Just got back from Smog Lake City and the Outdoor retailer show. That placed absolutely taxed the lungs and throat. People call Salt Lake City one of the best places to live if you’re a skier, but how does one deal with the pollution?!
Got to look at a lot of the backcountry ski and boot designs.
Skis: Skis that were high on the cool-o-meter were: DPS Lotus 120mm Mini-spoon???? Totally got the name wrong, but certainly the coolest ski I’ve ever seen. Has the mini spoon 3D shape on the tip rocker, is 120mm underfoot (perfect) with regular camber underfoot, and a bit of tail rocker. Call it a cross between the Spoon, Lotus 138, and the wailer 112. Most sought after ski next year for sure! Volkl had a crazy Carbon fiber concept ski that looked insane. With a regular ski thickness where the binding mounted, and then ribs for and aft. But the rest of the ski along the tips and edges was only a few mm thick. Looked insane! Probably not very robust though.
Bindings: Bindings were more of the same. The Dynafit Beast is the only ‘real’ new player on the market. Providing all the hard chargers of the world with a binding that actually tours well. (unlike bar designs from Marker, Fritschi, Atomic, Salomon etc). The other cool binding is Fritschi’s new tech binding. They had a rough working proto at the show. Each of the toe pins at the front can release separately in a fall (very interesting). The heel was on a sliding track, which allows for the heel to release. It totally infringes on G3′s Onyx patents though (but I don’t know if the euro’s really care about a small Canadian company breathing down they’re neck). It came with a very interesting ski crampon that attached via simple pincers. A ‘riser’ engaged on the crampon, to keep the crampon engaged on the snow for when you have your heel risers up. If the real version works the binding should be great for beginners and mellow enthusiasts. I don’t know if the binding will be robust enough for hardcore users though. So Dynafit et al shouldn’t be too worried.
Boots: The boot scene is pretty depressing. With the auto-lock system on the TLT5 etc, Dynafit provided the next step in the evolution of stiff boots that tour incredibly well. Unfortunately, no one else (except for La Sportiva sort of) has been able to make the jump. Scarpa, Garmont, Tecnica, Salomon, it’s all the same old story. Walk modes that are non-existent. There’s all these new boots as well from Atomic, K2, Scott ect. They’re all based on old technology, are heavy and sort of suck. Everybody wants in on the backcountry money pile, but it doesn’t mean you just toss out a boot with tech inserts and call it the next big thing. On the bright side, Dynafit showed off the TLT6 Performance. If the TLT5 was the revolution, then the TLT6 is the total refinement. Many little tweaks to make things stronger, lighter and more efficient. Highlights include a slightly wider forefoot, thicker liner, beefier buckles, and the removal of the gimmicky front flex zone. Similar in weight to the TLT5, it will be the most sought after boot next year (next to the Vulcan).