After serious ski industry shmoozing yesterday, today was my time to walk the aisles and find the interesting, or just plain weird.
|The pet accessory business is big and I have to admit this jacket and bootie fido ensemble from Ruff Wear is kind of cool. Let’s just hope some of the profits from these doggie softshells go to feed starving children in some far corner of the world. I mean, talk about excessive consumption.
|Unlike dogs, for us humans fashion is as essential as the air we breath. Consider the “ski bum” who eats free crackers for lunch so he can afford a $300 soft shell, and consider these Zeal Airestream sunglasses. Sure, you could protect your eyes by cutting slits in hunks of cardboard and taping them over your peepers, but why do that when you can wear something this beautiful? These glasses stunned me — they look even better than something you’d see while window shopping in Milan, but they’ve got Zeal’s incredible lens technology, as well as ultra-reliable frames. How can someone in Moab, Utah (where Zeal is located) ace out the Italian designers? Mystery. But it happened.
|Check this out. Collapsible plastic silverware from Jetboil. Ever had your spoon fall into your pot of gumbo? With the extendo handle, just click to the longest extension and it can’t get lost in the gruel. Or lengthen to reach the bottom of your Jetboil. The spoon even has the perfect radius end to mate with the curve of a Jetboil cooking container. Shorten to stowe nearly anywhere.
|To close out the day Golite presented a Doors tribute band. These guys were actually quite good, but I just couldn’t get behind the front man’s effort to re-create Jim Morrison’s look. Comments anyone?
Other isle walking observations:
Granite Gear backpacks are pretty much the same this coming year, but they’ve got some fun new accessories. I like their silnyl reusable grocery bag, and they’ve got an excellent selection of nice accessory pouches.
Hydrapack has extended their product line and they’re making a couple of larger backpacks to round out their offerings, but Hydrapack’s weight/volume ratio is a bit too high for my taste. Nonetheless, worth a look if you like trim but fully featured packs built around hydration systems.
ACR personal locator beacons continue to improve. They get smaller, and built in geo-location using GPS makes them much more effective as a rescue device. For emergency comm I still favor a sat-phone, but beacons are worth a look as they’re much easier to operate if you’re injured and cost less in the long run.
In the boot gadget department, one of my missions was to ask around and see if someone had a boot dryer/warmer that worked off auto voltage. I’ve found plenty of 12 volt dryers, but nothing that puts out heat. Dry Guy is releasing just that. “Turbo Dry” is a nice little unit you shove into the toe of your boot and plug into your car cigarette lighter. Result, toasty boots at the trailhead. Look for it next fall.
I thought the Hydra Coach qualified for the totally useless gadget award, but I’ve reconsidered. This device is a water bottle with an LCD that tells you how much you’re drinking. You can program it with a goal and it’ll tell you if you’re drinking enough, as well as showing your rate of consumption. I can think of several uses for this, from intense athletic training to just staying healthy in the office.
Camp, the Italian climbing gear company, has some amazing lightweight gear that I highly recommend for ski alpinism. They’re selling a beautifully designed aluminum ice axe that has a hardened steel tip, as well as aluminum crampons with same on the front points. Take my word for it — state of art. They’re also making a carbon fiber avy probe that’s incredibly light, and have a multi-sport helmet that converts from a ski helmet to an alpine climbing or rock climbing helmet by removing insulation and padding. But better than all that, they’ve decided to import mohair climbing skin material in bulk, and will provide shops with rolls they can sell by the meter so we all can whip up pairs of mohair skins. If you’ve never skinned on mohair you might not want to start. It’s addictive. Super glide, light weight. They wear out fast and tear easily, but in certain conditions Mohair can almost feel like skiing on nordic wax.
All for now, perhaps a bit more Utah gear flogging tomorrow then back to Aspen area where I’ll be involved in helping some folks with their 24 Hours of Sunlight bids, and blogging the race as it happens!
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.