Greetings from the Skimo Co family, and welcome to the 2019/20 season preview! After a bountiful 2018/19 season followed by a valiant stand from the fallen snow, the summer heat won again. And so the cycle begins anew! As new gear floods in the door daily, the arrival of winter is inching closer. As always, we’ve been busy working to ensure that your season will be smooth and rewarding. Joined by a cadre of smiling new faces, we are prepared (as always) to answer your overly nerdy questions when the time comes for your next purchase. Until then, maybe put your credit card in the other room, lest you be tempted by the shiny new widgets before your bike is officially sold. Now, on to the trends.
There’s a Boa constricting your foot! It's officially a trend. For 2019/20, Atomic joins the party started by SCARPA and interrupted by Fischer: the Boa bonanza! Long enjoyed by snowboarders for its comfortably snug fit, the Boa closure system is a ratcheting knob and cable that takes the place of laces and now ski-boot buckles. The twisting knob on the Boa allows skiers to precisely set the tension of boots over the instep with a quick turn of the wrist. The strange-looking contraptions offer a smooth and even clamp around your lower feet by simultaneously pulling in several directions. This is accomplished with thoughtful weaving of a cable, sometimes made especially smooth by brass rollers. Since fit can influence your foot’s happiness via comfort, temperature, ski control, and blister-resistance, an easy-yet-secure-fit option is certainly welcome. But beware: you won’t have success if you’re foot is too low volume for a specific model as you’ll likely over-tension the system and cause premature failure. Make sure to visit our online boot fitter before pulling the trigger!
Light bindings for small skiers. For many years, a paradox of the skimo binding market was that bindings consistently trended smaller and lighter, but release values stayed the same. Skiers who wanted fixed release values under 8 bravely chose from an array of zero options. Fortunately, we’re now seeing that segment of the market filled by the same overwhelming number of choices that befuddle heavier skiers. Plum adds the Oazo 6, Ski Trab the Vario.2 5-7, and Kreuzspitze the Lady SCTT in an effort to catch the always-out-front Dynafit and their Superlite 2 Women’s edition. And let’s not forget that BD jumped into the light-binding fray last season with Helio 145 R6. As always, we’re here to sort out the confusion for you with our annually updated binding finder.
Getting excessive with excess-fat skis. Due to the excessively snowy winter we just enjoyed, we felt compelled to bring in a few more excess-fat ski models. From our local ski-maker Voile comes the Hyper Drifter, a 120-ish waisted powder ski that brings back the hilariously popular Drifter of yesteryear, albeit in a much lighter package. Also in the unnecessarily fat category, the Black Diamond Helio 116 has been demanding to be noticed by skiers who love to support the Salt Lake City ski industry and the low-density snow that inevitably surrounds it. Both of these skis are guaranteed to float, pop, and gracefully slarve through even the deepest of powder days. Just make sure and hit that pre-season training regimen especially hard this fall-- fat skis with fat skins don’t go uphill nearly as nicely as your skinny skis do. And be warned: if you buy one of these skis, we’re virtually guaranteed to have a skimpy winter, since that’s just your luck.
Ski boots are made for skiing, and that’s just what they’ll do. Back in the early 2010s, the range of motion and walkability of boots such as the Dynafit TLT5 and SCARPA Alien opened many an eye. This type of boot was revolutionary because it allowed skiers to access terrain in a fast-and-light style that wasn't previously possible. Now as we approach 2020, boots with a wide range of motion are becoming more commonplace. As a result, the focus of innovation is shifting towards finding ways to further improve downhill performance without losing the now-required walkability. A high standard has been set, and brands seem eager to innovate and push boundaries forward. Fischer added a carbon-cuff option to the carbon-soled Travers, La Sportiva improved the mix of materials in the new Skorpius, and Dynafit increased the skiability of the TLT series by a factor approximately indicated by the increase in number (8/7-1=14%). Here at Skimo Co, we fully approve of this trend.
DP$ Powderworks reigns again. While backcountry skiers save some dollars each season by avoiding lift ticket purchases, we typically make up for those savings by buying one (or three) too many pairs of skis each season. Thanks to DPS, who is always pushing the boundaries of innovation and price, it just got significantly easier to spend all your ski money in one go and spend it well. The Powderworks Wailer 100RP Tour ski has a construction unlike any ski we’ve seen, with a flex and shaping that promises extremely high performance while still being functionally light. With a unique layup built around an aerospace-form core, DPS promises Alchemist level performance with a Tour1 weight. We hesitate to promise anything, but if their history is anything to go by, the new Powderworks Wailer ski is bound to be a fun ride. The flex test says it's ready to go, fast.
Tagged Products: DPS Powderworks Wailer 100RP Tour
Old dogs, new tricks. No, we’re not talking about your Grandpa learning how to use Facebook—we’re talking about skis! A handful of older skis were subject to updates not significant enough to warrant a totally new name, but we wanted to highlight a few of these exciting product updates anyways. The Blizzard Zero G 95 was often accused by the unsuspecting of being too demanding, so the Austrian’s cooked up a friendlier version. All the reliability of the old 95 with easier turn initiation and completion. Not to be left behind, Movement released the Vertex 94, a successor to the Apex with an updated construction and a serious candidacy for this year's best quiver-of-one-ski. Another minor-yet-welcome update came to the Atomic Backland UL 85, which sees new lengths and the popular spoon-shaped HRZN tech tip added to an already great design. This spoon-shaped tip idea was originally featured on the freestyle Bent Chetler ski, proving the technology trickle-down effect doesn’t only start with skimo race skis.
Helmets are foaming at the side. Just about all of the major helmet manufacturers are following Petzl's lead and taking a new approach to the shells found on their lightest climbing helmets. It’s the same theory that millennials are taking when it comes to home buying--less is more. Much like the bearded and bespectacled 30-year olds living the #vanlife with student loans and ‘Influencer’ as their job title, helmets like the Petzl Sirocco and Mammut Wall Rider are going minimalist. The idea behind this trend is that most neck-risking blows occur to the top of the head, so therefore having a slick polypropylene shell covering the sides of the helmet is unnecessary. Using EPP (expanded polypropylene, a low-density rigid foam) for the majority of the helmet’s construction, you can forgo most of the clunky hard-shell and shed weight while not sacrificing safety. In fact, some of these helmets, such as the Sirocco, passed the side-impact tests for ski helmets with flying colors. We are happy to see lightweight helmet options that offer great protection for ski touring-- lacking the downhill ski certification simply due to the fact that the tip of a ski pole can pass through the vents and stab your brain. While because of that rule they aren't certified for skiing or skimo racing, they are well-ventilated enough to be worn both up and downhill.
Women's boot-topia! The skimo gals have plenty to be excited about this season, especially those who are in the market for a new pair of boots. In our previous season preview, we highlighted the expanding field of ski options for ladies, and now it's time for boots! Although the Dynafit boot line has been around since you learned to say TLT, the women’s "eight" might just be your favorite yet. The Atomic Backland Pro Women is a great hiker with a Boa for easy fitting. The Tecnica Zero G Tour Scout is a crossover resort boot that will let you down exactly Zero percent of the time in ski mode. La Sportiva’s Stellar is the women’s version of the Skorpius, so rest assured that it is indeed stellar. Fischer added the suffix GR to the My Travers boot, which can only further signify its GReatness. With all of these new and updated models, women have more options than ever when it comes to lightweight ski touring boots. For more details on each individual boot, click the links below.
Everyone loves the 80s! The 80s were a great time to be alive if you were into Walkman’s, VCRs, and tall bangs. For folks like us who love skis in the 80-89mm wide range, the present day is even better! Skis like the aforementioned Backland UL 85, the Ski Trab Magico.2, and the Movement Race Pro 85 (another weight option for the amazing AT85 shape) saw significant and successful redesigns this season. The 2018 Ski-of-the-Year K2 Wayback 88, the always-popular Voile Objective, and the won’t-go-away Salomon MTN Explore 88 round out a category of skis that has never seen so many high-caliber options. Could it be that we are seeing an 80s renaissance? Might this be the return to sanity as the ski industry deals with an excess-fat ski hangover? For the sake of those skiers who have been indoctrinated from the beginning by the fat-ski propaganda, we sure hope so.
Upping your comfort level. Here on the Wasatch home front, we spent the summer making improvements as usual. Aside from moving racks around, putting a new outfit on the mannequin, and reorganizing the walls, we cleared a space in the corner for our new boot-fitting benches. After quickly dismissing the off-the-shelf options as too easy, we opened our paper-based CAD system and designed some benches that optimize space and comfort (your and ours). Boot-fitting has been an integral part of Skimo Co from the day we opened our doors, and we’re excited to finally give it a proper build-out. Come on in and grab a seat!
Winter is coming! No, that’s not an outdated GOT reference-- winter really is coming! As the first substantial snowfall draws nearer, take some time to review your kit of backcountry tools. Maybe it’s time to splurge on a new lightweight shovel or probe, or re-glue those old skins you were thinking about retiring. Looking at some new bindings? Here’s a reminder that we recycle used (and even semi-broken) bindings for store credit (click here for a recap on how that program works). Of course, we’ll be doing arcane snow dances in old Powderkeg T-shirts to stack the weather odds in our favor. Our team is ready for another season of providing our customers top-notch service and the most comprehensive selection of lightweight ski mountaineering gear available, and we hope to see or hear from you soon.