A Few Ski Touring Shopping Tidbits

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | October 27, 2014      

Doing any shopping for ski gear? I’m getting hammered by retailers and manufacturers trying to get info out, some attempting to pull in business with deals and sales. Thought I’d serve up some tips.

Big one for some of you is a sale Dynafit has approved for their retailers. Get 20% off on skis and boots (starts November 1st but you can reserve). We linked to our partner Cripple Creek, a few blocks away from our publishing campus. We recommend them for this sort of thing due to the necessity of technical customer service. But of course shop any retailer of your choice.

On the avalanche beacon front, I just heard BCA has their Tracker 3 in retail. We like that little unit, check it out.

Gift searching for any “one lap” skiers in your life? For example, a fitness uphiller or a casual tourer who tends to re-skin at home? “Glueless” skins appear to be coming into their own now, with the bugs worked out. They’re still difficult to deal with in cold snowy conditions, making multiple laps a bit iffy sometimes. But they’re the perfect thing to eliminate the usual climbing skin hassles that seem like some sort of dark-ages technology. Like, for example, the fact that one visit to your shedding dog’s fur can ruin them. Hair is no problem for glueless skins. You can actually throw them in your backpack wrapped in a cardigan instead of a skin bag and they’d come out fine.

One of the glueless skin brands we’ve been testing is High Trails. But Gecko originated the concept and had many challenges; word is they’re rising from the ashes with something nice as well. For me, the most interesting of these skins is the Kohla, which appears to be more robust than the other ones, but we need more field testing (Volkl is rebranding the Kohla skins for their BMT skis; I’ve got a pair that’ll go into play real soon).

It is worth shouting out the etailers where you can get deals. Sierra Trading post is always a good bet. I just looked at their website. They’ve got a mountain of discounted name-brand ski touring boots, and a ski binding for $15.00!? Link below takes you to Sierra; use the discount code.

Don’t forget Backcountry.com. Yeah, I know they’re the Amazon of the outdoor world and thus some of you who Occupy Wall Street might want to Occupy SLC, but still, the online megastore does a good job. Both these companies help quite a bit with keeping WildSnow.com going by virtue of affiliate sales commissions — if you click through here on WildSnow. Thanks so much for doing so.

Remember that the Fritschi Vipec binding has several nice improvements, especially the adjustable toe pin having a lock to prevent accidental loosening. Vipec is interesting because the toe releases to the side in a way similar to alpine bindings. Making a god out of alpine bindings isn’t our business, but they do seem to function somewhat adequately. On the other hand, one has to wonder of the side release at the heel of most tech bindings might also have some advantages in terms of safety. I’m not holding my breath for the answers to all this, but interesting to ponder and debate.

Goal prime in the world of early adopter shopping is of course the Marker Kingpin ski touring binding. Show up at the trailhead with these and the girls or guys will be standing in line to join you for apre. They’re only selling a few Kingpins this winter. To get yours you need to work with a retailer. One guy I spoke with said he got help from a Marker dealer in Texas who ordered all of one pair.

Alpride inflated fast and tight.

Alpride airbag rucksack could be one of the lightest and most user friendly. Unsure about availability in North America.

Am I wrong about Kingpin being the ultimate early adoption score? Black Diamond Jetforce airbag rucksack might win that category. They’re only selling a few as well and they’ll go fast (only available through specialty retailers starting sometime in November or December; again, get on the list). Where does that leave you as an airbag shopper? Let me prop BCA. Their packs are reasonable weight, reasonable price, and even reasonable colors. And lest I be accused of advertiser bias, we also like the ABS airbag packs due to their zip-on configuration system. Also, don’t forget the cool Euro system we saw last winter at St. Anton, the Scott Alpride, word is it’ll be in North American retail soon.

Comments always appreciated, especially regarding airbag backpacks (and shopping suggestions)!


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20 Responses to “A Few Ski Touring Shopping Tidbits”

  1. Tuck October 27th, 2014 8:00 am

    I was told by my local dealer (one of the bigger Marker dealers in the North East) yesterday that the Kingpins are sold out. He never got an allocation, because they were ordered out by folks with a bigger backcountry practice.

    Not that I was really thinking about ordering a pair, as my Dynafits work fine, but I was curious to see them.

    BTW, I’d really appreciate a post detailing the safety and functional differences between the Alpine DIN standard, the touring DIN standard, and the non-DIN bindings. I think that would help a lot of us make a more educated decision when deciding between options like the DIN and non-DIN tech bindings.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 October 27th, 2014 8:12 am

    Tuck, I’m working on it all. Difficult. Lou

  3. Chris October 27th, 2014 10:39 am

    Lou – Hoping the BD Jetforce packs aren’t sold out yet. Is that info pretty solid?

  4. Lou Dawson 2 October 27th, 2014 1:53 pm

    Made a mistake about the Dynafit sale. It’s 20% off on Dynafit skis and boots, doesn’t have to be a package and it’s only skis and boots. Lou

  5. Lou Dawson 2 October 27th, 2014 1:57 pm

    Re BD Jetforce, here is the word from the inside:

    BD manufactured approximately 1200 JetForce packs for the NA market this season (one wonders how many for Europe?). They will be available via their partners at specialty retail. BD will not be selling any via their website etc. What ends up in retail will be available to consumer on a first come basis. If you want one, you should find a retailer who plans on getting the pack, then reserve it.

  6. Matt October 27th, 2014 2:00 pm

    I tried to order a pair of Kingpins from my usual shop and there rep said not going to happen for this year. Tried a few more shops, they were nice enough to taken my name and number incase they do get some in, but most were in agreement that its going to be hard to get them. A buddy who gets a free pair of Volkl skis and Marker bindings ever year was told by his Marker rep that he couldn’t get them for anyone this year.

    Ive tried the East Coast, West Coast and a few between to come up with a pari of Kingpins and the story is the same, Europe is getting first dibs, and whats left over is coming to the states.

  7. Werner Koch October 27th, 2014 2:10 pm

    Hi Lou, regarding new glue-less skins, try to get a test pair of the contour hybrid technology, availbe soon through C.A.M.P. USA in North America.
    All details about the latest in adhesive technology at http://www.contourskins.com
    New split solution for fat skis currently in final stages of development, available during this winter, presented at http://www.alpinmesse.info and ISPOMUNICH.

  8. Alin October 27th, 2014 3:11 pm
  9. Harry October 27th, 2014 3:58 pm

    I just translated some of the euro tests featuring the Kohla skins, pretty rave reviews.

    Aside from ordering a Volkl BMT skin, using another companies attachment hardware, and trimming it to my skis, do you know of any North American distribution for their product?

    It this different from the suction cup skins that Kastle was talking about last year? I never actually saw one.

  10. Harry October 28th, 2014 8:53 am

    Just found an answer to my own question, I ordered the Volkl Universal Vacuum Skin just to try them out.

  11. Landon T October 29th, 2014 8:20 am

    Hi Lou,

    Any idea if that Dynafit sale is happening in Canada as well as the US? Cho Oyu’s for 20% off? I’ll take it!



  12. mark October 29th, 2014 9:17 pm

    shopping tip for the powder pilgrims: buy your bible for the promised land!! it should ship round christmas…


  13. Codey October 30th, 2014 8:16 pm

    For those in Canada interested in a Jetforce, I noticed that MEC has three models listed on the site and available for pre-order. List price is $1230-1280 depending on model.

  14. Werner Koch October 31st, 2014 2:34 am

    regarding new skin technology, I forgot to mention last week that we have new product videos online that Show how to trim and wash our contour hybrid skins.

    Scroll down to see the washing/cleaning clip of contour hybrid skins:

    English versions should be online by the end of next week,
    Werner http://www.kochalpin.at

  15. Lou Dawson 2 October 31st, 2014 5:33 am

    Good tip Harry, thanks!

  16. Dave Farrell November 2nd, 2014 4:35 pm

    Hi Lou. Thanks for all the great reviews. I’m looking for some new AT boots, tech compatible. I’m looking for as stiff and as light as possible, four buckles. I’ve got a wider foot (C). I’m thinking the Dynafit Radical, but I not crazy about the weight. Any suggestions?

  17. Lou Dawson 2 November 2nd, 2014 5:53 pm

    Dave, with a wider foot I’d recommend shell fitting some Scarpa Maestrale and see how they fit your feet… Lou

  18. Greg Louie November 2nd, 2014 7:34 pm

    @Dave Farrell: A “C” or even a “D” width in street shoes isn’t really a wider foot these days – almost all stiffer AT boots offer a 101mm to 102mm forefoot last, which should be plenty. It’s the other dimensions, mainly midfoot width and instep height, that cause people to rule out certain boots.

    Why do you think you need 4 buckles? The stiffest sub-1600 gram boots around are currently mostly three buckle models or 3 buckle-plus-power strap designs. I’d try on the Dynafit Vulcan or Mercury, Scarpa Maestrale RS (actually has 4 buckles), and maybe the Tecnica Cochise Pro Light if instep height is an issue. Note: the narrow medial midfoot on the Dynafit boots is easy to fix, the low instep not so much.

  19. Werner Koch November 14th, 2014 2:21 am

    contour climbing skins video:
    … now finally here is the link to all english clips:

    super easy:
    cleaning contour hybrid skins

    contor skins are soon available in the US and Canada through C.A.M.P. USA

  20. Maarten December 20th, 2014 11:56 pm

    Hey Lou, LOL you are talking about my setup. I’m skiing the Vwerks Katana with the Kingpin and I’m using the Jetforce airbag. Just got the bindings two weeks ago and the airbag last week. I’ve already inflated it twice for practice! I’ve been out three times with the skis and bindings and they are th best touring bindings I have ever used. I just sold my DPS 99 Wailers with Plum guide bindings to make this setup. There is no comparing the Kingpin to a regular tech binding; they are far superior. The Katanas are awesome as well.

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