Testing the 2015-2016 ski season’s most unorthodox gear offerings
Love your moneymaker
Few things can ruin a killer powder day like frostbite on your nose, foggy goggles and poor optics. Here are a few must-haves for your face.
Oakley Airbrake ski goggles
The biggest brand in eyewear is still one of the best on the market, and the 2015-16 Airbrake doesn’t disappoint. It’s stylish, incredibly breathable and comes with two lenses for bright and low-light conditions. Like most Oakley models, this one is for smaller to medium faces and costs a pretty penny. $120-$230
509 Aviator snowmobile goggles
509 snowmobile goggles are more expensive than ski-centric companies like Smith and Spy, but that’s because they’re designed to handle the demands of charging trails at 50-plus mph. The Aviator comes with a nose guard and anti-fog lens coating, no fan required. It’s stellar in sunny conditions and so-so in low light. $75-$125
The boys from Silverthorne moved production to Denver last season, but their facemasks are just as stylish (and just as warm) as ever before. The original DL (double layer) is a perfect all-around mask for almost any conditions, while the new-ish DL Thermal is made for those sub-zero days, with stretch fabric outside and Polartec fleece inside. $20-$30
There’s more to winter than skiing and snowboarding. There’s also hard-boot riding, alpine racing and looking fashionable on the slopes.
But where to begin? Here’s a look at the best of the unordinary for the 2015-16 ski season, including skis from Rocky Mountain Underground in Breckenridge, a jacket from Freeride Systems in Frisco and bindings from Bomber Industries, formerly of Silverthorne.
Rocky Mountain Underground Apostle, $799
Sizes: 165 cm, 175 cm, 185 cm, 195 cm
Waist: 105 mm underfoot
Based right here in Breckenridge, Rocky Mountain Underground is one of those manufacturers that actually knows what skiers want. The tech in the 2015-16 Apostle isn’t based on some passing fad or industry think-tank. No, it’s based on what actually works right here in Summit County.
The Apostle, dubbed a “quiver killer” by RMU, has been the company’s best-selling model for years. It features the trademark five-point design, with slight bulges about 15-25 cm in from the nose and tail. This makes it a beast for anything: trees, powder landings, fast groomers — whatever your heart desires.
This season, RMU also added a bit more flex to the tail and reintroduced a twin shape that was oddly missing from the 2014-15 model. The hybrid camber (slight rocker on the tip and tail, traditional camber through the rest) comes paired with a hybrid core to make groomer turns tight and powder turns floaty.
Find it: Drop by the Rocky Mountain Underground shop just off of Main Street in Breckenridge (500 S. Park Ave.) to buy or demo the entire 2015-16 line. Chances are you’ll even meet one of the owners or ski engineers. How’s that for service?
Freeride Systems Antero II Plus, $419
Sizes: Small, medium, medium tall, large, XL
Type: Hardshell outer jacket
Over the past few years, anything and everything made in Colorado has become hot property. But, more often than not, “Made in Colorado” simply means the product was designed in the state, kind of how Apple products are designed in California yet still made in China. It’s a buzz term, nothing more.
Then there’s a company like Freeride Systems. Based in Frisco, owner Mike Collins has quietly been making high-end, high-tech outerwear for more than five years. His gear is on par with the $500 products from Patagonia and The North Face, right down to the same fabrics (Polartec Neoshell). The only thing missing? An overseas factory.
The Antero II Plus is Freeride’s latest, greatest outer for men and women. It features a Polartec outer, grey Tricot interior and a touch of insulation to be breathable and waterproof in the chilliest conditions. The seams are fully-taped — Morris says it took several years to master the technique — and all models have pit zips to dump heat. In design terms, these jackets just make sense, from hand pockets placed exactly where they should be to a hood that fits like a glove over any helmet. And did we mention they’re made in our backyard?
Find it: All Freeride Systems products, including a line of softshells for men and women, are available through the company website at http://www.freeridesystems.com (Use discount code Locals20 for 20-percent off). You can also find shells and outers at Frisco Emporium (313 W. Main St. in Frisco) for up to 20-percent off until the season begins.
Bomber Trench Digger 3 Sidewinder step-in binding, $499
For nearly two decades, Bomber Industries in Silverthorne was the only independent manufacturer of hard-boot snowboard bindings in Colorado and one of the only in the nation. Owner Finn Doyle sold the company this summer to pursue solar energy with his newest venture, Sulas, and headquarters are now in Aspen.
While Bomber bindings are no longer built in Summit, the new owners share the same passion for this very small, very niche sport. They’ve rebuilt the most popular model, the Trench Digger, to feature something all hard-boot riders want: total control.
The Trench Digger 3 comes with Sidewinder technology, a combination of base plates and canted footbeds for the front and back. This helps riders “roll” from side to side, which translates into more control at higher speeds. These are easily some of the most expensive bindings on the market (hence the price tag), but they’re built to take a beating at high speeds, over and over and over. Here’s to the new Bomber.
Find it: All Bomber bindings and accessories (pads, cant discs, heel cups) are available through the new company website at bomberonline.com.
Bomber Power Plate, $195
Hard-boot snowboarding can be intimidating. It can be so intimidating, in fact, that most riders would just as soon stay on a traditional free-ride setup.
That’s where the new Bomber Power Plate comes in. It’s a genius little attachment that mimics the Trench Digger suspension system by screwing into standard, everyday soft-boot bindings. For newcomers, this means infinitely more control and feel than flat-based bindings. For speed demons, this means every groomer and hill is ready for the taking at high speed — even if you forgot your hard-boot board.
Find it: The Power Plate is available through the company website at bomberonline.com.
Fuxi Racing alpine mitts, $99
Sizes: Small, medium, large, XL
After a decade in Eagle County, Fuxi Racing USA recently set up world headquarters at Copper Mountain to be closer to the thousands of ski racers who spend November training there. The Fuxi Flash race suits get all the attention — and they should, what with bright neon everything — but the shop carries just about anything a racer needs, all made by the best alpine manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe.
Alpine mitts are a must for any racer, and the Fuxi version are by far one of the most affordable. They’re insulated for chilly training days and feature built-in plastic guards for charging gates. And, of course, they come in plenty of colors to match almost any suit. Get your flash on.
Find it: All Fuxi products are available through the new Copper shop in Center Village or online at http://www.fuxiracingusa.com.
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