Holiday hardgoods: Best 2016-17 skis and boots for your shopping list
December 14, 2016
You've made the list. Now it's time to check things twice.
The thick of holiday season is fast approaching, and chances are your dad, brother, uncle, great aunt or someone on your shopping list is in desperate need of new ski gear. Trust us, Uncle Jim: we love that pair of vintage Toutes Neiges as much as you do, but techology has come a long way since the '70s.
To make shopping easier, we chatted with local ski shops about new ski gear they've picked up for the 2016-17 season. Here are some of their favorite picks.
Faction Candide 2.0 | $699-$899
• Length: 166, 172, 178 or 184 centimeters
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• Tip/waist/tail: 135/102/135 millimeters
• Radius: 16 meters
• Weight: 1,950 grams at 178 centimeters
• Core: poplar/beech
The details: "All mountain twin-tip" might seem like an oxymoron if you've been groomed to think twin-tip skis fall into the sole realm of park rats, but a twin-tip is a lot more versatile than you'd imagine, said Bryant Destefano, hard goods manager at Christy Sports in Avon.
"I think they were made so that people could perform different tricks in the terrain park, and because of that, you want a soft, twin-tip ski, a ski with a lot feel to it, so when you're landing switch, you can feel the ground underneath you," Destefano said. "So many times, we see an older skier who wants to improve in the moguls, and this is what they should be out on — no questions asked."
Enter the Faction Skis Candide 2.0, a fully symmetrical, all-mountain twin. Born out of the terrain park and named for Faction athlete and freeskiing legend Candide Thovex, the ski manages to kill it in the park while still satisfying all of the requirements to be an awesome all-mountain option, especially on bumps and in the trees, Destefano said.
The Candide series also comes in the 3.0 (108 millimeters under foot) and the 4.0 (118 under foot), providing a wider platform for a little more backside float.
Destefano said Faction Skis is a newer, smaller, brand that's starting to gain traction, largely due to the popularity of its ski videos. Check out the series of short films and get more specs on the skis at FactionSkis.com.
Salomon X Pro Custom Heat boot | $850-$900
• Weight: 4,286 grams
• Flex index: 110
• Strap: 45-millimeter power
The details: Nothing derails your powder-day buzz like cold feet, but the newest tech from Salomon could help keep you on the slopes longer, even on the most frigid days.
The company has created its X Pro Custom Heat boots with liners that deliver consistent, even heat all the way around the foot, rather than the limited range of after-market heated insoles, said Matt Carroll, general manager and hard goods buyer for Double Diamond ski shop in Lionshead Village.
"It has a little charging mechanism that you plug into the wall and then you plug that into the back of the liner," he said. "There's three different heat settings on the boot, so you can pick: If you're going to ski all day, leave it on setting 1 or 2; if you want a quick blast of heat, turn it up to 3 for a short period of time."
Carroll saw the all-mountain boot for the first time at last year's SnowSports Industries America Snow Show and was impressed with the product.
A full charge on the liners will last four or five hours on the highest setting, or as long as 17 to 18 hours on the lowest, and both the liner and shell of the boot can be heat-molded. With a flex index of 110, the Salomon X Pros sits at an upper-intermediate to expert performance level, depending on a person's size, Carroll said.
It' a match made in heaven for older ski instructors and ski patrollers, or just about anyone who gets cold feet halfway through a ski day.
The Salomon X Pro Custom Heat also comes in a women's version, with a flex index of 90, and the heated liner technology is available on the company's softer flex Quest Access series for less aggressive skiers. Visit Salomon.com to learn more about the boots.
Dynafit TLT7 AT boot | $849
• Weight: 1,010 grams
• Forward lean: 15 degrees to 18 degrees, plus release for walking
The details: The Dynafit TLT7 performance boot weighs a mere 1,000 grams, making it one of the lightest alpine touring boots out there. Its Titantex upper and Titantex Lambda Frame, made with a titanium-infused fiberglass, offer the best of both worlds by cutting weight in the uphill stride while also maintaining rigidity for the downhill.
Whether it's a casual skin up the mountain, schlepping gear on a hut trip or traversing deep into the backcountry, both newbies and seasoned AT skiers can benefit from the technology, said Sean Glackin, owner of Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards.
The TLT7 has a new buckle system, the Ultra Lock System 3.0, which lets the skier quickly transition between fit, walk and ski modes with the adjustment of just one buckle. It also has a setback, pin-in-toe pivot point, rather than a front lip, which allows for a more natural stride and makes touring more comfortable.
"With these Dynafit-type bindings, you're not relying on that little lip on the front holding you into the binding," Glackin said. "There are pins in the toe that grab on the sides. There's no lip at all; it looks like almost a regular shoe."
Salomon QST Lumen 99 | $600-$725
• Length: 159, 167, 174 or 181 centimeters
• Tip/waist/tail: 134/99/116 (on 167 centimeters)
• Radius: 19 meters
• Weight: 1,575 at 167 centimeters
• Core: Internally milled Woodcore
The details: Long gone are the days of "shrink it and pink it" when it comes to women's skis. Across the board, ski companies have recognized the physical differences between men and women — from weight distribution to pelvic tilt — and created female-specific planks that allow women to shred just as hard as their male counterparts.
In this vein, Salomon has reengineered the core on its freeride QST Lumen 99 — and its sister ski, the slightly smaller QST Lux 92 — for the 2016-17 season, making the ski lighter weight while retaining a high level of performance to help women excel in all playgrounds.
"A lot of times when you start to look at ski gear, you see the same process implemented in multiple different ways," said Blake Peterson, assistant manager at Vail Sports in Vail Village. "With the Lumen, they've widened the ski tip and tail and milled the core so the ski has a real light swing weight. It makes it super easy to turn in the trees, in the crud, without giving the ski an exaggerated rocker profile. It makes the ski really light on the foot and easy to turn."
Reinforced cores and rodes are all the rage these days, and the core of the Lumen is reinforced with CFX Superfiber, a patented fiber layer consisting of carbon and flax woven together.
It runs the length of the ski and adds strength while dampening impacts.
"Anywhere from an intermediate to an expert skier is going to enjoy this ski," he said. "It's not so demanding of your ability that an intermediate skier couldn't have a great amount of fun with it, and it's not too remedial for an expert skier.
"It's a great ski for the person who's just moving to Colorado or a guest who comes every year and finally finds that ski that takes that snow condition that they hide away from and says, 'I can do it.'"
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