Lou’s 2014 Prognostications — How Did I Do?

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 30, 2014      
Backcountry sking with K2 ski poles.

Will adjustable poles become rare as hen’s teeth?

Hey all WildSnowers, made my New Year’s predictions for 2014 in this blog post

Check out the summary below and leave comments about how well I did. In a few days I’ll fire up my prognostication for 2015.

1. Swap sole ski boots will disappear in 24 months…? (Seems to be happening; Dynafit helped originate the concept, now they don’t sell any boots with the option. Anyone got a sense of the market on this? I’m hearing that the swap soles are just another possible failure point and warranty hassle, and that soles can be made that function well in both alpine and touring environments provided you use the correct bindings.)

2. One-kilo (plus or minus) backcountry skis…? (I said they’d become the norm. Not quite yet, too difficult but will rocket science provide?)

3. New climbing skin technology… (I predicted better plush, but it seems everyone is working on glue options. We’re currently testing skins such as Kohla, High Trails, Gecko, Montana, Contour and so many more. All have plush that’s pretty much cloned, but man do the adhesives vary in performance, not to mention the tip and tail fixes.)

4. Tech 2.0 will provide a wider boot/binding interface at heel of boot. (Lots of tries at this: Marker, Trab, Dynafit Beast etc. but I’d not call one of them Tech 2.0 though Marker might come close because it uses the tech standardized toe while indeed widening the boot heel/binding interface.)

5. Boot breathing technology will eliminate sweaty hot feet during ski touring… (Soon to come, but coming slowly. I’m thinking we’ll see a viable solution from Scott, perhaps others.)

6. Compressed gas filled avalanche airbags will disappear, fans will replace… (I’m perhaps a bit too eager on this one, but things like the ABS recall cause one to consider this could be true.)

7. Commercial innovation in telemark gear will virtually disappear… (I’ll claim a yes on this one. Beg to differ? Leave a comment.)

8. 2-way radio communication will become lighter, easier to manage, common, and built into smartphones… (Again, I’d say this is still coming but I’m too eager.)

9. Smartphones will replace stand-alone GPS for most ski alpinists… (yes?)

10. Skiers in the United States will push for huts located at higher elevations, in prime skiing terrain… (Another yes, but perhaps I should broaden my prediction time frame out to 24 or 36 months?)

11. Fixed length lightweight carbon ski poles will take a much larger market share… (I’m seeing a bit of this, thought skimo racing would help convince, I still say “just watch.” )

12. Uphill skiing at resorts will become huge… (This is happening. Here in Colorado at just one ski mountain they’re counting 800 people a day uphilling, and are organizing defined uphill routes and education programs. That said, many resorts still don’t seem to get it. Some ski patrol I’ve spoken with appear to regard the whole phenomenon as a nuisance; I believe that attitude comes from the top down.)

13. Price of tech bindings will lower, but skis will continue to cost… (G3 ION and Dynafit Radical are hovering around $500, but look for decent sale prices to kick in as this is war and supplies are somewhat robust due to their now being so many brands and models. Skis seem to be running the gamut. Deals are out there but some premium models stay pricy.)

14. Demographic of ski touring in North America will continue to broaden by age and gender… (I gave myself 4 years on this one, and I’m confident it’s happening.)

15. Split snowboard technology will continue fast paced growth… (Obviously happening.)

16. As backcountry skiers’ average vertical-feet-per-day continues to increase, boots will replace antiquated construction and excessive weight with components such as friction-free cuff pivots and downhill/uphill mode changes that truly require only one motion… (The age of beef boots is over, stick a fork in it. I’m hearing we’ll see more of the lighter weight performance boot category as next year’s products are introduced at Winter OR an ISPO. We’ll be at both.)


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


45 Responses to “Lou’s 2014 Prognostications — How Did I Do?”

  1. Pablo December 30th, 2014 8:59 am

    16. Atomic “one kilo boot” Backland will land very son… hope in a few weeks I can test one. It looks great!

    I’ve put the fork in my BD factors 2 yeas ago!

  2. Piotr December 30th, 2014 10:20 am

    On the 7th – not a real telemarker myself, so can’t judge this in fair manner, but take a look at M-Equipment Meidjo. I think there are other variations on the tele-tech hybrid, too, but can’t recall the names at the moment.

  3. powbanger December 30th, 2014 10:35 am

    Replaceable soles will not disappear but the WTR DIN norm will overtake the Alpine DIN norm in the boot market in the next 24 months. Parking lots are moving farther away from the lifts so you will start seeing sidecountry technology in recreational alpine boots.

  4. Brian December 30th, 2014 10:37 am

    17. Marker Kingpin will become the norm and all other tech pin binding manufacturers will follow with alpine style heel piece… (next 15 minutes)

  5. Eric December 30th, 2014 12:18 pm

    Why do airbag packs with batteries and fans weigh so much? That’s a deal breaker for me right now (just bought a pack with a gas cylinder). I’d rather have a smaller battery that can only inflate it once or twice on a charge. Perhaps they need that large battery because batteries tend not to hold a charge well after several years so that 3 years from now, on a cold day, the pack can still inflate the airbag once?

    How often do you have to charge the battery? Once a season? Once a month, a week? Filling up a gas cylinder might be a nuisance, but I know it’s filled for the entire season and I don’t have to worry about it.

    As a consumer, I’m not convinced the battery and electric fan are a superior solution right now for someone who skis almost exclusively within driving distance of home. Anyway, just my $.02…..

  6. Harold December 30th, 2014 1:04 pm

    Fixed length poles have limited application and use. Yes, I use the same length for skiing and general skinning. But I can’t stand that length for pole out a drainage. I prefer skate ski length poles. When I’m booting up a mountain with my skis o. My pack, I need my poles much shorter than ski length. Hence, adjustable poles are the best option. I’ll gladly pack the little extra weight to have this versatility. My arms aren’t weak and frail any way. Haven’t bothered to upgrade to carbon yet. But not saying I wouldn’t as long as they were adjustable.

  7. Lenka K. December 30th, 2014 1:11 pm

    18. Fully-featured 25/30-Litre 2lbs skiing backpacks will AGAIN become the norm.

    The ski manufacturers are shaving off literally grams by using excessively narrow edges, while backpack manufactures add gazillions of zippers, compartments and heavy frame systems to backpacks that hardly ever have to deal with loads over 10lbs, resulting in packs in the 3-4lbs range.

    Lenka K.

  8. Rod December 30th, 2014 1:43 pm

    Replaceable soles: I still like them because I go thru vibram soles once a year, hiking on rocks, etc.

    I ski bd factors mx 130 and for sierra conditions, they rock.

    Backpacks, light is good, but I also wish someone would make a35l pack with a suspension good for 40 lbs, which is what my pack weighs with skis and boots on.
    Again, in the sierras we have big dry approaches in the spring,

  9. Greg December 30th, 2014 1:48 pm

    Another comment on point #7: In addition to the new M-Equipment Meidjo, 22 Designs also announced beta testing on their NTN binding, the Outlaw. I predict that established backcountry firms (Voile and G3) will jump on the Tech toe/telemark heel bandwagon soon.

  10. Werner Koch December 30th, 2014 2:27 pm

    3. climbing skin glue technology: market is changing fast in Europe with new glue technologies getting more and more market share, more or less all European manufacturers offer what’s called “adhesion technology” over here compared to classic hot melt glue. It’s quite surprising that none of the North American brands offer anything similar so far…
    Next season will tell which of the European brands will be successful in the USA and Canada, market seems to be growing fast on your side of the Atlantic. Our contour hybrid technology will be available through CAMP USA and will also include a unique split skin for skis we call fat but seem to be standard in the USA….
    We are exited to learn more about your test results, Lou.
    Happy new year!

  11. Lou Dawson 2 December 30th, 2014 3:11 pm

    Not exactly overwhelming tele techno innovation… but glad to see someone is spending the time and money to make another NTN binding, that’ll give people tons of stuff to talk about. Sort of like us AT skiers chattering about tech bindings. What’s weird is I’ve been ski touring, what, hundreds of days since the NTN stuff came out? And I have yet to see one on the trail. I’m not sure I’ve even seen one at the resort. Where do they use those things, anyway?

  12. Lou Dawson 2 December 30th, 2014 3:13 pm

    Werner, so far so good on the skins, but lighten up a bit on the commercialism in your comments, perhaps fewer links is all that would take. Lou

  13. Werner Koch December 30th, 2014 3:36 pm

    … message understood, I will refrain from posting product information as a manufacturer unless specific technical questions are asked. No problem to stick to email for further general climbing skin market discussions… Hope to go a chance to meet up at ISPO, Werner

  14. Andy December 30th, 2014 4:03 pm

    Swap soles will go away at the same rate that alpine bindings (Lord, Warden, etc.) that take almost all AT soles become more common. The group of people who want swap soles because it allows them to cheaply re-sole boots isn’t large enough to justify the added expense and manufacturing complexity. Look at the million threads on TGR about putting AT boots in alpine bindings and you’ll that there’s big demand.

    New designs and materials are making it so you don’t need weight and bulk to have “beef” in boots. Most people want to use one boot inbounds and out. Boots like the Vulcan or Maestrale RS do that better than anything ever has. I’d expect the big guys (Solly, Atomic, Lange, etc.) to go after the do-it-all segment, even if they start, from a design theory standpoint, with something that’s on the mountaineering end of the spectrum, similar to the way Dynafit released the TLT5, then applied that concept to the stiffer/bigger boots in its line.

  15. Lou Dawson 2 December 30th, 2014 4:22 pm

    Werner, I value your posts, just tone it down a bit so as not to get things sounding too commercialized on the comments, Lord knows I’ve got enough advertising… Seriously, if every manufacturer got on here and went for it, then the whole thing would go kaput. Lou

  16. wyomingowen December 30th, 2014 4:34 pm

    Forums alleviate the commercial liability as opposed to managing a blog. Happy New Year…even more POW in ’15!!!!

  17. Aaron December 30th, 2014 4:38 pm

    15. Split snowboard technology will continue fast paced growth… (Obviously happening.)

    Combined with the lightweight boots and well designed split specific hardboot bindings we will see more and more splitboarders on hardboot rigs. It still will be a small part of the splitboard demographic due to the costs of switching from hard to soft but it wont be such a uncommon sight at the TH.

  18. Doug Hutchinson December 30th, 2014 5:05 pm

    Ha! Begging to differ on number 7 (“Commercial innovation in telemark gear will virtually disappear… I’ll claim a yes on this one”) others have already listed 22D’s Outlaw, M-Equipment Meidjo (who looks awesome), and in addition, Moonlight Mountain Gear has a TTS-style (Pure Tele), and a TTS/AT hybrid (Tele Rando). That is four new bindings this year and 22D announced last year they were developing a TTS to go with their NTN Outlaw. Maybe not overwhelming but I think the judges will have to move this prediction into the no category.

    Regarding 9 – I so much prefer the screen on my smart phone for GPS but still go with my Garmin Oregon 600 GPS because of battery life, waterproofness, cold performance, etc when doing anything other than a fair weather day trip. I think smart phones will much faster completely replace cameras before replacing GPS units, but if you don’t already own a GPS, you probably aint buying one now.

    Can’t wait for the 2015 predictions. Mine – 1) harnesses for beacons will soon be sold as an option as pocket storage becomes the standard. 2) race weight tech bindings will become common for weekend warriors (and that market will continue to explode), 3) Wild Snow’s output will continue to increase and amaze with an average of four new blog posts daily. Keep up the great work!

  19. kyle tyler December 30th, 2014 5:10 pm

    love it all—boots off after another fab day here in the east working patrol—-rocked to see the number of up hill folks you may have in that one inbounds place—-better than than a tread mill—-good year to all

  20. Trent December 30th, 2014 5:14 pm

    Piotr, Greg, thanks for the tip. Is there an improvement on existing telemark bindings for backcountry ascents? How does the M even work? Will it take a non-NTN boot?

    Lou, NTN usage is really low in NH, especially on Washington. The early setup seemed really heavy compared to a G3 Targa. Anecdotal assessment, admittedly.

  21. Lou Dawson 2 December 30th, 2014 5:14 pm

    Wow, 4 new bindings! That’s amazing!

    Doug and all, some of what you’re saying will be in 2015 predictions, thanks for verifying and giving me ideas. Feel free to take credit in the comments once I get that blog post rocking. I tend to be a bit too big-picture, need more ideas about the little things that’ll change. Lou

  22. cgd December 30th, 2014 5:42 pm

    kid specific touring gear (boots and bindings of the tech variety) now would be great! ,

  23. ty December 30th, 2014 6:02 pm

    not sure what the big deal with replaceable soles is….full tilt makes the best boots ever and they have gone that route recently…cant wait till they add some tech fittings and a trivial walk mode…a trend i would like to see is durability over weight savings, but that aint happening from the major players in the touring game. why on earth would you spend 1000 for BD skis that are clearly chincy? id rather spend 1000 for awesome construction (dps) and more life and enjoyment out of a ski. very please with the durability of my 4frnt skis, as they remain poppy year after year….little disappointed in the durability of my dynafit products lately…broken heel post last season, broken top buckle on my mercuries, although they have been gracious enuf to repair for free. i care more about comfort, walkability, warmth and stiff ride than shaving a few ounces, but then again, i care more about the feeling i get when shredding a sick line, no matter what the angle or vertical, than i do about the feeling i get when bragging to someone that i racked up 8k that day….will the ski market listen? or should i just take my thoughts back to some TGR thread?

  24. Jeff December 30th, 2014 6:27 pm

    Doug Hutchison stole the main part of what I wanted to say in mentioning TTS, m-equipment, moonlight, etc.

    Lots of innovation in telemark bindings recently, and designs we haven’t seen before.

    What have we seen in terms of actual innovation in tech, randondee and alpine bindings since the 90s? Alpine bindings are basically unchanged since the 1980s. Tech has been around since the 1990s. Sure bindings have improved since then but the principle is essentially the same. Randondee has improved but basic design is decades old.

    The only real innovation in the last few years for the fixed heel has been the hybrids – CAST and marker kingpin. Great, combine 1980/ tech with 1990s tech – real innovative!

    Fixed heelers continue to tweak and refine based decades old technology, and get the big bucks for doing so, but apparently you need a granola free heeler to actually innovate and invent a new binding system.

  25. Lou Dawson 2 December 30th, 2014 7:08 pm


  26. Philthy December 30th, 2014 7:39 pm

    Ty is right, no wait i turn five O next week, i will stick to the dynafits and carbon in hopes to someday keep up with my teenagers on hell bents and dukes 🙂
    i do agree with the warmth comfort and walkability though, i would trade weight for that

  27. See December 30th, 2014 8:48 pm

    As long as we’re prognosticating– rapid growth/commercialization, technological developments, limited resources, selfie culture and so on, will present some serious challenges.

    Happy New Year Everybody

  28. D. December 30th, 2014 11:56 pm

    1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9 – sorry, Lou, try in a few seasons from now 🙂

    Happy New Year!

  29. ptor December 31st, 2014 12:42 am

    Next year they should try new climbing skin technology that actually works! Haven’t seen a ‘clueless’ skin work good yet.

  30. Andy December 31st, 2014 9:46 am

    There will be a huge boom in people skiing tech-style bindings inbounds in North America thanks to the Kingpin, Beast and others sure to come, plus more ski boot makers adding tech hardwear to more models. Old school fools like us will roll their eyes.

  31. Peter December 31st, 2014 11:20 am

    Lou, I think your timeline for #10 is off by a decimal place 😉 But, your reasoning and prediction is spot on. I just hope that more effort starts to go that kind of development instead of more Wasatch Connect style BS.

    For #4, I think we have several years of 1.x.xxx + Tech bindings to “suffer” through before we get a true Tech 2.0 It’s going to take a lot of cooperation in the industry, and a lot of trial, error, and Beta testers to make a new interface happen. I think we may hail several new designs as the 2.0….but we’ll only know we’ve hit it in retrospect by several years.

  32. VT skier December 31st, 2014 4:38 pm

    Lou wrote
    “Commercial innovation in telemark gear will virtually disappear… (I’ll claim a yes on this one. Beg to differ? Leave a comment.)”

    Others have responded to this mentioning the 22 Designs Outlaw, and the new M-Equipment Meijdo binding. The Meijdo binding for a NTN tele boot, weighs 400 gms /binding, so certainly some innovation there. This binding is in production and available from T-P in France.
    link here with some video clips

    While there is certainly innovation in new tele bindings, nothing on the horizon for new , lighter boots, and less telemark equipment is visible in retail stores. IMHO.

  33. ty December 31st, 2014 5:01 pm

    i think my point is missed, dearly….i dont advocate this or that gear, but i would like the lightweight touring market to focus on function and durability, not making it feather weight….im not doing link ups and 15k vertical, so please just give me a binding and boot that wont break on top of a mountain after 40 days…both of those instances happened to me last year…today i toured with my 11lb renegades and 5 pound spitfires. not bad, the spitfires did pretty good with the burly ski

  34. Lou Dawson 2 December 31st, 2014 5:07 pm

    VT, “innovation” is perhaps in the eye of the beholder… and the word “virtually” is in there… The question is, how many new telemark bindings were released to retail in 2014? I got the impression it was next to none, anyone care to list them? I’m talking about in-production retail bindings that can be bought at a retailer, new for winter 2013/2014. I’m sure there are a few and perhaps I’m wrong about “virtually,” a list would be good. Thanks, Lou

  35. Lou Dawson 2 December 31st, 2014 5:08 pm

    Ty, what broke?

    As for focus on durability, all you have to do is shop around. G3 appears to be doing a pretty good job, and Plum with bugs now worked out is pretty burly.


  36. VT skier December 31st, 2014 5:16 pm

    “How many new telemark bindings were released to retail in 2014..anyone care to list them”

    Well here is one, the Meijdo. Available from Telemark- Pyrennes for about the same price (ex-vat) as a Radical ST.. even Craig Dostie has a pair he is testing now 😉


  37. Lou Dawson 2 December 31st, 2014 6:12 pm

    Ok, one is on the list. Anyone else care to add?

  38. Billy Balz January 1st, 2015 7:42 am

    Great year Lou! Regarding resorts and uphill skiing, I believe your instincts are spot on. Here in the east I can only ski uphill before the lifts spin at my little mountain, though many disregard this rule and it is inconsistently enforced. 40 minutes away at Sunday River they only allow skinning during lift served hours. Because our backcountry skiing options don’t conveniently exist in New England, it’s important that the resorts figure out a strategy allowing uphill access all day long. I’m in my late 40s and just this year I’m seeing many more people in their late 20s getting into AT. Lots of kids who are good alpine skiers/racers asking me about the equipment, wanting to learn etc…..I tell them to check out wildsnow.

  39. ty January 1st, 2015 8:29 pm

    top buckle on my murcuries (kind of important), piece of plastic that keeps the heel piece from rotating on my dynafits (equally important). plum bindings look way, way better in my opinion. the next setup i buy will be plums and dps 120s…

  40. Ian Dee January 2nd, 2015 1:57 am

    I’d like to see lighter skins, with more glide and a little more stretch so they flex better with the ski in variable conditions. Maybe this year we might see the end of tail clips and glideless 100% nylon skins.

  41. Lou Dawson 2 January 2nd, 2015 2:01 am

    Ian, you and I are thinking the same. I’ve got something like that in the 2015 predictions. Coming soon, when I can get on a secure connection for backend admin of the website. For some reason my VPN can’t break through the free wifi here at Munich airport. Road warrior, sometimes, sometimes not. Lou

  42. Mark Worley January 4th, 2015 10:02 pm

    Interested in new tele development, but wonder if it can move forward when NTN took many years to get where it is today–and it still is a very limited piece of an apparently shrinking pie.

  43. Mark Worley January 4th, 2015 10:06 pm

    Nylon skins users who don’t understand their lack of glide need only try mohair mix or full mohair to have the veil lifted. It is like the million old Targa binding users out there who haven’t yet toured with a low-friction pivot. When they try the new tech, it is overwhelming.

  44. Mark Worley January 4th, 2015 10:08 pm

    Swap sole boots seem innovative and useful until they fail and you can’t get a replacement. Been there, hated that.

  45. XXX_er January 5th, 2015 11:09 am

    IME the swap sole was good when i wasn’t sure how far I would get into touring and concerned with $ to a lesser degree but they are a compromise in weight/ tourability and I never swapped them > twice a season. Eventualy I got alpine & touring boots that worked much better

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