Last weekend Earlyups was at the SIA tradeshow in Denver. Wondering what notable gear you’ll be looking at on the shelves next fall? We’ve got your “best of” right here…
We’re not going to say technological progression has stopped, but it’s much less “holy crap that is awesome” than we’ve seen in the past. But remember, ten years ago most of us were on skis without any rocker, tech bindings were for rando nerds and touring boots for that old dude that wore way too tight of pants.
All of that has changed. To see such innovation again, year over year, would be unrealistic. Ebbs and flows. Ups and downs. For now, we’re seeing a refinement of existing ideas – not entirely new ideas all together…
- Touring is everywhere – and with good reason. The AT market is exploding. And finally, we’re all embracing light (but skiable) gear. The tech binding has fully penetrated the market with more boots slated to come down the pipeline. This is best exemplified by Atomic and Salomon’s latest…
- Rocker Gets Refined – We’ve gone nuts with camber profiles over the past 10 years. We’re starting to figure out what does what – finally. While you may not see any major deviations from what you saw last season, you’ll see subtle refinements – which we know make a big difference.
- “Put a new top sheet on it” – This trend is slowly dying. And for good reason. Changing only graphics hurts one party the most – the retailer. Companies are starting to leave certain models alone for a couple seasons – allowing retailers to keep their margins and skiers to not be unneccisarly confused by “what is different”.
- The One Ski Quiver is coming – It’s not here yet, but the ski that is light, refined and fun paired with a boot/binding that is light and skis 95% as well as an alpine binding is close (some might say here), but in our eyes still a few years out.
- Tech “2.0” still doesn’t exist. Bummer.
Salomon: For 2016 Salomon embraces the (real) touring market with the MTN Lab boot and ski line (sorry guys, the binding is euro only). Yes, we know, they’ve had the Guardian touring binding for awhile – and it’s a great binding, but more limited to sidecountry sub 4K vert days. We’ve long expected this with the addition of Greg Hill to their athlete list.
We tried on the boot. Few thoughts. First, its light. Second, the liner actually seemed legit. Third, I usually ski a 28 but the 27 seemed to fit well – and at a 311 BSL (ish) it would make sense (sort of big for an touring boot in a 27). Fourth, the boot seemed to have a smooth, progressive flex. Hard to tell on the showroom floor with respect to stiffness – and really interested to see if the boot holds up to lateral load. Time will tell…
Atomic: Salomon’s sister company Atomic too has jumped into the touring game full-fledged with the Backland Carbon. While not their first touring boot – this thing is entirely different than anything they have produced. It features a ton of carbon fiber and and an ~1,000 gram weight spec – (woh). We’re testing this one so expect more to come in the near future. Our initial feeling is it is stiff enough to drive any ski, has an excellent walk mode, and the liner seems okay. We’ll likely beef up the liner, add more forward lean and see what’s what. Fun side note, the BSL is crazy small – 285ish in a 26 (seems true to size though). The Backland Carbon is stiffest with the Carbon light being the lightest option (there are others at lower price points too).
Scarpa Boot: Scarpa had one new boot on hand – with a revised Freedom dubbed the “RS” (resort specific?). Last year’s Freedom SL remains in the line. This is merely an enhanced Freedom more geared toward alpine use. Its a bit heavier and a bit stiffer. Most everything else remains identical (including the mold).
Volkl: Volkl had a few rad offerings. The first ski that caught our eye was the BME looking Gotama replacement dubbed the 100 Eight. It shares a similar frame less the carbon. The shape looked money with subltle reverse camber somewhat matched to the sidecut. Initial guess is that this would be an absolutely kick ass “quiver of one” with a Kingpin or Beast. Fun fact – Marker has fully addressed the issue of the Kingpin “pin failure” (pin popping out). They have assured us the problem is fixed and was an isolated incident to begin with. We’re inclined to believe them.
Blizzard: Blizzard has quietly been kicking ass for the last few seasons. This is one of the few companies that fully revamped all models in their line. To start, all skis recieve a new shape and slightly different camber profile. The company also started making a new touring oriented lineup with the Zero-G series.
The skis that caught our eye were the Bodacious (subtle reverse camber – flatish under foot), Cochise (slightly more camber), and the Zero-G that mirrored the Cochise (same shape, lighter layup).
DPS: DPS left most of their line alone. Their major announcement was their gram saving Tour1 construction. DPS has already done a hell of a job leading the way for light-but-stiff skis. The Tour1 line is the continuation of this for those that prize lightweight first and foremost. With this contruction the company went to a cap style construction and went to a balsa core. The skis are still very stiff – though less resort friendly. We sort of want to get an uber light tech setup and start running up mountains…
Tour 1 Construction
Armada: Hans Smith, owner of Armada walked us through the Invictus line. He commented thatthese have been his go to ski 90% of the days – a true skier’s ski mirroring Line’s Supernatural in many ways , with a bit more “goes to 11”. Now in smaller waist widths and the smallest being free of metal.
Metallica skis Armada (seriously). Maybe you should too? Metallica topsheets…
Rossignol: Rossi FKS users rejoice. Finally, the company has included a moving AFD for their amazingly awesome FKS line of bindings. The toe height is adjustable and the AFD slides… as you can see below.
Dalbello: The Lupo now has tech inserts! Some might ask – why? Well, we have a lot of tech binding skis and and certain days it’d be rad to be able to drive them with an alpine boot. Plus, those who dig the CAST binding – this could be the answer to your prayers. K2 Pinnacle competition!
Dynafit: Dynafit was not in attendance this year – instead doing a real on snow test up at Berthoud Pass(which we’re asking to have moved to Teton Pass next season). Nonetheless we’re psyched on their offerings for next season and will be testing soon. Two skis and a new boot headline their new offerings. Word is the boot is a smoother, slightly heavier Vulcan – though not with as much articulation. We’re pumped to try it.
4Frnt – With the inclusion of Kye Peteresen to the 4Frnt roster, he has a few new pro models. All would make excellent do-everything skis for a place like Jackson with the 110 being in the middle of the “do-everything” wheelhouse.
G3: G3 expands the Ion (we are currently testing) with a more lightweight touring-only brakeless version. To add, they’ve brought forth a new ski line and hired a new ski engineer (formerly of Kastle) to help progress their line even more. The shapes are starting to look good and they are extremely lightweight. We’re excited to see what they do in the near future – could be good.