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Layering is something that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention. We are all used to the standard Merino or Polypro layers and that’s that. Few companies have tried anything totally new. I have previously tried thermals made of Milk fibers and loved them, so when Tani announced a new base layer made out of the shells of the coffee bean, I was eager to give them a try. My first impression was how incredibly light and thin the fabric is. It has the thickness and feel of a stretchy silk. The smooth texture has a great feeling against the skin with no friction or scratchiness. The sizing out of the package looks small, but the fabric has an incredibly amount of stretch. This is definitely a “Second Skin” type layer, worn tight against the body, though it doesn’t feel restrictive.. My first thought after putting it on was the quote from the Simpsons where Flanders goes skiing and proclaims his suit is like wearing “Nothing at all!” I’ve had the chance to wear these in a multitude of conditions with the yo-yoing of this season’s Eastern winter, and they have fared well in all. On days where the temperatures have been just around the freezing mark, they do a great job wicking away moisture. After a full day skiing in precipitation just short of rain, and a warm wind, I had no feeling of clamminess you can often expect with a heavier fabric. The real test though was patrolling on the mountain for one of the brutal cold nights this past week. For most of the night they maintained body heat incredibly well, honestly much better than I expected for the thin fabric. Once a bit of hard work kicked in and my back began to sweat, the fabric handled the moisture incredibly well, wicking it away from the body and continued to maintain its insulation properties. I can also attest to the antimicrobial properties, as I played the “don’t wash till it smells” game, and eventually gave in after several uses not because of any odour, but a bumped après beer. The durability will remain to be seen, but so far there has been no pilling of the fabric, and all stitching seems top notch. These are definitely a high end product, with the cost and fit leaning more to a slightly older demographic, these are a great choice for anyone looking for a premium base layer. The use of a natural fabric alternative is a selling feature as well, especially considering it is biodegradable when it finally wears out. It is nice to see companies experimenting with new fabrics, when it would be so easy to just stick with the easy chemical based ones. **Fit: Second Ski style fit, they are tight. I am 6’4” and 190lbs, wearing XL top and pants. Out of the bag they look like a medium, but the stretch makes the fit almost perfect. I would like to see a “Tall” version, but I say that about everything.
Magnets, how do they work? Really F&@%ing Well is how they work! I admit I was a bit skeptical about how well tiny magnets would really hold the lenses in these goggles, but they have been amazing. I haven’t once had them pop out, even with a few minor bails, though I haven’t taken a full face plant with them. Changing lenses on these is the easiest of any goggle I have ever used, lift them off and just drop on the new one. Simple as that. You are able to hold it around the edges, and barely touch the lens itself so you don’t have to worry about the mess of fingerprints all over after every change. They are definitely something you can easily change on the lift in between runs. Styling these are clean and simple. I have the black and red, dark and subtle is my preferred style to these fit me really well. The huge wall to wall lens looks great, and the relatively low profile frame isn’t overly bulky. I have used them with several helmets, and the gap is minimal to nil with most, with a nice generic ridge shape. Optic wise, these rival anything from the top names. Crystal clear and almost zero distortion. They have a great wide field of vision, with barely any frame in view. My set came with a great dark tint lens for sunny day use, while it still functions in the shadows, as well as a night lens. The lighter lens is awesome for night skiing, but I did find it too bright for overcast or fog, and doesn’t show a ton of definition. I am looking to get a third lens in between. But since they swap so easily it’s not a big deal to have an extra one on you for changing conditions. I really like how they ship with a great little storage case as well, something many don’t. While I try to take care of goggles, having that extra level of protection makes a big difference. I do have one small gripe about the M2s though. These are the first goggles in forever I have used that do not have the sticky strips of silicon on the inside of the strap. I ride with a helmet all the time, and this missing detail means they don’t always want to stay on the helmet where I put them. Now I am sure this was done for people who wear them under their helmets, but for me it’s a little annoying.
I had the opportunity to wear a few version on the Virtika gear over the years, and I can with all honesty say they have improved year over year. I no longer have any doubts that they are building high quality products. I fully admit I am not a park skier, but I have a hard time finding insulated jackets that aren’t either Columbia styled, or giant puffys. The Vitika coat offers style and warmth in spades, as has been my go to for colder days at the resort this year. Design has definitely been refined over the years. The colour blocks of the past are much more discrete, and fit in much better with the lines of the pants. Pockets have gone from random massive add ons, to really well placed and discrete, for the most part. As they are better placed, they are also much more functional. Hand and chest pockets are perfect size for everything you could ever want to carry, without bouncing around against your body all day. The internal HUGE mesh pockets are constantly holding my gloves, goggles, sandwich, beers and anything else you want to keep close and warm. Even the small arm pockets are great for passes and keys. The insulation is just right as well. While I often prefer to layer under a shell, these are great for that little extra warmth on the cold east coast nights this season. But they don’t overheat on the slightly warmer days in the sun. The vents are well placed when you do get a little too warm, and the mess is awesome to still keep the snow out. The length makes sure your ass is always covered, and snow skirt makes extra sure there is no snow and wind getting packed into your body when you bail. They also addressed one of my biggest issues as well, which was just the overall bulk of the suit. This new insulation seems much thinner and lighter, finally making it packable for luggage if you travel. Durability is no longer an issue with this year’s gear. The fabric on these is top notch. Highly abrasion resistant outer works well brushing off trees in the woods without coming out totally pock marked. The waterproofing works well after a fair bit of use so far this season, still beading quite well. I haven’t had a full day in the pouring rain yet, but sitting on the chair with heavy wet snow accumulating, it has no seeping when you get up and ride away. Everything else about construction, including the waterproof zippers, magnets and heavy Velcro show attention to detail. All in all I am very impressed with the Virtika gear for this season, and it very high up in my outerwear rotation.
I had the opportunity to wear a few version on the Virtika gear over the years, and I can with all honesty say they have improved year over year. I no longer have any doubts that they are building high quality products. I have always been a fan of bibs, never having to worry about snow and wind getting around your waist is a huge bonus. The bib height is great, not too high that it gets bulky, but high enough to give that perfect seal. Having it removable though is a plus, as there are days I just want a pair of pants and a belt, usually in the warmer days rocking lighter layers. Design has definitely been refined over the years. The colour blocks of the past are much more discrete, and fit in much better with the lines of the pants. Pockets have gone from random massive add ons, to really well placed and discrete, for the most part. As they are better placed, they are also much more functional. Hand and thigh pockets are perfect size for everything you could ever want to carry, without bouncing around against your legs all day. The insulation is just right as well. While I often prefer to layer under a shell, these are great for that little extra warmth on the cold east coast nights this season. But they donâ€™t overheat on the slightly warmer days in the sun. The vents are well placed when you do get a little too warm, and the mess is awesome to still keep the snow out. They addressed one of my biggest issues as well was just the overall bulk of the suit, this new insulation seems much thinner and lighter, finally making it packable for luggage if you travel. Durability is no longer an issue with this yearâ€™s gear. The fabric on these is top notch. Highly abrasion resistant outer works well brushing off trees in the woods without coming out totally pock marked. The waterproofing works well after a fair bit of use so far this season, still beading quite well. I havenâ€™t had a full day in the pouring rain yet, but sitting on the chair with heavy wet snow accumulating, it has no seeping when you get up and ride away. Everything else about construction, including the waterproof zippers, magnets and heavy Velcro show attention to detail. One mention I will give though is to the sizing. This year the overall cut seems to be slimmer than the past (length is still the same) so you may want to check twice on the sizing chart. I made the mistake of sizing down from the XL I usually swim in to a Large, which ended up being pretty tight and a bit restricting. All in all I am very impressed with the Virtika gear for this season, and it very high up in my outerwear rotation.
It's always fun trying out a new pair of skis you know absolutely nothing about and going in with no expectations. Being on the East Coast, conditions are generally hardpack, or packed freshies, so a great all mountain killer is necessary for the majority of days. A ski that is responsive, holds and edge but still poppy and fun is key. First impressions out of the box were positive. The weight is less than expected for a small run, full wood all mountain ski. Construction is top notch, you can tell they put care into what they produce. Every detail from quality base material, to the extra think edges, and even the smooth edges of the top sheet show they have durability in mind. Mounted them up with my standard setup, Binding Freedom inserts supporting STH 16 bindings. Having only one mount marker, I decided to mount at recommended, which seems fairly centered. Interested to see what the actual sidecut is on these, since it's not listed. The first day out on the Tomorrows was on groomed in fresh over that classic hardpack. It took a run to find the sweet spot on weighting these in turns. Found that too far forward or back caused some hooking and one ski would try to take off from the other. After a little getting used to they were a ton of fun. Found I could really lay into them and they do inspire confidence in the turns. They cut through the hardpack and chop with little complaint. Really like the soft tip coupled with the stiff underfoot. They are also quite playful, very happy being loaded and popping off rollers and lips. Swing weight is low and the symmetric shape makes them spin with ease. I found they felt a little unwieldy in the trees when they were bumped out, but when things were a little softer they provided more than ample float. For such a simple, basically 2 tone graphic, they definitely got a lot of comments. The core showing through is a nice touch. Overall, these are definitely a ski that will get a lot of use, proving themselves capable for just about anything. http://7mileskis.com/product/tomorrow-all-mountain-skis/
Over the years I have had the opportunity to try a lot of various outerwear, but time and again for a heavy storm day, or a day of bush whacking, I have gone back to my tried and true Trew gear (now in its 4th season). No matter how much abuse I threw at it, the jacket and pants just kept taking it with zero complaint. This year I had got an upgrade to the 2015 version of the Trewth bib, and expect nothing less. Besides some minor cosmetic changes, very little has changed over the years. Design is no nonsense, which I very much appreciate. The cut has slimmed a bit over the years it seems, but still leaves a ton of room for layering on cold days, without leaving it flapping in the wind on warmer ones. Theyâ€™ve included a great variety of pockets on the handwarmer and cargo style are all well laid out to be functional. The bibs are such a game changer whenever it snows, and I rarely will go back to anything without. The kangaroo pockets are great as well for stuff you want to keep warm and close to your body. The cuffs are roomy enough to go over boots with ease, and stay in place most of the time, though I find they do need to be adjusted now and then. Construction is probably the biggest thing Trew has going for them, absolutely bomber! This 20/20K fabric is far tougher than the average light weight stuff you typically see in high end shells. This stuff brushes off tree branches and other scuffs with ease. And while it is slightly thinner that my previous Trew setup, I still expect it to last years of abuse. The cuff guard seems to have shunk a little over the years, but still does a great job protecting from ski hits. The fabric and coatings are as waterproof as you could ever want, and have kept me dry after hours in the freezing rain. The suit also packs relatively small for travel, though does take some space Image wise, I will admit I miss the bright in your face colour schemes of some of the previous designs, but they have made great use of the slightly more subdued tones. I rock the Navy/Light Blue jacket and pants, which manages to still stand out despite being fairly common. Though the Thumbs Up! logo helps as well. I fully expect this setup to be my go-to for the next couple years, with zero complaints of the situations I get it into! The previous pair have moved onto another skier who I am sure will continue to get years of use.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to try a lot of various outerwear, but time and again for a heavy storm day, or a day of bush whacking, I have gone back to my tried and true Trew gear (now in its 4th season). No matter how much abuse I threw at it, the jacket and pants just kept taking it with zero complaint. This year I had got an upgrade to the 2015 version of the Cosmic jacket, and expect nothing less. Besides some minor cosmetic changes, very little has changed over the years. Design is no nonsense, which I very much appreciate. The cut has slimmed a bit over the years it seems, but still leaves a ton of room for layering on cold days, without leaving it flapping in the wind on warmer ones. They’ve included a great variety of pockets on the exterior, hand, chest and sleeve pockets are all well laid out to be functional, with or without a pack on. Inside, the large mesh pockets are great for anything you want to keep warm, with lots of room for gloves or skins. Cuffs are nice and easy to close with gloves on, and stay secure with ample Velcro. While I enjoy wrist gators, I understand their reasoning for not including, and that is not a show stopper for me. Construction is probably the biggest thing Trew has going for them, absolutely bomber! This 20/20K fabric is far tougher than the average light weight stuff you typically see in high end shells. This stuff brushes off tree branches and other scuffs with ease. And while it is slightly thinner that my previous Trew setup, I still expect it to last years of abuse. The fabric and coatings are as waterproof as you could ever want, and have kept me dry after hours in the freezing rain. On the flip side the jacket breaths well, never feeling clammy, and large pit zips provide added heat dump when needed. The suit also packs relatively small for travel, though not just something you can toss in your pack as a spare layer. I tend to layer, so combining with the Trew Polarshift Primaloft and/or the Swift softshell, I’ve been nice and warm on even the -30C days. Image wise, I will admit I miss the bright in your face colour schemes of some of the previous designs, but they have made great use of the slightly more subdued tones. I rock the Navy/Light Blue jacket and pants, which manages to still stand out despite being fairly common. Though the Thumbs Up! logo helps as well. I fully expect this setup to be my go-to for the next couple years, with zero complaints of the situations I get it into!
Trew's Swift jacket is getting very close to being a do everything piece. In most types of weather this jacket works well on its own. The fabric is a great thin Polartec Power Shield softshell that moves very well with the body and does not feel bulky. I really enjoy the brushed lining as I wear this often with short sleeve base layers and it feels good against the skin without being clammy. The DWR coating has held up extremely well with all types of precipitation. Both wet and dry snow sluff right off, and all but the heaviest rain beads up right away. I haven't had it a full season yet so I will have to update on how long the coating lasts with repeated use. For extremely wet snow and rain though, I personally will still wear a true shell. I've layers this with the Polar Shift thermal layer on cold days and the 2 work very well together. Breathability has been excellent, doing a great job regulating temperate and moisture. Thanks to this there isn't much need to have to change out to a different piece to tour up and descend. Being a person who heats up a lot I would enjoy some small underarm or side zips to dump heat, but not a show stopper here. Features on this are basic overall. Two hand pockets on the outside to their job and are nicely sized. The chest pocket is fairly small and awkwardly placed for use with a pack. I'd love an additional mesh pocket or 2 inside the jacket for stashing gloves etc. Fit seems to be something others complain about but for my body type the irregulaities actually work in my advantage. I am a slim 6'4" so the fitted shape is comfortable and doesn't act like a sail compared to many jackets I have to buy. The longer arms ended up being the exact right length for me so I lucked out there. The slim fit would have an issue laying if you have a larger down or someone with a bit rounder body shape, so definitely worth testing out if that is your intention. The hood isn't something I use much, but it is suited for pulling over a thin beanie, but you'd never get a helmet in there. Overall this is a piece is incredibly versatile and comfortable. It will definitely be getting a lot of use as one of my go to jackets
This layering piece has been one of my most used pieces so far this season. Appropriately named to combat the brutal cold Canada got hit with to end the 2013 thanks to a shift in the Polar Vortex, the jacket had no problems keeping me warm. Thanks to the Primaloft insulation, the jacket provides an incredible amount of warmth in a very thin, light weight package. The thin construction makes this an easy piece to layer under just about anything depending on conditions. So far I have worn it with both hard and soft shells and don't find any issues with bunching underneath. It also functions well as a stand alone piece, with the fabric doing a great job shedding the occasion precip. At the same time though, I did find the fabric gets a bit clammy against the skin if you wear it too long and start to get warm. When on the skin track, the jacket packs nicely into its little pouch and takes up less space than a Nalgeen bottle in a pack for quick changes when you top out. The design of the pockets is very well placed both inside and out. The storm flaps on them take a little to get used to navigate around when you make a quick grab for something, but non-issue once you get used to remembering the different configurations and which reversible side is out. The diamond quilting pattern does a great job keeping the insulation from settling, and a quick shake out of the pack fluffs it up right away. I've noticed a little insulation material making its way through the outer fabric, but nowhere near the extent it happens with down. In true Trew fashion, the colors do a great job making it pop and the big thumbs up logo attracts attention all on it own. Being reversible isn't a huge selling feature for me, but I can say it has been worn on both sides, just depends which way the sleeves end up after taking it off. Overall this, or to be honest any Primaloft piece, is a must have piece of layering that anyone active in a cold climate should have.
Overall Overall these are one of my favourite skis currently, and extremely high on the list of most fun I've skied. These seem to slay just about any condition and makes it fun. My only complaint is the short length, but once a longer version is available I think it'll be a blast! *Currently mounted at -6, which is more on the Powder than Freestyle point on their scale Performance I put these through their paces and they took everything I threw them into with ease. Deep light snow these are a dream to ski, riding up out of even the most bottomless I could find. Tip dive was never a concern. In less than perfect conditions these do a great job cutting through skied up crud thanks to the stiffness underfoot. Even on groomers I found they could really be opened up and you could make use of the 25m radius to really cruise. For something so fat they are surprisingly quick edge to edge as well and have great torsional strength. These start to complain a little when things get super bumped up, as they start to buck you around a little, but thats to be expected from a ski of this style Fit Currently these are only available in 175 and 183cm. At 6'4" and a powerful skier, I found the 183 just a little too short. The width and rocker have no problem floating me, and they were extremely quick to pivot in tighter spaces since they ski shorter with the rocker. Personally I'd just like a slightly longer version, which I have been assured is coming in next years lineup. Characteristics This is one of the stiffer skis I've tried in the BC Freestyle category. Underfoot the Zero camber stiffer section gives this ski a ton of versatility, it provides a nice stable landing platform, crews up crud and ever rails pretty solid turns on a groomer on the way back to the list. The softer rockered tip does an amazing job rising up ontop of soft snow, with zero worry of tip dive even in light and bottomless. Durability The construction feels extremely solid. Top sheet scratches less than expected with its glossy finish. Base is tough and shows no signs of shark bite yet, even after feeling a few hits. Small details like the bevel on the transition from sidewall to top sheet really helps with chipping as well.
Overall Factions all mountain ski gets my nod as a great overall tool, and very close to a one ski quiver ski. At 98mm underfoot for the 185cm model, it offers more than enough float for all but the bottomless days, while still not being a pig when you hit the groomers. The early rise tip does a great job lifting the ski ontop of the snow and preventing tip dive when this are fresh. This does result in a fairly soft tip, meaning you do get the front 12” or so of the ski flopping on hardpack. Underfoot is significantly stiffer, and holds a solid edge on groomers when you lay it on its side. They use what they call STP technology, which basically is a fancy way to say these are extremely torsionally stiff for a ski this wide. Arcs are long and fluid, and can be done at reasonably high speeds. Do keep in mind though that there is a speed limit to these and once you go over that you’ll feel the skis start to flop and chatter and beg you to back off a little. These have done me well in a full range of conditions, hard packed groomer, heavy chopped up snow and up to 10” of fresh but dense snow. While these will hold their own when you get into scraped or icy patches, you don’t want to go looking for them with these skis, then again who really wants to look for that. Construction seems to be top notch, decent amount of edge, tough sidewall and durable base material. After one run finding a rock in the trees I came out expecting a core shot for sure, and was pleasantly surprised to only find a good sized drag mark on the surface. The glossy top sheet does a good job shedding snow, and doesn’t seem to scratch or chip too much. Graphics are bright and flashy and do a great job attracting attention to themselves. Overall I would highly recommend these to anyone looking for a versatile ski to really take just about anywhere.
Overall The Crop Duster is a perfect name for this ski, it loves to fly low and leave a dusty cloud behind you. This ski is with no question a powder specific ski. Nice and fat with flat under foot and long rise tip. I found with the lack of abrupt turn up in the tip that it seems to take a little longer that some skis to get the ski floating from a dead stop, but once you gain nay speed at all it planes up like a dream! This ski loves the deep stuff, and lays awesome flowly turns with a very surf like feel. The longer soft tip stays afloat easy, while underfoot and tail are a little stiffer and offer great responsiveness and stability. They fly and land well over rollers at speed, but could be a bit stiffer of bigger drops. These skis love anything soft, deep fresh tracks or chopped up powder. The shape and softness does leave a little to be desired if you hit heavy debris, bumps or a rutted packed out traverse, but it is tolerable in the name of getting you to where they really shine. Though this is a ski that seems like the sweetspot will be a bit different for everyone, so this may change with a bit more usage as well. Construction is solid and they take abuse very well. A few hits on the base have left nothing but small drag marks, and the top sheet still looks great with very little chipping or scratching. I can see these lasting for a while! For my first exposure to a pair of Epic Planks, I am very impressed and looking forward to see more of what they put out!
Overall Once again FD Wear has stepped up to the plate and improved their coats. Fabric quality seems to have increased, with the outer fabric feeling quite durable, and doing a great job of being waterproof in everything but torrential rain. We’ll have to see how the fabric coating holds up with time, but so far so good. The interior lining fabric is soft, feels god against the skin yet the texture of it means it doesn’t feel sticky or clammy against your skin. The sewing quality seems better than previous years, which has always been a major complaint. This jacket has more pockets than you’ll ever know what to do with. Dual hand pockets, chest pockets, ass pocket, and several large mesh pockets inside. The media pocket is really well thought out, being accessible from a zipper hidden under the front zipper flap so you don’t have to open your coat to change tracks. It also has a great little pass through to the inside for headphone cables. The venting is really good at dumping heat, using both pit zips and diagonal back venting. Good use of mesh to keep the vents from opening too much, which so many companies miss. My only complaint is the back vent zippers can be a little awkward to reach when you are wearing the coat, and you feel a little silly asking your friends to zip you up when it gets cold. Mix and match colours are back this season, letting you pick arm colours to change up the look of your coat. While I am not as impressed with the colour selection this season, I really like my red/charcoal combo. Sizing is pretty much what you’d expect. Arm length is great for me at 6’4” wearing and XL. The body of the coat is nice and long, and I feel like the volume has gone down a little from previous models as it doesn’t feel as huge in the body. My biggest problem with the coat is it is extremely bulky. It is oversized to start with, and the insulation is quite thick. It’s actually bulky to the point that I don’t travel with it, as combined with the pants, this full suit just takes up way too much space. The suit is great for riding local, but it won’t be making any flights with me. The guys at FD Wear keep improving and listening to customer complaint, and this coat shows they are serious about the game.
Overall I personally have always been a fan of Smith goggles, and after 2 years with their I/O models I really didn't think there was much to be improved on. They managed to prove me wrong though with the I/O X here. While there is only so much to be said for goggles, these do everything very well. They expanded field of vision gives a huge amount of peripheral view, and you only see a small section of the frame at the nose piece. Everyone I've given these to to try are hugely impressed with just how much you can see. The lens swap has gotten a little more difficult since the I/O, but once you have the hang of it, change outs are a breeze, a huge plus on variable days. I used the Blackout lens as well as a lighter Ignitor lens for overcast and even nights. There really isnt much more than those 2 I feel I need. One thing I do hope they change is the goggle case with the extra lens storage area they sell, while it worked great for the I/O, the new I/O X lenses are just a little too big and arent fully protected in the case. The frame shape does a great job sealing with a variety of different helmets I've tried them with, though obviously the best seal is with the Smith helmets. All in all, I remain a huge fan of Smith and their goggles.
Overall I've been using Shred Ready helmets for whitewater kayaking for quite a while, so I was happy to see they were making a push into the snow sports world. The general look if fairly simple and clean, which I enjoy. It is a little bulky looking but not a full bowling ball look. The bulk comes from the fairly thick layer of foam used, though does inspire confidence in its protection level. I have a hard time deciding if it is a full hard shell or not, the outer shell feels somewhere in between, but does look like it will hold up to some abuse. The inner mesh liner is comfortable on the head and keeps hair from coming out the vents too much. On the topic of vents, the grouping of vents on the top do a great job dumping heat when you are warm, but note they do not have any covers or plugs. I've used it on a couple fairly cold days and its fine when you are moving and staying warm, but you may want a beanie under for the really cold days to keep the air from freezing your dome. Fit wise I lucked out that the shell shape fits my head very well, but it seems to be a fairly specific shape since I've had a few other people with the same head size try it on, and they do get some pressure points, so you want to make sure you try it on first, as you should with any helmet. The adjustment wheel at the back of the head is super easy to use, even with gloves, so you can get a really good fit. The shape of the brim pairs really well with several different goggle models I've tried it with, so no worries about brainfreeze from a goggle gap. The chin strap is comfortable, and the funky magnetic clip works much better than I expected at first glance, and feels very secure. Ear pads fit really well and are nicely padded without being hugely bulky. I have paired mine with their Tune Up kit which gives quality sound, and not too much wind noise while riding. Overall I'd say this is a solid entry into the snow market for Shred Ready, and look forward to seeing where they go from here.
Overall For my first time on an APO ski I was really impressed. This is very much a do all ski getting pretty close to a 1 ski quiver. Consistently stiff throughout, it tears up hard pack just as well as it floats on a good day. These have a good combination of traditional camber underfoot with rocker tip and tail. Great torsional rigidity and the sidecut mean these have no problem holding a really solid carve on the groomers, and the 20m radius makes for a great ride at speed. These are poppy enough to playful in chewed up late day snow, but not quite as nimble as I'd like to really call it a tree ski. While at 104mm underfoot doesn't make it the best for the deepest of days, this is something that really holds it own on a variable day where the snow is falling and you'll find deep stashes one run and windblown the next. Construction seems quite durable, and show no signs of damage after a couple of abusive early season days where nature was still poking through. The bases take rock hits without much damage, and nice solid edges brush them off like nothing. These are going to be a ski getting a lot of use this year, and a great go to when the hill will be throwing out a mixed bag of conditions. APO will be on the radar for sure for a brand to watch.
Overall So normally I'd say "a belt is a belt", they hold up your pants, end of story. Then I tried these elasticized belts. Having that bit of stretch really makes a huge difference skiing. No matter which way you bend or move, your pants actually stay where you want. No more bulging out at the back when you bend over leaving a draft crack. No more stiff leather digging into your stomach or sides when you bend and twist. Want to sag, go ahead, they'll finally stay there. The easy adjustment lets you have the elastic as tight or loose as you need, so they'll either snap back into place instantly, or just kinda hang when you want. The attachment systems they use are super secure and durable. While the normal style clip uses a rockers style to release, which is super easy with gloves, I really like the swivel clip option. With the swivel it is pretty much gaurunteed the belt will stay where you want no matter what you do. There is no lack of flash with these as well, I'm rocking some neon green and blue. For such a small accessory, its almost funny how much attention these grab. Only thing missing is the bottle opener!
Overall The Salomon Quest Max 120 really fills the need for an aggressive “Freeride” boot. When locked down, this boot has the stiffness of any other 120+ flex boot I have tried, giving more than enough support to really charge. Laterally the upper boot is incredibly stiff giving great responsiveness and control over bigger skis. In walk/hike mode the upper cuff is released, giving a bit more natural stance for hiking, and more forward/back movement. In the 120, a lot of this range of motion though is defeated by a fairly stiff cuff in the liner, so it isn't as much as you'd think playing with the shell after removing the liner. The liner itself is quite comfortable right out of the box, without being too bulky and sacrificing performance. The lace up option on the liner is a huge bonus, and I suggest using it. When laced, the liner stays snug on the foot, even when you loosen a buckle or 2 for hiking, meaning no rubbing. The shell has all the features you'd expect on a high end boot. The 3 buckles do a great job really securing the foot without having to crank things down too tight. The large power strap offers great additional support to the top of the boot, but I admit I am a little disappointed they didn't use the stretch power strap I got so used to in the previous Ghost boot. The DIN hiking sole with fairly beefy treads is great for giving added traction when hiking on loose ground or snow, but since it still uses a pretty hard plastic for the lugs, it doesn't increase traction much on ice or smooth surfaces. The CS Custom Shell is awesome for getting a really solid fit, and likely opening up the boot to a few more people who are not normally a “Salomon Foot”. The process is relatively painless and easy getting the entire boot, shell and liner, all molded to the foot and really makes a huge difference in getting an exact fit. As someone who has always used Intuition liners in all my shells, I am very impressed with the fit of this liner after molded with a good footbed. So far I have put this boot through its paces with 20+ days of both resort and sidecountry touring, and I haven't felt like I've overpowered it yet. For someone looking for a Do All boot this is a very solid option.
Overall I'll start with saying this is probably one of the more fun and versatile skis I have used in the last few years. This is a ski that excels in almost every condition. The early rocker profile does a great job riding over the chunky stuff on a chopped up afternoon, and gives great lift when the snow is a little deeper. The 108mm underfoot (111mm in my 190cm model) gives the feel of a much larger ski when the snow is soft, yet the profile still rails turns on hardpack like a sub 100mm ski. Currently have them mounted with Salomon STH 16 bindings between “Center” and “Recommended” and finding this a pretty sweet spot for just about anything I throw at them. For someone who doesn't see much in variable days, I'd probably go a little further back though. As for how they ski, they really adapt well to all conditions. With the 190cm I don't feel like I am outskiing these at all. They have tons of ski ahead of the binding and really ride up ontop of whatever snow there is. For suck a big ski they are incredibly maneuverable, which makes them great to throw around in the trees where quick turns are essential. A little shift of the weight to the back can also shut them down very quickly, or simply fun tail slashes. Combining the soft tip and stiffness from the front contact point back, these skis are really fun to pop off everything, making tree runs and bumped up pow a blast to tear around. The underfoot stiffness does allow you to really lay these out and carry speed without things getting too scary when there is a groomer to be done between tree laps. If the option is available, these would be a great pairing with a pair of Salomon Guardian touring bindings for a solid side country set up. They would be a little heavy for full B/C tour days, but would fit perfect for times when a little extra up means a tons of fun terrain. Overall these skis are getting the most days on my feet this season so far because they are just so versatile and fun. Well done Salomon.
Overall Everyone is always looking for that 1 ski quiver, and the atomic coax isn't far from it. So far I haven't been able to find conditions where this ski doesn't fit. Atomics history of racing shows through when it comes to groomers and hardpack/icy conditions. These ski once on edge will lock in and rail around, with no chatter and no signs of hitting the limits at full out speeds. The stiff tip and tail seems to cut through ruts, crud and generally just about everything with no problems at all. The one place they do have a bit of an issue is in hard bumps, as you get tossed around a little more then I'd like. The midfat dimmensions give you great float in soft snow, though the stiff tip does mean you have to shift back a little to keep from diving if its really deep. All in all these skis like to charge, but will show you who's boss if you get too lazy on them. My only issue is that when Mounted with recommended Atomic FFG bindings makes for a very heavy setup Performance Incredible edge hold at high speed on hard conditions Design Clear topsheet over wood core with sweet graphics native/smoke style graphics Characteristics Incredibly stiff flex for a ski of these dimensions Durability Ultra durable construction, including extra thick edges, and metal tip and tail base protectors
Overall Extremely comfortable helmet, super light weight and the venting is well thought out. Performance Biggest performance feature on this is the venting, which is top notch. Two separate vent zones with 3 stage opening on each makes it really easy to fine tune the amount of air getting to your head. Once in the vents air flows nice and free through the inner channels to keep you cool. Design Overall design is a good balance of smooth and aggressive. The venting stands out on top a little, but not excessive. The shape is quite low profile to keep the bobble head effect down, and fits well under a hood for the ultra cold days. The brim is nice to keep some brush off your face, but small enough that you can still put up your goggles when you want. The fit is great with the Smith I/O goggles, as expected, and quite good with most other brands of helmet compatible goggles. I have the Black on Black version, but there are a ton of different patterns and colours if you want your head to stand out a bit more. Fit The adjustable fit on the Vantage means that it works on a pretty wide range of head shapes. Personally I haven't been a Smith shaped head until this new system, but now it fits great. Adjustment is easy with a finger pinch of the slider at the back of the head. Once adjusted it says put feels solid. Durability The shell seems quite durable and scratch proof. This is not a true multi impact helmet, but I trust it to take a few bangs and bruises before needing to be replaced.
Overall First Drop made a huge improvement over last year, both in quality and design. Everything is really well designed and feels solid. Tons of great features all over the suit. Only two things making this an 8 (should be 8.5 if I could) First would be the slightly excessive oversizing of the pants, but they fit the style. Second is the suit is a bit bulky for packing. The XL would take up a good chunk of a large back pack or suitcase, so if you travel plan to wear the suit to give yourself space for other things. Performance Fabric coating is quite waterproof and should hold up to most days in the snow, though not my choice for a super wet or raining day. The insulation is warmer than I expected and kept me warm in -20 celcius with just a baselayer underneath. The mesh style lining doesn't seem to absorb much moisture either which is really nice. Design Style wise this suit kills it. The basic design is sick with the different colour panels and pockets, then add on the million colour choices between mixing solids, patterns, jacket and pants. If that wasn't enough, being able to buy different colour arms to zip in and the choices are pretty endless. Functionality wise, everything is really well thought out in this suit. Pockets are Everywhere, but really well placed. Outside pockets offer a ton of different places to put stuff, some have water proof zippers, others designed to expand for larger stuff. Even the pocket on the back comes in really handy and you'll be surprised how often you stuff things in there. The zip off sleeves and pant bib are sweet features, and will be great in the spring. Pit zips and leg vents work really well to keep you cool when you want. Also the powder skirt and hand gaiters keep the snow out when there's freshies Fit As expected this suit fits BIG, exactly the way its supposed to Jacket: Everything is really proportional on the jacket and true to the size chart. At 6'4" the XL's arms and body are still nice and long, without the coat being too bulky. Hangs to about mid thigh Pants: Sizing here is way bigger than expected, even with suspenders cinched up, they still have a ton of sag and bunch around the boots. Legs are super wide and bulky too so if you don't want to be floating you can likely size down a little. Durability Fabric is tough feeling and holds up to abuse pretty well from falls and abrasion. All the seams look to be well sewn and holding up well to regular use.
Overall One of my favourite hoodies! Design All the Voleurz stuff is nothing but style. Small details like snaps instead of buttons or zippers make this a great unique piece Fit Great fit. Slightly slimmer than many hoodies out now. Durability Need to be a little careful with washing to maintain the letters
Overall Excellent product for someone looking to enter into some real touring or slack country while still being able to trust their boards on the groomers when needed. Not ideal as an only setup, or for huge hits, but excels in touring mode. Performance These have excellent torsional rigidity, and while I wouldn't want them for ultra fatties, there's little to no noticeable movement on any skis around the 100mm range. While not intended to be a daily driver, I have ridden these on everything from highspeed groomed hardpack to waist deep with no problems. Design Quality, well thought out design like most Swiss gear. No extra crap anywhere it's not needed. The heel lockdown has never insta-tele'd on me thanks to the flexible design. Heel lifters are easy to unlock and adjust on the fly and the 3 different levels make all types of terrain a breeze. The fairly natural walk position doesn't strain the legs on climbs Value Well worth the high costs. Characteristics Very consistent release on these, and in line with most alpine bindings. The DIN works like it should and I have no problem trusting them to stay on my feet when I need them Durability Did end up having one mount plate fail where there is slightly too little metal around one of the mount screw holes, but even with the plate broken and flexing like crazy I was able to ski down on them. And BD customer service had no problem replacing it
Overall After several days wearing this jacket in everything from heavy snow, to freezing ice rain, to wind and cold, I'd say its held its own extremely well in all conditions. For anyone looking for a technical shell without looking totally granola, the Spineology should be high on the list. The construction is bomber, and feels like something that will last for years of abuse with a little care. Being a shell it is super easy to layer based on conditions, and I've used it with everything from just a base layer, to full out down puffy underneath. Overall I have been super impressed by so many features, but here are a few highlights: - The 3L Goretex fabric is totally waterproof and light weight, but still incredibly durable compared to a lot of other 3L jackets. The heavier fabric also eliminates that crinkly feeling, making it quite comfortable. The taping on all seems is really well done with huge overlaps so I have no worries on leaks. - The venting on the front of the collar, which many companies are doing now, is well done and does a great job keeping your breath from freezing over everything when its zipped up - Pockets galore. Double hand pockets, chest, arm outside, plus great media and goggle pocket inside - The fit is pretty standard, and as usual I had to go with the XL to get the arm and body length, which makes the width a little bulky. Little cinching though takes decent care of it. - Stoked on the Insane Blue, super fun standout colour. Found the Orange a little too bright though. - Small things like the in pocket draw strings, great non bulky wrist closures, waterproof zippers everywhere and so much more are well thought out in typical TNF fashion. Few things I am not totally stoked on: - The venting uses vertical zippers a bit more on the front of your ribs. They also don't include a mesh in the vent to control how wide it will open, and keep snow out. While it does a great job dumping heat while hiking, position and lack of mesh turn these into giant snow intake ports if you are skiing. - They also didn't include wrist gators, which seem to be 50/50 these days, just a personal preference of mine to have them. All in all you are getting what you pay for in this jacket, and since its the top of their Cryptic line, means you are paying for and getting a lot. Full product details at http://www.thenorthface.com/catalog/sc-gear/mens-suggested-picks-athlete-picks/mens-spineology-jacket.html
Overall Overall these are great. Soft material, great breathing and wicking, awesome anti-stink properties. My only gripe is no fly on the tights Performance Comfort and warmth are incredible for such a thin fabric without compromising breathability. Even after a hard hike, the material retains very little moisture and drys quickly. One huge plus is the anti bacterial properties. I find most synthetic and merino start to smell quite quick, but the milk fabric lasted 8 days of good skiing before needing a wash, great for extended travel Value Priced comparatively with other base layers Fit Just like every base layer the fit is nice and tight. The tights are nice and elastic to fit snug over legs and calfs without being loose elsewhere. Size and shape stayed consistent after several washes.