PROFILE: Venture Snowboards

PROFILE: Venture Snowboards, Blister Gear Review

A Company Seeks to Make Their Mark Yet Leave No Trace

When riding in the backcountry, whatever is strapped to your feet needs to perform. Steep chutes, tight trees, or sweet, untracked pow fields are all lousy places to learn that your board is subpar, and the middle of nowhere is a dangerous place to experience equipment failures.

Venture Snowboards, a small company with four year-round employees based in Silverton, Colorado, aims to deliver burly boards that kill it on the mountain, all while maintaining strong business and environmental ethics.

Started in 1999 by husband and wife team Lisa and Klemens Branner, Venture claims to produce the most durable, sustainable, and high-performance big mountain boards around. Backed up by a two-year warranty on materials and workmanship, they stick by their work.

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PROFILE: Trew Gear, Blister Gear Review

Many great projects have been born in a garage: The White Stripes and The Black Keys, Apple and Google, and numerous Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins expeditions.

More recently, TREW gear, a Hood River, Oregon-based gear company, is continuing the garage start-up tradition as they attempt to bring function and fashion to the backcountry. But TREW now operates out of a three-car garage, and they are growing, slowly but surely.

The idea started with brothers John and Chris Pew, and their good friend Tripp Frey. (Tripp + Pew = TREW, get it?) The boys began exploring the backcountry during their high school days and continued the practice through college. Frey studied business, Chris comparative literature, and John got a degree in ever-useful Mandarin.

During their backcountry excursions, they knew something was missing: steeze.

“We noticed that you always ended up looking like your dad when you went into the backcountry,” John said. “That wasn’t capturing modern skiing.” What they dreamed of was high quality gear, dripping with style – a new school twist on traditional mountain gear outfitters like Patagonia or Arc’Teryx. “We all knew we wanted to do the same thing,” John said. “Fill the gap of technicality and style.”

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Preview: MFD ALLTIME AT Binding

Preview: MFD ALLTIME AT Binding, Blister Gear Review

The MFD ALLTIME: Trekker Slaughterer, Duke Killer?

A dilemma exists for alpine skiers who want to access the untouched expanses of backcountry terrain but don’t want to sacrifice the performance of a high-DIN alpine binding. Yes, the release of Marker’s Duke and Baron bindings several seasons ago presented an attractive option. Yet for those of us who either can’t drop the cash on a pair; have issues with their notoriously low elasticity; are concerned with weight; or are looking to adapt an existing resort setup for touring, the options are very slim.

Backcountry Access makes the Alpine Trekker, which are adaptors that click into regular alpine bindings, creating a free-heeled platform designed to fit any alpine boot. Granted, depending on your boot size, using them with bindings with a tall heelpiece (most new Marker and Look/Rossignol bindings) may not work so nicely. The heel of your boot will rest on the binding, not on the bottom trekker platform. Regardless of these minor compatibility issues, Trekkers (or “Day-rekkers” as they’ve sometimes been called), can get the job done. I have been on a number of tours using them with only the slightest inconvenience. And yet, given the Trekkers’ heavy weight, bulky construction, lack of torsional rigidity, awkward 3″ stand height, and a build-quality that doesn’t seem to justify the $180 price tag, they make for a less than ideal AT setup. Soon, however, there might be a better way.

MFD Inc., a Salt Lake City based company, has announced their plan to release a new AT binding system to retailers in fall, 2011. The MFD ALLTIME, the company’s flagship product, aims to satisfy alpine skiers looking toward the backcountry while minimizing the drawbacks of an adapter system. A machined aluminum channel with releasable heel is mounted to the ski. From here, almost any high-performance binding from Salomon, Rossignol, Look, Atomic, Marker, 4FRNT, Tyrolia, or Head can be used. The ALLTIME comes in four different models to accommodate different binding mount patterns.

The MFD ALLTIME (Salomon/Atomic System)

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