Winter 2014 Outdoor Retailer — Crazy Stuff

Post by blogger | January 24, 2014      

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 ski 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.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


53 Responses to “Winter 2014 Outdoor Retailer — Crazy Stuff”

  1. David Aldous January 24th, 2014 10:02 am

    Not sure about the hood on that 3m jacket. I see the window not being solid leaving you with a distorted view of the world. I don’t want that zipper in my field if view and rubbing on my nose. Last of all there are going to be significant moisture from breath issues as well as normal perspiration. Maybe they have ideas to take care of those issues.

  2. Jason January 24th, 2014 10:02 am

    White skis, sweeeet!

  3. coastranger January 24th, 2014 10:15 am

    white top sheets might look cool but they sure suck if you loose one in deep pow.

  4. Andy January 24th, 2014 10:59 am

    I can see more snow on the black parts on my skis than on the white. White topsheets ftw!

  5. Lou Dawson January 24th, 2014 11:05 am

    White tops are IT. Nearly every lost ski I ever heard of was NOT white. Use straps or brakes .

  6. Lisa January 24th, 2014 11:06 am

    Toddler suit needs to be bright pink with feathers and sequins for Andrew McLean’s rad girls.

  7. aviator January 24th, 2014 11:37 am

    +1 for white skis.
    it sure took them a while to get it 😛

  8. Andy January 24th, 2014 11:56 am

    Mmm… LS Vapor Nano + PG Morpho400 and bindings… 1200g (ski) + 500g (boot+liner) + 75g(binding) = 3.9lbs per foot. Switch for race skis and you can drop another lb off that. Damn. Of course that setup costs about as much as my used jeep…

  9. Joe January 24th, 2014 11:56 am

    Weights of these new sticks from voile and g3?

  10. Lou Dawson January 24th, 2014 12:00 pm

    Used Jeeps are cool. So are one kilo skis. I try to keep both handy.

  11. Gentle Sasquatch January 24th, 2014 12:22 pm

    BD probably needed to cleanse their palate from all the cubistic extravaganza of their past models. I like the sparse graphics of the white skis.

  12. RonS January 24th, 2014 12:35 pm

    Hi Louie, Great intel. Any new touring skis or modifications to existing skis from the folks at Volkl? Thanks.

  13. francesco January 24th, 2014 2:49 pm

    Nice review! Have you some news about Dynastar ski?

  14. Clyde January 24th, 2014 3:22 pm

    Of course yellow and other light colored top sheets are just as effective at reducing snow build up and not nearly as ugly for photos. White = much ado about nothing.

  15. Skyler Holman January 24th, 2014 5:41 pm

    You could also spray some NeverWet or other “nanotech” spray on your skis (or skins for that matter) and still be able to keep your colorful “un-whitened” skis. Haven’t tried it yet but I thought of that when I noticed my DPS skis were getting more snow stuck on the top sheet than other skis.

  16. JonnyB January 24th, 2014 6:11 pm

    Do you recall the specs on the Voile V6 skis? How wide underfoot? Thanks!

  17. Gentle Sasquatch January 24th, 2014 8:23 pm

    But the DPS are yellow. 🙂

  18. RonS January 24th, 2014 8:55 pm

    Sorry Louie. it appears that we are all giving you a shopping list. Here is a link to some information on voile v6, volkl, la sportiva, and others.

  19. Lou Dawson January 24th, 2014 11:28 pm

    I’d agree that skis such as light yellow are good at reflecting sun heat, but they often are not light enough in color to do so at the max. Ditto for other light colors. With a white ski you know it’s going to work in terms of being the least likely to ice on top, that’s why white is so nice. Beyond that, I’m sure if someone actually tested different types of graphics, colors and materials they could come up with a super anti-icing ski color etc., but so far it’s usually just PR marketing spreech when you hear about a ski that somehow resists icing on top, in my experience anyway.

  20. Mik January 25th, 2014 7:36 am

    Lou, Check out the Never Summer snowboards at the show. Their “Carbonium” topsheets actually do a very good job of shedding snow.

    I agree, very few actually shed snow like a plain white topsheet. But good luck finding your skis when they pop off on a pow day! They still need a few strips of color to set them apart from the snow. But with the dust layer we’ve been getting, who knows, maybe they’ll actually stand out more someday!

  21. Louie Dawson January 25th, 2014 9:29 am

    In my opinion the ultimate graphics would be a white topsheet, with bright orange under the binding, and bright orange bases. Of course black bases are faster than colored ones, but I don’t think the difference is noticeable enough to be noticed by the average skier.

    I’ve (finally) got the weights and specs for some of the skis. Wildsnow we have healthy skepticism of ski weights until we get an actual production pair to weigh, sometimes the difference can be significant. However, the last few years most companies have become pretty accurate with their catalog weights.

    The Voile V6 is 133-100-117. The weights aren’t final production weights yet, but they are said to be about 7.5 lbs (3401 g) for the 183, however the final weight might be even lighter.

    For G3:

    Empire Carbon 127 (fat, fully rockered, with 2 sheets of Titanal): 153-127-138, 7.8 lbs (3538 g) for the 173

    Empire Carbon 115:145-115-126, 7.25 lbs (3.28 kg) for the 175

    Synapse Carbon 109: 137-109-125, 6.08 lbs (2.76 kg) for the 170

    Synapse Carbon 101: 130-101-118 5.7 lbs (2.6 kg) for the 165

    Synapse Carbon 92: 124-92-108 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg) for the 165

  22. aviator January 25th, 2014 9:52 am

    where the 1kg skis at?

  23. GeorgeT January 25th, 2014 5:42 pm

    I wonder if any of the companies making skis in the USA are offering custom top sheets? For example, will Voile sell a V8 with white top sheet for a reasonable price? I would think this would be a nice niche and profit pump for any manufacturer with flexibility. What say you Louie?

  24. GeorgeT January 25th, 2014 5:44 pm

    Louie: Do you know if any of the companies making skis in the USA are offering custom top sheets? For example, will Voile sell a V8 with white top sheet for a reasonable price? I would think this would be a nice niche and profit pump for any manufacturer with flexibility. What say you Louie?

  25. Mike January 25th, 2014 6:18 pm

    Someday, the skis will be white, but have sensors that detect a fall. They will they flash bright colors until found. K2 was so close to this with their old blinking light technology but it will rise again, just like their clicker bindings.

  26. Bar Barrique January 25th, 2014 9:18 pm

    Ice forming on the top sheet of your skis is just one of the disadvantages of dark colours. The heat generated by dark colours causes icing on the bottom, and, edges of the ski while skinning up. Plus it can cause or make worse snow sticking to the bottom of your skins.
    I don’t understand why any company that was trying to make a “state of the art” light weight ski would ignore the advantages of a light coloured reflective top sheet.

  27. Dave Cramer January 25th, 2014 10:04 pm

    GeorgeT: Praxis can do an all-white top sheet (along with dozens of other options).

  28. Sandy January 26th, 2014 2:00 am

    I always enjoy these trade show insider peaks. It’s wondrous to see what’s coming up the pike. Thsnks Louie.!

  29. Dan Powers January 26th, 2014 8:39 am

    Bumping Aviator’s question, where’s the 1kg skis? Seems like light boots are ahead of the ski market.

  30. Louie III January 26th, 2014 8:42 am

    We’ll be doing another post in a few days with more skis, including some super light ones.

  31. Jim Milstein January 26th, 2014 3:57 pm

    Earlier, on a Dynafit Manaslu thread I documented an experiment painting a pair of AltaiSki Hoks a shiny metallic color. Putting a dry ski in the sun and comparing the shiny metallic painted part to the part with dark graphics showed much less measured solar gain for the shiny metallic paint, but in the real world, skiing, the Hoks iced up on top as if nothing had changed. I also tried treating one ski with a water repellant. No difference. I didn’t try white paint, but if reflectivity is the key thing, it shouldn’t matter.

  32. GeorgeT January 26th, 2014 4:59 pm

    White is Right…my 2012 Dynafit Race Performance skis are primarily white with some green and black. The white is virtually snow free while the black letters are consistently caked with ice and snow. The Dynafit Dy.N.A. is also primarily white and could be improved with less black and red. Bar’s point is amplified with race skis. I believe the only way to make this point tangible would be to weigh several skis from white to black dry and then again after real world icing up and snow sticking. The black skis plus ice would likely weigh 10-20% more than comparable white skis with less ice.

  33. Jim Milstein January 26th, 2014 5:03 pm

    Maybe white is indeed right, but it is not clear that the reason is less solar gain. What happened to that NSF grant that Lou applied for? Lost in the Sequester, I guess.

  34. Jim Milstein January 26th, 2014 5:16 pm

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been experimenting with Dupont Teflon Non-Stick Dry-Film Lubricant, beloved of Paul Ramer, of blessed memory. If it makes a difference in snow sticking to the top sheets, it’s not enough for me to notice. It keeps the bindings nicely lubed, tho’.

    Back in the fifties my sister had a pair of snow-white Hart skis. She never complained of snow sticking, but nobody did then. At that same time, the soldiers training at what is now called Ski Cooper near Leadville had white skis. Same problem: no one seemed to care about snow sticking to the tops.

    If my sister didn’t care, why should we?

  35. Skyler Holman January 26th, 2014 5:32 pm

    Newer DPS skis have a top sheet that seems to cake more snow on them.
    I think someone said DPS skis are yellow, that’s only one model. Mine are orange.

  36. Colin Lantz January 26th, 2014 5:50 pm

    Hi Louie, Vapor Nano is not the same shape as the Hi5. It is 103 underfoot and a completely new shape, 100% made in USA and almost entirely made from materials produced in the USA except for the Austrian steel edges and Ptex bases.

  37. Ben2 January 27th, 2014 3:07 am

    It really matters how absorptive the paint is in the near infrared because much of the sun’s energy is in the near-IR. Surfaces that are white in the visible are usually light in the near-IR, and visible black is usually dark in the near-IR, but this isn’t always perfectly true. The people with the part-white, part-dark skis who see a difference in icing are doing the most easily interpreted experiment, since all other variables are identical. Topsheet texture may matter a little.

    Metallic paint may behave a little differently than expected since metals have low emissivity in the far-IR (so don’t radiate heat away very well) but also high thermal conductivity, unlike ski top sheets.

  38. Powbanger January 27th, 2014 8:27 am

    Another added thought. The white materials in most skis and boots are loaded with uv inhibitors to reduce the discoloring which happens with exposure to the sun.. No one likes their nice white Kastles to turn yellow after 20 days of skiing.

  39. Jim Milstein January 27th, 2014 8:55 am

    Thanks to Ben2 for some useful information. We need to devise experiment(s) to settle the issue of what causes snow buildup and what eliminates it.

    In the meantime, my workaround, when either putting on or off skins, is to quickly scrape the skis. Ski hygiene pretty much solves the problem, though it would be nice not to have to use skins or scrape skis at all.

  40. Ru January 28th, 2014 5:37 am

    Titanium Goat do lightweight, collapsible wood stoves in (surprise) titanium, in the US. Might not be quite as user-friendly as that Japanese one, but bit easier to get hold of…

  41. Peter W January 28th, 2014 7:22 am

    Since we’re probably going to be talking about “carbon nano tubes” a bunch more in skiing circles soon, this might be a good time for a quick primer on what they actually are.
    When “nanotubes” are mentioned most people picture something like this: and this “tube” is somehow laid in their ski (or bike or tennis racket) to make it magically better.
    In reality, nanotubes look like dust to the human eye. Read precautions about handling, or the MSDS, and you’ll see the biggest fear is breathing the stuff in. It’s like ashes, or asbestos…..not exactly the magic “tubes” that many people imagine when they hear the name.
    The method to use the stuff is to mix the “dust” into the resin that is then spread on the composite fabric (carbon fiber, fiber glass, kevlar, etc). Here’s an application paper from 2005:

    Most composite structures have some type of similar additive in the resin to improve toughness, flow, etc. Graphite powder, aluminum powder, and/or glass beads are often mixed into the resin for different properties. Your skis probably already have something like the carbon nanotubes mixed in the resin, carbon nanotubes are just a higher quality additive…so don’t get too wrapped up in the hype of the fancy name. please.

    When you hear “carbon nanotube”, don’t think “Star Trek fanciness”. Think: fine grey dust that’s mixed into the goop to make the resin tougher, which will enable less resin to be used, making the ski a little lighter. Cool, yes, but not quite as sexy as the fancy name may imply.

  42. cascadeclimber January 28th, 2014 12:15 pm

    Nice to see this white top sheets. I emailed Movement last fall to tell them I loved everything about my Logic X skis, except the dark cap sheet because of the snow stick issue. They pooh-poohed me. Glad to see some companies creating a product for those of us who value efficiency/function over style.

  43. Will January 28th, 2014 2:41 pm

    Dave mentioned it earlier but I want to throw it out there again. Folks with special topsheet wishes should definitely check out Praxis Skis. They will let you customize your skis with any topsheet in their library or even submit your own design. They’ve got great customer service and they’re made in the USA.

  44. Lou Dawson January 28th, 2014 11:04 pm

    Peter, thanks for the details! Super useful!

  45. Colin Lantz January 29th, 2014 10:13 am

    @Peter W – Thanks for the primer. Interesting with some good info, however, your explanation of the “method to use the stuff” and the way we at La Sportiva are manufacturing our skis with carbon nanotube materials have absolutely nothing in common. You have one thing right – there are health issues associated with the use of these materials in manufacturing, particularly when used in early supply chain stage production in their undispersed state. I can assure all readers that our process (which will remain a trade secret) uses US produced laminates and core materials that have no serious health risks associated with their use in our ski production process. Furthermore, our US suppliers of the US produced materials we use follow the world’s most stringent regulations and protocols for health and safety issues. We are reasonably assured by them that they have addressed any health and safety concerns associated with the manufacture of these products. Lastly, and IMHO, anything that gets us closer to the perfect 1 kilo powder touring ski IS magic and IS Star Trek fancy! For anyone interested in the science behind these materials I’d suggest this wiki article as a great starting point >>>

  46. Peter W January 29th, 2014 10:33 am

    So, you’re telling us that in NO WAY are the CNTs being mixed into the composite resin,such as using this product:
    That’s what some World Cup XC skis already use in order to get the benefits of Carbon Nano Tubes:

    But, you’re sure that LaSportiva using them in some new way unheard of so far in the sports world? If so, awesome, that’s very exciting!

    Also, I meant to imply nothing dire about health issues. I’ve worked with the stuff before. Just wear a respirator and eye protection, not a huge deal.

  47. Colin Lantz January 29th, 2014 2:53 pm

    Hi Peter W – Read my previous post. I stand behind every word. As for our process, we spent a lot of time and effort perfecting it so we’re not going to broadcast here to our competitors how we do it. My main reason for responding to your post was to address the health issue you brought up. I think this is an important topic and I wanted to reassure wildsnow readers that we are on top of it.

  48. dimitri January 29th, 2014 4:29 pm

    Colin: are you still not sharing the movement factory? or have times changed now? was this technology developed alongside Movement skis?

    regarding CNT: I assume La Sportiva will be integrating/aligning it with prepreg ply with some ‘special’ yet unknown formula 😉 For anyone really interesting in a more indepth paper there is a few great MIT papers knocking around on thee interwebs on the subject. not hard to find 🙂 Good to see this tech finally filtering down into the ski industry!

  49. dimitri January 29th, 2014 4:52 pm

    p.s. sorry for the poor grammar; its late here..

  50. Peter W January 29th, 2014 4:58 pm

    dimitri, the MIT papers will be useless here, because those methods “have absolutely nothing in common” with what La Sportiva is doing. La Sportiva is definitely not using a product similar to Kenterra from Zyvex, a company that produces nanotube-enhanced prepreg carbon fiber for many other major sporting goods brands like Easton and sponsors academic research in composites manufacturing.

  51. Lou Dawson January 30th, 2014 12:30 am

    As this is a consumer website, not B-to-B, I’d say the end result is more important than the process. Indeed, the first guys to come up with an actual 1 kilo fat powder stick will be doing magic, so anything getting us closer to that is indeed special sauce. Kudos to Sportiva for getting after it. As for safety issues with materials, dust control has always been something important for workshops. Both home and ski shop workshops consistently have poor dust control. I’d advise anyone who does much ski work to at least keep dust masks handy, and pay some kind of attention to ventilation and cleanliness. I constantly struggle with this myself, as our workshop is used for a variety of things that create immense amounts of dust and dirt. One key is to always use the high grade filter in the vacuum. Another good idea is to just move dust producing activities outside whenever possible. Lou

  52. dimitri January 30th, 2014 3:18 pm

    ahh, got it Peter 😉

    Regardless, i find the material discussions intriguing and not simple ‘B-B’ theoretic non issues the wouldn’t concern end users. Soon it will be part of the published specs along with radius and measurements. Anyone who has shopped for a fly rod in the past few years knows this. No one in the higher end market buys a rod without super bendy 3M nano resins!

    Great posts guys, keep the new stuff coming.

  53. Brian February 6th, 2014 11:04 pm

    I’d like to see Schoellers Cold Black technology used in ski top sheets.

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