Predicting the Future 2016 – How Did I Do?

Post by blogger | December 29, 2016      

Around the start of each year I put up or shut up. Last year, see

WildSnow checks out Voltair last winter at ISPO.

WildSnow checks out Voltair last winter at ISPO.

Here are my prognostications — with my take now that 12 months have rolled by. Commentators, have at it!

1. In avalanche safety, competition between compressed gas and electric systems will short circuit what’s been a rather boring few years in gas activated avalanche airbag development.

This did not come to pass as much as I’d hoped. The electronic packs are so heavy and expensive they’ve failed to grab much market share. This while Mammut went ahead and redesigned their plumbing to save grams, as well as providing a carbon cylinder that weighs nearly nothing. Result, while they’re cool in concept, the 7 or 8 pound electronic pack, costing around thousand dollars, is for many shoppers an expensive dinosaur.

2. In ski boots, the trend to more an better “pure” ski touring shoes will continue.

Clearly, this is so. Scarpa Alien and F1 have come into their own. Dynafit TLT 7 is lighter, still. Arcteryx Procline is exciting and the new Salomon X-Alp version brings that form factor to pure touring.

3. Anyone see the news about nano infused magnesium? It’s said this crazy stuff is super strong and ready to industrialize. Nanomag instead of Titanal anyone?

Not seeing anything used in skis yet?

4. I’ll climb out on a thin limb and say at some point in 2016 we will find a thermal drink bottle that’s lighter than our vacuum bottles and insulates as well or better. Oh, and does not dent.

Anyone see progress in this area? I’ve not caught any mentions. Fact is that the double wall vacuum bottle has been the object of choice for about a hundred years. It still works pretty well.

If you want the best, do your own testing at home by filling various bottles with hot water. Cap and set next to each other for 12 hours or so, shake, then uncap and measure temperature of contents. Here at WildSnow HQ, such testing reveals our undamaged vacuum bottles of similar volumes to be nearly equal in performance. Some do slightly better, probably because the cap is smaller or better insulated.

Also keep in mind that with more volume for a given bottle, it may cool slower because you have more heat for a given surface area and cap. We have a couple of huge thermos bottles we use for road trips. I’ve left them in the truck for a couple of days, opened up, and the contents are still piping hot.

5. A DIN/ISO standard will be created and adopted for the shape, position, etc. of tech fittings in a ski boot sole.

There is movement in this according to insiders, but a final agreed standard did not happen. Turns out that creating a DIN/ISO standard is up in difficulty along the lines of a successful manned lunar landing. Oh well… standards are a mixed blessing that stifles innovation as much as helping consumers.

6. Snowmobiling for recreation will continue to explode, but at the same time snowmobile access for ski touring in North America will greatly expand…

Partly right on this one. Recreational snowmobiling did not “explode” but it continues as big business in the recreation sector. Sales of new sleds went down quite a bit, but field observations here in Colorado as well as various sources tell me that more people than ever are out motoring around. Perhaps because they’re working less and riding more — without money for a new machine every year. As for sled assisted backcountry skiing, clearly expanding, I hear about it all the time.

7. Ah, ski mountaineering racing. Undeniable mass popularity in Europe will continue. Growth in North America is obvious, but a slow burn due to a much smaller base of athletes from feeder sports such as nordic.

Popularity continues in Europe — it’ll be an Olympic sport sooner than later. We still have a slow burn here in North America due to a much smaller athlete and spectator pool. Worst thing about this? The word “skimo.” Is there something better? Please, comments welcome.

8. Back to the electric balloon packs, it probably won’t happen next week, but I predict they’ll get lighter due to battery technology as well as other changes. Further, look for electrical connectors allowing you to charge your various portable devices.

I’m told that Jetforce 2 will be improved but not so much on the weight side of the equation. As for auxiliary connectors, engineers don’t like the idea of porting electricity out of a safety device. But I do. We charged a phone using our Arcteryx Voltair pack, and made espresso.

La Sportiva, Roy pant.

La Sportiva, Roy pant. Available in slate color as well.

9. The classic black or dark grey ski shell pant will stay available for those who need something they can wear more than 10 days away from a washing machine.

That prediction was probably a cheat, as why would any sane clothing company not provide a ski pant in darker colors? Yet I had to wonder about companies such as La Sportiva. They market some incredibly bright colors. I checked. They still have their options in “slate” for those of us who don’t have a friend running a dry cleaning shop withing walking distance of our homes.

10. …finding a phone with a screen you can read quickly and easily in bright multi-source sunlight (as on a snowy mountainside in full sun) is nearly impossible.

Still, nearly impossible. But. One of our regular readers reports his iPhone 7 Plus has a brighter screen and truly amazing battery life, along with simply being larger and thus easier to read. Perfect for a backcountry GPS that’s functional when you really need it? Anyone else with a 7 Plus care to comment?

11. Climbing skins might actually be the biggest arena for disruptive innovation over coming months.

The “glueless” type skins have been a disappointment. But the dual layer adhesive developed by Contour in Austria is an obvious improvement. Easily cleaned, not too sticky. More for European temperatures however, our testing in sub zero Fahrenheit indicted Contour Hybrid skins do have an optimal temperature range. Beyond all that, if you can swing it get on a pair of narrower skis with Pomoca Race skins. Change your life.

12. …Yet again predicting that the next 12 months will be the “tech war.”

Vipec Black came out and wowed us, now Fritschi introduces Tecton. Marker is going strong with Kingpin. Dynafit has interesting new grabbers coming out. G3 rocked the world with what was perhaps one of the least buggy new tech bindings ever (though it wasn’t perfect). Plum, ATK… it goes on and on. Clearly, it’s a “tech war.”


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


22 Responses to “Predicting the Future 2016 – How Did I Do?”

  1. See December 29th, 2016 7:20 pm

    I still like Lou’s suggestion that huts/cabins have a high pressure manual pump (with a good desiccant system) as standard equipment. Add carbon fiber tanks and this would be my preference.

  2. See December 29th, 2016 7:27 pm

    I’m not making any predictions, but it will be interesting to watch developments in ski construction now that bc skiers looking for lighter equipment are a significant part of the market. Honeycomb? Balsa/flax? Full pre-preg carbon? Sidewall vs. cap? Narrower widths? Or maybe wood/glass is just really tough to beat.

  3. Fede December 30th, 2016 5:38 am

    Lou… do you use your Touring pants more than 10 days without washing? :-O ….

  4. Aaron Mattix December 30th, 2016 6:41 am

    Is it possible there could be a “magic wax” developed that supersedes climbing skins? Grippy enough to climb regular skin track pitches, but doesn’t unduly compromise downhill glide? Dropper posts have been one of the biggest innovations in mountain biking for how they improve the uphill and downhill performance of any given bike, are largely retrofittable, and a relatively inexpensive upgrade (compared to new suspension, wheelset or drivetrain). A wax that eliminated the hassle of skin changeovers would be a similar game-changing innovation in ski touring.

  5. Lou Dawson 2 December 30th, 2016 7:21 am

    Fede, I guess I’m busted! Actually, sometimes. I just threw the 10 day number out there, in our situation light colored pants can get ugly in literally hours due to the horrible salt and dirt they put on our roads, and ends up all over our cars and trucks, then is transferred to our clothing at the slightest touch. Lou

  6. JCoates December 30th, 2016 7:52 am

    If 2017 continues with 2016’s rapid race towards Armageddon, then I predict the following:

    1) Hundreds of backcountry huts will finally get built through the Rockies….but just for snowmobile and ATV use.

    2) Dynafit will focus all of their resources on building the Beast 20. It will be 1 lb heavier than the heaviest alpine binding but look remarkably similar to the Tyrolia 290.

    3) Glen Plake will announce he is the new sponsored athlete for Bogner’s backcountry ski-touring line.

    4) “Dedicated to the lifestyle of monoski split-boarding.” (Actually, that would be pretty cool….)

    5) Trump tower, La Grave.

  7. atfred December 30th, 2016 8:14 am

    10 days without washing? How about all season+? Guess that’s why all my pants are black (apologies to Johnny Cash).

  8. cam December 30th, 2016 8:29 am

    More hope than prediction, but Black Diamond will include a frozen rain scrapper blade on at least one model of their ski pole grips. Also, Dynafit boots will include extra holes/plugs for customizing instep buckle placements.

  9. Lou Dawson 2 December 30th, 2016 9:12 am

    +1 on the extra holes in boots so buckles can be moved easily.

  10. Matus December 30th, 2016 9:28 am

    Nalgene 1L bottle with some tube insulation. Weights nothing and the insulation is just enough for 1 day tour. Vacuum is for beginners.

  11. Lou Dawson 2 December 30th, 2016 9:30 am

    Atfred, thanks for coming to my defense from the Italian fashion polizia (smile).

  12. Lou Dawson 2 December 30th, 2016 9:35 am

    JCoats, we’re working on our version of Trump tower here in Colorado, stay tuned (smile).

    BTW, while there is always some sort of Armageddon on the horizon, it might be good for tortured souls to take a look back on how the plight of us humans has actually improved quite a bit over the years.

  13. See December 30th, 2016 9:42 am

    Bright colors have some advantages. Dare to be dirty.

  14. Kristian December 30th, 2016 9:58 am

    Mammut Dave will reveal Mammut’s secret project to clone and bring back the Wooly Mammoth.

    Mammut will go on to pioneer the use of Wooly Mammoths for Alpine Touring inspired by Hannibal and the Punic Wars.

  15. Fede December 30th, 2016 10:03 am

    Lou I guess I’m just too italian washing my pants, underware and all the rest after each use 😀 … in this case no big issues to wear colored pants 😀 …

  16. Lou Dawson 2 December 30th, 2016 10:25 am

    Yes, we could certainly get into the benefits of dark colored undergarments! But that’s going too far! Lou

  17. Wookie2974 December 30th, 2016 1:17 pm

    NEVER wash the pants. Why would I? I never fall, never perform any type of manual labor involving dirt, and never, ever sweat.

    All you North Americans look like you’re attending a funeral.


  18. Werner Koch January 2nd, 2017 4:48 am

    Hi Lou – Happy New Year to you and your family!
    Thanks for reporting on contour skins. Regarding glue performance, did you actually use the cleaning spray to reactivate tackyness for low temperatures?
    Important: Wipe off ski base with fleece on the inside of the stuff sac, clean adhesive sureface and then you should be fine. At least they worked OK in temperatures down to -40 F/C in Siberia during the “The White Maze” project:
    Would be great to catch up on your experience! Maybe at ISPO?
    Best regards, Werner

  19. Lou Dawson 2 January 2nd, 2017 8:23 am

    Hi Werner, I’ll give that a try. The skins do not appear dirty or contaminated so I gave no thought to cleaning. Thanks, Lou

  20. Werner Koch January 2nd, 2017 8:27 am

    …normally dust is not visible, ideally use the contour cleaning spray (or wax remover) to clean since this also deals with wax particles (if ski base is not brushed off thoroughly after waxing), for normal dirt/dust hot water, detergent and hard brush do the job nicely… Werner

  21. biggb January 2nd, 2017 12:40 pm

    I have absolutely no problem with the word “skimo”.

  22. Jim Milstein January 5th, 2017 11:54 am

    I have a problem with the non-word “pow” for new snow. Sounds like children’s bathroom vocabulary or worse. Okay in comic books.

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