Gender free skis, ECT cord, 4.2 lb. mountaineering tent, more
WildSnow is taking Outdoor Retailer 2020 by storm. Here are the top takes on Day 1 from Lou, Gary, Doug and Manasseh.
Two days ago, a Cro-Magnon throwback PR email floated in through the pale grey digimist clouding my writing studio. “The skis are women specific,” it said. “They’re easier to turn.” Can you believe that kind of BS still surfaces from the lake of fire otherwise known as “marketing?”
I was thus delighted when the guys at G3 told me they’d gone androgynous and scrapped their female specific ski line. Instead, for lighter weight skiers of any gender, the’ll now sell a “Swift” version of each model, boasting a blue accent color instead of maple leaf red, relaxed flex and shorter length options. For example, you like the now proven FINDr 102? But it’s too much ski for you, the skinny guy or petite gal? Fear not. Consider the Swift version, in lengths 164, 169 and 174 mm.
Taking it personally, the 174 FINDr Swift is clearly a plank for me, as my days of skiing like a Canadian were over a few weeks ago after I strightlined the Hahnenkamm, and I’ve never weighed enough to press the camber out of a big gun such as the FINDr regular model. Likewise, I’m looking forward to my bride giving these a go. She survived the Streif as well, time to mellow out.
Along these same lines, another thoughtful gift from the city of Z: New for fall 2020, model “9” of the beautifully engineered ZED binding. With its powerful toe springs (I often tour them without locking the toe) and reasonable weight, Zed is one of my favorites, only the model “12” did not provide a sub-5 release value. Stop scoffing oh ye tree-legged Lughead, there are people out there, especially children, who need settings in the 3-9 RV range the new Zed 9 provides. Excellent job G3.
BCA Extended Column Test Cord
I have to say I was underwhelmed by a vast majority of the ‘fancy’ new hardgood products on Day 1 of OR. A pant-swallowing over-complicated sub-1000 gram Dalbello boot left me confused. Ditto with the new Scarpa F1 LT which takes the poorly performing F1 cuff buckle and slaps it onto the already fantastic Alien RS. I’ll try it on during Day 2 and report further. Highlights of the day included eating an ostrich bratwurst smothered with cream cheese and creepily following Alex Honnold around as he power walked through the masses. Leave it to BCA to save the day near the end with a simple backcountry product: a pre-knotted and packaged Extended Column Test cord. Nothing revolutionary here, a piece of cord with a few knots in it like many of us have made. In addition to being a 2.5mm cord with knots, The BCA snow slicer has a couple of bits of metal in the center and a few rubberized handles on either end to improve performance being the DIY hardware store model. A simple solid addition to any recreational snow scientist’s kit.
Ok, perhaps I was being a bit jaded after 8 hours of force fed Kool-aid– I did see a few things I really liked. The G3 Slayr looks to be a fantastic new pair of powder boards. The 114mm waisted plank leads with an aggressively rockered 143mm wide shovel and weighs in at a mere 1690 grams per ski in the ample 185cm length. Weight savings are largely from the third party bCore, a Swiss made balsa wood core. The balsa is sawn with the wood grain at a 45 degree then laminated in opposing fashion to retain strength. Two thin sheets of 7000 series Titanal and two triaxial carbon stringers run tip to tail to provide torsional stiffness and longitudinal pop. The Slayr, as well as the entire G3 ski and binding line, is available in the Swift series designed for lighter skiers.I would love to spend a week on these with the G3 team up in their prized bottomless BC powder. Just to see where the inspiration comes from, you know. Stay tuned to WildSnow this season for a full review of the Slayr from Dr. Alex Lee.
TNF Assault 2 Person Mountaineering Tent
It is not surprising that The North Face Advanced Mountain Kit won an ISPO product of the year award. After three years of intense product development with athletes like Andres Marin in some of the toughest conditions on the planet, TNF fully redesigned their six-layer clothing system. But on WildSnow we are gear junkies first and soft good players second, so it was really the equipment that caught my eye. The new AMK Assault 2 person tent is a true masterpiece sure to leave the aspiring multi-day ski mountaineer drooling, even if he long ago sold his soul for a warm bed and sprinter van like myself.
The AMK Assault 2 utilizes a a single layer of ultra lightweight 20 denier Futurelight membrane and an internal pitch design that keeps the weight at an impressive 4 pounds 2 oz for a four-season tent. The carbon fiber poles keep the weight down and help with rebound in high winds, but are sure to keep the price up. Ninety percent of the fabric is made from recycled material and is heavily reinforced around the base with a door that starts 8 inches off the deck to keep snow out. The retail price of this tent –hold your breath — is $1200. Also in the equipment list for the AMK is an incredibly light 10 degree Futurelight Sleeping bag featuring 1000 FP down, the Spectre 38 and 55 Liter approach packs and another personal favorite, the 100 liter Spectre Basecamp Duffle. Spectre packs feature a yarn made of material is reported to be 10 times stronger than steel, with the goal of ultimate indestructibility. The level of innovation and R&D at TNF is impressive and, as always, we hope to see these new fabrics and design ideas filter down into lighter and more efficient gear for the “everyday” objective. If you can swing the price tag this tent would be ideal for mid-winter dark cold nights to fast and light springtime ski missions.
DPS Pagoda Tour Ski
Picture a pagoda: a tower of stacked layers typical of southeast Asia. Traditionally, pagodas represented mountains, or housed religious relics. Some are made of interspersed wood and stucco, some brick and stone. The concept of intention material stacking is behind DPS’s latest ski designs: the Pagoda Tour and the Pagoda Piste. I’m particularly excited about the Tour, especially since I’ve been skiing the Cassiar 95 Tour 1 for the past two seasons, which the Pagoda Tour series will be replacing.
On the theme of layers, the Pagoda Tour stacks aerospace foam (debuted in the Powderworks Wailer RP), paulownia, ash and carbon fiber. One of the most exciting things: a full, poured sidewall, and a longer effective edge, promising elevated levels of solidity without a big weight penalty. My biggest gripe with the cap constructed Tour 1 was deflection in more challenging conditions; this construction looks promising for enhancing handling. The colors are sweet too — a metallic grey topsheet accented by bright shots of color. Full range of widths available, including 87, 94, 100, 106, 112. True to DPS tradition, this clever concoction of materials doesn’t come cheap. At $1299 it’s about as much as you’ll pay for a touring ski but from what we’ve seen so far from the Powderworks, it could be worth it. We’ll have a chance to find out in March.
While most of the WildSnow backcountry skiing blog posts are best attributed to a single author, some work well as done by the group.