Outdoor Research Skyward 2 Pant — The Crossover

By Lou Dawson | June 18, 2019  
Skyward II ski pants.

Skyward II ski pants.

Shop Skyward

This spring, we embarked on a mission from the Universe: To identify and use a pant that might cross nicely between resort skiing and backcountry. Finding the perfect pant is of course impossible, as the only thing in the universe that’s perfect is, well, the Universe. But we tried. One of the best I found is the OR Skyward 2 — it checks most of my wants.

Before we start: Yep, we covered Skyward in 2017. That was version one.

Ver2 regards the same design philosophy: “a functional ‘guide’ type pant with plenty of pockets, super breathable, featured, but not so laden with gadgets they belong on an Apollo space mission — as spacesuit pants.”

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7 Deadly Sins of Tech Binding Mounting

By Lou Dawson | June 17, 2019  

Oh boy, mistakes were made? Hopefully you don’t hear that at the ski shop when you’re picking up your shiny new planks. More, let’s hope you are not shouting something stronger when you discover your binding mount is messed up and you’re standing on the summit of Denali — ready to launch — now you get to walk. Most shops (for example our publishing partner and sponsor of this post, Cripple Creek Backcountry) do a pretty good job of quality control. But human error happens. A few of the more common errors below. Some easy to check for, some presented as a warning as to why you should indeed trust your skis only to a top shop.

Boot off center at the heel, classic tech binding (exaggerated). Click images to enlarge.

Boot off center at the heel, classic tech binding (exaggerated). Click images to enlarge.

1. Boot heel off center

Why is this deadly: Too much misalignment preloads the binding heel lateral release, might cause an imbalance in how much retention the binding provides, thus possibly causing accidental release. Less dire, can also make it difficult to step-clip into the binding heel.
How to evaluate: Easy to check when you pick up your skis from the shop. Place boot in binding, in touring mode. Drop boot heel down so it rests on the heel pins (or other, in the case of hybrid binding). Check centering of the heel. It’ll usually be quite close, usually appearing near perfect. That’s best. But being off by a small amount is ok; a millimeter or so.
How to fix on the bench: Assuming the ski touring binding screw holes are not entirely messed up, remove front unit screws, reglue, reinsert screws but leave loose, lock boot in binding, push heel of boot to side until aligned, gradually tighten screws while continuing to apply “English” to the boot.
How to fix in the middle of the Messner Couloir: Not gonna happen.

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Still a Good Hat — Carhartt Boonie

By Lou Dawson | June 13, 2019  

Summertime. Spring skiing. Portillo lounging. Father’s day gifting. Whatever. Looking for a hat that’ll protect your ears from sun damage and subsequent amputation?

Consider the Carhartt Angler Boonie (a re-name and slight redesign of the former Mandan hat we’ve liked over the years). Wicking headband, check. Full sun block, check. Wire brim that resists flopping, check. Chin cord, check.

What’s not to love? Due to the malleable wire rim I’m afraid to wad this hat up in my pack like my previous boonies. It needs to be stowed with a modicum of care — extra effort but worth it. The MSRP is a bit stiff. A secret little velcro pocket is built into the crown, kinda trivial and adds bulk, easy to scissor out so it only forms a double layer 100% UV block instead of heat retaining triple layer.

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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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