Recently we spent some time hanging with the crew at Skis.com & Snowboards.com, checking out their Michigan digs and talking all things snow for the upcoming season. While you've probably received countless issues of glossy mags, taunting the latest and greatest in ski tech, who's doing what, etc. we took a different approach, went to the source and asked the pros at Skis.com what some of the influential trends were this season. Read on or watch the video!
No doubt there are a few things driving the sports forward. First, the increased interest in "sidecountry" access – or terrain that is accessible via short bootpack or skin track beyond the lift. For many in the Midwest, sidecountry involves ducking a rope which otherwise would be known as "out of bounds" (or BS) – this gear can actually open up your eyes to a different type of skiing if you seek it out. Second, rocker-camber. Yes, all the rage still is rocker, but with a mix of camber back in the game to provide you with a truly unique frontside ski experience.
In general, skis are trending toward that mid-fat, with widths of 98mm to 103mm underfoot. Combined with a rocker-camber-rocker design, these skis are extremely versitale across many types of terrain. Whether your ripping the groomers here in the Midwest or slaying the pow out west, a good mid-fat ski like that of the Blizzard Bonafide, Nordica Hell & Back or Rossignol Expereince 98 can get the job done.
Bindings have changed a bit this year and not just to accommodate the wider skis. Many binding manufacturers like Salomon and Marker have integrated simple AT modes into their Alpine style design. With the simple flip of a lever and a set of skins, the skier can easily transform their setup into a serious uphill machine.
On thing that is for certain, boot manufacturers continue to progress in technology and if you have upgraded skis in the past 2-3 years, but not your boots… it might be time to reconsider. Many manufacturers are leaning more toward that sidecountry mentality with features such as a ride/hike "switch". This just isn't for the guy who wants to skin or hike, but it is a true all mountain boot for ease of walking. Not like the old days of boots with a walk function that made them good for trolling the bar, but worthless on the downhill. These boots do actually perform well downhill as they do shlepping your gear through the parking lot.
Interchangeable lenses like the Smith I/O and Airbrake from Oakley came on the scene last year. We're seeing even more convenience in this arena from manufacturers like Anon with the M1 Goggle that features magnetic swap out lenses. Similar technology is behind the Dragon APX. It's really a convenience thing – having the ability to switch out your goggle lenses slopeside or on the chair with ease is key.
If you haven't caught the theme this season… it's sidecountry. This trend carries over into helmets too. Light and strong materials with optimal venting is where it's at. Giro launched the Montane Helmet this year with some very unique features for those looking to get out into the backcountry a bit more. Let's not downplay the main reason to wear a helmet, safety. POC is a company in the forefront of safety by integrating MIPS technology with active ventilation to assist with on-the-fly adjustments for good airflow.