Outdoor Retailer Denver 2018 — Day 1

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 26, 2018      

After I don’t know how many years of the Salt Palace convention center in Salt Lake City, the big North American outdoor sports trade show has moved to Denver, Colorado and we are delighted. The Denver convention center is a roomy, newish and attractive venue. Paid parking in a large nearby garage is plentiful. Light rail provides good access from various locals. Combining the ski show (SIA) and Outdoor Retailer seems to be working. We’ve actually not found much in terms of downsides, other than the continued attrition of who actually shows up and exhibits. For example it appears DeLorme and Garmin are missing in action (I wanted to chat them up due to our recent extended comment thread covering backcountry comms).

Adjusting a ski binding with the Phillips tip on the Atomic Backland FR ski pole shaft.

Adjusting a binding with the pozi tip on the Atomic Backland FR ski pole shaft.

One of the innovative things at the Atomic booth is the Backland FR ski pole. The poles come apart and there’s a screwdriver bit at the end of the shaft. One pozi and one flat, for quick binding adjustments or gear repairs.

Atomic Backland FR features:

  • Adjustable length, 110-135cm, power lock
  • Padded strap
  • Powder basket, 97mm
  • Carbid tip
  • MSRP $100
  • La Sportiva RaceTron.

    La Sportiva Racetron.

    Skimo race rules changed recently and now junior racers can’t compete in carbon boots. It’s a safety precaution intended to prevent broken bones. La Sportiva’s new Racetron is all plastic, designed especially for junior racers and also appropriate for lighter folks who are looking for a fast, high-performance ski boot with a softer flex.

    La Sportiva Racetron features:

  • Spider ratchet closure system distributes tension evenly
  • Compatible with all types of crampons
  • Weight: 825 gm (1/2 pair size 27)
  • Sizes: 23.5 – 30, including half sizes
  • Shell and cuff: Grilamid
  • Liner: Racetron Liner
  • Sole: La Sportiva RaceGrip, complies with ISMF standards
  • Range of motion: 75° (35° back, 40° front)
  • Forward lean: 4 positions (14°, 16°, 18°, 20°)
  • Last width: 100.4
  • Compatibility: tech binding
  • MSRP: $799
  • The removeable sweat band of La Sportiva's Axiom pant.

    The removable sweat band of La Sportiva’s Axiom pant.

    While perusing all the fine pieces from La Sportiva’s Italian clothing designers, our eyes landed on a unique feature in the Axiom pant. Along the back waistband is a removable pad, sorta like a sweat band for the small of your back. If you have problems with swamp butt, this is the solution. Now you can work out like crazy and drench yourself in perspiration. Before joining friends for après, simply reach behind, remove the sweat guard and you’ll be fresh as a daisy. Our testers are eager to try it.

    La Sportiva Axiom features:

  • Soft-shell ski touring pant
  • 4-way stretch material
  • 2 front zip pockets, 1 back zip pocket
  • Side ventilation zipper
  • 2 side mesh storage pockets
  • Bottom hem zipper opening
  • Sizes S-XL men’s
  • Weight 21.8 oz / 619 gm
  • MSRP: $169
  • Magnets make it stick.

    Magnets make it stick.

    Optic Nerve introduces a clever removable lens system. Lenses are attached by magnets in the frame. When the goggles fog or ice up, the lens is easily removed and replaced in a jiffy.

    Optic Nerve San Juan / Southpaw features:

  • Includes two lenses, one for low light conditions
  • Two layer foam for comfort
  • Double-layer anti-fog lens with hydrophobic coating to repel moisture
  • High impact polycarbonate lens materials for impact durability
  • Helmet compatible design
  • 100% UV protection
  • MSRP: $150
  • Over the years we’ve seen various start-ups go from an obscure table in the far regions to a legitimate booth on the showroom floor. It’s become a game with the WildSnow team to guess who will grow into a successful brand. My pick from day 1 is Ripclear.

    applying Ripclear

    Co-founder, Zach Hines, applying Ripclear. Believe it or not, the scratch resistant film is said to be optically perfect.

    Frustrated after scratching yet another pair of expensive goggles, two young men looked for a protective lens film, similar to the clear plastic often used to cover smart phone screens. After industry giants told them that it would be impossible to produce a curved film that would be optically perfect, they went to work. Ripclear is the result and it’s so revolutionary that their attorney was able to garner a broad patent because nothing similar previously existed.

    Now for $30 you can buy a kit that contains 3 clear covers and everything you need to apply one to your shades. Co-founder Zach Hines claims one shield lasts about a year. It’s so scratch resistant that he doesn’t even bother using a goggle case anymore.

    We’re impressed and I predict Ripclear will become the industry standard for protecting delicate surfaces.

    Stay tuned. More to come!


    Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


    25 Responses to “Outdoor Retailer Denver 2018 — Day 1”

    1. Paul S. January 26th, 2018 8:46 am

      I never buy goggles except on sale because I just can’t take care of them. I wish I could, but I scratch them in a week or two no matter what. I’ll definitely give RipClear a try. Thanks for the tip!

    2. Paul S. January 26th, 2018 9:00 am

      Lou, what do you think of Dynafit’s new super race binding? https://www.dynafit.com/pintech-p49

      Do you see this migrating to burlier setups as well? Seems like it could be beefed up and still have some benefits over current tech (pun intended). The downside is that now we go back to having two incompatible systems of ski touring bindings… one covered by a patent and one in the public domain.

    3. Rachel Bellamy January 26th, 2018 6:32 pm

      The sweatband!

    4. Jim Milstein January 26th, 2018 7:03 pm

      RipClear sounds great, but how can it accommodate the various radiuses of lenses without wrinkles and bubbles? Need testing! If it works, I’m in!

    5. Aaron Mattix January 27th, 2018 6:57 am

      RipClear sounds like a long-overdue innovation!

    6. bill January 27th, 2018 8:39 am

      Unfortunately the jacked up costs of exhibiting such as paying union labor to set up your booth in Denver is having a impact on whether to exhibit. It especially impacts the small businesses, but even BD is upset. This is what made Salt lake so good and an important reason in going there in the first place. Makes it especially hard on the upstarts.

    7. See January 27th, 2018 9:04 am

      Most of the problems I’ve had with scratched lenses have been the result of trying to clear fog on the inside of the lens with whatever material I can get my hands on (which rarely works). So for me, having a good lens cloth and not letting goggles fog in the first place is also key.

    8. Lou Dawson 2 January 27th, 2018 9:10 am

      Bill, I’m not sure trade shows are all that important anymore. There are so so many channels an entrepreneur can use to get word out about a product, display at show sometimes seems a bit credulous as to the use of time and money. But then, it’s easier to do a booth than masterful use of media marketing, which is not child’s play. Also, it’s of course an old saw but worth repeating that business, is, well, business and the trade show is a business just like BD is a business… them whining about trade show is like store customers whining about the cost of a carabiner (smile).

    9. swissiphic January 27th, 2018 7:15 pm

      I experimented with ghetto ripclear back in the 90’s. kitchen cling wrap. kinda sorta worked but not ‘optically pure’. 😉

    10. wingnut January 27th, 2018 8:19 pm

      Sounds feasible for cylindrical lenses. Spherical, I’d have to see that first hand before buying.

    11. Mac January 28th, 2018 7:26 am

      900 Euro – Jesus wept! For that price I think the vast majority of backcountry skier will have to make do with old fashioned snow-sense and conservative decision making.

    12. See January 28th, 2018 7:04 pm

      I prefer softer boots myself, but I’m curious why juniors can’t compete in carbon boots. Nonstandard toe fittings? Less margin for error with locked toes?

    13. See January 28th, 2018 7:09 pm

      Seems reasonable if it’s meant to limit the arms race for younger competitors, but you say it has something to do with broken bones.

    14. Jim Milstein January 29th, 2018 5:53 pm

      The RipClear photo seemed to show a goggle lens with double radii, i.e., “spherical”. Maybe RipClear is just stretchy enough to do what it should.

      To See: Since I’ve been using the Julbo goggles which allow the lens to pull away from the frame, fogging stopped being an issue. Years ago I had the Smith goggles with a battery operated fan. I hated the noise and gave them away. The drawback with the Julbo is that the lens is not replaceable. Julbo said they’d sell me a new one for half price, which is still pretty dear. I’ve learned to live with a couple of minor scratches.

    15. Patrick January 29th, 2018 6:15 pm

      Goggles are over-priced, so I protect them well. At home or in my pack, my goggles are inside their cotton bag and within a light aluminium canister. Very minor goggle scratches, no sweat. I get 10-15 years out of each pair. At a ~2013 close-out sale, I bought spare goggles. You bet, when their time comes, they’ll travel within that same container.

    16. Jim Milstein January 29th, 2018 6:31 pm

      Yes, Patrick, taking care of your gear is wise when not in use, but what about skiing in tight trees? I prefer my goggles to get scratched instead of my eyeballs. If the lenses were glass, scratching would hardly happen, but glass is too heavy and it breaks more readily than plastic lenses.

    17. See January 29th, 2018 7:40 pm

      I sweat a lot. I’ve found the Smith fan goggles to be just about the best for fog resistance, but some are very noisy. I’ve gone through quite a few of them and some are much quieter than others. Also, many allow moisture into the space between inner and outer lenses (and I am fanatical about goggle care) which basically makes them perma-fogged. The concept is good, but the quality control (in my fairly extensive experience) could be a lot better.

      I thought about trying Aboms that use a heated lens, but the lens is very stiff and didn’t conform to my face. I’m reluctant to experiment with the Julbos at the current price level when I have a system that works (mostly). When the conditions are most fog inducing, I just bring two pairs of goggles. Minimalists will no doubt recoil in horror, but it works and skiing with fogged goggles is no fun and downright dangerous.

    18. swissiphic January 30th, 2018 1:41 am

      See; also a long term user of the smith fan goggles…and experienced the same fogging between the lenes issue.

      Have you checked out the oakley line miner? heated lens concept perhaps similar to the abom but might fit differently for yer face?

      I think i’m gonna try one of the above options since the fan noise really is driving me nuts with the smiths.

    19. See January 30th, 2018 7:19 am

      Those Oakley’s look nice, but I don’t see how they would be very different from other goggles in terms of resistance to fogging. Re. the Smith fan noise, some of the fans actually are quiet, but it seems to be luck of the draw if you get a good one or not. Trying to get them warrantied for noise (or for moisture in the lens) has been a mixed bag also, in my experience. I’ve just given up after swapping one defective unit for another a few times. But when they work, they’re good.

    20. See January 30th, 2018 7:28 am

      Just found the Inferno version on Backcountry. 250 bucks, but I will check them out for sure. Oakley makes great goggles. Thanks for the tip.

    21. justin January 31st, 2018 8:44 am

      hey have you guys gotten your hands on either of the dynastar touring skis?

      They both look good on paper. Wondering about any first hand knowledge.


    22. Jim Milstein January 31st, 2018 8:52 am

      If you are willing to shed $250 for Oakley Inferno goggles, also consider the Julbo Aerospace for a little less money and a whole lot more ventilation adjustability. Also, no batteries to mind.

    23. Jim Milstein January 31st, 2018 9:03 am

      Checking Julbo, you can get the Aerospace ventilation (called “SuperFlow”) on much cheaper goggles for as little as $130, at Backcountry.com. The lenses are polarized but not photochromic.

    24. Scott January 31st, 2018 1:34 pm

      As a matter of interest, does anybody know why is it that carbon fiber boots are/could be creating more broken bones? Is it because carbon won’t deform during crashes in the way that Grilamid/other plastics would, and thus the skier is more vulnerable to boot-top fractures? As a recent lower-leg fracture victim I am wary of anything that could be dangerous in that way (but had no idea carbon fiber would create that danger).

    25. Lou Dawson 2 January 31st, 2018 1:43 pm

      Scott, it’s been discussed and acknowledged for years that the flexibility in the ski boot can in certain ways protect from leg fractures, by deflecting a bit, as well as absorbing force. Carbon fiber boots can be incredibly stiff in the name of saving weight, and may not provide as much deflection and absorption. Simple as that.

      Where this is interesting is that it’s pretty much agreed within the binding safety community that tech bindings have some problems with protecting against lower leg fractures, due to the binding toe not opening to the side as alpine bindings do. What’s been strange is that after all the hand wringing about this, we simply are not seeing an epidemic of lower leg fractures with tech bindings (though they do happen). One of my theories about this is that somewhat “soft” touring boots help compensate, and that bigger-stiffer boots are not quite so good in that way. Pure theory.


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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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