February 26, 2014

SIA 2014: Bindings

SIA 2014: Bindings

I don’t normally expect to be dazzled by anything in the ski binding universe, but 2014-2015 looks to be a big year in the Touring space. First of all we have the Vipec—currently 20% off at Backcountry—and this pretty much falls into the gotta-have-it category. The only reason I’m not buying a pair of Vipecs right now is (1) I’m broke and (2) I want to see if any durability fixes come in during the off season (more…)

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February 22, 2014

SIA 2014: Boots

SIA 2014: Boots

Ski Mountaineering Racing advances are percolating their way into standard Touring lines, bringing us Scarpa’s handsome F1 EVO ($699) and La Sportiva’s 4-buckle Spectre ($599). Both boots come with a consumer-friendly retail price (unlike their $3K carbon racing cousins) paired with reduced weight: two pounds, seven ounces per boot for the F1, and a little over three pounds for the Spectre (more…)

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February 20, 2014

SIA 2014: The Skis

SIA 2014: The Skis

If you want a quick narrative for the trends in ski design for the upcoming 2014-2015 winter, let’s go with a combination of consolidation and chasing. With a few notable exceptions, makers aren’t offering big, audacious changes. Rather, many of the best skis return unchanged (or with minor tweaks), and many second-tier skis come back looking more like this year’s winners (more…)

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February 1, 2014

SIA Denver 2014

SIA Denver 2014

There is snow in Denver—and a reported two feet or more of fresh in many nearby Colorado resorts, making for a wonderfully snowy beginning to the 60th running of the Snowsports Industries Americas’ annual Snow Show. I’ve roamed and roamed about the convention center floor today, and I’ll be at Copper Mountain for the On-Snow demo days as well (more…)

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December 4, 2013

Lange XT 120

Lange XT 120

Lange’s XT 120 is a slightly-softer version of the XT 130. Both boots feature a walk mode switch which allows you to release the cuff for enhanced walking mobility. Like the 130, the XT 120 is best thought of as an Alpine boot with a walk mode, rather than a true Alpine Touring model, though thanks to its (again, slightly) softer liner, the 120 at least approaches touring-capable comfort and range of motion (more…)

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November 24, 2013

Scott Cosmos

Scott Cosmos

There’s a bit of a leap of faith involved in buying a pair of Scott Cosmos ski boots. Just a year ago, the Cosmos was made by legendary but now-defunct Garmont USA. Garmont’s parting gift was at least one and possibly two critical design/manufacturing flaws embedded in the otherwise-stunning Cosmos. Early adopters (including me) thus found themselves not once but twice burned (more…)

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August 29, 2013

Look Pivot

Look Pivot

Where Alpine equipment is concerned, I generally believe nearly all modern bindings are safe and effective. That said, there is still variation in performance and durability. Look’s Pivot has a reputation for excellence even in the relatively homogeneous realm of Alpine bindings, thanks to its outstanding durability and its remarkable 40mm lateral travel (toe) and 28mm elastic travel (more…)

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August 13, 2013

La Sportiva Xplorer Mid

La Sportiva Xplorer Mid

La Sportiva’s lightweight Xplorer Mid is not at all the shoe I was expecting. In terms of weight, stiffness, and structure, the Xplorer is almost an anti-boot. The Xplorer Mid is minimalist to the point of being primitive. In fact, the shoe reminds me most of my Pearl Izumi Peak XC trail runners—they both have the same natural, almost ‘barefoot’ feel. That’s going to be highly appealing to some hikers, and, admittedly, (more…)

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August 1, 2013

Between Me and Gu

Between Me and Gu

Sports drinks have been making various claims of superiority to plain water for a long time, and I’ve been generally skeptical of the whole lot of them. Still, if you’re chasing someone who’s got a pocketfull of Gu gels (and you don’t have any), you do tend to wonder how much of a benefit there is to the various energy-boosting and/or electrolyte-replacing products available today (more…)

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July 16, 2013

Airhead Na Pali

Airhead Na Pali

If you’ve ever driven up to a scenic mountain lake and found yourself wishing you had a paddleboard or a sea kayak, Airhead’s inflatable Na Pali is worth a look. When not in use, the Na Pali rolls up into a reasonably compact package—about three feet by one feet—certainly small enough to fit in your trunk. Inflate the Na Pali via the included high-pressure hand pump or better yet (more…)

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