I Heard the Arcteryx Avalanche Airbag…


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 12, 2015      

…and saw a demo of it as well. All I’m allowed to say is that it looks viable and quite nice, and the proto was red. I’m at the ISPO trade show in Munich, Germany. Arcteryx is next to the Black Diamond booth. Both booths this year are more of your closed variety rather than the big open floor plan of last year perhaps because they’re both on the cutting and competing edge of air-fan avalanche airbag development? Quite funny, while at the BD booth you could hear the Arcteryx airbag firing all day long, and same in reverse. Battle of the fans! Feel that breeze!

Your friendly blogger gets the story from Scarpa.  New Freedom  RS is state-of-art though it does have the swap sole I predicted would be gone from the industry by now.

Your friendly blogger gets the story from Scarpa. New Freedom RS is state-of-art though it does have the swap sole I predicted would be gone from the industry by now. Yes, those are weird Italian beanbag chairs. Really.

I was premature in my predictions last year that the Black Diamond airbag would be heavily disruptive to the status quo of gas cylinder airbags. But it’s definitely had an effect, as I see quite a bit more emphasis on making the tank systems more user friendly, lighter, and easier to travel with. But I still say beware to the compressed gas companies. When they get the price and weight of the electric packs down to competitive levels that’s what any logically thinking backcountry skier is going to want. Arcteryx looks to be making that happen, albeit too slowly.

In any case, on to the rest of my ISPO hiking, in words and pictures.

The yellows blacks and reds, and blues, and... make La Sportiva one of the more colorful stops. I love their clothing fit and function, but some of the colors for next year are probably a bit much for me.

The yellows blacks and reds, and blues, and… make La Sportiva one of the more colorful stops. I love their clothing fit and function, but some of the colors for next year are probably a bit much for me.

Most of you have seen this kind of stuff before, but it's always amusing, especially when it is now the FREERIDE EXPERIENCE!

Most of you have seen this kind of stuff before, but it’s always amusing, especially when it is now the FREERIDE EXPERIENCE!

I had a nice meeting with Marker Volkl.  More on that later.  For now note that they run a full-service beer counter and coffee bar, so that's become my main hangout when my feet can't stand any more hiking.

I had a nice meeting with Marker Volkl. More on that later. For now note that they run a full-service beer counter and coffee bar (in background to left), so that’s become my main hangout when my feet can’t stand any more hiking.

Those ever elusive Dynafit Beasts are in their full glory.

Those ever elusive Dynafit Beasts are in their full glory.

Another photo from my morning at the Dynafit Center of Excellence.  Engineer gave me a tutorial about how too much boot rocker interferes with heel-flat-on-ski and is why most bindings have a bit of ramp angle even in flat mode.

Another photo from my morning at the Dynafit Center of Excellence. Engineer gave me a tutorial about how too much boot rocker interferes with heel-flat-on-ski and is why most bindings have a bit of ramp angle even in flat mode. Those are their Beast TUV certificates hanging on the whiteboard: expensive pieces of paper.

Always fun to stop by Pieps and look at their history display.  This is the first one.  They date it as 1973; our opinion is the first effective retail beacon was the Skadi, which began sales in 1971.

Always fun to stop by Pieps and look at their history display. This is the first one. They date it as 1973; our opinion is the first effective retail beacon was the Skadi began sales in 1971. But there is some debate about that.

Stopped by BCA, and word is the BCA Link radio has become a hit, and they'll now have a European version with the EU public chat frequencies. I was told that in Japan it might be illegal to use a 2-way radio. Anyone know about that? BCA airbags have an overall re-design in look, but plumbing remains the same.

Stopped by BCA, and word is the BCA Link radio has become a hit, and they’ll now have a European version with the EU public chat frequencies. I was told that in Japan it might be illegal to use a 2-way radio. Anyone know about that? BCA airbags have an overall re-design in look (Euro style!), but plumbing remains the same.

Best ski vise I've ever seen. Eggbar.

Best ski vise I’ve ever seen. Eggbar.

Hagan now has a boot line made by Roxa in Italy.  It's a basic boot that I'm assuming will be competitively priced. Uses Dynafit certified tech inserts; overall the real deal and worth looking at.

Hagan now has a boot line made by Roxa in Italy. It’s a basic boot that I’m assuming will be competitively priced. Uses Dynafit certified tech inserts (note the red clip-seal on the toe); overall the real deal and worth looking at.

Fischer's new graphics.

Fischer new graphics.

The famous or infamous Dynafit re-branded bindings are alive and well.

The famous or infamous Dynafit re-branded bindings are alive and well.

ABS and North Face introduce a strap-on avalanche airbag system.

ABS and North Face introduce a strap-on avalanche airbag system. Good idea but looked heavy and bulky.

I found some boot fitting stuff, but nothing exciting.

I found some boot fitting stuff, but nothing exciting.

Black Diamond is making good on their promise of a 'simpler, touring oriented boot wall.'

Black Diamond is making good on their promise of a ‘simpler, touring oriented ski wall.’ How and why they ever thought they could compete with Atomic and Fischer as an alpine ski company is a mystery that will probably never have an answer, at least until Peter Metcalf writes a memoir. Now, with 15 nice ski models including the popular (and WildSnow Ultimate Quiver pick) Carbon Convert, they’re a ski touring and ski mountaineering ski company again. Hurray! The skis are made by Blizzard and they’re closing their China facility. (Though BD had ski boots on display, rumor is still that they’ll not be making ski boots, but I’m thinking they might continue with a simplified ski boot line as well since it’s important for a company to have a complete line of product in any one category.) Interestingly, they had a quite nice fixed-length carbon ski pole that’ll be retailing next year — one of my futuristic predictions.

The real Black Diamond touring skis do not mess around. Did I say they are real?

The real Black Diamond touring skis do not mess around. Did I say they are real?

This was the tool that every core skier needs in his workshop.

This was the tool that every core skier needs in his workshop. Behold the Ptex extruder that 100 percent re-bases your skis! I was fascinated. Watched it for an hour.

French company Millet makes some of the nicest stuff out there if you like sleek Euro-styled packs and clothing.

French company Millet makes some of the nicest stuff out there if you like sleek Euro-styled packs and clothing. The scene in their booth is sleek as well, as one can imagine. But I was surprised they were serving pretzel bread sandwiches instead of baguette. Could it be that the internatonal millenials have even taken over Millet?

This is where the fun really began. I got together with Fritz Barthel and cruised ISPO with the myth, the legend, the man with the wry smile himself!

This is where the fun really began. I got together with Fritz Barthel and cruised ISPO with the myth, the legend, the man with the wry smile himself! Thats Hoji to the left, Fritz in the middle, and Dynafit TLT 5-6 boot instigator Federico Sbrissa, who in my estimation completely set the ski touring boot industry on its ear when Dynafit first introduced the TLT-5. “Fede” works for Arcteryx footwear now, and he’s doing good things there as well.

Here is the nefarious crew at Marker, attempting to destroy a Kingpin (no luck, good binding!)

Here is the nefarious crew at Marker, attempting to destroy a Kingpin (no luck, good binding!) Me to left (on contract from the “world’s only” touring blog), then Stian Hagen (on Marker contract as wurstel and beer server), Hoji (on Dynafit contract for industrial espionage), Fritz Barthel (on contract to produce wry smile when required), Federico (on contract to complain about non-Italian food as well as producing honest Italian boot designer commentary on demand.)

Fritz and I headed over to  ATK where the metal work is so fine it is displayed in a jewel case.

Fritz and I headed over to ATK where the metal work is so fine it is displayed in a jewel case. You get the feeling that at any moment a bunch of Mini driving guys in black ski masks will be smashing the glass and making off with the goods, chased by an Italian guy pitching prosecco bottles with deadly accuracy.

In all seriousness, check out this uber-trick rescue sled that snaps into ATK bindings.

In all seriousness, check out this uber-trick rescue sled that snaps into ATK bindings. Bravo, bello.

ATK rig in the making.

ATK rig in the making.

Fritz is honored everywhere he goes at the show. He's incredibly well respected for his inventing what's become the ski touring binding standard of the world. ATK owner gave him this framed photo of himself and Fritz.

Fritz is honored everywhere he goes at the show. He’s incredibly well respected for his inventing what’s become the ski touring binding standard of the world. ATK owner gave him this framed photo of himself and Fritz. Thing is, most of these binding makers essentially got their start by outright copying Fritz’s designs, so they’d better be nice.

Ski Trab keeps coming up with excellent ideas. This tech binding toe has a simple spring that is integrated into the touring lock. Fritz was impressed, so I was as well.

Ski Trab keeps coming up with excellent ideas. This tech binding toe has a simple spring that is integrated into the touring lock. Fritz was impressed, so I was as well.

Fede showing Fritz his new walking shoe design. It's GTX, only with a removable liner.

Fede showing Fritz his new Arcteryx ‘Technical Performance Footwear’ line. It’s GTX, only with a removable liner that can be used as a slipper and of course a long list of uber-tech features that make you think this shoe even includes an anti-gravity generator, or at least a miniaturized Go Pro in the toes. This is the same booth where I received the holy unction to witness inflation of the Arcteryx airbag pack.

I've said this is the year of the climbing skins.  Truly, I'm seeing much more innovation in the "fur sector" then ever. Colltex has various glue versions as well as a super nice glue-renew film that you simply stick on your ski. No fuss, no ironing, no cleaning of old glue.

I’ve said this is the year of the climbing skins. Truly, I’m seeing much more innovation in the “fur sector” than ever. Colltex has various glue versions as well as a super nice glue-renew film that you simply stick on your ski. No fuss, no ironing, no cleaning of old glue. You can even peel it back off and put on a new layer, over and over again.

Colltex glue renew in action.

Colltex glue renew in action. This will be awesome for ski shops.

Another view of Plum brake and the drop-in crampon.

Plum brake and the drop-in crampon. The brake is beautiful. Let’s hope it works.

Plum wall of jewelry.

Plum wall of jewelry. They finally have a working ski brake, or so it appears. Perhaps of more interest, they’ve innovated a ski crampon that is amazingly easy to install and remove, in the category of ‘why did I not think of that?’ It drops in like most other ski crampons, only with a slightly different keyhole lock that doesn’t require sliding it to the side. I got the impression that Plum is responding to a much more competitive environment in the tech binding arena. In my view next winter is going to begin the shakeout. In theory a bunch of new bindings will have the bugs worked out, and you’ll see fierce competition in both freeride and touring binding retail. What is more, we may see an enhanced shakeup if things like TUV certification and safety issues are subject to more scrutiny. As Fritz Barthel says with a wry smile “this should be interesting.”



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Comments

37 Responses to “I Heard the Arcteryx Avalanche Airbag…”

  1. Paddy February 12th, 2015 10:18 am

    Is the Plum brake compatible with older Plum bindings?

  2. Lou Dawson 2 February 12th, 2015 10:25 am

    I believe so Paddy, it works independently of the binding heel, in fact it’s possible it could be retrofitted on a ski to work with nearly any tech binding. Lou

  3. Lou Dawson 2 February 12th, 2015 10:31 am

    I added a better photo of the Plum brake and crampon.

  4. See February 12th, 2015 10:47 am

    Looks like that Ski Trab toe piece could use the lever and spring to provide quick lateral rv setting adjustment (for climbing only, of course…)?

  5. Jeremy C February 12th, 2015 11:02 am

    The Guide brake looks like the brake they should have designed/released the first time around. I bought the Mk.1 brake and was a lemon. Hopefully the weight will be lower as well. The Guide with heel pad and Mk.1 brake was the same weight as the Radical ST.

  6. TimZ February 12th, 2015 11:08 am

    What’s the name of the trab binding? Any videos of the ptex extruder in action? Interesting that Fischer is going with Dynafit rebranded binding next year, since their race binding this year is ATK SL-R.

    It is also interesting to see old binding designs live on(Low Tech Race) as rebranded products while Dynafit releases two new race binding models(Low Tech Race 2.0 and Low Tech PDG).

    I’m still looking forward to info on new Sportiva products when that post comes about.

    Thanks for posting all this!

  7. Lou Dawson 2 February 12th, 2015 11:27 am
  8. George February 12th, 2015 11:59 am

    Plum brake looks nice and indeed seems to work correctly. Although it is integrated with the baseplate of the heelpiece. Therefore that plate would need to be swapped. I was told that they are not sure yet wether they are going to sell the brakes as add-on to existing bindings as installation requires dismantling the heelpiece – so go and voice the demand!

    Also they have a new race toepiece that is 5g heavier but appears to be much more solid. It is fully compatible with the new quick crampon.

    I did not see any pictures of their new Wepa: basically a race toepiece with a trimmed-down guide heelpiece: flat position and medium riser, fully adjustable release (vertical & lateral to DIN 10) and a 20mm adjustment rail – all for ~240g – this is going to be a huge seller here in France.

  9. Tom Gos February 12th, 2015 12:21 pm

    That Eggbar vise is brilliant. A bit pricey but I may have to start saving.

    Good to read that BD is abandoning Chinese ski production. I’m not sure what it is, but I can never warm up to a ski from China. It seem like they should be able to make a ski as well as anyone, maybe its just that there is so much junk in general coming from China…a ski coming from Austria just feels more “right”.

  10. TimZ February 12th, 2015 12:21 pm

    Thanks George, I looked up the WEPA and also found the R99 race binding. There are lots of new models out next year! I could not find any pictures of the heel piece, but did find pics of the WEPA toe here: http://www.montania-sport.fr/2015/02/salon-ispo-munich-montania-nouveautes-2015-2016/

  11. Coop February 12th, 2015 12:35 pm

    Awesome Lou! Any chance you got a photo of the Arcteryx Airbag?

  12. Wookie1974 February 12th, 2015 12:51 pm

    And when you show us that pic of the atrx airbag, please include photos of bigfoot, nessie and a yeti as well.

  13. Harri February 12th, 2015 1:02 pm

    in Jaoan it’s illegal to use US or Euro radio frequenzies

  14. powbanger February 12th, 2015 1:03 pm

    Lou – did you check out the new monti nylon and monti sprint race skins when you were in the Montana booth?
    If you really like the PTex Master………….wink

  15. jasper February 12th, 2015 1:47 pm

    Hey Lou,
    Can you tell us anything about the BD, in my opinion classics, megawatt or convert? I’ve been running megawatts since they came out I almost use them exclusivly, and I’m wondering what changes the faithful may expect.

    Thanks

  16. jbo February 12th, 2015 2:24 pm

    Tim – The Trab binding is called Gara Titan. There is a race version and a “release” version that has swappable rear forks to set the vertical RV.

  17. Lou Dawson 2 February 12th, 2015 2:39 pm

    Powbanger, I’m hopelessly biased by Contour Hybrid skins, have very little interest in anything else at this point, but, sigh, I’ll try to keep doing my job. Just set up a set of Atomic Rocker skins (Contour Hybrid) with the Contour Sharkbite tail clips. So easy. Werner is a pretty clever guy. Lou

  18. Lou Dawson 2 February 12th, 2015 2:42 pm

    Wookie, indeed, the Arcteryx product manager was rather adamant about me not doing any photos or detailed text, and I respect his wishes implicitly. I was even wondering about sharing the color of the prototype. Again, it looks super viable and I hope they get it out into retail soon as the airbag industry still needs more of a kick in the butt. Lou

  19. Lou Dawson 2 February 12th, 2015 2:42 pm

    Jbo, you hip to Contour?

  20. RockShock February 12th, 2015 3:24 pm

    Good write-up, I hope you enjoy your Eropean trip!

    Have you had any chance to look at the new Fischer polietylene skins? That seems to be a thing to look for early next season if it delivers on what it promises. Video (in Spanish – sorry): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pprin2GwDG4&list=PLvZ8j_O6i1Jutetra9kfmKMyYc0nXoDWn

  21. Greg February 12th, 2015 3:24 pm

    The FRS/GMRS radio band is allocated to other uses in Japan (TV, I think?).

  22. jbo February 12th, 2015 3:36 pm

    Hey Lou, we’ve got their race skins (nice durable plush) and various attachment gizmos. The Hybrid kits are pricey in these parts. Do you have the mohair or mix version?

  23. Lou Dawson 2 February 12th, 2015 4:14 pm

    I don’t use anything but 100% mohair if I can help it. I think we’re running 5 pair Contours at this point, a couple of them are the mix. Contour made and distributed all the Colltex skins for Austria and Germany for quite some time, what they’re doing is built on top of having that technology wired, it shows. Everyone should be advised that when I’m chatting about all this stuff it’s from a ski touring perspective, not skimo racing. Lou

  24. Lou Dawson 2 February 12th, 2015 4:18 pm

    Heard on Japanese TV “joe, break left break left, watch that cliff, hit that pillow just to your right, hey, are you ok….?”

  25. cam February 12th, 2015 4:38 pm

    sad to miss that meeting of the minds! looked like fun!

  26. Lou Dawson 2 February 12th, 2015 5:11 pm

    Cam, we did stop by G3, I had no idea you guys were even at ISPO! Fritz was hoping you’d be around. Next year? Lou

  27. Mark Worley February 12th, 2015 9:27 pm

    The Colltex glue renew sounds too good to be true. And I really want to try the Plum crampon.

  28. Charlie Hagedorn February 12th, 2015 11:38 pm

    That Trab toe is beautiful. How flexible is it with a boot in the binding?

  29. powbanger February 12th, 2015 11:39 pm

    That’s ok Lou. There are a lot of great skin materials and technology out there, some proven and dependable some flashy and new. As long as they glide on the flats and stay stuck when you’re walking up, it is good in my book.
    Did you slide your foot in the new Atomic boot? It’s turning up the heat in the AT boot market.

  30. Lou Dawson 2 February 13th, 2015 4:10 am

    Pow, I have the Atomic boot here, am using it. Looks and feels good. I’ve got more report coming from Atomic visit and I’ll probably do a review on the boot once I’ve used it enough to do a real review instead of another panting blogger type first-look.

    Panting blogger:
    https://www.wildsnow.com/15504/atomic-backland-ski-touring-boot/

    Lou

  31. Frame February 13th, 2015 7:18 am

    So is Fede working on a Arc’teryx ski touring boot as a follow up to the footwear line?

    Thanks for the snippets on what’s happening

  32. Lou Dawson 2 February 13th, 2015 8:10 am

    Frame, I doubt he’s working on an Arcteryx ski boot, but you never know. Amer Sports already owns Salomon and Atomic with both making ski boots, would surprise me if a totally non skiing company (Arcteryx) under their ownership started making touring boots as well. The market is only so big! But you never know, lots of weird things have happened over the years when it comes to the ski touring market.

    http://www.amersports.com/brands

  33. Lou Dawson 2 February 13th, 2015 8:14 am

    BTW, one of the best insider tips I got was that even Hagan is working on a tech binding, only it will “be unlike any other tech binding.” Oh, and I was also told by a guy at BD that they’d considering printing dotted lines on backpack parts that could be cut away to save weight, reason being it’s “in the store, the backpack with the partitions and storage compartments sells.”

  34. Frame February 13th, 2015 8:41 am

    Thanks Lou, wasn’t seeing/aware of the bigger owernship picture.

    If BD do the dotted lines, I think they should call it the ‘Lou Line’ – what do you think, has a good ring to it.

  35. hairymountainbeast February 14th, 2015 10:19 am

    Any more info on that tech rescue sled Lou? Specifically, who makes it, how much does it weigh, does it work in all tech bindings and what will availability be in North America?

  36. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2015 11:06 am

    Hairy, it’s an ATK product and I doubt it’ll be imported but you never know. Pretty sure it’ll click into any tech binding, but might work best in ATK due to shape of binding heel. It’s quite a nice product, how real-life useful is another story. Lou

  37. Chris February 14th, 2015 1:23 pm

    Curious if next year’s Fischer Transalp boot will be different? Had heard that this year’s is a little on the softish side. Having bow legs, low skinny ankles and a wide, low-volume foot, I really like the idea of their vacuum shells, but concerned about weight and performance. Thanks!

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