Winter Outdoor Retailer Show 2011 – 1

Post by blogger | January 21, 2011      

After flying in the night before from Munich on a United Airlines wing and prayer, I managed a full day at the trade show here in Salt Lake City. Overall energy is good again, you can tell we’re still a growth industry. A larger convention hall would be nice — quite crowded here.

What stands out? In the ski ghetto, the sound of deploying avalanche airbags even overshadowed the DJ trying to make his mark over in the Skull Candy booth. Indeed, airbags are the hot item. The ultimate combo for a retailer: something that’s proven to save lives — and also costs a bunch of money. The things need to be cheaper and lighter. Sounds like that’ll happen eventually, just a matter of sales volume and materials science.

The sleekest and lightest systems are the new packs from ABS, while Mystery Ranch has the coolest looking. BCA is in there as well, and admirable in that they developed their own excellent plumbing system instead of licensing someone else’s. Sure, you don’t want to re-invent the wheel, but doing your own thing allows for the most innovation and best pricing. Check out a few show photos and comments:

Mystery Ranch airbag systems.

While I was at the Mystery Ranch booth, the Snowpulse guys came and with permission checked out the plumbing. Pretty funny watching them do their industrial espionage in plain daylight.

Black Diamond power series for backcountry skiing.

Black Diamond has all new graphics, and most of their skis are the same in name only. They've gone to sidewall construction for most, with builds and flex patterns of significant difference.
Seems like what's going on with BD is their ski design is going through a maturing process, where they are tweaking performance up to the standards of companies such as Kastle or K2, who have had many more years to dial things. Developing good skis takes time, sometimes years of testing, so good to see the evolution. By the way, in the efficient series, Justice is lighter and built as a sidewall ski instead of cap, and looks like it might be the go-to wider ski of choice in their lighter weight offerings. I've found the Drift to be a bit of a yawner, so the plan is to switch testing over to the Justice and see if I like it better. We shall see.

La Sportiva backcountry skiing.

Biggest ski news of the show is probably La Sportiva coming out with a full line of ski mountaineering boots and skis, along with their re-badged ATK tech binding. They were showing the ATK with its brake. The binding looks nice, but the brake needs the services of a good industrial design team.

Sportiva backcountry skiing boots.

La Sportiva is now sporting four boot models. Last year they were offering their incredibly expensive full carbon Stratos. This year they've got three more models that use the latest in sexy tech of nylon plastic for a thin, lightweight lower shoe, combined with either a carbon or carbon/Pebax cuff. The boots like good. They're super light, have a way of adjusting forward lean, and as shown in this photo actually have a nib of rubber on the sole that helps index the boot into a tech binding.

Spitfire backcountry skiing boot.

Spitfire backcountry skiing boot. 1. Nylon shell. 2. Carbon cuff. 3. Lots of rocker, good cuff articulation. 4. Beef areas to prevent deformation of minimalist shell. 8. Actually has boot board inside for custom fitting and warmth. 9. On motion closure system, walk ski mech located up where it won't ice, adjustable forward lean. Truly interesting boot, but no doubt expensive.

Cilo Gear

Beyond carbon fiber, what's soon going to revolutionize everything from airbags to pants is going to be fibers such as Dyneema®. That's my prediction. For example, Graham at Cilo Gear showed me this fabric that's combination of non-woven on one side for the ultimate in strength/weight ration, with a woven layer on the other side for abrasion resistance that's way beyond nylon. Along with that, I saw a prototype for a shell jacket using Entrant membrane,but made with a thin Dyneema fabric that was not only feather light, but nearly indestructible for normal use. From fly fishing to alpine climbing, that sort of thing will be amazing once it becomes common.

The ABS Powder 15

The ABS Powder 15 airbag backpack has enough space for average backcountry skiing kit, and comes in at a mass of 2.2 kilo. All the airbag folks are realizing that consumers really don't want to be carrying 25 lb backpacks for ski touring (airbag + gear). They know that who wins the weight game will get the big orders, so the competition will, I hope, become fierce.

Dynafit Baltoro

After all that Dynafit panic of the last few days, I forgot to mention that their ski line remains pretty much the same, but they added a new model called Baltoro, to further fill the width gap between narrower planks such as Manaslu and Stoke (around 115/84/102). Baltoro will be interesting to test as more of conventional euro style ski for spring touring. Looking forward to it.

All for now, today I’ll set up for lots of future reviews, and get some more current details for another show post.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


42 Responses to “Winter Outdoor Retailer Show 2011 – 1”

  1. Fredrik Edwall January 21st, 2011 11:34 am

    Hi, can you please post a few more picks and facts about the new ABS back packs. Regards Fredrik

  2. El Jefe January 21st, 2011 11:58 am

    Wait. Did you say the Justice is going to be moved to the efficient line? The justice is a 110/115 waisted ski that weighed 9+ pounds. What is the new weight going to be? Wow.

  3. Dave C. January 21st, 2011 12:04 pm


    185cm (140-115-125) 8lb 6oz
    175cm (138-111-123) 8lb

  4. NT January 21st, 2011 1:19 pm

    We’ve got the new ABS Powder 15, stay tuned for a post about that and an in depth review at some point later…

  5. bg January 21st, 2011 1:32 pm

    8lbs is now efficient? Efficient at what, “the down”?

  6. tka January 21st, 2011 2:10 pm


    yes, for 111mm waist ski, 8lbs is VERY light. as far as I can tell, only the volile charger and fatypus desender are in the same ballbark.

  7. aviator January 21st, 2011 3:56 pm

    “Justice 175cm (138-111-123) 8lb”
    “yes, for 111mm waist ski, 8lbs is VERY light. as far as I can tell, only the volile charger and fatypus desender are in the same ballbark.”

    Every LIGHT ski in that width is A LOT lighter than that.
    For example:

    goode bc116 183cm 139-116-123 5.6lbs

    dps Wailer 112RP pure 178cm 141/112/128 7.4lbs

  8. Dave C. January 21st, 2011 4:32 pm

    I bet the new Justice will cost less than $1200…

  9. aviator January 21st, 2011 4:41 pm

    @dave c
    I bet the new Justice will cost more than $261

  10. lc January 21st, 2011 5:41 pm

    Tease. Is sportiva rebranding skis too? I wonder if that will make it easier to buy merellis here in the US. Also, I love sportiva climbing & trail shoes, so I’m really interested in their boot line as well.

  11. Lou January 21st, 2011 7:09 pm

    The story from La Sportiva is they’re having those skis made in Nani Tua’s factory in Tunesia. Are they a re-brand? If so, might as well get it out in the open.

  12. John Gloor January 21st, 2011 7:29 pm

    Aviator, I was bidding on those skis for my wife, but missed the final bids. It is kind of like comparing apples to oranges though when you throw used prices into the comparison

  13. KDog January 21st, 2011 7:57 pm

    A nice guy running a Dynafit demo booth a few weeks ago told me about the Baltoro. I was demoing Mustagh ATAs and he said I might want to wait and try the Baltoro as it was to be stiffer and damper.

    I have found skis like the ATA and even more so, the Manaslu to be very nervous in harder or variable conditions. Although light, they just don’t have the nice damp ride that the Stoke has. He said the Baltoro was designed to eliminate that sketchyness, (he might have mentioned metal, but I’m not sure).

    What’s your take Lou?

    I have never liked the Manaslu, but maybe with the new updates it’ll ski more like the Stoke. Perfect Dynafit to replace my old Shuksans would be a 84-88 waist Stoke with the early rise tip.

  14. aviator January 21st, 2011 8:38 pm

    @ John Gloor
    yea, I missed the other ones, the 95s… 👿
    Nobody was really comparing prices. At least I wasn’t.
    Somebody thought 8lbs is as light as it gets and I explained how much light skis weigh. 8)

  15. bg January 21st, 2011 9:48 pm

    I didn’t say 8lbs for a 111 ski was not light for it’s width. I said it was not efficient for it’s intended use. It’s all about the marketing…

  16. John Gloor January 21st, 2011 9:53 pm

    Aviator, what are the odds? I was also bidding on the 95’s for myself. I was surprised at the prices they went for. I agree that the “light” weights of a lot of skis really are not that light. Once they figure out how to use CF as a structural ski cap material, and not just a flat laminate layer, the skis will get real light. Goode is on the right track. The key is ditching the wool core. Really, how much strength does a ski maker get from crap wood like aspen? This is for touring oriented skis. I like heavy wood core alpine skis

  17. gtrantow January 21st, 2011 10:20 pm

    If you could only choose two skis, please pick a Dynafit quiver of two for BC Colorado.
    Choices: Se7en Summit 78 waist, Baltoro 84 waist, Mustagh ATA 88 waist, Manaslu 95 and then Stoke at ~105. At some point the choices are overwhelming and most of us can only afford 1 or 2 pairs of skis, bindings, skins, packs and assorted avi gear.

  18. tony January 21st, 2011 11:50 pm

    @ J Gloor,

    The DPS’s carbon/wood core design has a much better reputation for both durability and skiability than the Goode designs. My Wailers weight about 7lbs in the 175cm range. The new cores on the DPS Pures is supposed to add 20g per ski but make them much more damp, but I haven’t skied them.

    However, all my info on the Goodes is second hand.

  19. Chuck Gorton January 21st, 2011 11:56 pm

    Hey Guys,

    Come by and check out our new Snowpulse RAS (Removable Airbag System). Super nice and super light. 2.7kg for a 35L pack with cylinder (2.4 with a carbon cylinder). It is also compatible with the ABS carbon cylinder when/if it comes available. Totally new, super light, simple deployment system and you can remove the airbag system in about 5 minutes if you want to put it in other packs or use your pack in the summer time or when you are not travelling in avalanche terrain. Bruce Temper from the Utah avalanche center dropped by today and was really impressed, I quote “now there is a pack that I can ski with”. A bit of a game changer I would say. Also the lifebag series has had a big overhaul with a new deployment system and pack refinement. Have a safe winter and enjoy OR.

  20. John Gloor January 22nd, 2011 12:10 am

    Tony, I agree that DPS has a FAR better reputation for durability and skiability than Goode does. They are also using a traditional laminate style of ski building. That is hard to beat from a skiing standpoint. By substuting some CG for fiberglass they get a good return. When you pick up a Goode ski you get a glimpse into the future. There will never be a substitute for damp mass in a ski when descending, but skis will be made stiffer and lighter by utilizing different CF molding technologies. The next step will be thermo molding of plastic/CF (ala Fiberforge) as apposed to epoxy based CF molding. All my opinions on CF skis are based on second hand Knowledge, and 40 years of skiing fiberglass/wood skis. Wood really only offers the benefit of mass. Todays modern fibers can give more strength.

  21. Christian January 22nd, 2011 1:24 am

    Kdog: You could also take a look at the dynafit guide xl – a stiffer version of the mustagh ata. I opted for a longer version of the matasl – 187, I am 184. I think the ride is good, but not like my comparable alpine setup (salomon xwing enduro 184), but better than the combas I had beforw. I had chosen The 178 length I would have gone for the guide xl. (click on my name and see the first video to see my general riding style in slopes with the xwing) My weight is 87kg.

  22. Ben W January 22nd, 2011 6:54 am

    190 DPS Lotus 120’s 8.1 lbs. 140-120-125
    191 PMGear Lhasa’s 8.3 lbs. 140-112-122

    Both ski sooooooooo much better than the old Justice. Hope the new BD construction is an improvement. In my opinion DPS and PMGear have managed to put together very light (not quite ultralight) skis that perform as well or better than much heavier alternatives. If the big boys (BD, K2) can employ a similar construction at a lower price point the consumer (if not PMGear and DPS) wins.

    179 PMGear Bros- 125-99-114, 7lbs
    178 Manaslus 6.3 lbs.

    BUT the Bros have real bases and edges (not paper and wire) and you can mount them with TLT speeds to make the weight difference very small. And they excell on hard snow unlike chatter-box Manaslus.

    The price, however, is tough to swallow.

  23. Nick January 22nd, 2011 7:40 am

    I find it curious that you mention Kaestle as a long established ski manufacturer.

    The old, established Kaestle was taken over by Benneton. Then the brand was then killed by them. I believe the current Kaestle doesn’t have much if anything to do with the old one apart from the name (although their web site isn’t very clear on that).

  24. Lou January 22nd, 2011 7:54 am

    Nick, I was just trying to come up with an example of a ski brand with some long term heritage that helps with development. If that’s a bad example, apologies. K2 might be a better example?

  25. KDog January 22nd, 2011 8:05 am

    @ Christian,

    Thanks for the info on the Guide XL. I was under the impression that the only difference between them and the ATA was cosmetic. I think the weights are the same, so I’m not sure what they could have done to make them stiffer.

    I did not ski the Mustagh in a 187 but am sure it skis better for my size (87 kg as well). I thought it too long for tight chutes and only tried the 178.

    What ever it is they put in the Stoke (rubber or denser wood), it definitely skis damper and more solidly than the others.

  26. Lou January 22nd, 2011 8:06 am

    To the DPS glee squad, I have been in contact with them and did visit yesterday. They indeed may have one of the best ski weight/performance ratios in the industry. I’m trying to get set up so I spend more time on their skis, that way they’ll be on my radar and get more coverage here. I think we’ve got that going, so great. Meanwhile, the info you guys provide is great so keep it coming.

  27. Lou January 22nd, 2011 8:08 am

    RE Dynafit skis, they added a carbon layer to the Manaslu that’s said to make it less sketch on boiler plate. They also tweaked the boot position on it and I recall the Stoke as well.

  28. mc January 22nd, 2011 9:08 am

    Tweaked how? And by how much?

  29. Lou January 22nd, 2011 9:14 am

    Remember that the new mounting positions are for the new skis that have been changed, so they don’t apply to the older skis. My recollection is they said they moved the mount from 2 to 3 centimeters forward, depending on length and model. It’s not a big deal as it’s for the new skis, not the existing. What was interesting to me, however, was that the presenter at Dynafit event said they made quite a bit of effort to dial the mount position, by doing real-world testing with a group of super skiers such as ex World Cup racers and such. Sounded good, anyway.

  30. Christian January 22nd, 2011 3:23 pm

    I haven’t tried the guide xl myself, but the guys at telemark pyrenees recommended that I should take a look at them when they heard that I skied the BlackCorvus 196,5 as a freeride ski and the mustagh ata 187 for touring… They claimed it was stiffer.
    A lot of the micro vibrations that I have felt when skiing with dynafit bindings inbounds/slopes disappeared when I switched from zzero to tlt5p…not sure why.
    The stoke got great reviews here (Norway), but mixed in the french reviews I have seen… Seems like it is great for off piste, but so great when the test have been done on piste.

  31. Arch January 22nd, 2011 3:57 pm

    That ATK brake looks more like a mousetrap than a ski brake.

  32. David Aldous January 23rd, 2011 10:50 pm

    I know tele isn’t your thing but I’m curious about the boots off to the right on the picture of the new skis. Are those new boots or just changing the colors of the current tele boot line?

  33. DannyIrie January 24th, 2011 7:50 am

    Lou-did you see the new Mammut Snow Pulse avalanche airbag coming in 2012?

  34. Lou January 24th, 2011 8:06 am

    By the time that comes out it’ll be quite a bit different, in my opinion. Things are changing super fast in the airbag arena. A big competition has started regarding weight. We’re only seeing the beginning. With carbon cylinders and Dyneema bags, look for the weight of the plumbing to be cut by 1/3 within 12 to 24 months. Also, some of the companies are actually making packs that are quite light in of themselves. Snowpulse and ABS seem to be the most on the ball. And it’s all really expensive.

  35. Doug Goodwin January 24th, 2011 8:26 am

    Hey Lou, do you know if G3 is making any big changes in their ski line? I’m interested in the Zenoxides but if they’re looking better next season I might wait until then to pull the trigger. Anything else out there that catches your eye that’s fat and light – around 136-105-120 in dimensions?


  36. mc January 24th, 2011 7:18 pm

    Any word on what the Stoke’s radius is for next year?

  37. Tony January 24th, 2011 10:15 pm

    Lou, your comments don’t make it clear (and echoing mc’s question above) – did they change anything in the Stoke aside from maybe the mounting position?

  38. Arne January 25th, 2011 3:37 am

    “The ABS Powder 15 airbag backpack has enough space for average backcountry skiing kit”

    Do you really fit your average backcountry skiing kit in a 15L backpack? Wow. I prefer 40L packs that allow me to pack everything inside, including helmet.

  39. Lou January 25th, 2011 9:47 am

    Arne, each to his own system… I ski with a lot of people who can deal with that much space. But I totally agree that more space is necessary for may folks as well.

  40. Lou January 25th, 2011 10:13 am

    Tony, I’ll check.

  41. Lou January 25th, 2011 4:09 pm

    Doug, biggest change I saw in G3 was lighter weight. Word is for example the Zen Oxides for next year loses 300g and gets an early rise tip (3.3kg for a 105 waisted ski is not too shabby!)

    Overall, I saw that everyone from Tecnica to DPS are providing amazing choices in skis. If you pick a width you like in any of the major makers, you’ll probably be happy. In fact, I think the market is rather over saturated with ski choices at this point. BD’s line alone requires a full day of study before you’ll know which is which, and K2 the same. But more choices are great to an extent, till too much inventory and not enough sales stifles innovation.

  42. graham January 26th, 2011 3:48 pm

    you well might shortly see a very light dyneema pack with ABS…and I think the breathable layer is eVent.

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