Some awesome innovations in the alpine touring realm for next season. Boots get lighter, stiffer, and have better range of motion. Skis get lighter, more powerful, and gain new shapes. Skins get more high tech. Everyone wins!
Two major pieces from Arc’teryx for next season – first, the Arc’teryx Procline Ski boot, as featured in our Best in Snow Awards post –
Available in six flavors – Carbon Lite, Carbon Support, Men’s Lite, Men’s Support, Women’s Lite, and Women’s Support – the Arc’teryx Procline boot series is the first, tech-compatible ski/mountaineering boot to offer both longitudinal and lateral range of motion in walk mode. This is a complete game changer for mixed ascents with ski descents. We’re looking forward to this technology spreading and changing how we view hard boots across all sports. Weight ranges from 1,060g in the Women’s Lite to 1,260g in the Men’s Support and they’ll retail for between $700-1000.
Also cool – we got to play with the Arc’teryx Voltair avalanche airbag pack.
The Voltair is a battery-powered airbag pack in direct competition with the Black Diamond Jetforce series. Arc’teryx made some interesting choices with the airbag mechanism – you have to manually deflate it by inserting a tube into a slit in the airbag. This appeared to make repacking a bit difficult. On the plus side, when you get the 20L or 30L Voltair, you’re actually getting 20 or 30L of pack volume. The battery is detachable and word is that they will be selling multiple battery formats – heavier for higher capacity and lighter but fewer pulls. We should be getting a tester sometime soon for a full review.
New for next year, the Black Diamond Helio series. BD is replacing all of their carbon skis with a new line. The Helio will be available in 88mm, 95mm, 105mm, and 116mm. The skis use a balsa/flax core for light weight and a full carbon wrap for stiffness and power. They’re made for uphill days, but weren’t too shabby in the resort when we skied them.
The Dalbello Lupo isn’t a new boot. But, the Dalbello Lupo Carbon TI is! Carbon reinforcement, removable tongue for 67° range of motion, and classic Krypton flex pattern in a boot that weighs only 1600g. That little metal loop on the toe makes it easy to pull the tongue off for the uphill and check out that sweet, carbon cuff!
Fisher wanted us to see their Traverse Carbon boot.
Grilamid shell, powerstrap/buckle at the top, and a burly Boa system feeding through brass pulleys for the lower foot. The liner is heat-moldable and surrounded by a waterproof/breathable booty to keep snow out. Carbon reinforces the sole for stiffness. The whole thing weighs in at 980g!
The Fischer Ranger ski series gets new topsheets and new carbon layup. These are already some decent, lightweight skis. The tweaks should make them even better.
G3 – Genuine Guide Gear
Two exciting things from G3 this year. First, the G3 Scala Skin, also a recipient of our Best in Snow award:
We’ve looked at plenty of climbing skins from G3, but this year they stepped it up. The Scala combines G3’s proven Alpinist plush with a scaled, TPU tip that covers the entire shovel (20%) of your ski. It reduces glop, lowers resistance as you break trail, and increases sidehilling traction with the U-shaped orientation of the scales. G3 has also changed the tail clip system so each size covers more ski lengths. The Scala will be available in 100, 115, and 130 widths. We’re looking forward to getting a pair in house for full testing.
The FINDr ski is G3’s newest backcountry ski. G3 wraps carbon around a poplar/paulownia core, but notice the obvious milling – thick underfoot, but just a spine up to the shovel. The FINDr is an uphill-focused ski, available in 86mm, 94mm, and 102mm underfoot and weighing an even 3 lbs per ski in the 86mm, 177cm size, even with a titanal reinforcement underfoot. To dampen the inherent vibrations of an all-carbon ski, G3 uses polyurethane sidewalls. We didn’t get to ski them at SIA, but we’ve loved G3’s carbon skis in the past.
EDIT – We’re on a pair of 102mm FINDrs right now for testing. Full review will be posted soon.
Scarpa reintroduces the F1 for next season. You may recall that they had an issue with the previous F1. They tried a really innovative walk mechanism that automatically engaged when you stepped into a tech binding heel and disengaged when you stepped out. Unfortunately, it didn’t always work as advertised.
The new Scarpa F1 doesn’t have the crazy walk mode mech – it’s just a standard lever now – but it is a carbon-reinforced, 95-flex touring boot with a 62° range of motion that weighs 2lb 11oz per boot. Scarpa sells it to people who want “downhill performance close to the power of a SCARPA Maestrale, yet touring function more akin to a SCARPA Alien.” We’re not sure this is quite up there with the Maestrale in terms of stiffness, but if you’re not jamming your shins with every turn, the F1 is a nice, all-around touring boot.
Take the Tecnica Cochise, which most agree is the best-skiing tourable boot, and strip it down until it’s almost naked. You get the new Tecnica ZeroG series.
While it may look like a Cochise on the surface, everything is different. Tecnica’s injection method makes the frame 30% thinner but 2.5x stiffer than a traditional boot. So, you get four-buckle power in a lightweight touring boot with 44° of motion. An ultralight Palau thermo-mold liner and Tecnica’s C.A.S. make the ZeroG easily fittable. And, it all weighs in at 1545g in a 26.5. For comparison, Scarpa’s Freedom RS weighs 1990g and has a 25° range of motion. Uh oh, Scarpa!