How Did I Do with 2018 New Year Predictions?

Post by blogger | January 7, 2019      
G3 Minimist Speed is 100 percent mohair plush. Glide and Universal models are nylon, and a 70/30 mo-ny mix. Numerous lengths and widths.

G3 Minimist Speed is 100 percent mohair plush. Answering trend of lighter skins with better glide.

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!


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34 Responses to “How Did I Do with 2018 New Year Predictions?”

  1. Fry January 7th, 2019 11:49 am

    Would you say Salomon sold a ‘shift-load’ of bindings?
    Apparently they’re very hard to find now that we’re into the season so maybe that’s proof?

    As for narrower skis – I seem to be seeing this too here in the Wasatch, but maybe I’m biased since I’m touring on 100mm skis so I’m paying attention to others doing the same? My reasons are all about weight, and less reliable conditions than when I started touring over two decades ago…don’t know why others are going narrower tho.

  2. swissiphic January 7th, 2019 12:16 pm

    Regarding #4, 6 and 9

    4 I’ve had some great preliminary success using a rubber damper for allowing for smooth, progressive well damped forward flex in my Vulcans. The mod is not durable but i’m working on a new approach to mitigate the ‘three runs and done’ issue. 😉

    imo, I think for a cabrio boots designed with a stiff carbon rear cuff/spine, a discrete externally designed and engineered flex control system is one way to slice the pie. The benefits are multitude. Almost unlimited flex stiffness and flex profile adjustment with varying densities, stack profile and preload adjustment of the component. easy forward lean adjust. eliminate forward rom restrictions that sometimes occurs to varying degrees because of the tongue in a cabrio style boot.

    As an example of what an external flex control system could look like practically, the Pierre Gignoux ‘Black Snowboard Boot’ has something that could laterally transfer nicely to ski touring boots.

    6 Speaking kinda more specifically to heliskiing, and solo ski touring in winter conditions…narrower skis (<110mm waist) still suck in deep pow and various upside down snow, thick windslab, breakable crusts, etc…. my daily ski touring driver is 128mm underfoot and prit near every single time i go skinnier, i end the day with regrets due to either uphilling frustrations or downhill ski turns not giving the ultimate loose, surfey, drifty feeling turns joy.

    Not oft discussed but worth mentioning; the bigger snowshoe makes solo trailbreaking in almost all untracked softer snow conditions much easier. For example, double penetration sensation while trailbreaking has been pretty much eliminated…mucho energy saved on that feature alone.

    Sure hope the true fatties don't disappear from the marketplace, 'cause up to a point and with a few exceptions, imo, fatter is better for almost all winter conditions ski touring in my snowpack zone.

    9 Haven't used a 'glidey' skin that provides enough real world grip for uphilling in technical terrain in colder preserved storm snow crystals, faceted snow, dust on crust, hard crust, wind board, refrozen wet grains and the worst, loose facets on crust.

    I have a mod that works pretty well to enhance grip on my G3 High Traction skins which are okay in stock form but fail to grip in some specific more hard snow based conditions. Hot glue gun 'grip strips' applied to the plush near the base edge at tip rocker contact point, under the heel and at the tail. Vertical inner face and slight general fishscale pattern. The vertical inner face gives great grip for sidehilling. The slight fishscale features helps with straight up the fall line skinning in all varieties of hard snow…basically bombproof grip tip to tail. Last spring i tested the limits of grip and could safely walk up refrozen wet grains snow/planar slopes of up to 40 degrees…had to install extra heel lifts to comfortable assume the correct foot angle.

    The effect on glide is noticable but enough to be a deterrent…in fact, due to the change in psychology of having absolute confidence in each step's grip, the energy saved in 'thinking stress' about blowing a step and smashing on yer face on a hard crust, for example, probably outweighs any extra physical energy exerted due to increased friction. =D 😉

  3. Tom Gos January 7th, 2019 1:46 pm

    With regard to boot flex, it seems to be that the real obstacle to having a light boot with progressive flex is that the boot designers are still relying on the plastic deformation to regulate the flex. I’m looking forward to when someone begins using a damper cartridge, similar to those on mountain bike shocks, to control the flex. Air cartridges would provide a progressively stiffer flex while a spring would be linear. An added bonus would be that the stiffness would be easily adjustable. Such a design would radically free up the plastic shell design to provide more ROM and comfort in fit. I remember an alpine boot back in the ’80s that used an external spring on the rear spine to control the flex (I think maybe it was a Dolomite brand, anyone remember?). It was amazingly easy to adjust the flex by a considerable amount. So this isn’t really a new idea. I can’t understand why boot designers aren’t pursuing this for AT boots, perhaps unable to see past their traditions?

  4. Topi January 7th, 2019 2:20 pm

    Skinnier and lighter skis are better for almost every aspects of ski touring. 85-95 seems to be ideal for me. They are generally easier to handle, maneuvering and carry. It is a perfect example of less is more:
    less snow to carry on the top of the skis
    less skin weight
    less bulky skins
    less binding
    less boot
    less bulky crampons
    less tiring uphill and sidehill traverse
    less weight on your foot and your pack
    cover more verts and distances with joy and having more reserves if things goes wrong.

  5. Nick Thomas January 7th, 2019 5:46 pm

    The alpine boot with the external spring was actually by Dynafit! (as worn by Franz Klammer).

    I’m not sure whether a spring/shock solution is the fix. The boots I most liked for flex were Raichle Flexons (now the Full Tilt). Also the alpine boots that everyone would like their touring boots to flex like also rely on plastic deformation. I think the problem with the spring/shock solution is that you have to have very stiff lower and cuff and the only flex is at the pivot. Ankles are not a simple hinge joint and I suspect that boots that feel better actually DON’T just hinge at the pivot.

  6. Nick Thomas January 7th, 2019 5:52 pm

    Oh and my other theory about boot flex is it should NOT be linear. It should progressively get stiffer – preferably never reaching a hard limit. That is hard to achieve with a simple spring (which is one reason why bikes have complex suspension linkages).

  7. Scott Mellin January 7th, 2019 9:22 pm


    Yes, agree with all of your points. 82 is magic for me.



  8. steve January 7th, 2019 9:56 pm

    louie ! really ? putting the kybosh on the darwin awards ??

    (i know. i know. i know…)

  9. Brian January 7th, 2019 11:19 pm

    Preach, swissiphic! I tour regularly on 122 mm Noctas, with fairly light tech bindings and skins. Easily worth the “penalty,” especially if you are generally trying to ski powder.

  10. Aaron Mattix January 8th, 2019 8:03 am

    I’m with swissiphic, and Brian in the wide skis touring club. Love my Line Magnum Opus at 125 underfoot with Speed Radicals and TLT6 boots for seeking out powder both up and down.

    2.) On a recent skin up our local mountain (Sunlight, near Cripple Creek’s headquarters), two of the half-dozen touring rigs assembled in the warming hut were on Shift bindings. Not bad market penetration for a first year product. Probably also a reflection of the intended market. They aren’t for dedicated, “light is right” touring aficionados, but more a “transitional” binding for people who find themselves alienated from the resort experience, but not quite ready fully commit to resort-free skiing. I hypothesize that this the demographic driving the rise in uphill skiing, not a sudden fascination with Euro-centric lycra and tiny skis.

    8.) E-bikes are definitely on their way, and bringing a sea change in how bicycles are perceived in the US. Coming on the heels of IMBA imploding its relationship with mountain bikers, e-bikes could become another widening rift in access issues, especially in contentious areas. On the other hand, they could expand the range of commuting options…

    9.) Skins continue to be the single most frustrating piece of gear in ski touring. Not as concerned about the glide/grip equation as ease of handling and packability. The G3 skins for my wide skis are not exactly a delight to use.

  11. Shane January 8th, 2019 9:03 am

    Re: #8, not only do I think e-bikes will find greater and greater use as commuters, but (as a friend suggested to me), couple a motor with a fat bike and certain BC ski destinations that were only feasible to reach via a snowmobile on groomed trails are now within reach. It’s FAR cheaper to buy/rent a bike than a snomo.

  12. OMR January 8th, 2019 11:55 am

    No bad (too skinny) skis, just bad skiers.
    We started touring in the 70’s on long (205cm), skinny (65mm), non-shaped skis, with soft leather tele boots, and no resistance three-pin tele bindings, and we lived at heaven’s gate! Those days were glorious!
    I’m 5’8” and I now ski on 167cm, 88mm BD Helios, F1’s and Atomic Backlands. Admittedly, I’m now old and grumpy, but skiing was just as fun in the 70’s, maybe more so due to NO CROWDS!
    With all the evolution, perhaps the new technology diminishes the adventure?? I kinda feel sorry for all you kids;)

  13. Snowpantsornopants January 8th, 2019 11:58 am

    The Shift MNC bindings have sold completely through their orders before November in 90 percent of authorized dealers. They intentionally limited their first run sales and told dealers that they intended to run out and not make any more than what the first orders were. You don’t see them out there a bunch because they have been held back to create demand and check mass production issues before the market is swamped. They also blend in really well and a lot of folks who aren’t swayed from their purist tech pin bindings aren’t putting them on their feet.

  14. XXX_er January 8th, 2019 12:31 pm

    Anybody here play golf?

    Me neither but have you ever seen anyone play with one club?

    I got 90/110/115/120 width touring skis, they are all good for something, but I’m not gona take the 120’s if it hasn’t snowed in 3 weeks, I’m not gona take the Denalis when i expect a foot of pow because as in golf the only question is which club to play ?

  15. VtVolk January 8th, 2019 2:00 pm

    Another +1 for the fat skis. Mine are 132mm underfoot and clip together into a single massive 264mm-wide plank for the descent! It’s amazing in all conditions. You guys should really try it.

  16. benwls January 8th, 2019 2:23 pm

    XXX_er is right. Skinny skis have their place. So do fat ones. Yeah, it’s nice to go fast and light, but skiing hot pow or funky snow on skinny skis isn’t that fun. And when depth hoar has you meadow skipping, fat skis let you carry a whole lot more speed through 25 degree trees.

  17. swissiphic January 8th, 2019 2:38 pm

    XXX’er….dude, man…golfing… All a guy really needs is a seven iron for tee off, fairway and chipping duties. When yer on the green, attach a snap on custom Ghettowerx alu wedge to the angled face of the iron for a flat surface for putting.

    Less weight to pull in the golf bag on wheelz.

  18. XXX_er January 8th, 2019 3:48 pm

    yeah I bet they would love to hear about it over on Wildgolf and make sure you don’t run out of the meds eh?

  19. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2019 5:44 pm

    Regarding wider skis, I do see how they fit into the scheme of things, I like my “wide” to be around 105 mm, sometimes it’s clearly the best, but narrower skis often work fine. Depends on conditions, the climate, etc. My take is that we will still see a worldwide trend to narrower touring skis, but just a trend, not a total change, and many people will run a quiver. Lou

  20. Lenka K. January 9th, 2019 4:05 am

    Hmm … worldwide trend to narrower touring skis? Lou, you’ve been away from Europe for too long :).

    When I read “narrower skis” I thought to myself: “Does Lou want to go back to sub-80mm-skis?” Before I realized, “narrow” meant sub-110mm ;). Which in Europe is considered VERY, if not IMPOSSIBLY wide for touring.

    As far as I can tell, more and more backcountry skiers in Europe move away from the 90mm-class and into the 100mm-class skis. It probably has something to do with the younger generation of skiers who grew up freeriding on fat skis and do not want to miss the downhill performance in the backcountry.

    Narrower skis (around 90mm) are obviously the first choice for spring corn touring and hut-to-hut trips — but I find my 108mm-skis better in all but hard conditions. I just got back from a Christmas trip to Switzerland, where we had a lot of wind and consequently funny, windswept-snow tending to breakable crust. With my “wide” and “long” skis I was able to cruise on the surface, whereas my partner on his 88mm-WayBacks would break in unexpectedly every once in a while.

    In sum: I’d be careful about using the term “worldwide trend”. 🙂

  21. Aaron Mattix January 9th, 2019 6:58 am

    VtVolk – I was with a guy the other day on the setup you mention. Had to wait for him when the snow got too deep.

  22. jong dough January 9th, 2019 7:44 am

    #2-For a website that jumps at the chance to dive into the minutiae of tech bindings, it is amazing that “I haven’t seen any on tours yet” is an acceptable data set for correlating people who buy Shift bindings with being lazy resort skiers. Typical touring snobs rhetoric.

    #9-You may not know it, but folding skins are all the rage in Europe and will soon make it to the US. The latest craze will be skins that fold like a z-rest and are impregnated with helium so you can just tie a string to them and let them float above you on the way down. They actually reduce your weight!

    #8- As far a Ebikes, you are thinking too small here. Check these out:
    Now throw a lightweight timber sled kit on there. BOOM!

  23. DJ January 9th, 2019 8:15 am

    Bring your skinny skis to Mt Baker and demonstrate how less is more.

  24. Lou Dawson 2 January 9th, 2019 8:53 am

    Lenka, I should have written something like: a worldwide “preference” for narrower touring skis, and yeah, by “narrow” I’m talking about skis such as the VTA 88. That seems to be a super functional width category.

    DJ, sure, I’d suffer, but they worked good on Mount Everest. Hubba hubba.


  25. Bard January 9th, 2019 9:41 am

    Good golf club analogy XXXer. If I HAD to ski just one rig all year, I’d go 90mm underfoot, (but really, how many of us have only one set of skis?)

  26. Jim Milstein January 9th, 2019 10:09 am

    You are talking about me, Bard. I abandoned my ski museum with the last move. It stretched back to the fifties.

  27. XXX_er January 9th, 2019 6:19 pm

    ” Good golf club analogy XXXer. If I HAD to ski just one rig all year, I’d go 90mm underfoot, (but really, how many of us have only one set of skis?) ”

    It might depend where one skis but If I had to tour one setup the sweet spot would be 108mm

    how many of us own > 1 pair of skis might be an irrelevant question if they are all the same size

  28. philshizle January 10th, 2019 2:21 am

    Currently I’m skiing a 186 Line Sick Day with 104 mm underfoot. I received these when I tried to order a pair of ski poles. After many failed attempts of trying to return the skis I decided to mount them with some STs. While these skis do sacrifice weight to increase stability in chop and ultimately nestle themselves firmly in the 50/50 category I have found that they offer great performance in variable snow conditions and I had a ton of fun with them skiing two feet of blower at Baker this past Monday. I find it works quite well for me in the PNW. The only time I feel extra width would make things significantly better would be in deep, wet snow.

  29. Kristian January 10th, 2019 5:56 am

    I skied steep deep heavy old snow at Silverton just after they opened this season with La Sporitva Vapor Floats 117 underfoot. Often had to survival ski. The professionals there mostly had broad relatively short skis with dramatic matching twin tips.

    But 117 underfoot was great a few days later in 32″ new snow at Wolf Creek

  30. Jim Milstein January 10th, 2019 8:52 am

    In the Wolf Creek backcountry right after that 32″ storm last week, 96 mm underfoot (Vapor Svelte) was not working. Too light, too deep, too much collapsing below. I’m not sure that anything would have been good at that point. Of course I was staying off the steep stuff, which was avalanching all over the place, and big. I could have had fun riding the avalanches, but my camera, emergency medical, and heli crews were not available.

  31. Kristian January 10th, 2019 9:12 am

    I drove from Ouray. I must have seen every truck that CAIC owns on the way over to Wolf Creek.

    I am lately humbled by deep snow. If it is not champagne hero powder, then I have to really pay attention to what I am doing.

  32. Eric January 14th, 2019 9:42 pm

    #2 – What do you mean by “these bindings are not changing the laws of physics”

  33. Dabe January 15th, 2019 3:28 am

    They’re heavy

  34. Mark W January 15th, 2019 9:21 am

    I’ve been preaching the gospel of glide in skins for years. Seems people are listening. My first pair were great mohair, and I’ve had good nylon, BAD nylon, and excellent mohair mix. My skins of choice for everyday use are the mix.

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