Lou’s Ski Touring Visions — 2019

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 9, 2019      

Post sponsored by Cripple Creek Backcountry, now with three locations in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

It’s never too late for playing the seer. How about a few prognostications for 2019 ski touring?

1. Look for super capacitors to appear in anything that requires batteries. I’m expecting a rechargeable headlamp based on this fast-charge temperature agnostic tech. Downside, supercaps don’t hold a “permanent” charge. Tradeoffs never stop.

2. Corollary to above, another company will make a capacitor based airbag fan pack, to compete with Alpride.

3. Bindings. Yeah, we are so about ski touring bindings. I was talking with an author friend of mine, I mentioned writing a history of ski bindings. He laughed and said “sure Lou, NYT best seller for certain!” I was discouraged for thirty seconds, until I remembered a work-in-progress that I already get paid for. It’s called Wild Snow Dot Com. I digress. What binding vision pops before my third eye as I meditate on the snowy astral realm? Two things: you will see more “basic” tech binding offerings, similar to the retro Marker Alpinist. BUT, someone out there is working on tech 2.0 — you will will see something about that within the next twelve months.

4. Ski Touring Bindings, part B: In my opinion, something needs to change with the unsubstantiated marketing allusions to “safety” as well as nearly every new binding requiring consumer testing to find problems that should have become apparent during product development. I predict the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will become more involved, as they clearly are with alpine bindings. To be fair, it could be said the alpine ski binding industry suffers from the same plethora of defects, judging from a browse of the CPSC website. Is this the end times? No, my 1968 nordic ski racing bindings broke too. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it fifty years later.

5. Boots. I’m not sure exactly when the Dynafit “speed nose” will disappear from the market, but I predict it will. Within the next 12 months? Perhaps. Instead, a non-DIN toe with a small toe-lip will be the thing. Like the TLT 5 and 6 models. Word to the wise: the sweet spot in that line remains the TLT 6. They’re still available hither and yon (for example, the TLT Speedfit is pretty much a TLT 6). Get a used pair in good shape, swap in some intuition liners, mod with custom cuff pivots. Sweet! Oh, and it’s common knowledge that a new TLT boot version is on tap. Those could be the meow, we may know soon!

6. Avalanches. In part, I attribute the leveling (and perhaps reduction per capita) of avalanche deaths to education. Nonetheless, a recent death during an avalanche safety class in Colorado was not the first such incident. Another was an accident near Aspen some years ago. You might recall that one of the presentations I covered at ISSW was “Are Avalanche Classes the new High Risk Sport?” I predict a tightening of standards for avalanche education, and changes in accepted practices.

7. Music. A revival of “sing along” ski songs, enjoyed around the campfire, at the huts, or anywhere else skiers gather. Don’t just watch. Sing. Perhaps you’ll encounter Der Feinste Sport if you’re in Europe, or hear Bill Briggs doing Two Boards On Cold Powder Snow.

8. Clothing. Will boot gaiters return as a separate clothing piece? Readers, your prediction?


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34 Responses to “Lou’s Ski Touring Visions — 2019”

  1. Aloysius J. January 9th, 2019 10:25 am

    Lou, the CPSC is not familiar with engineering. They are familiar with the panic of potential injury, frequently offered by paranoid people who see themselves as victims in every human transaction/encounter. Also, CPSC is not a law-making or standard-writing entity. They are what I just said above. Why would you want them involved in any way whatever?

    If you are being sarcastic, you need to work on your comedy.

    If you are being serious, you need to understand a LOT more about how the world works — because your implications about the role and power of CPSC are very juvenile and uninformed. There’s no reason whatever for CPSC to be involved in ski equipment or any other sports equipment. None. The fact that they spring to mind for you as a positive force in gear-related commerce suggests you need to rethink how/where you get your information about the world around you.

    In case you wonder where I’m coming from — in a prior life I was a product liability litigation attorney, and I defended manufacturers against claims made by careless users who blamed the products, rather than their own carelessness/ineptness, for the injuries they suffered. In the vast majority of product liability claims and lawsuits I encountered, the injured product user was at fault but the user’s lawyers saw dollar signs and pitched the injury in a false light in an attempt to gain wealth. If that’s what you call “justice” or “aiding commerce,” I think you might want a re-think. You’re not going to find seasoned skiers or mountaineers in the powerful decision-making ranks at CPSC. So why would you want the CPSC involved?

  2. Cody January 9th, 2019 10:53 am

    As for the speed nose, I think it does make sense for the sub 1100 category boot that’d never be good when thrown in a frame binding. Anything at that 1300g+ now could be cross over boot with how good they ski (ZGTP, RS…etc) But it’ll still be around for anything coming out in the next year to two because of product cycles.

    As for anyone not in the know “friflyt.no” has pictures and some info of the new TLT8 and Hoji Free (ie stiffer Hoji with a lip on the front so it can go into an alpine binding) on their facebook and website.

    I hope on the clothing front, softshells will gain more mainstream acceptance, so they aren’t dropped from lines. But I think that’s less likely than a super capacitor equipped ski pole.

  3. Jim Milstein January 9th, 2019 11:03 am

    I like Cody’s idea of a super-capacitor equipped ski pole for stunning vicious snow snakes.

  4. Kristian January 9th, 2019 1:33 pm

    Favorite alpine ski chalet song?

    “Meglio Stasera” (From 1963 Pink Panther Movie) – Fran Jeffries

  5. Courtney Fawcett January 9th, 2019 1:36 pm

    Couple of thoughts about your predictions for 2019, which sound like pretty good ones to me, btw. Thanks!

    I will be happy to see the demise of the ‘speednose’ as it was the factor that kept me from trying/buying several models that otherwise fit the bill and more importantly fit my feet. I believe i saw somewhere, perhaps even here, that the Hojis will come with in non-speednose version called Freeride 130 next year. Says the dude who just bought another brands new boots, but would have rather had the Hoji’s

    Secondly from the perspective a tinkerer with a physics background and on the topic of supercapacitors (more descriptively called double layer electrochemical capacitors as opposed to electrolytic capacitors) while I agree they will likely become ubiquitous, they probably should not.

    The air bag is probably a good application for them, but doesn’t mean one should stuff them in every electronic device known. They have much higher energy density than their electrolytic cousins, which is nice and they won’t give you a terminal shock if you short them to ground. Anyone whose played around with vintage guitar amps can tell you of the very real lethality of a 60s era Fender Twin etc (or dog forbid “oil can” capacitors), but they can produce short bursts of intense heat. Because of relatively low voltage supercaps will often need to be wired in series for many applications, I would imagine, but don’t know for a fact that the Alp ride system is multiple caps wired in series. Also I think theere is somethign to be said for mechanical engineeering that can usually be more easily field maintained.

    So following the sage advice often offered on this site I won’t be rushing out to buy the latest and greatest of the Supercap ski products until they have had some more time in the field. Though I did break that rule with the ZEDs, I’ll report back after some user testing.

    For what its worth….

  6. Lou Dawson 2 January 9th, 2019 4:51 pm

    Thanks for that Kristian, I’m working on my outfit. Lou

  7. Darin Berdinka January 9th, 2019 5:07 pm

    Sounds like a lot of solutions looking for a problem which probably just speaks to the maturity of the industry. On the assumption that something called Tech 2.0 is not going to have identical fittings what exactly is Tech 2.0 going to offer that would be valuable enough for the entire manufacturing base to change designs? With Kingpin/Tecton/Shifts out there it seems like the need for additional rigidity/control has been met for those who need it.

    As an aside you should consider an extended post on the variations in how traditional tech bindings build in their release capability. I ski a pair of ATK SLR Releases that have an ingenious release mechanism that seem to offer far more heel rigidity than traditional dynafit designs.

  8. Gregory Adams January 9th, 2019 5:17 pm

    Well, I guess I am glad I still have my TLT5’s. What intuition liners do your recommend? I will search for the cuff mod post on this site, and consider that as well.

    If anyone is interested in used TLT5s or 6s, there are a few pair for sale on the Park City Outdoor Gear Swap on Facebook.

  9. Phil January 9th, 2019 5:24 pm

    Gaiters as a separate piece of clothing? Lou, that’s what my backcountry skiing kit needs – another something to thing to fiddle with.

  10. Jim Milstein January 9th, 2019 6:10 pm

    Yes! The future of ski touring will be gear fiddling. To heck with skiing! Future ski tourers will advance a quarter mile or so from the trailhead on their skinny skis and be turned around by the approach of darkness. It’s all a great cycle.

  11. Glenn Pace January 9th, 2019 7:12 pm

    Following the lead of the mountain bike industry’s use of wireless shifting, I would like to see triggers in my poles that would activate my heal lifts.

  12. Christopher January 10th, 2019 1:43 am

    Yeah Bluetooth and wifi in The heel towers! An app for your bindings to change The lifta and rotate into ski or touring mode.

  13. Wookie1974 January 10th, 2019 6:43 am

    That speed nose is a dog. I disagree that its useful in the lightest of boots – these are precisely the sorts of people who are most likely to get into mountaineering situations where a crampon is needed. Having to use an adapter to do so is a deal-breaker. Its a shame, because I love my TLT6s and would be in the market for 8s….but with that nose, I’ll be looking at Fischers, which are a very similar fit to the TLT5s and 6 (good for me – bad for many).

    I fail to see any “hot new item” the aspiring backcountry skier has to buy at the moment. First it was helmets, then Fatties, then an Airbag…..even the hype around beef bindings is petering out.
    Perhaps the next big thing is some kind of drone that films you as you do modified parallel turns on your Kingpins thirty feet from the piste?

    There does appear to be one trend: The Eastern Europeans here in the Alps seem to have a LOT more radios. Two-Ways, in their backpack, with a mic on their shoulder. I know you like those Lou…..maybe it’ll be a thing.

    Another, similar thing: Lots more people with a speaker in their backpack blasting out the greatest hits of the Bay City Rollers (or something). On the piste – in the BC….everywhere. I think it sucks – but…..I’m a curmudgeon.

    A prediction: skiers are tiring of the focus on only touring. Piste skiing will make a comeback. Jet Pants (stretch pants to Americans) will be sold once more. Clothes will be available that are designed for a day out on the slopes, and not for a death-tempting expedition into the wilds.

    Since I like all kinds of skiing – I think this would be a good thing.

  14. Jim Milstein January 10th, 2019 8:39 am

    Yeah, Wookie is right. The ski resorts are empty, and the backcountry is packed. How did that happen? I blame Lou.

  15. Wookie1974 January 10th, 2019 8:56 am

    You know Jim….you might be right.

  16. Wade bigall January 10th, 2019 9:53 am


    How did the BC get packed an the ski resorts empty? One example would be that a walk up one day ticket at Breck is $198 with all taxes included. RFV remains a relative bargain by comparison at $10 per day less with 4 mountian access 🙂 Guess we are fortunate down here in the San Juans that Purg is still below three digits for a one day and more importantly 600 bucks for season pass if timed right. Super light BC gear with wide planks that make varibale snow conditions approachable even for adv. intermediates is another reason, along with the best reason that, excluding a big pow day, a day in the BC beats a day at the resort anytime.

  17. skis_the_trees January 10th, 2019 9:00 pm

    Re: Tech 2.0, didn’t Trab try this already with TR2? But Sportiva seems to be the only manufacturer to really go for compatibility out of the box. Where is the TR2 love?

  18. Darin Berdinka January 10th, 2019 11:01 pm

    The Trab TR2 was certainly appealing but the Tecton seems to have all the benefits and then some (flat skin mode, better elasticity in the toe) without the downside of compatibility issues. If there was going to be a Tech 2.0 that would have seemed like it.

  19. Alejandro January 11th, 2019 5:35 am

    Hi! About the speed nose, are those boots compatible with automatic or semi automatic crampons? Because if they aren’t I don’t see much the point in having a lighter boot as usually people going for lighter gear are also doing some alpinism and will use crampons every now and then. Unless you are going for something very light as this tech crampons.

    (Lou edit, I swapped in an internal link for the Tech Crampons: https://www.wildsnow.com/14513/tech-crampon-250-techpon-skiing/)

  20. Lou Dawson 2 January 11th, 2019 6:11 am

    Hi Trees, it’s a matter of semantics. The TR2 is indeed tech 2.0 in once sense, but I’m reserving that for a system that uses significantly different fittings at both toe and heel, probably not backward compatible, in other words a big departure. Lou

  21. Lou Dawson 2 January 11th, 2019 6:14 am

    Alejandro, no, Speed Nose won’t work with crampons that have toe bail that needs a shelf. I don’t think the Tech Crampon will work either, it needs a lip on the toe of the boot. Lou

  22. JohnS January 11th, 2019 7:26 am

    I get bummed at the lack of love for the Hoji/speednose.
    I’m thinking lots of folks haven’t tried or thought it thru.
    -Yes, there are crampons to use. Semi-auto works perfectly. Or go for either Dynafit offerings. I’m not missing the toe welt.

    -toe fitting closer to the toes, so sweet. Both for touring and for skiing. It is subtle, but it’s there and good for you.

    -the ski/walk transition isn’t a gimmick. Keep your pants down and go from ski to walk with amazing opening of the cuff. Can’t beat it.

    -I’m not sure why folks need to stick a touring boot into an heavy/burly binding. There is a reason touring boots weigh less. I sure don’t want to drag 2 pounds of binding on each ski around (tecton and shift and kingpin)

    Not sure if you noticed, I really like my Hojis. I hope the boot stays as is.

  23. Paddy January 12th, 2019 7:55 am

    Tech 2.0 is here. How is Dynafit’s P49 binding and DNA boot not tech 2.0? I certainty hope to see that tech applied to more touring type boots.

  24. Lou Dawson 2 January 12th, 2019 9:45 am

    Paddy, I suppose P49 might qualify as it’s not backward compatible, and definitly an effort, but I’m leery of it as it’s a race binding (which is why I didn’t jump on coverage), am not convinced it can migrate to general ski touring. I also don’t like the boot fittings sticking out of the boot, making it impossible to feature them in a DIN compatible boot. Just opinion. I’m keeping an open mind. Clearly there is a trend to a changed tech system. Lou

  25. Dabe January 14th, 2019 5:54 pm

    TR2 fanboy checking with my quarterly plug. They rule. Though Lou has me intrigued with his significantly different toe fitting requirement. P49 ain’t it.

  26. Daniel Powers January 15th, 2019 8:56 am

    How about a remote (on your ski pole) activated heal post height adjuster, similar to a dropper post on a mtn bike. Reaching down to adjust with a pole is so 2004.

  27. Skyler Holman February 13th, 2019 6:47 pm

    My seer cap tells me batteries, capacitors and magnetics will play a role in skiing someday. Maybe 15 years magnets will replace bindings, even for touring. Imagine precise binding release via software. Binding release data would serve well in lawsuits. Boots entirely buckled electronically by beefy auto boa, and obviously auto walk/tour mode. Snow can’t stick to heated skis! Maybe skis will cling together magnetically (oh wait, G3’s ahead of the game on that one). The list could and WILL go on with tech. Exciting!

    BTW when Elon Musk buys futuristic capacitor tech, as he reverently did, you know it’ll play a role in our lives very soon.

    Truthfully though, excited to hear about tech bindings 2.0!

    And as for speed nose, loved em, the precise feel when scrambling around on technical terrain in the mountains was great, and seems like I noticed a difference in touring ease and efficiency. Maybe placebo? Maybe not.

  28. Skyler Holman February 13th, 2019 6:49 pm

    Elon “recently” bought capacitor tech, doubtful it was “reverently” hehe.

  29. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2019 9:52 am

    I’ve been mystified as to why electric cars don’t use capacitors, since they’re generally left on a charger when not being driven. Perhaps cost? Or safety issues? Any electrical engineers care to comment? Lou

  30. swissiphic February 14th, 2019 11:01 am

    @Daniel Powers: One of my basement ski related projects this year is to use cycling ‘push push’ front derailer shifters mounted to ski topsheet in front of the binding toepiece to control a cable to manually adjust heel risers. Just figured out how to make the system work while still being able to turn the heel from ski/tour without any interference with the cable system. Next step is how to figure out a way to make it all not susceptible to snow packing/icing. I can’t wait to get this system on my skis…beyond convenience and ergonomics, there’s a safety value to not having to reach back to either flip or rotate a heel riser. Many a time, too many a time, I’ve been caught in steep, hard snow, techy, no fall zone, sidehilling terrain, or in heinous bushwhack scenarios where it was absolutely necessary to adjust riser for the next strategic step all the while not lose traction of the carefully balanced ski due to even the most subtle of weight shifts.

  31. Kristian February 14th, 2019 12:08 pm

    Chemical battery technologies like lithium can hold more energy, but they have a limited lifetime number of recharges and are limited in their discharge rate by the chemical reactions.

    Capacitors hold their charge in a physical static field and can rapidly both discharge and recharge, but can’t hold as much energy for the same size as a chemical battery.

  32. Jim Milstein February 14th, 2019 2:53 pm

    This season I am using the ATK Trofeo, which really has but one heel height in common with some other race bindings. In forty-two days in all sorts of conditions the one height has been enough using boots with a large range of ankle motion. When hiking up a steep trail, do you use heel elevators? Not having to fiddle with heel height is great. Less fiddling, more skiing.

  33. Kristian February 14th, 2019 3:07 pm

    I use the ATK Trofeo elevators as opposed to rotating the binding also. The moderate height works well with large range ankle motion and reduce hassle with not having to rotate.

    Also occasionally pop in ski crampons for steep narrow icy sections of uphill trails.

  34. Jim Milstein February 14th, 2019 3:19 pm

    Ditto Kristian. The other day I popped in the cramps for the first time. They saved me from booting, up near the summit. Knowing I might need them up higher I installed them before climbing.

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