High Gear gear review: Cool picks from the 2015 SIA Snow Show
Each year ski and snowboard industry insiders flock to the annual SIA Snow Show — now in its 61st year — to check out what’s new and what to expect for the following season when it comes to hard goods and apparel. Held in Denver for the last six years, it annually attracts roughly 20,000 visitors and typically features winter-related outdoor gear and apparel from about 1,000 different brands. This week we take a quick look back at some of the gear that caught our eye at this year’s convention, held earlier this month.
Here are three items we think you may want to add to your toy collection. While we haven’t had a chance to field test them yet, we’re looking forward to the opportunity.
Get into the backcountry with MTNApproach
In the last few years SIA’s research department has described backcountry-related gear as one of the fastest growing segments of the ski and snowboard industry. With that in mind, some guys from Ketchum, Idaho, founded MTNApproach — a company that has developed an alternative for snowboarders to get into the backcountry. Traditionally, splitboards or snowshoes have been the human-powered way for snowboarders to reach untracked lines. But snowshoes can make for slow travel, and some would argue that splitboards don’t offer the same performance as a regular snowboard when it comes to carving fresh tracks. So instead, the founders at MTNApproach took their cue from their Alpine counterparts. They created foldable mini-skis with built-in climbing skins. The idea is that snowboarders can strap their best powderboard to their back and skin in on the mini-ski system. The full MTNApproach setup comes with foldable skis and a specially designed pack. They can also be packaged with shovel and avalanche probe for a full backcountry setup. Each ski weighs 4.5 pounds and is 138 cm long — shorter than a standard adult ski — with tip and tail widths similar to a powder ski. The benefit to this system is that one can pack any board into the backountry. But unlike with a splitboard — which separates to function like Alpine touring skis — the user will have to carry the board for the approach. And with a combined weight of 9 pounds, the skis could be cumbersome on the way back down. Still, for a quick short-distance trip this system could have its advantages. Starting at $799 for the skis and pack, the setup comes at a cost comparable to a splitboard.
More information and videos are available at http://www.mtnapproach.com.
No cell service? Just goTenna
Up here in the High Country, cell service can be a challenge.
Enter goTenna, a new idea that could become a backcountry essential. If it works.
Like a walkie talkie for text messaging, goTennas link to any Apple or Android smartphone via Bluetooth. The system creates a signal with no cell towers, wifi or satelites, allowing users to send messages to one another. Each user needs a goTenna to send and receive messages. With the company’s software, users can also share locations with others on offline maps. Range varies based on terrain, but the company website says to expect them to reach 2 to 6 miles outdoors away from cities.
The company expects to release its first models this summer. Units can be pre-ordered on the company website for $149.99 per pair.
More information is available at http://www.gotenna.com.
The Oakley/Garmin goggle setup for a slope Terminator
Ever wanted to know how high you jumped or how fast you were skiing, and have computer-aided vision like a Terminator, all while filming an epic ski movie? Say hello to the Oakley Airwave 1.5 goggles and the Garmin VIRB Elite. A collaboration between Garmin and Oakley, the new setup — available this season — links Garmin’s action camera to Oakley’s goggle. The user can view a live video and other features like speed and GPS location through the goggle’s LCD heads-up display. Resort maps, Facebook messages and incoming calls also are accessible through the display when linked with a smartphone. The system also comes with a glove-friendly remote control to operate certain features. The goggles alone retail at $649. Garmin’s VIRB camera costs about $270.
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