At SIA’s 2017 Snow Show, we found some amazing updates and innovations for next season. Uphill is truly coming into its own and crossing over into the mainstream. Ski companies are embracing Silicon Valley-type tech to make boots more comfortable and skis more powerful and precise. Take a look at what we saw:
G3 – Genuine Guide Gear
For 2018, G3 updates the Scala series with the addition of the Scala LT climbing skin. They use their LT pile and backing and a shorter TPU scaled section. You still get the advantages of the Scala design, but without the drawbacks we noted in our previous review, and all while weighing less than a traditional Alpinist in the same size. They also adds two new skis to their lineup – the SENDr and the ROAMr. The G3 SENDr replaces the Empire Carbon and is their charger ski. At 112 underfoot, it’ll float in the deepest snow, and the four carbon and two Titanal layers mean it has some serious power. On the lighter side of things, the G3 ROAMr slots in on the more durable, light-but-not-as-light side of last year’s FINDr. Both the SENDr and ROAMr feature PU sidewalls for dampness and durability.
Also, a small update to the ION bindings – toe locator bumper updated for better function and more durability!
Scarpa upgrades both the Alien and the Maestrale line. The new Alien RS features an updated ski/walk mechanism and carbon fiber infused into the Grilamid shell. The Maestrale RS also has carbon infused into part of the Grilamid shell to stiffen it up between the pivots and under-foot. Scarpa loses the hinged tongue and chops off a toe buckle, but maintains even pressure distribution across the top of the forefoot with a cable equalization system. Add 23° of range of motion over the previous Maestrale RS and remove 5 ounces per boot. Our favorite boot just got way better.
DPS is always known for top-notch carbon construction, great performance, and terrible top-sheet graphics. We get it – the skis speak for themselves. This year, they release their new construction – Alchemist. Still carbon, still light, still stiff and responsive, but now without carbon chatter. Check out the end of the video when Kelsey drops the skis. The Pure3 ski rattles; the Alchemist ski does not.
Black Diamond releases two new ski lineups for 2018. The first is the Route line, which uses the same shapes and molds as their excellent, ultralight, but expensive Helio skis. Remove the balsa/flax core and carbon and use fiberglass and poplar instead. More durable edges and topsheets mean you can beat up the Routes. And, they’ll be cheaper than the Helios. We found them to be heavier, but they still performed well – better in the conditions we had than the Helios! (Helios totally win on the uphill and in the pow, though!)
Also new – the Fritschi Tecton binding! Fritschi takes their updated EVO toe piece from the latest Vipec and adds an alpine heel with major vertical elasticity. Is this the perfect one-binding quiver, so to speak?
Fischer upgrades their uphill game with the new Hannibal 96 and Ranger 115 skis. Both involve carbon, but for very different purposes. The Hannibal is your uphill, fitness and spring corn ski while the Ranger 115 is your pow day bomber. They also introduced their 3D scan bootfitting system, called Individual. It scans your foot and searches their boot database to find the best match. It’ll even search outside of the Fischer line.
Dynafit updates their entire ski line this year with sizes from the Beast 108 down to a slender 84mm. Carbon construction, nice shapes, and good versatility – enough that your backcountry ski can legitimately be your everyday ski.
K2 excites with their updated Pinnacle lineup – new construction and new materials plus a new size! They lowered the rocker a bit and strengthened the camber for better hard-snow performance and integrated their Konic composite into the core for lighter swing weight and better damping. The new 85mm version features full wood core and solid sidewalls (no carbon) with the same profile as the larger versions, but will retail for $399. On the boot side, K2 adds Thermic heated liners. Available in boots up to 120-flex, Thermic integrates battery and heater directly into the liner – no more battery packs hanging off your boot.
Line’s entire Sick Day series is completely new for 2018. We’re most excited about the 104 and 114. The 104 features an Aspen core with Magic Fingers carbon filaments for stiffness and a retooled rocker profile – perfect for Rocky Mountain backcountry skiers. The 104 will be available in 172, 179, and 186 lengths. The Sick Day 114 uses Line’s more powerful Partly Cloudy core made from Paulownia wood and their Magic Fingers carbon filaments for powder day performance. Available in 180 and 190 lengths. No, we’re not biased toward these skis because Line had a massage therapist give Magic Fingers massages at their booth all show.
Blizzard updates their carbon Flipcore construction with new D.R.T. – Dynamic Release Technology. Buzzwords! That means they’ve changed the shape of the Titanal layer to fine tune the behavior of their Rustler and Spur skis. You still get Titanal beefing up the flex of the ski and torsional stiffness under foot, but the new shape allows more torsional flex in the shovel. D.R.T. is intended to increase the skis’ playfulness while decreasing weight. Blizzard’s all-mountain ski series – Bodacious, Cochise, Bonafide, and Brahma – get refined shapes, shortening turn radii a bit and smoothing the rocker profiles.
Elan is using extremely directional shapes to improve ski performance. Not only is the rocker profile different from tip to tail, but also edge to edge! You’ll find more rocker on the outer edge of the ski and more camber on the inside. That means you get easier release and float on the outside edges and better grip when you dig in to carve a turn on the inside edge of your downhill ski. Elan also 3d-machines the cores of some of their skis to decrease weight on the uphill.
Dalbello updates their top of the line Lupo Carbon with a new upper cuff (MORE CARBON!). A redesigned tongue attachment makes it easier to remove for uphill duty.