We prefer lightweight low-volume ski mountaineering boots but they do get cold. Boot Gloves add a noticeable amount of warmth, they’re inexpensive ($30), and even though they make us look like geeky tourismos, we use them.
Outdoor Research offers a stylish option with their X-Gaiter: pricier ($245) but you’ll look like an Everest mountaineer, and your toes will be toasty.
X-Gaiter is made with PrimaLoft Aerogel. Aerogel was originally developed by NASA to insulate space suits and is said to be the warmest insulation on earth due to its low density and thermal conductivity. It is said to work well for applications where bulk is limited, for example footwear.
But space age insulation is useless if the gaiter pops off and snow creeps underneath. OR’s solution is a 1/4″ bead of Hypalon at the base of the X-Gaiters: the gooey rubber is designed to seal the gaiter to the boot. We’ll be testing this to see how it works, especially in the wet-cold, and after repeated use. Slick plastic ski boots are a challenge for this type of gaiter. In our experience, the only solution is to somehow attach a band of hook-loop to the boot and gaiter. If the Hypalon works, life will improve and we’ll have one less time consuming boot mod to contend with.
A crisscrossed shock-cord adjustment system underfoot helps to snug down the X-Gaiter and allows compatibility with a range of boot types and shapes. Helpful, but one walk on scree and so much for that.
One of the funnest things about the Outdoor Retailer Show is finding ingenious products tucked away in the new ventures section. Hydra-Light was the coolest thing I spied: clever, cheap and simple.
How many times have you checked your emergency stash to find corroded batteries in your headlamp? If you want a light with unlimited shelf life, Hydra-Light is a possibility.
Hydra-Light is powered by a water activated hydracell. Dip it in water and voilà! — you’ve got light. They say almost any liquid will work: dishwater, ocean water, even pee.
The small hand light I schwagged retails for $5 and only needs a 5 second dip to provide 72 hours of light. If the light dims after a period of non-use, just re-dip for full charge. After 72 hours of shine, it’s dead and you’ll have to spring for another one. (Note this is probably not practicable for ultra-cold environments.)
Hydra-Light also makes larger hanging lights that double as rechargers for mobile phones, and lithium batteries.
Find out more at their website: www.hydra-light.com
Yep, I’m impressed with Hydra-Light, but they don’t make a headlamp yet, so I stopped by Princeton Tec.
Princeton Tec has increased the lumens on some of their headlamps without increasing the price (we’re fully aware that “lumens” are only part of the headlamp picture, but in terms of throw distance for night skiing, the lumen ratings do help figure out what’ll work best). We prefer simple when it comes to headlamps — our favorites have an on/off switch, a bright white beam and that’s about it. We’ve been spending quite a bit of time looking for headlamps with simplified “features” that don’t require a mirror, bare hands, and extreme memorization skills to operate. From what we see, Princeton Tech might actually be the best bet for a brand that provides this (good on them) so we’ll be doing more with reviewing their lamps. For night skiing, the Vizz for example is reasonably simple, with 420 lumens for $50.
Princeton Tec Vizz specs:
All this investigative journalism burns calories — after a while I get hungry. Most energy bars still taste like they’re sawdust infused or so sweet they can double as Halloween candy, so I guinea pig the alternative fuels. My favorite at this show was Chic Naturals. If you like chomping on CornNuts, the baked chickpeas are similar and maybe healthier. This “real food” is said to be full of plant based protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, aminos, gluten free, low lectin, and they are lightweight.
Chic Naturals were developed in Hawaii by a gal with health issues who wanted a nutritious snack. In HI they are available at Whole Foods and Target. Chic Naturals is building a processing plant in Washington so the kernels will be available in the continental US sood. In the meantime, you can order online: firstname.lastname@example.org