Lou’s Ski Touring Prognostications for 2018

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 1, 2018      

In the coming year of 2018 we’ll see..

1. …A rechargeable electric airbag backpack that’s as light in weight as compressed gas versions.

Alpride E1 system is powered by super capacitors and a couple of AAs to keep the charge topped off.

Alpride E1 system is powered by super capacitors and a couple of AAs to keep the charge topped off. The guts weigh a fraction of the Black Diamond and Arcteryx electronic airbag backpack internals, and at 1,250 grams virtually match for example BCA Float 2.0 system at 1,251 grams. Run the gas system with a carbon cartridge and it’ll still beat the capacitor pack in weight, but not by any significant degree, and you lose the incredible convenience of electrical recharge. Is this system vaporware? We shall see…

Other important news about this, Alpride SA is an entirely independent company from Scott, though Scott will be working with them to include their system in packs.

But Scott has no exclusive, so other companies will no doubt be using this in their packs. If the capacitor system works, it’ll make lugging the heavy Li battery powered packs seem neanderthal. Perhaps Black Diamond will license the Alpride system? Arcteryx? BCA? Time for some detective work!

That’s a Kern PCB Kern PCB 6000-0/RS scale, speced out at dimensionsWxDxH 163x245x79 mm, showing that the Alpride E1 system is quite reasonably sized.

2. …The market saturated by “freeride touring” bindings such as Fritschi Tecton and Salomon-Atomic SHIFT, and we’ll also come to realize that these bindings are not changing the laws of physics.

3. …A plethora of new or improved lightweight simplistic touring bindings based on the original Barthel engineering as well as the laws of physics — e.g., what goes down has to go up first. For example, you’ll see journalist embargoes lifted soon on new offerings by G3 and Marker, and a U.S. sourced offering is rumored to be in the works as well. By fall of 2018 you’ll probably be choosing from more than a hundred ski touring binding models based on the classic design!

4. …More solutions for the “tongue shell dilemma.” That being the problem with touring boots constructed using a tongue type shell that tours freely without excessive forward resistance, but locks up the tongue to provide extra beef in downhill mode. La Sportiva Synchro is an example of effort to make this work with elegance.

5. …North American available carbon refillable cylinders for main brand backpacks such as Arva and BCA. I’m amazed how challenging this has proved to be, but the will is there on the part of the pack makers and we have the electric packs to put a fire under their behinds, so expect it to happen.

6. …A continued trend to narrower skis for most touring (as if jumbo planks ever did take over the sport), though fatties in the 110 to 116 range will continue as being wonderful when various types of snow make them appropriate.

7. …Resorts continuing to embrace uphilling, allowing their more intelligent employees to figure out obvious ways to monetize. Sell beer and burgers to cardio fanatics? Incredible concept, why didn’t I think of that? Make a fortune publishing a guidebook to on-piste touring and retire to Florida? Just watch.

8. …Bicycles with electrical power assist (pedelec e-bikes) continue their rapid march to world domination, skiers will press into use as access vehicles for dry gated roads and other such heinous exhibitions of bureaucratic excess. E-bike, dry land equivalent of the snowmobile for ski touring access?

9. Greatest challenge in ski touring gear improvement remains the climbing skin. Look for innovations in glide vs grip, weight, and better glues.

10. Our overall North American trend in reduced avalanche deaths vs number of backcountry skiers will continue. Yet know that in terms of statistics “random” events such as avalanche accidents do not occur at an even pace, so be mentally prepared for accident “clusters” that may appear alarming, but have relativly little meaning — other than reinforcing lessons we may have already learned. Speaking of which, look for a continued “back to basics” approach in practical avalanche education. Conventional wisdom in public education may be that rote memorization is passé, but in the avalanche world remembering 10 basic rules will likely keep you alive.


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19 Responses to “Lou’s Ski Touring Prognostications for 2018”

  1. Eric steig January 1st, 2018 4:39 pm

    You forgot one.
    New telemark boots from Scarpa, borrowing from light-touring AT innovations, will send many of us back to telemarking (with tech-based bindings of course), at least part time. Telemark market will remain small, but will see a modest increase in size.

  2. zippy the pinhead January 1st, 2018 8:11 pm

    I think you are dreaming, but I’ve had the same dream!

    As Lou has explained on numerous occasions, the cost of putting out a new line of ski boots is prohibitively high unless a high volume of sales is projected.

    I think Lou’s prediction that tele boots will become more difficult to find and to buy is on the mark. Especially for duckbills (as opposed to NTN). My current pair of T1s are in good shape after a year and a half, however, I’m thinking about buying my next pair now, while I know I can.

    No doubt that a tele boot built with modern (light) technology would reinvigorate the market, but probably not enough to make it profitable. I do know plenty of excellent telemark skiers who have switched to AT simply for the weight savings.

    The new AT boots seem really nice, but suffer from (IMO) a fundamental design flaw: The boot sole doesn’t flex.

    Happy trails….


  3. OMR January 1st, 2018 8:18 pm

    I know you like the E-bike Lou, but wondering why not just go with a smallish gas motorcycle? They are faster, better for carrying the load, require less effort (and thus provide more skiing once you get to your transition point) and they can power through some snowy areas. I ride a street legal Yamaha WR250R, and it provides great ski access around gated, melted-off roads just as you described.
    Before purchasing the Yamaha I looked at E-bikes. I do a lot of cycling during the summer months and thought an E-bike would be a good bridge from one hobby to another, but ultimately I found that E-bikes are almost as pricey as motorcycles but with much less power and with less history behind the mechanics. I’ve read reports that E-bikes have fairly short lives. Any research you have on that front would be appreciated.

  4. Jong doe January 1st, 2018 8:26 pm

    You can’t drive a motorcycle on seasonal closed roads like Independence pass, but an Ebike can be taken, at least for now.

  5. Kristian January 1st, 2018 8:57 pm

    1.5 hours range.


  6. Kristian January 1st, 2018 9:12 pm



    I am for human power, but the 14 year old in me wants this.

  7. Rar0 January 2nd, 2018 12:45 am

    Hope you’re right on the new light electric avypack !

  8. Lou2 January 2nd, 2018 7:13 am

    Kristian, thanks for that. Only the beginning. Lou

  9. Lou 2 January 2nd, 2018 10:17 am

    Added photo of the Scott capacitor based airbag backpack internals, as well as conjectures as to where all is going.

  10. Oliver Rooney January 2nd, 2018 11:13 am

    Those freeride bindings may not be changing the laws of physics, not even CERN can manage that often, but it’s nice to have more choices for the compromise between weight and elasticity/safe release. Frame bindings are just silly, too.

  11. Jeremy C January 2nd, 2018 2:22 pm

    I like my Jetforce, but I would like it even more if it was 1.5kg lighter. It would mean you effectively get to carry your full size shovel, probe and beacon etc, weight free.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 January 2nd, 2018 4:22 pm

    According to sources, the Alpride E1 has already received TUV certification and is ready to rock. I will not be surprised to see it be the internals of all electric packs going forward. Thing to remember is that getting the Tuv cert is a huge expensive hurdle, if a system is already certified I’m sure there is a way for a given backpack to shortcut the process. If it works as promised, like I said it’ll make all the other electronic packs look neanderthal. Lou

  13. Rar0 January 3rd, 2018 2:59 am

    Thanks for the photo and the details Lou.

    Is it possible to see the new Alpride packs hit the market this season already ? Do you know if it deflates automatically in order to create airspace to breathe when burried ? In my opinion this is one of the game changing features vs compressed gas alternatives since it increases chances of survival even if burried. Very excited by the photo and the a priori TUV certification.

  14. OMR January 3rd, 2018 9:53 am

    Jong Doe,
    Read the signage at the gate and you may find that many roads are open to motorized travel, just not open to autos due to their inclination for getting stuck. In Utah many Forest Service roads are gated in winter to stop passenger vehicles but are open to snowmobiles and ATVs to bypass the gate. I ride my Yamaha on gated FS roads and have been doing so for five+ years with no problem. In fact, the local FS employee has often asked me for road conditions higher in th canyon to gauge use and traffic.
    The question I have for Lou and you: if a road is closed to motorized traffic, an electric motor would also be prohibited, right?? A motor is a motor. Just because you’re pedaling a power assisted bike doesn’t change that fact.

  15. Paul January 3rd, 2018 10:56 am

    I think the challenge is going to be in controlling new mechanized access technologies. Can we keep this a human powered sport, at least in many areas? E-bikes, drones, etc. Look at schism in mountain biking community- both on E-bikes and wilderness access. Troubling trends, imho. At least where I spend the bulk of my ski time (Steamboat, Cameron Pass) a mostly decent compromise with snowmobiles has been worked out and there is enough fun for all. It will be interesting to see how public lands rules evolve/devolve with changing technology and changing demand. I’m a fan of Outdoor Alliance to keep up to date on these issues.
    Happy turns and think snow!

  16. Lou Dawson 2 January 3rd, 2018 11:51 am

    Rar0, I’m glad you saw those extensive edits, it indeed appears amazing! But you know how it goes… Lou

  17. Will January 25th, 2018 4:44 am

    Is anyone from Wildsnow at the Outdoor Retailer Show, I’m optimistic about Scarpa having some new Tele boots, and thinking this would be the place to unveil them. Any news?

  18. Lou Dawson 2 January 25th, 2018 5:08 am

    We are at the show, it starts today. Our crew isn’t exactly panting over new tele gear, but we’ll check it out.

  19. Will January 25th, 2018 6:09 am

    Figured you’d be in attendance, thanks in advance for checking it out. Tough conditions on the East Coast mean lots of fiddling with gear and gearlists.

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