormin' norman January 26th, 2009 10:03 am

    Lou,

    just a quick question: under the image of the new Fritchi there’s a shot of what appears to be a skin set up with a non-plush strip sewn down the center. There’s no comment that references it so I’m wondering…what’s the skinny (sorry, bad pun)?

  3. Matt Kinney January 26th, 2009 10:19 am

    Thanks Lou for your show review, pics and of course your Euro trip reports.. Good stuff. You know where to find the pulse of the industry. I’m sure you will be happy to get home after a long, long road trip. Looking forward to some ski reports from CO. Cheers

  4. Laureen Mendelsohn January 26th, 2009 10:55 am

    I really enjoyed your review and new product information. Thanks for taking us to the show! I’ll keep my eye on your site for new reviews! Keep up the great work!

  5. ScottP January 26th, 2009 11:49 am

    Tyler,

    If you want the slimmer pants and are willing to swallow your pride, you can usually find it in women’s outdoor pants. You have to figure out your size, but it’s generally made for more svelte builds. There are several companies that make women’s softshell pants.

    Lou,

    Does the K2 skin attach on the tail as well through a hole in the same way? Will K2 be selling these cut specifically for their skis or to the general public? I’ll be interested to hear how that attachment system pans out. If it works really well, it might be time to drill some holes in my skis.

  6. Tyler January 26th, 2009 11:57 am

    Oh Geez …. women’s pants! Funny. Dont let my wife hear that or I will never hear the end of it! ;-) BTW, this is the second skiing blog in a week to mention men wearing women’s pants. Both come from the Wasatch … must be the pollution affecting our brains or maybe all the meadow skipping that we do here (grin).

  7. ScottP January 26th, 2009 12:20 pm

    I assume you’re talking about McLean’s blog? I was actually thinking of that when I wrote it, too.

    And yeah, it’s usually best not to let your significant other know about it. I still get crp for mine.

  8. Tony January 26th, 2009 9:12 pm

    I just returned from Salt Lake City and my first OR show. It was absolutely amazing!! I felt like a kid in the candy store or my own little Disneyland, I even shook hands with Royal Robbins!

  9. Mark January 27th, 2009 7:11 am

    I’ve got an old Timex Helix which surprises me at being reasonably accurate. Tyler, you might look into OR softshell pants. I’ve got some and they’re excellent.

  10. Mark January 27th, 2009 7:20 am

    I like K2′s consolidation, and would like to try some of the new boards out. The Bakers rule, so I hope the addition of 4 mm won’t change them too much.

  11. Simon January 27th, 2009 10:20 am

    A question about the Seth Morrison custom avalung pack; is that a production model they are offering, based on his input, or is it a one-of-a-kind made for him? Is it an existing pack model, simply made with the plaid material? If so… what model?

  12. Lou January 27th, 2009 10:36 am

    Simon, it’s a Bandit model done with the special graphics, and will be available.

  13. Brian January 27th, 2009 11:24 am

    What more did you learn about the Diamir Eagle?

  14. Lou January 27th, 2009 11:30 am

    Brian, it looked like it had user serviceable axle/pivot, and the toe is done in such as way as to be even lower clearance than the original Diamirs, that’s how they can mount the pivot back farther. It also has an extra articulation point under the boot toe so when the toe does hit it has some flexibility, similar to Silvretta Pure in that way. Overall I’d just call it a design iteration, not a new binding, but it looked nice.

  15. nitsuj January 28th, 2009 12:02 pm

    On the topic of clothing I wish other companies would make LONGER pants. Us 6’4+ guys get neglected, especially if we don’t frequent McDonalds enough to fit the XXXL.

  16. KDog January 30th, 2009 8:46 am

    Hey Lou, what were the new BD Split Skins like? I saw a pic but no description. Is it a concept or a tested product? I just bought a pair of Megawatt’s that I had no intention of ever touring with, until I skied them. Now I want to at least slackcountry them but can’t imagine how much the skins would weigh! Split skins could be the ticket.

    Kevin

  17. Lou January 30th, 2009 8:58 am

    My impression was that the split skins were in the mix for what they’d be distributing in the fall. They usually don’t show stuff at OR unless it’s there to generate orders, and I think they would have told me if the skins were one-offs.

  18. Penn January 30th, 2009 3:59 pm

    Kdog – split skins are in Winter 09/10- I have been touring on them with the Justice ski and they work very well.

  19. Kris January 30th, 2009 11:26 pm

    Nitsuj, I searched high and low and the best fitting softshell pants I could find were the Mountain Hardware Syncro, xl (I’m also 6’4″). I have to use a belt and they’re a little loose in the waist, but it sure beats all the other the skinny short pants out there.

  20. Lou January 31st, 2009 7:08 am

    Guys, did you check out Cloudveil? Many of their pants are cut a bit long, or at least they used to be (their stuff changes quite a bit each season).

  21. KDog January 31st, 2009 8:48 am

    Penn, are they lighter and more compact? If so I would wait till next season to skin the Megawatts, if BD makes them that wide.

  22. David February 1st, 2009 11:36 am

    Hi Lou- thanks for the show review. I have recently won a raffle for a pair of K2 skis (my choice- anything they make). I am thinking strongly of filling in the fat end of my collection and getting the Coombas, but after reading your review maybe I should wait until the ’09-’10′s come out? What is the difference between the current Coomba and next year’s cross between the Coomba and the Anti-Piste (Coomback)? (you beat me to the punch about Cloudveil pants- I thought that I had long legs, but they’re too long even for me!)

  23. Lou February 1st, 2009 11:44 am

    Coomback has more rocker. I’d say wait for the newer one if you can.

  24. Justin February 26th, 2009 10:39 pm

    Do you happen to know approximate weights on any of the new G3 or K2 skis (particularly the Coomback or the Zen Oxide)?

  25. Lou February 27th, 2009 7:32 am

    Justin, I don’t have that at this time. Perhaps k2 does.

  26. Jon March 21st, 2009 3:37 pm

    From what I gather the Zen Oxide is the same dimensions as the G3 El Hombre, but a lb lighter, which should mean a 105mm ski for under 8lbs.

  27. Stephane April 22nd, 2009 1:33 pm

    “Mt Baker Superlight will become the Wayback in 09/10″. Will that be a rockered ski or the same ski with a different name? I was thinking of buying the 08/09 model.

    The Coomba seems kind of heavy for a touring ski. I was looking for a light ski for versatility in snow conditions, sidecountry, and touring. Any thoughts on which K2 ski is best for that? I have a set of Pontoons which are great. I need something more versatile when I am not strictly skiing powder or I want to tour.

    Thanks for your help.

  28. Jason Thompson November 9th, 2009 6:35 am

    What to buy.

    Skis…
    If you were to choose btwn the G3 zenoxide and the Coomback for a mainly a touring ski with some on hill usage.
    Bindings…
    G3 onyx or the dynafit FT12. touched the onyx and seemed like a lot of parts of plastic ready to break down. Is it that much more convenient on the fly?

    I ski at whistler and mount baker. my current “touring” gear consists of trekkers into a pair of 4frnt EHP 186 (w/113 underfoot). a heavy and cumbersome setup.

    Would love any knowledge!

  29. Lou November 9th, 2009 7:27 am

    I’d go Coomback but I’m biased. G3 puts a lot of energy into designing excellent skis as well. Perhaps just base your choice on what you can get the best deal on? Choice between Onyx and FT12 is difficult. Both bindings seem to be very close to each other in comparison. Onyx is still a freshman product that has not been vetted by heavy consumer use. It inspires with a look/feel of quality and strength. FT12 is tried and true and also inspires, and if human power is your game, less weight of FT12 is a HUGE factor. Some folks really like the Onyx ability to easily change from fixed heel to touring mode while still in the binding. But how this is gong to work with their brake is something we have not tested yet, though we suspect it’ll work fine. Onyx seems to have beef and strength for heavy on-resort use, but many folks use the Dynafit for that as well.

    One selling point of Onyx is the swap plates. But how many people really need or will use that feature is an unknown in the industry. For some folks it’ll be huge. For others, who usually run just one rig, it’s a non issue and just adds weight.

    We’ll have Onyx test bindings coming here very soon. Production model with brakes, we’ll start testing immediately as I’ve already got skis drilled and waiting for the bindings, and we have snow on the ground.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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