WildSnow Best Gear of the Year, 2010/2011


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

(Editor’s note: While working on a lengthy blog post today, thought I’d bring this up to the top for you September shoppers. It got published last summer and subsequently buried.)

Some publications do their editor’s choice awards based on what new and virtually untested product they think is cool. That way they get their pics done before their autumn gear issues and in time for their placards to decorate booths at the winter OR Show. For better or worse, that’s the way it is with print. But we’re different. We pick stuff as the “choice” after it gets use for a while. So we’re doing our “Editor’s Choice” list in the summer. Format is simple. Each of our guest bloggers picks one item of gear, hopefully new or somewhat new, that they thought stood out for them.

Jonathan Shefftz: “After tech ski bindings, ski boots are arguably the most important backcountry gear item, as their weight is pivoted on every skinning stride, their stiffness provides the critical transmission of body movements to your skis while descending, yet that stiffness has to somehow largely disappear for the ascent. Previously ski boots were always a compromise between the up vs the down, yet the Dynafit TLT5 has the best of all worlds.” Reviews. Shop.

Nick Thompson: “Ski inserts from Binding Freedom and Quiver Killer. Love being able to swap my bindings around, allowing me to own just one pair of Dynafits and switch to my Axls when I want to drop a knee. Install seems intimidating at first, but if you use a tap alignment block and practice on some dumpster skis it is actually pretty easy. I always carry a hex driver bit for my multi tool to tighten the screws in case they come loose (which hasn’t happened with Vibra-Tite coating on my threads). Shop Binding Freedom here. Shop Quiver Killer here.
Quiver Killer review.

Lou Dawson: “Shell garment (any brand) made from Polartec Neoshell. This stuff combines a significantly water resistant and breathable membrane with a thin outer fabric that has the look and feel of softshell. When I say “breathable” I actually mean this stuff breaths like Lance Armstrong on the Col du Tourmalet. Amazing how dry you stay. Neoshell lacks almost all the clammy feeling you get from most shells that are waterproof enough to survive a rainstorm (as this one is).” Video. Neoshell technology..

Lee Lau: Scarpa Maestrale alpine touring boot. Reverses an unpleasant trend of increasing prices in backcountry gear. Manages to achieve the holy trinity of lightness, performance and affordability. Review. Shop.

Jordan: I’d have to jump to (or in) my Patagonia Alpine Guide pants. They are a super thin softshell pant that have been on every trip I’ve been on this year. “Weather” it was climbing on the desert, rock climbing outside of Carbondale, or climbing and skiing Capitol Peak. It is probably about time to wash them. Shop.

Scott Nelson: “B&D ski crampons, which I actually used quite a bit. They have been really durable (except on rocks…), super lightweight, worked great on the early morning steep traverses while climbing, and they just allowed me to relax a bit and breath easily while I was staring at the void below my feet on occasion, fearing the dreaded slide for life. Review. Shop.

Lisa Dawson: “Definitely the K2 Gotbacks. The best all-around ski I’ve ever been on, makes any type of condition feel like hero snow, this gal’s go-to. While just average in weight, I compensated with Dynafit TLT bindings with no brakes, and since they save me so much energy on the down, the few added ounces is really nothing. Review. Shop.

Anton Sponar: “Mammut 8.5 mil rope. Jordan and I have the same one and that is what we doubled up to rap with on Capitol. I really like the rope because it is light and easy enough to strap to a pack. It is also dry treated. Jordan and I left it in a snow hole cache at the base of Capitol for a week during one of our other attempts. When we dug it out it was dry and didn’t weigh any more than when we put it in. Amazing. All the webbing that was in there, another story.” Shop.

Comments

36 Responses to “WildSnow Best Gear of the Year, 2010/2011”

  1. Dave Cramer June 10th, 2011 9:13 am

    My favorite was the TLT5, without a doubt!

  2. Tuck June 10th, 2011 10:07 am

    Garmont Radium. Love them. (Got the new ones with the wider toe.)

  3. Ben W June 10th, 2011 12:32 pm

    The new Lightweight Guide Pants are also excellent: lighter than the Alpine Guides and come in less-hot-than-black gray.

  4. Lou June 10th, 2011 1:50 pm

    I was getting ready to add Jonathan’s take of TLT5, and the post got accidentally published while I was out skiing this morning. I added it in! Thanks for the confirmation Dave. I like the TLT5 as well, have around 40 days on them now I guess, lost count. Thanks, Lou

  5. Jonathan Shefftz June 10th, 2011 2:30 pm

    ” I like the TLT5 as well [...]”
    – Merely “like”? More akin to love, revere, worship!

  6. AndyC June 10th, 2011 4:46 pm

    +1 on the TLT5 and on the B&D crampons (I have them for my 7 Summits and my Manaslus).

  7. Lou June 10th, 2011 6:23 pm

    All commenters, come one, come all, what was your favorite new piece of gear last winter?

  8. Coz T June 10th, 2011 9:22 pm

    $15 insulated deerskin gloves from Walmart. The only new gear I could afford ended up working out surprisingly well. Not especially wind resistant or waterproof, but the unbeatable price puts them high on my list of gear that I’d buy again. :)

  9. amy June 10th, 2011 9:52 pm

    The Scarpa Gea. I love them. I also feel in love with the Atomic Century ski. My new boot/ski combo made skiing so fun this season.

  10. Nick D June 10th, 2011 10:13 pm

    +1 on the Maestrale. It’s my first AT boot and it has the normal superb Scarpa fit for my narrow foot. Hikes so well and is more than stiff enough for my skiing style as an old codger. I would also have to give a shout out to Dynafit ST, which I know is old hat to most of you guys. My first year on them was a revelation, particularly touring in difficult snow. Their only drawback is, you can’t drop a knee when the conditions are right :-)

  11. Greg Louie June 10th, 2011 10:32 pm

    Another vote for the TLT 5 Performance.

    Quantum leap in weight reduction and fore-aft ROM. How did we tour without these things?

    Contenders: Plum Guide – better forward retention than the ST at the weight of the Speed. Arc’teryx Alpha LT jacket – performs like the Alpha SV in a smaller package. Scott SMS Gore-Tex glove – saves a trip to the car to switch out gloves on many a wet day . . . but these were all incremental improvements IMO. TLT 5 P takes it.

  12. mtb June 11th, 2011 12:20 am

    The DynaDuke plates by Binding Freedom. Had the Dukes on for most of the season, but got a great deal on Dynafit STs and now have a light spring setup. Very happy!

  13. Chris Edwards June 11th, 2011 12:45 am

    Scott Powdair / fritschi free ride pro / Dalbello Virus Tour as a package just unbelievable e everywhere! Light , agile , powerful and really good looking . Have skied all season on just about every type of terrain and this set up has never once let me down :D it’s gonna be a long summer / autumn waiting to take these babies out again !

  14. Mike Bromberg June 11th, 2011 9:19 am

    PLUM Guide.

  15. JQ June 11th, 2011 10:24 am

    BD Quadrant boots. Perfect fit for me, easy walking.

  16. Christian June 11th, 2011 11:52 am

    Another one for tlt5p. Revolutionized my view on boots.

  17. Verbier61 June 11th, 2011 12:16 pm

    Another vote for the maestrale

  18. Gregg Cronn June 11th, 2011 4:43 pm

    Crampon lock for dynafit ski ski crampons. Loved them the first time I used them.

    http://www.bndskigear.com/cramponlocks.html

  19. Jim K June 11th, 2011 6:53 pm

    bravo for TLT5p. A game changer!

  20. JCoates June 11th, 2011 9:13 pm

    Favorite items in my kit this year:

    1) TLT5 (I can’t help but grin every time I put them on!!)
    2) Arc’Teryx Squamish hoody (as long as you have a good puffy, do you really need anything more in a shell for day touring??)
    3) Mont-bell UL sleeping bag cover (OK, I know this isn’t new this year, but I have yet to find a gore-tex bivy sack that is sooo light and packs down this small)

  21. ellen June 12th, 2011 7:40 am

    BCA Alp 40 ski pack (big enough to carry the whole spring kit – helmet, crampons etc, great support and it never feels that heavy so fine for winter as well)

    Outdoor Research Women Cirque Pants (finally a great spring/summer softshell ski pant for women)

    Ibex Indie Hoody for men and women- a lightweight wool hoody. Seems to work well in a wide temperature range. Love the hoody for keeping the sun off the sides of the face and the head. And I can’t believe how good it smells day after day….

  22. See June 12th, 2011 9:32 am

    Skate skis (and boots, and poles).

    We had a long dry spell at the beginning of the year when conditions were not great. I started skating and found it to be really fun and a good workout even with very stale snow.

    And, do any TLT5 fans have wide/high volume feet? If so, I’m curious how they achieved a satisfactory fit.

  23. TobyG June 12th, 2011 1:03 pm

    BD Colouir – super lightweight and compact harness.
    Arcteryx Atom SV – stuffs small, warm when you need it.
    Nunn hydration tabs – easy, compact and tasty.
    The weather gods! – what a snow pack this year.

  24. Mark W June 12th, 2011 10:10 pm

    Well, just to throw a monkey wrench in here, how do the TLT 5 fans feel about their durability? I have a friend who has put them through undue torture on many climbs and long tours and has shown me problems with the forefoot buckle, i.e. snags and perhaps not super durable. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried these boots on and was wowed. Just wanted to mix things up with the comments.

  25. Steve June 13th, 2011 10:27 am

    K2 Coombacks and Darksides.

  26. Greg Louie June 13th, 2011 10:35 am

    See, I’ve got wide and high volume feet – I normally punch any other boot (ie. Scarpas) for width. I was able to get the TLT 5 to fit fine by stretching both sides of the toe box, but it requires a skilled and courageous bootfitter.

  27. Brent June 13th, 2011 11:23 am

    K2 Backlash ski! Tried them after reading this site’s review from the Denali trip… wow!! They make any snow surface easy and fun! TLT5p have been awesome as well.

  28. Lou June 13th, 2011 12:28 pm

    For what it’s worth, I’ve got plenty of room in my TLT5s, so much that I have to re-puff the liner in the toe area. In my opinion, while they might not be a “wide” boot that are not particularly narrow in comparison to most other boots, they just look that way because of design and use of thin plastic.

  29. slave.to.turns June 13th, 2011 1:14 pm

    K2 Darksides.

    End of story.

  30. gonzoskijohnny June 20th, 2011 12:19 pm

    another + for the Mastrale
    In demo use back – to – back weekends (thanks Bent Gate!) the Mastrale walks 95% as well as TLT5, skiis 500% better with some actual progressive flex instead of 4″ pvc tube ridigity.
    Fantastic liner, incredibly durable with 50 days of skiing and scrambling peaks, and you can buy 2 + pairs for the cost of a TLT5
    and since the buckles don’t break off when booting, maybe weighs less since no repair kit (other than the supplied small allen key) needed.

    also: CAMP carbon avy probe at about 5oz lessens nearly 1/2 lb from your pack, makes always taking a probe a no brainer.

  31. Chris September 8th, 2011 10:12 am

    I really like my sollyfit plates from Binding freedom, Allowed me to tour the massive Atomic Atlases in some waist deep, and then swap binders and rail turns at the resort. I bought Radiums, but the jury is still out if they fit well with the current stock liner.

  32. Lou September 8th, 2011 11:17 am

    Chris, good point. Everyone, don’t forget our Sollyfit review:

    http://www.wildsnow.com/4477/sollyfit-swap-plate/

  33. Amy September 8th, 2011 11:27 am

    Another Amy votes for the Scarpa Geas! Great boots. Light, comfortable with great performance!

  34. Alex September 9th, 2011 3:45 am

    DPS skis – got to ski the Wailer 105 last season with a dynafit binder = dream rig. Very light set up for a ski of that width and skis oh so well. Psyched to demo their Wailer 112 RP this season!

    Second vote for th BD Quadrant boot – (With some buckle mods. Grinder meet pia buckle, pia buckle meet grinder.)

    Finally – tying in the soft shell pant discussion, I had to replace my pair last season as a result of folly in Uncle Wigley’s Tree Farm. Much to my enthusiasm, Mountain Hardware was still making the Conduit Pant – with a number of the upgrades I had previously longed for: inner cuff and beefed up edge protection.

  35. Mac September 9th, 2011 6:15 am

    Easily my Cactus Climbing Equipment SPG gloves.

    A really durable and well made leather outer with a warm and easily dried fleece liner. Did yeoman service working ski patrol, back country ski trips, ice climbing and an alpine climbing season at Mt Cook and still as good as the day I bought them.

    http://www.cactusclimbing.co.nz/index.php/virtuemart-mainmenu-162?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=35&category_id=77

    And they’re made in a local here in Christchurch NZ, with first world labour standards!

    Mac

  36. Lou September 9th, 2011 6:45 am

    Mac, those do look like the duck’s nuts.

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