This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry.
Below, a condensed version of my 2018 prognostications. With my thoughts, today, in 2019. Commenters have at it!
1. …A rechargeable electric airbag backpack that’s as light in weight as compressed gas versions.
— Happened, Alpride E1 system is close enough.
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.
— Atomic-Salomon already sold a load of Shift bindings. How many have you seen on ski tours? I’ve seen none. Louie says he’s seen a few. They’re good bindings for what they’re for — lift skiing with a bit of touring thrown in, or activities such as ski patrol when a touring binding might become necessary.
3. …A plethora of new or improved lightweight simplistic touring bindings based on the original Barthel engineering.
— Happening. G3 ZED, Marker Alpinist, on and on.
4. …More solutions for the “tongue shell dilemma.”
— I’m half right on this one. It seems the “solution” if you want super light boots is to get used to non-progressive flex. But I’ve seen progress with the gear, for example the Hoji Pro with a tongue that’s flexy in tour mode, and the Hoji Lock system that holds you in downhill position while providing something more than boot bulge flex. I’m looking forward to the Hoji Lock built into a kilo class boot. That could alter reality.
5. …North American available carbon refillable cylinders for main brand backpacks such as Arva and BCA.
— I was wrong on this, the only way to get the dear things is to ship it in checked baggage on a direct flight from the EU, where flying with the carbon is legal. Or try ordering from Europe and take your chances.
6. …A continued trend to narrower skis for most touring
— Am I seeing this? Seems so. Commenters let me know!
7. …Resorts continuing to embrace uphilling.
— Yep, that was a gimme as a prediction.
8. …Bicycles with electrical power assist (pedelec e-bikes) continue their rapid march to world domination.
— They’re taking over Europe, coming on here in the states. Moralistic human-powered cyclists fight it.
9. Greatest challenge in ski touring gear improvement remains the climbing skin. Look for innovations in glide vs grip, weight, and better glues.
— A little movement in this, thin lightweight skins from companies such as G3. More, skiers are learning that glidy skins are the way and the light, so race formulations are rapidly gaining popularity for all aspects of touring.
10. Our overall North American trend in reduced avalanche deaths vs number of backcountry skiers will continue.
— Delighted to say this seems to be so. We’ll know in five more months. Be safe!