Winter OR 2017 Sneak Peeks
We’re hitting the showroom floor again today, but here are some of the most intriguing products from Day 1 at Winter Outdoor Retailer 2017…
Salomon X-ALP S Lab + MTN Binding + X-ALP Line of Skis
When Arc’teryx first developed the Procline — a very lightweight, mountaineering-oriented boot that emphasizes uphill performance — they did so in conjunction with Salomon. So it isn’t surprising that Salomon has developed a very similar-looking boot.
The X-ALP S-LAB features the same forward and lateral range of motion and walk mode as the Procline, but while the Procline almost feels like a climbing boot with tech fittings, the X-ALP is much more ski focused. Salomon uses a different, Grilamid lower on the X-ALP that should punch better (i.e., be easier for a boot fitter to work on) than the Procline. The X-ALP also has a thinner and lighter tread pattern, and gets rid of the full rubber toe of the Procline. These changes, along with a lower, less technical gaiter, allow the X-ALP to shed a stated 100 g over the Procline, putting it right around 1190 g per boot in a 27.5.
Salomon is also releasing an updated MTN binding. The new version has brakes, and Salomon claims that it skis much more responsively than the old, brakeless version, to go along with the X-ALP line of skis. Perhaps the most notable thing about the MTN binding is that the locking mechanism for the brakes looks very solid — which is something that I personally really appreciate after a couple of seasons struggling with tech brakes that won’t stay up.
As for the new X-ALP line of skis, they feature a super light construction that Salomon says is optimized for long days, but that can still handle variable snow conditions.
Updated Black Diamond Fritschi Diamir Vipec Evo 12
We came away from our AT Binding Shootout very impressed with the Black Diamond Fritschi Diamir Vipec 12. Its combination of weight, price, ease of use, and performance is hard to beat. So we were happy to hear that Black Diamond made some small changes including updating the Vipec toe to make it easier to step into, but otherwise, left a good binding alone. Having said that, we are extremely excited about this new release from BD / Fritschi…
Black Diamond Fritschi Tecton Binding
There’s a long history of people going crazy at trade shows over the next seemingly amazing AT binding, boot, or ski — before anyone has actually put significant time on or in these products. Still, given how good the Vipec 12 has proven to be, the new Tecton appears to be a very serious competitor to the Marker Kingpin, the best downhill-performing tech binding on the market. The Tecton has an alpine-style heel with 9 mm of elastic travel, along with a laterally releasing toe (similar to what is found on the Vipec) with 13 mm of elasticity. And all at a stated weight of 550 grams and a release range of 5-12.
While this should be enough to get everyone’s attention, I admit that I am actually most excited to see that the heel risers on the Tecton seem to be much easier to activate than those on the Marker Kingpin, which have become a pet peeve of mine on rolling skin tracks. The whole system looks clean, and we’re excited to see if the Tecton can deliver on the promised performance of a true alpine heel combined with a laterally releasing toe. Stay tuned for an in-depth comparison with the Kingpin.
DPS Alchemist Construction
DPS unveiled a new pure carbon construction at OR called the “Alchemist,” and it replaces their Pure3 construction. The new skis will have the same shapes as the Pure3 skis they replace, across the full lines of men’s and women’s skis. So while the shapes stay the same, DPS says that both the flex patterns and the construction change to produce “upgrades that are notably damper and smoother in mixed and firmer conditions” — i.e., the skis will perform better in less-than-perfect conditions.
DPS is using some pretty fancy terms to talk about the new tech, calling it “Next-level, vibration-tuned aerospace grade carbon ski construction melded with absolutely the finest supporting materials.” And while we’re always suspicious of sensational marketing copy, any claim to having found a way to make lightweight skis more damp and more predictable is worth examining. We’re excited to get these on snow.
Also, Two New DPS Skis
DPS is also releasing a new Tour1 construction Lotus 124 that weighs a stated 1595 g in the 185 cm length (whoa), as well as a new Tour1 Cassiar 87, with a stated weight of 1275 g in a 178 cm.
Mystery Ranch Ski Packs
Mystery Ranch makes some very good packs. In general, they tend to carry well and last a long time. So we were happy to see that they’re returning to the world of ski packs with four ski-specific models that all feature burly suspension systems. The new 15 L D-Route is optimized for inbounds and slackcountry riding, with room for avy gear and an extra layer, a diagonal ski carry, and that’s about it. But its suspension system is much beefier than most other inbounds packs, so it should carry much better.
The 22 L Saddle Peak is designed for day tours, and it has the same hefty suspension system as Mystery Ranch’s larger packs. It’s set up for A-Frame or diagonal ski carry, and the avy tool pocket is clearly marked with bright zipper pulls.
The Patrol 35 and 45 L packs round out the new line. Unlike a lot of larger ski packs, Mystery Ranch opted not to sacrifice carrying comfort or durability on their larger packs. So these are not the lightest 45 L ski packs around by any means, but they instead feature hefty 330D Cordura, and fully-featured suspension systems. They have all the features you’d expect to find on an overnight snow pack, and Mystery Ranch incorporated a clever back panel opening that works around the frame, that allows you to easily access anything in the pack. They also incorporated a “stick-it” pocket in the front of the pack to stuff extra layers and / or other equipment that you need to keep accessible without dealing with the top-loader.
In sum, these ski packs look durable, comfortable, and intelligently designed, and we’re excited to get time in them.