Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2015 Preview: Backcountry skiing

Backcountry skiing gear gets lighter, faster and stronger. Get a preview of AT skis, boots and bindings to hit retail shelves next year.
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Leading up to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2015, SNEWS is previewing some of the top trends and new products you’ll see at the trade show and All Mountain Demo in Salt Lake City, Jan. 20-24. Find this story and more in our O.R. Daily Day 0 Preview edition.

Increased range of motion (and techcompatibility) in boots, enhanced tech binding offerings with DIN certification, and lighter skis for the up and beefier performance for the down are all offerings you’ll see in the backcountry sector at Winter Market as the lines continue to blur like ski tracks between off- and on-piste and performance.

“We’re seeing three major trends this year,” said Dynafit’s Eric Henderson. “Tech bindings are getting DIN certified, boots are getting better and better walk modes, and there’s a new market for ski running and fitness skinning at resorts.”

Saving pounds continues to be a driving force for the touring crowd. “Backcountry travelers are conscientious of the weight they have to carry,” said K2 Sports’ MJ Carroll. “Keeping the weight minimal without compromising safety and performance is a main criteria.”

Those weight savings are coming across the spectrum in bindings, boots, skis and more. “Gear is getting lighter and more efficient,” said DPS Skis’ Erme Catino. “That’s where the momentum’s going.”

All of this is being spurred by consumers. “Their three biggest needs are weight, performance and versatility,” added Atomic’s Jake Strassburger. “Those are driving the development of this category.”

>> Atomic ups its presence in the backcountry boot sector with the Backland Carbon Light (MSRP $1,000), which comes in at 1,040 grams per boot with a carbon spine, frictionless pivot, rockered sole and whopping 74-degree range of motion. It’s also available in a women’s version, the Backland W, offering the same features at 1,000 grams.

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>> DPS introduces its touringspecific, prepreg-carbon-sandwich Tour 1 (MSRP $1,050) in a new ultralight line weighing 300 grams less per ski than the popular Pure3. With cap construction de-emphasizing inbound dampness and an ultralight wood core, “it’s more focused on the up, yet still built with our proprietary carbon technology and shaping,” said DPS’s Erme Catino.

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>> Scarpa fleshes out its Freedom boot line with the stiffer, 130-flex Freedom RS (MSRP $849) to augment its P-bax SL, made from Polyamide nylon with unisex fitting. It also serves up a redesign of the Freedom (MSRP $649), made from a thinner, proprietary polyurethane. Both retain the original Freedom’s 27 degrees range of motion.

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>> La Sportiva debuts the Spitfire 2.0 boot (MSRP $899), a two-buckle whose ski/walk mode is built it into its cable upper buckle for easy mode switches. Made from carbon and Grilamid, it weighs 2 pounds, 7.8 ounces, offers 68 degrees of range of motion, and is compatible with Trab TR2 tech bindings, traditional tech bindings, and step-in touring bindings.

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>> Dynafit unveils a new twomodel, Free Tour ski collection, including the 108mm-underfoot Chugach (MSRP $800) and 118mm-underfoot Hokkaido, designed in conjunction with athletes Cody Barnhill and Jamie Laidlaw. Both feature elliptical arcs at tip and tail with flat camber underfoot combined with a progressive rocker.

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>> Black Diamond Equipment brings three categories of backcountry skis — ski mountaineering (Carbon), freeride (Boundary) and tour (Link) — all designed as much for the climb as the descent. The versatile, sandwich construction/poplar wood core Boundary series — including the 100, 107 and 115 (MSRPs $850-$900) — focuses on the down with rockered tips and tails, traditional camber, skin notch and a new sidewall dampening system to reduce chatter.

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>> G3’s new Ion LT (MSRP $500) is a lighter, brakeless version of its Ion, weighing 456 grams per binding, with release values of 5-12. The step-in tech binding features a snow-clearing channel at the toe, 40-mm mounting pattern, and consistent forward heel pressure. It comes with a safety leash and storage clip.

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>> Scott Sports returns to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market after a hiatus with its new 125-flex, four-buckle (plus strap) Superguide Carbon boot (MSRP $950), featuring a lightweight carbon shell and Grilamid (a thermoplastic) frame inlays for weight reduction (1,400 grams), a new PowerLight High Gore-tex liner and high-range-of-motion tour mode. “It allows for perfect and precise mobility of the foot on the up and strong stability during the down,” said Scott’s Topher Plimpton, adding that it’s also available with Dynafit-certified
tech inserts.

--Eugene Buchanan

These are just a few of the new products to debut at the show. Be sure to check out much more new and trends in the O.R. Daily, Days 1-4, published live at the show, and available digital format each day of print on SNEWS.

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