Strafe Women’s Clothing Overview — High Performance Ski Touring

By Lisa Dawson | December 11, 2017  
Strafe Incubator jacket: ready, set, go.

Strafe Incubator jacket: ready, set, go.

Despite the mayor’s desire to make Aspen a hub for the backcountry industry, high rents, expensive housing, limited labor pool, etc., etc., make it a challenge to do business in the swanky mountain town. Thus, we applaud those who go for it and cross our fingers they’ll make it. The exceptional few survive; one way they beat the odds is by offering superior product.

(This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry, they do sell Strafe, as well as a carefully selected variety of other outerwear for high performance ski touring. For information about our partner posts please see disclosures at the bottom of all website pages).

Case in point: Strafe Outerwear, owned and operated by Aspen hardmen and endurance athletes, Pete and John Gaston. In 2009 they began developing technical clothing for skiing hard and moving efficiently during long days in the mountains. By 2011 they established digs at the base of Aspen Highlands resort. Now entering the 2017/2018 season, their shop showcases a full men and women’s line, good for backcountry skiing and touring mountains far and near.

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Salomon SHIFT Ski Binding is Nix Optimus Prime

By Lou Dawson | December 8, 2017  
SHIFT in downhill mode.

SHIFT in downhill mode. Annotated images based on Salomon PR shots by Ann Bailly, as well as WildSnow studio photos. Click images to enlarge.

We are blown away by the retail-ready version of Salomon’s SHIFT hybrid ski touring/alpine binding. Clever is an understatement. Example of world class mechanical engineering might do it justice. (Note, this will also be sold as Atomic Shift MNC13 Binding).

This contender for snow hero of the Transformer movie franchise will downhill ski with any DIN standard ski boot (those with a “normal” toe and heel shape), tech fittings or NO tech fittings! To enable touring mode, SHIFT hides a set of tech binding toe pins you enable with the flip of a what I have to call the “power switch,” these accept any tech fitting equipped boot.

In other words, this ski touring capable binding doubles as a full-on alpine binding, one that doesn’t require a ski touring boot. And on the chance you do want to tour, use a boot with tech binding toe sockets and get the best of both worlds.

But more. What rocks my world is not only the stealth pins buried in the toe unit, but the entire rig, with screws, comes in at an astoundingly low mass of 865 grams (30.5 ounces). That’s with max release “DIN” value 13, ski brake, and touring capability. Amazing, considering this is an alpine binding that’s said to be entirely suitable for resort skiing as well as harsh “freeride” style use where binding retention and durability are paramount.

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Arcteryx Revises Voltair Airbag Battery Specifications

By Lou Dawson | December 5, 2017  

Arcteryx Voltair 30 backpack deployed.

Arcteryx Voltair 30L avalanche airbag backpack deployed.

This change with the Voltair battery is not a big deal for most skiers, but as a favor to Arc’teryx I’ll bring the details up front and center here, as a blog post.

As proven by my own torture testing, the original Voltair battery will inflate the balloon at incredibly low temperatures, while completely cold soaked. Apparently, while that’s generally the case it’s not something Arcteryx can guarantee without specific numbers, and it’s possible that due to changes in manufacturing the battery does not do as well as before. Previously, they specified the battery to do one inflation at -22°F (-30°C). Perhaps due to recent testing or changes in manufacturing, they are revising the specified minimum operating temperature to -4°F (-20°C).

Fact of the matter is most skiers will not be doing extended tours in below zero fahrenheit conditions, especially tours long enough to cold soak the battery. But if you do tour in such a miserable environment, start with a battery at indoors temperature and stuff your puffy jacket around it on the uphill. By doing that, it’ll be a long time till the battery cold soaks. Along with that, I’d suggest doing a few inflations tests that simulate arctic conditions.

If this above sounds dodgy for those of you sporting airbags in Antarctica, Arcteryx has a generous return program due to this battery issue, see the following and more info on their website.

Interestingly, the information associated with this states:
“Even when the battery is fully charged, and the green LED is flashing the Voltair Airbag should not be used in temperatures below -20°C (-4°F).” Which begs the question, are we supposed to carry a thermometer? Or perhaps they’re building a temperature alarm into the battery? Not to be ironic here, either idea could work but seem a bit much.

In the end, what we probably need with this — and about a million other things in life — is improved battery technology.

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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring 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 ski touring news and information here.

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    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

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