Leading up to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, SNEWS is previewing new trends and products you’ll see at the trade show in Salt Lake City, Jan. 22-26. Today, we take a look at some of the latest in winter safety gear. All these stories also can be found in the print or digital flipbook edition of our Planning Guide.
While the lines of distinction may be blurred between backcountry, sidecountry and slackcountry, there’s no gray area when it comes to manufacturers’ affinity for creating ski SKUs for use beyond the ropes.
“We’ve embraced the backcountry category from the beginning and continue to do so today,” said K2’s Mike Hattrup. “It’s an important component of who we are.”
Skis for off-piste terrain continue to focus on weight savings — as, more often than not, their use involves hiking for your turns — as well as strength, durability and float. The latter comes in the form of increasing uses of rocker in all the right places to help the ski rise dolphin-like out of the snow during untracked descents.
While in many cases these improvements in off-piste performance come with a trade-off in hardpack handling, most models are versatile enough to satisfy those seeking a one-quiver ski. Still, the focus is on the backcountry use, and this year you’ll see manufacturers continue to fine-tune built-in attachment points for skins, easing the transition time between climbing up and schussing down.
“It’s still a very strong category and is showing no signs of letting up,” said Marker/Volkl Director of Marketing Geoff Curtis. “More and more people are venturing out of bounds, and manufacturers are responding with skis that make it easier. It’s a booming niche.”
>> Driven by its new in-house ski factory, Black Diamond comes out swinging with 11 skis for 2013, all improving upon its 3D Formula One geometry with ABS sidewall instead of torsion-cap construction and utilizing clean prepreg technology and solar-powered press heating. Spearheading its Freeskiing series are the AMPerage and Verdict (MSRPs $799), with its lightweight Touring series highlighted by the Convert (MSRP $799) and Aspect (MSRP $699).
Black Diamond AMPerage
>> La Sportiva debuts a fusion sidewall ski called the Mega Lo5 (MSRP $725), a vertically laminated poplar wood core ski with traditional camber and extended sidecut. It utilizes carbon fiber laminates and an additional prepreg layer for weight savings (1,915 grams) and strength. It’s available in lengths of 168, 178 (125-95-115 mm) and 188 cm.
La Sportiva Mega Lo5
>> G3 introduces four new men’s and women’s skis, building off its 2012 Empire, District and Cake platforms with slightly narrower, more versatile offerings. The Empire 115 (MSRP $780) is designed for big mountain freeriding with a full reverse camber profile and tapered tip and tails. Fine-tuned for smaller skiers, the Empress 115 (MSRP $640) is G3’s most aggressive women’s ski, also featuring full reverse camber and tapered tip and tail shape. Its District 100 (MSRP $700) and Cake 100 (MSRP $600) replace its Tonic and Zest in a lighter, more versatile ski for touring. The company is also showcasing carbon versions of its popular ZenOxide (MSRP $660-$900) touring-focused ski.
G3 Cake 100
>> Salomon continues to address the earn-your-turns niche with its new Q-ski line, a four-ski series in the Q-115 Q-105, Q-98 and Q-90 (MSRPs $799/$699/$599/$549), named for their underfoot widths, blending backcountry and hard-snow performance. The semi-sandwich construction, woodcore line features honeycomb tips and tails and hook-free taper in the tip — the five-point sidecut’s widest point tapers in toward the extremities to prevent hooking in variable snow. It features utility rocker with an enlarged carve zone and a more directional rocker profile with a flat tail for terrain absorption and turning.
>> For 2013/14, Scott Sports debuts the Rock’Air (MSRP $700), the widest (175 cm: 103 mm underfoot; 183 cm: 105 mm underfoot) of three models in its new lightweight mountain line. Both utilize Scott’s Pro-Tip Rocker design and feature new construction combining a Paulownia wood core with carbon fiber stringers for weight (1,640 grams per ski) and strength. The company also unveils its all-new carbon laminate sandwich construction in its Powd’air (MSRP $900)(163, 173 and 183 cm), featuring 375mm of Pro-Tip rocker to improve float.
Scott Sports Rock'Air
>> Created in memory of ski mountaineer Steve Romeo, Dynafit debuts the new 1,550-gram (173 cm) Grand ski (MSRP $800), made from sidewall construction and with a 105 mm waist. It comes with an early rise tip for float and new carbon stringers for weight savings and torsional rigidity. “It’s light enough for serious ski mountaineers and strong enough for whatever you find on the hill,” said sales and marketing director Jim Lamacusa.
>> For true powder junkies, DPS Skis showcases the Spoon (MSRP $1,349), featuring a convex 3-D shovel combined with a single-radius underfoot rocker and radical edge bevel. It’s available in a 190cm size in Pure3 Construction. It also unleashes the Lotus 120 (MSRP $1,299) (140-120-125 mm; sizes 184, 190 and 200), featuring a convex base design in the tip (600 mm tapered and rockered shovel) for early planing ability. The company’s Pure 3 Construction is a weave of fiberglass, carbon and bamboo.
>> For 2013/14, Volkl continues its popular Nunataq (MSRP $825), Nanuq (MSRP $825) and Inuk (MSRP $700) models, all three featuring enhanced rocker profiles, updated graphics and Volkl’s signature plug-and-play Skin Pin proprietary skin attachment system, eliminating length guesswork for backcountry first-timers and veterans.
These are just a few of the new products to debut at the show. Be sure to check out many more new backcountry ski products and trends in the O.R. Daily, published live at the show, and available digital format each following day of print on SNEWS.