March 14, 2014 GoPro Hero3+ Gear

GoPro Hero3+

GoPro’s Hero3+ is one of those vexingly-horizontal iterations that make it almost impossible to know whether it’s worth it to upgrade. Still, GoPro is making a number of claims of superiority regarding the 3+’s image quality, audio quality, and battery life. And then there’s the new SuperView mode. Plus a new included wireless remote. Existing (more...)...

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February 28, 2014 SIA 2014: Accessories Gear

SIA 2014: Accessories

BCA releases the Tracker 3 avalanche beacon, which promises to wed the original tracker’s real-time speed and simplicity with a smaller, lighter body. Expect the Tracker to once again dominate the beacon market. For those of you who need a wildly expensive helmet, POC offers the race-oriented Skull Orbic Comp H.I. MIPS (MSRP: $480), which (more...)...

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February 26, 2014 SIA 2014: Bindings Gear

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 (more...)...

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February 22, 2014 SIA 2014: Boots Gear

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 (more...)...

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February 20, 2014 SIA 2014: The Skis Gear

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 (more...)...

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February 1, 2014 SIA Denver 2014 Gear

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 (more...)...

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December 4, 2013 Lange XT 120 Gear

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 (more...)...

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November 24, 2013 Scott Cosmos Gear

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 (more...)...

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August 29, 2013 Look Pivot Gear

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 (more...)...

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August 13, 2013 La Sportiva Xplorer Mid Gear

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 (more...)...

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When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

Pray for snow.