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The Happy Lens on these really raises them above and beyond the standard Wayfarer style offering. Even with sensitive eyes, the bronze polarsied/green spectra Happy Lens kept my eyes comfortable riding on the glaciers this summer where usually I ride with a much lower VLT. I did have an issue cracking one of the plastic hinges, the metal hinge on the Atlas, the other model I used, is definitely superior in terms of solidity and durability. But I can't claim to have been particularly careful with them and even with the crack, I can still snap them back together and ride with them, which I do. These are my go-to skiing sunnies. They are on the larger side for a wayfarer which I prefer as they keep more light out and still fit my medium face comfortably, whereas the aforementioned Atlas slipped on my nose more than I'd like. Basically, I'm stoked, I rocked these for a season and they did a great job.
The Talisman basically exists for one purpose: Fun. In that, they sort of reminded me of a skateboard; short, poppy and playful but arguably not all that practical. They will work perfectly for certain skiers, especially when you combine the characteristics of the ski with that rail warranty. For me that would be skiers on smaller hills, those riding indoors or playful skiers anywhere with very park heavy ski days and a preference for a wider ski. Definitely look in to these if you think you fit that description. They might not be what I would typically have thought of as 'my kind of ski' but I ended up having a ton of fun skiing them. For the right skier, the Talisman might just be a game changer.
These are some solid sunglasses. The metal hinges seem pretty much indestructible, which is good for someone with a bad track record on sunglasses. They still look pretty much brand new after a year of wear. Mine were matt black with a grey green Happy Lens. I felt they were a little too bright for the sunniest on snow days, but given they aren't a dark lens option, that was to be expected. I would say these fit a larger face best, I found I got a little slippage on the nose because they were a little big. Another reason I didn't ski in them a ton. Slightly ill fit for my face aside, I can't think of anything to complain about on these. I'd definitely recommend to a friend!
[img=]841299[/img] This hoodie ticks all the boxes: It's comfortable, well made and has a bunch of great features. The hood fits nicely over a helmet which is rare, the DWR coating and synthetic fabric combo stop it soaking through easily, there's even a pass pocket tucked away in the sleeve. Don't mistake this for waterproofing but if you crash the snow brushes off and doesn't soak through. The only thing I'd note is it fits smaller than the rest of the 'relaxed' fits in the Planks line. I wear a medium in most Planks stuff for a slightly loose fit but in this I went with a large and could even have gone for an XL, so bear that in mind.
Full In Depth Review: [url=http://www.newschoolers.com/news/read/The-Roofbox-Reviews-K2-Marksman-2017]http://www.newschoolers.com/news/read/The-Roofbox-Reviews-K2-Marksman-2017[/url] [img]821878[/img] The Marksman features a unique shape, with asymmetric tips/tails as well as sidecut. The inside edge-cut is taken from the Pettitor, while the outside is borrowed from the very different Pinacle series. It effectively replaces both the Shreditor 102 and 112. So how do they ski? These were perhaps the most in demand skis at the test I skied them at, so I only got a handful of laps but several things became very clear in that time. The most obvious is these are a definite departure from the Shreditor line. They are fairly solid underfoot and only soften in the rockered section, further towards the extremities than the Shreds. As a result of that and the combo sidecut, these are a much more serious proposition on harder snow, and track far better in crud etc. The tradeoff is they didn't seem nearly as playful/fun as the older skis, though perhaps a more forward mounting point and a bit of breaking in would help remedy that. My overall impression from the few runs was that K2 have created a ski that is more versatile on the mountain, carves better and skis unpredictable snow more consistently than its predecessors. But I probably wouldn't want to take it in the park or jib, which is what I actually did most of the time on my Shreds. Oh and I did try skiing them the wrong way round and the one word summary is: don't. The tips are super hooky backwards and the sidecuts feel horrible reversed.
The Douchebag is pretty much the ultimate ski bag. It rolls up to fit your skis perfectly so there is none of that bag sag that makes dragging a ski bag around such a nightmare. I've probably done 40+ trips with mine, covered many miles of bag dragging and it's still usable. I can't say that about any other bag I've used. It also has pretty big wheels so it's not too bad to drag over packed snow and the wheels dont freeze up either, a big problem with some other bags. Basically, carrying a big double ski bag is never fun but these are the least uncomfortable of the options out there.
The Magnum Opus: An (almost) versatile superfat ski. So who actually needs such a thing? Well jibby skiers who live somewhere it snows a fuckload couldn't do much better. Less than super gifted pow skiers who want to land switch and surf in fresh snow and need some help (AKA me) are going to love them too. If you want a chargy pow ski, look elsewhere but if you do want to ski fast occasionally these won't try to kill you. If you want a versatile ski, you're almost certainly better off scaling down the waist width, very few people including myself actually need a 124mm ski. But if you want a superfat ski, and I can see the appeal because they are seriously fun, these are a damn good shout. I had an absolute blast skiing them, which at the end of the day is what matters. Full review: http://www.newschoolers.com/news/read/In-Depth-Review-Line-Magnum-Opus
Full In Depth Review: http://www.newschoolers.com/news/read/In-Depth-Review-Line-Honey-Badger I would say these are skis that will work incredibly well for some and not for others. I'd call them a Marmite ski but I'm not sure the majority of you guys would get that. I couldn't personally ski these as my daily park driver because on the mountain I tend to rail around, ski some cruddy bump runs and high speed all mountain jibs even on my park skis and these felt too torsionally soft for me to push. Even simply lapping park in Saas Fee requires a pretty lengthy high speed run back to the lift and these got pretty jittery on it. But if I was skiing a smaller mountain, for example on the east coast, in the midwest or indoors they would be a perfect lightweight park ski. Playing around at low speed, hitting some urban etc these are perfect. Buttering a ton but still needing a lightweight ski to do nine switch ups on a rail, these are perfect. I said it in a preview review and I'll say it again, the Honey Badgers are going to make a lot of jibby skiers happy and not cost all that much while they do it.
I wouldn't hesitate to buy these if I was looking for a ski to ski every day somewhere it doesn't snow a ton. The same is true if I were looking for the narrow ski in a two ski quiver. If you know you have a preference for a super snappy, lightweight ski these probably won't be for you. But basically, K2 have come up with a real gem here, I really do love them. Full in depth review here:
These are still the great goggle they have always been. The foam padding is extremely comfortable, probably the most comfortable I've used. The field of view is seriously good for the medium size and the lens change is simple enough, though there are now quicker options out there. For sizing reference, I would say similar to the Crowbar but a much better field of view. The optics, as with all Smith goggles, are particularly good. The Chromapop lenses are extremely clear with no distortion or annoying reflections. The Chromapop Sun lens kept my eyes happy even in the harshest of glacier summer conditions while the low light Storm lens added some much needed highlight/contrast in crappy overcast conditions.The lens change is pretty simple, much easier than some but there are quicker options out there now. The only actual issue I had using these was that the double plastic clasps on the strap were pretty uncomfortable worn under a helmet. I asked a couple of friends to try them and they had no issues with this, so I assume that to fit my head I had to have the clasps in exactly the wrong place to fit with my helmet. These are a timeless classic goggle you can't go wrong with. Great lenses, good field of view and timeless Smith USA quality.
The Dakine Heli Pack is pretty much the archetypal skier backpack. I've had a couple in the past and they do the job but lack of vertical ski carry is a major hinderance bootpacking. This was my first Heli Pro DLX and I have to say, it's a great do it all backpack. It isn't the lightest bag I've ever used, so it probably wouldn't be my first choice for a backcountry long tour bag. But the vertical and horizontal ski carry option makes it nice and versatile from hikes to just lugging your skis around on public transport. It's 24L volume is big enough that I can fit all my gear for a ski day (minus boots) in or on it and I've used it a lot to take stuff to the indoor slopes while it's hot out in the UK. It works well as a travel backpack too, you can get few days worth of clothes and a laptop etc in there. I'd say I marginally prefer my much more expensive North Face Steep Series backpack for on hill use. It's lighter and has two full size pockets as opposed to one, but I wouldn't say the improvement was worth the price for 95% of skiers. Basically there is a reason Dakine are the go to bag for most: They do it all and the price is right.
I almost always wear park gloves/mitts, so the most notable thing about these for me was the warmth. Even in the depths of winter in the alps, my hands were verging on hot/sweaty and that was without the glove liners. It almost never gets what I call 'North America cold' in the alps, it rarely drops below 0 fahrenheit. But I don't think I've skied in any condition in which these, with the liners, would not be warm enough. I never had to break out the liners. As mentioned, I often was a bit too hot rocking these but I think thats a personal taste thing. I guess you know if you like a warm glove or not. And that aside these are some great mitts. They fit nicely, seem durable in the 20 or so days I've used them and always kept my hands dry. I'd definitely recommend these as a well priced and warm mitten option.
[img]821884[/img] The Line Blend is pretty much a classic these days and it returns unchanged for 16-17 except for the addition of possible my favourite Blend graphic to date. They do exactly what they say on the proverbial tin and blend a park ski sidecut/flex with a 100mm all mountain 100mm. In my mind they are more or less a fat park ski though because I find them too soft to charge around and certainly would worry about dropping much in the way of cliffs if the landings weren't super soft. There isn't much support in either the tip or the tail which are SOFT and pretty easy to overpower on butters etc. That said, the width does make up for this to an extent and they have been slightly stiffened since the 12-13 which was the last version I skied. They are light for the size, have a low swingweight and obviously super easy to flex. Not poppy but easy to ollie thanks to that ease of flexing in to them. If you like soft skis, like to play around in the park and around the hill at less than mach 10, buy them. These skis don't take much selling. The team adore these skis and never want them changed. I know quite a few guys on the team personally and have had this conversation with them. But for me, I prefer the slightly stiffer flex and tighter radius that the Bacons provide as my 'blend' of park/all mountain perfomance.
[img]820209[/img] The Mordecai, the middle ski in the Pollard jib line up is the only one I haven't spent a significant amount of time on. I took 2-3 runs on the '17 model at our ski test and it's definitely the stiffest of the 3 Pollard models. The nose especially, for a Pollard ski, struck me as surprisingly solid. They have the traditional surfy sidecut/profile of all Pollard ski but the stiffer nature of the ski does change things. They are much more comfortable in choppy snow and more stable on landings than either the wider Magnum or the narrower Bacon. They do bridge the gap between the two other skis very well but at least in the mixed conditions I skied them in, they sometimes felt like a compromise. I personally do prefer both of the others, though bear in mind they are two of my all time favorite skis. The new partly cloudy core, which uses Palouwina as the lightweight element, is responsive and fun but not I have to say, all that light. The Bacon, which also features the partly cloudy core, is quicker edge to edge, more buttery, lighter in the air and more fun on the groomed snow. The Magnum (much wider, still softer and also lighter thanks to a balsa/flax cloud core) was way more playful and fun for me in the soft stuff and even just for messing around on piste. If I was going bigger than I do though, the Mordecai would probably be my number 1 choice of pow ski. The way I see it as this: - Not many deep days but the occasional storm get the Bacon it's super versatile. - Ski some deep days, like to go a bit bigger but still land switch and play around? get the Mordecai. - Want to ski super playfully, land switch, jib around all over the hilly. The Magnum Opus
The BDog is all new for 2017 and looks kind of like a narrower EDollo. The new ski is rated as super soft on Armada's flex scale but as with BDog skis, Alpha 2s and Halos that have gone before it isn't really all that noodly, I'd describe it as a fairly medium flex. They have a similar tip rocker to the EDollo with a little tail rocker and the sample pair had a LOT of camber underfoot making them very reactive. I only skied them at a ski test for a few runs but they held an edge well, were pretty poppy and generally skied well. In fact, compared to other 'price point' park models I've tried, like the Infamous or Line Honey Badger, they ski all mountain very well. They aren't as inherently buttery as other skis in the category but wasn't a problem to butter if you know what you're doing. I wasn't blown away by them in any area per say, but they seemed like a really good do it all park ski, well put together, for a good price.
At the time of writing (11/3/15) these are my favorite park skis I've ever ridden. Sounds like a big claim but you have to factor in that, as a rule, I don't actually like dedicated park skis. I prefer the feel of a surfier wider ski, with lots of rocker and medium to softer flex. I have actually skied a lot of park skis over the years at tests etc but none has really blown me away. Until now my two favourites have been the Alpha X (tenuously a park ski), and the Domain. The Antidote skis a bit like a lovechild of the two. Superficially, it's closest to the Alpha X (and the Amplid Rockwell from which the Antidote was derived) but has the jibby playfulness of the Domain. It takes the 5 point sidecut, extends the tip/tail rocker and makes the whole lot symmetrical. It's also a few mm narrower at the waist for extra speed edge to edge and the flex is softer in the tip and tail sections. The result is quite frankly close to the perfect rail/jib ski. They essentially ski like a skinny version of the mid-fats I love to ride day to day. The flex is still what I'd call medium in the tip/tail and solid underfoot. But there is a lot of rocker so the Antidote is seriously easy to butter. They are also extremely light to spin thanks to the symmetrical shape/5cut and poppy thanks to a combo of camber underfoot, carbon stringers (along the base not the topsheet so they actually do something) and the flex. The solid flex also meant I never wheelied out on landings, but if you got really backseat you would. They aren't a dedicated jump ski but they do hold their own fine. Around the mountain they are also surprisingly good. Not too much chatter while skiing around happy enough at mortal speeds. The generous rocker helps deal with crud and mixed snow conditions though in reality, 90mm isn't enough to keep things really stable. For me the sidecut is a little on the short side, I prefer to carve around lazily than make short whippy turns but it's not a major issue and it does make them even quicker in tight spots. From what I can tell in the 3 days I've ridden them, the skis are extremely well made. The topsheets are bomber, I've seen no significant damage so far and I can't see any evidence of edge gaps or other hallmarks of a below par build. The bases are 'sintruded' which as far as I can tell is basically a high grade extruded base. They aren't however noticeably slow, like say the Domain or Afterbang so I don't think that will cause many people an issue. I couldn't feel a difference from a normal recreational level sintered base in terms of speed. The edges aren't the fattest however, though there is some shock absorption tech and the abuse base technology to help prolong the ski's lifespan. Honestly, I can't say if it works, I've only had 3 days but Amplid have a good reputation for ski life despite not having the biggest edges. Essentially if you like the way a mid-fat ski rides but want something easier to spin fast in the park, these are your babies. I don't do much in the way of spinny tricks but these are the first park skis I've ridden that really gelled with the way I like to ski park, and make it feel fun/easy and not like I'm forcing the skis. I'm not 100% converted, I still feel more comfortable on a 100mm platform and I probably always will. But these are the first park skis I've tried that I feel wouldn't make me enjoy skiing less than the midfats I generally ski.
The Hudson Shirt is quite genuinely one of my favorite things I own. I skied in it a bunch last spring and it's a great outer layer for keeping it stylish on a warm (or even not that warm, thanks to 40g of insulation) ski day. It's also waterproof enough (8k) to keep the bulk of the water out if the weather goes tits up. Most of the time I've spent wearing it has been as a casual day to day, "the weather is looking a bit shitty but I'd still like to look ok" jacket. I've been rained on in it a lot (I'm from London) and it keeps you dry as long as you don't spend hours outside when it's pissing down. It also looks really good. As in people regularly coming up to you and asking where the jacket your wearing is from good. Faction have done a brave thing by keeping their branding really subtle, it's a lot harder to sell stuff when it isn't immediately apparent to a casual viewer what a certain product is. But the trade off is the stuff looks better, more grown up. I'd personally say the result is one of the best looking outerwear lines out. They are putting their faith in the design and quality shining through, which to me is rad. Which makes sense because the quality on point. I've probably worn it 100 days mostly as a casual jacket, 20-30 on snow and it still looks more or less new. For sizing reference I'm 5'9 and 135 lbs wearing a medium which fits me well. It's a slightly long but relatively slim fit. Basically if you like the look of this jacket and of course, nothing is to everyone's taste, then I would 100% recommend it.
The Hill Bill is a jibby pow ski which is clearly designed with European snow/conditions in mind. I didn't get to ski an epic deep day on these. But I did get in to some leftover deep pockets where I could test the float, some really crappy snow to charge through and general daily skiing. The ski has a 5 point shape with a slightly narrower and lower height tail than the tip. There is generous tip and tail rocker with a bit of camber just under the binding region. But while the rocker is pretty long, it's not too extreme and there is no 'tip' or 'tail' to speak of just a continuous rise. It's not a 'banana ski' like a Hellbent or even a Bentchetler, it's more like a surfboard shape and it cuts through the snow brilliantly. Which is good because in Europe we so rarely get blower days. The Hill Bill would I'm sure, handle blower brilliantly but it doesn't feel uncomfortable in a variety of conditions the Alps tend to throw up. It's damp and just about stiff enough to feel solid/predictable charging around, even in cruddy snow but you can still flex them in to butters. What they do better than other pow skis I've skied until now is handle the heavy sludgy snow almost as well as the softer stuff. They ski pretty nicely on groomed as well with a 19m radius which is short enough to play around but long enough to be comfortable carving normal turns. They aren't a light ski but fairly normal for the size at around 2.2kg per ski in a 180cm. I skied them at -1cm from true and they were nice and pivoty. The swingweight is ok too for a fat ski. But it's clear that durability is a focus for Amplid here not weight, and their skis do feel fantastically well made. Thankfully, I didn't test the stomp guard tech, but the overwhelming feeling you get from the skis is 'solid'. That said, I do think something could be done to reduce the weight a little, perhaps 3/4 wrap edges/something to lighten the tips and make them feel a little more comfortable in the air for lesser mortals/smaller people like myself. If I were being super picky, I might also give the tail equal height to the tip for my personal jibbing uses but that would reduce it's versatility so maybe not. I essentially liked these skis a lot, they are one of my favourite super fat skis I've ridden. They are probably a bit wide for my personal requirements, given that I only weigh 140lbs and tend not to luck out on too many epic days. But if I had to choose a big day ski these would be right up there with the Bentchetler as my top picks. The big difference between the two is I think I feel more comfortable jibbing on the 'chetler, but enjoy ripping turns and drops more on the Hill Bill. I'd take the 'chetler in fluffy snow, but the Hill Bill on heavier days. Both can do all these things well, it's just a matter of your point of compromise. I'd definitely recommend these as a pow ski to anyone skiing a range of conditions. If you're in Europe and you aren't just a backcountry jump skier, I'd say these are the number one choice from what I've skied. It might be slightly easier to land your switch tricks on other skis out there but for ripping around, doing some jibbing, dropping some cliffs and generally skiing the whole mountain after a snow fall, these are a fantastic choice.
Ski: Faction Prodigy Length skied: 178cm Actual Tip-Tail Length (Straight Tape):175cm Shape: 136-98-126 Measured weight: 1,795g / 1803g Mount: Recommended (briefly) then True Centre Days skied: Around 40 on two pairs Reviewer height/weight: 5'9, 140lbs Review Location: Saas-Fee, Hemel Snow Centre Conditions skied: Slush, Ice, Groomers, Rails, Jumps, Powder up to 1ft The Prodigy is marketed as Faction's do-it-all, dare I say the dreaded word... intermediate, freeride ski. And as such, the Prodigy has seen very little interest on NS, with people instead frantically asking questions about, what is to all intents and purposes its bigger brother, the Candide 2.0. A ski which I reviewed in depth last year, and skied again this winter to check out the small changes. Indeed I never paid any attention to the Prodigy until Faction handed me a used pair to fill a gap between reviews/broken skis. I was quickly back to the Faction office asking after a second pair so I could keep riding them because they are that much fun. Depending on your usage they might well work as a playful all mountain jib ski for you. The ski is designed to float well in powder and yet remain easy to ski as an everyday ski for its target market: intermediate to advanced holiday skiers, otherwise known as the people keeping the whole industry going. The result is plenty of rocker up front for float, slightly less in the tail for stability and a mid-soft/damp flex for easy carving all day long. Perfect for daily skiing, but also a great combo for the park, more on that later. At a traditional mount (recommended is 7.5cm back from true centre) it does its designated job. It's easy to ski, stable at the speeds a normal skier would be travelling, holds an edge and floats well when the snow does fall on your holiday. All the boxes ticked but not that interesting for you guys. But if you move the mount forward to true centre, a whole different beast emerges, and it's covered in butter. That rocker up front and the softish flex means it's easy to get up on your noses, and because of the way the ski flexes it doesn't snap you back round. You can hold butters as long as you like and the nice wide nose keeps you super stable while you are holding them. I've skied/owned plenty of softer skis, the Blend, Elizabeth, EP Pro among them, but none of them were as easy to consistently butter as the Prodigy. The Blend is the currently available model and most people's noodle of choice, but I found the way it was stiffer underfoot and then stupidly soft in the tips, thus unpredictable and too easy to over-butter. The Prodigy is just as easy to get up into the butter as softer skis because the rocker is more pronounced (imagine a cross between the Blend and a Surface 3-stage rocker) but the more smooth, predictable flex keeps you there and makes it less easy to accidentally go over the bars. Manuals and legit tail butters (not margarines) are also a doddle. Even at centre mount they still ski the rest of the mountain relatively well. The wide nose and generous nose rocker help the tip stay up in on deeper days and the 10mm narrower tail means the tail sinks happily enough allowing for a comfortable stance. The full length sidecut and fairly large (for a jibbing ski) radius isn't ideal for playing around at low speed, for how I ski I prefer a shorter sidecut, but they do carve nicely on piste. They basically feel like a wider version of a traditional, non-symmetrical park ski that's been centre mounted. You can feel that you aren't skiing where the ski is meant to be ridden, but it's a familiar, perhaps even nostalgic feeling. They're also stable enough for most purposes, but they do chatter at high speed and if you lean too far into the tips while railing around you can definitely give yourself a shock. If that's something you're worried about, the big brother the Candide 2.0 is without question a better ski for you. The other slight downside of these is that I found them slightly uncomfortable skiing switch through chopped up or deeper snow, where I found the tails hooky. They were better than a park ski would be but definitely more uncomfortable than something with a little more tail rocker/some taper/a wider tail like the Candide 2.0s/Line SFBs I was used to. In the park I found them tons of fun but that very much depends on your personal preference for buttery/damp vs stable/poppy. If you ski a lot of jumps for example, again the Candide 2.0 is going to be a better call as it has the stiffness required to support you on landings. But if you just want to play, these are a great toy. With relatively low camber, lots of rocker and a mid-soft flex, you have the recipe for a buttery, surface swap machine. Some of the close competitiors here are the Al Dente, the Shreditor and the Blend. Now I don't particularly like the Blend (at least the '12 macroblocklite core model I owned) for reasons already mentioned, but they do have one big advantage, the fat edge. Even the Shreditors have noticeably thicker edges than the Prodigy which suffers from one of the same shortcomings as the Al Dente: really thin edges. As a result durability in the park is not the skis' strong suit. On both pairs I've used in my 6 weeks or so of riding them, I've got 2-3 edge cracks per ski albeit skiing mostly rails and I'm missing a fair bit of edge (6cm or so) from one of the skis. One of the tails on another ski has a cracked core and is now super floppy. I've also had problems with the topsheets chipping and peeling to a degree I've not seen on any other ski. Every pair of Factions I've skied until these has had good build quality but these aren't as durable as the Candide 2.0. Out of 4 skis (2 pairs) I still have 2 usable skis after 6 weeks, which is far from the worst durability I've experienced (probably OG Volkl Wall or Atomic Infamous) but it isn't great. Which puts me in a difficult position when it comes to concluding. I loved skiing these skis. They are one of my all time favourites for daily fun, and I'd love to recommend them to anyone who skis like I do. In terms of fun they are probably all time top 3. But I can't in good conscience say that if you ski a ton of rails or otherwise are hard on skis that you should buy these. Because as much fun as they are in the park they just don't seem to last well enough to be a ski you use a lot there. However, if you don't ride rails much but you ski all over the mountain, buttering, playing around and having fun at mortal speeds, then these should definitely be right near the top of your list. They are so much fun, I just wish I had an inexhaustible stash.
Now I've mentioned in a prior review that I'm a convert to the new Tyrolia Attack bindings. But the STH and more recently the STH2 would be my money no object choice. With durability improved in terms of both the brakes and the toe wings over the original STHs, these are quite simply the binding to beat. Utterly dependable, timeless design. The downsides are that they are a fair bit heavier than the Attacks, more expensive and have a higher standheight. Now those can be good things for many people but for me, they've led me to the Attack camp for day to day messing around. But on my charging skis, the ones I really need to depend on at the edge of control, it will always be the STH2. I'm not 100% sure as to why, but I just trust them that extra inch.
My testing period for this jacket was over the summer on the glacier in Switzerland. Not ideal you might think for a fairly tech jacket. But actually it turned out pretty well. Summer snow is super wet and it rained a few times so that gave the waterproofing a good runout. And glacier days are hot, which gave the breathability a real test. The short story is this is a great jacket. It looks good and is nicely cut. I rode in a large at 5'9 and I would describe it as too big for me, but not obnoxious or uncomfortable. Plenty of guys wear stuff bigger but I don't find the massive fit comfortable or practical. This jacket is clearly designed to fit progressive (looser than your normal tech jacket, but without venturing towards thug) and on me it was a little bigger. The 2L Goretex, the most basic goretex construction, still does the job perfectly. I was always bone dry, even going out in horizontal rain and crashing in slush. The jacket also comes with all the things you'd expect: pass pocket, pit vents, internal goggle pocket etc. It's of relatively normal weight for a shell and the breathability feels excellent. However the netted pit vents/hood vents do not allow for the same airflow as the fully open vents I had on the Planks Yeti Hunter. I have to say that despite the benefit of keeping snow out to a greater degree, I prefer the fully open vent system in hot weather/when hiking/touring. I'd also really love there to be a zip off hood/button down hood, something I want in any shell jacket because the hood is so light it flaps around when riding switch. It's not warm, being a shell, so you'd have to layer up for colder days but that aside it has all the tech you'd need and the Dakine durability seems good across all the items I tested. Overall, the Smyth is a great choice for a daily jacket. You won't look out of place rocking it in the park, but it has all the tech you need for even quite extensive ventures in to the backcountry.
Ski: K2 Shreditor 102 Length skied: 177cm Tip-Tail Length (Straight Tape): 177cm Shape: 131-102-125 Measured weight: 2,004g & 2,008g Mount: True Centre Binding: Tyrolia Attack 13 Days skied: 12 Reviewer height/weight: 5'9, 140lbs Review Location(s): Saas-Fee, Hemel Hempstead Conditions skied: Slush, Ice, Groomers, Rails, Jumps, All mountain jibbing, Indoor The first thing that you notice with these skis is the graphic. They divide opinion but what they do in every case is attract attention. I don’t think a lift line passed without someone, often a euro racer, making a comment on ‘ze retro skis’. Personally I love them, simple, clean and they pop in photos which is always nice when you’re out trying to 'get the shot' for an article. Most people I ski with have been pretty stoked on them too. The ski shape and profile is something out of the ordinary too. For an all mountain ski, these have A LOT of rockered length, though the rocker height is fairly normal. When you weight the ski, the nose and tail rocker stops just a few of inches in front of the binding. The taper is also extreme for a ski ‘only’ 102mm underfoot. The flex is average to solid underfoot and fairly soft in the tip and tail. Lots of rocker, early taper and soft noses and tails is pretty much the textbook recipe for a playful ski, so do they ski how you’d expect? Well K2 skis tend to have a pretty damp, solid and dare I say it, heavy feel to them and despite being no heavier than comparable skis so by no means a heavy ski, these do retain that classic K2 feel to a degree. They are fairly damp for a jibby ski, absorb vibration pretty well and are predictable through the carve. They also ski well on the groomed terrain for such a heavily rockered ski, the short cambered section underfoot does provide some energy and grip through the turn, but they aren’t explosive turn to turn or poppy like a stiffer/more cambered ski would be. The early taper ensures you get a reasonable and predictable amount of contact edge when turning and that adds up to making them enjoyable to carve around on. When you really open the taps the tip/tail do flap around a bit, but they are by no means as unstable as I thought they might be. Through soft melted crud and even summer slushy ‘powder’ they do a great job, the shape knifes through any kind of soft mixed conditions and the flex absorbs condition changes without washing out or bucking you like a stiff ski would. I didn’t get a chance to take these skis out on a deep day but you can tell from the shape, profile and the way they perform in deep slushy summer conditions that they would be excellent for a ski with just 102mm underfoot. They really don’t like ice or harder cruddy snow though, the soft noses and tails get bounced around like crazy and they just refuse to hold an edge. Early mornings on the glacier were not fun territory on these things, but they are certainly capable of cruising around on all of the mountain through the vast majority of conditions when you aren’t using them for their primary purpose, fun. As I said earlier they are pretty much the textbook playful ski design. The soft tip and tail combined with more than generous rocker makes them super buttery. Literally anyone could butter them. But the camber provides some energy to pop back out of butters, and plenty of pop off lips/takeoffs. They are wide/stable on rails, making them easy for surface swaps, 50-50s and presses. They ski well switch and never hook up on takeoffs thanks to that rocker/ taper too. As you’d expect with the shape/profile they are also more than happy to slash turns and pivot. In short, they are extremely easy to ski for all manner of jibbing. If you’re looking to learn to ski playfully, these are pretty much perfect. But for me there are a couple of shortcomings. Firstly, I find the nose and tail are too soft. With that much rocker, you simply don’t need so much flex to play around or to float. Buttering at high speed, I found myself overpowering the skis, much as I found with the Line Blends (12-13 Tiger+Snake graphic, the newer models feel more smooth flexing to hand flex). Personally, I prefer a ski with a more consistent flex throughout the ski, be it a soft ski or a stiffer one. And once you’re up on the tips/tails stalling out a butter, the taper, so great for avoiding catching an edge in deeper snow, means that you can’t control the direction of travel nearly as well as a full sidecut ski. By comparison once I’m up there on my Faction Prodigys I can control where I'm going even while flexed because while most of my ski is up in the air, the contact edge area is still part of the sidecut. On the Shreditor at the extremes of flex, you’re suddenly on the taper point/reverse sidecut section of the ski, so it’s much harder to control. That really is nitpicking/personal preference detail but it made a big difference to my own skiing. In the air the skis feel balanced thanks to the fairly symmetrical shape, so they aren’t hard to spin but at the same time not particularly light/easy either. As a true 177cm long ski, they are longer than 178cm skis from most other brands and thus most skis I normally ride. As a result I found them harder work to spin than other skis I've been on recently, which didn’t inspire confidence for spinning on to rails or any faster spinning tricks. It's not a big issue, they didn't stop me doing tricks but they made them harder work. Indoors in particular they really felt a bit sluggish and a lot of ski to throw around, so bear that in mind when picking a ski/ picking a size. However, the durability I experienced during my 12 days skiing these was really exceptional. I have no edge cracks despite skiing rails all day for 12 days. I don’t have the edge specs but these are clearly both wider and taller than a standard edge, though not the full 2.5x2.5 you’d ideally want on a pure jib ski. The twintech sidewall construction is possibly the most durable I’ve experienced, my skis look almost new, in stark contrast to your traditional sidewall ski after 12 days, I have no significant chipping. So despite my often very personal criticisms, I think these would be a great jack-of-all-trades ski for skiers who mostly enjoy softer conditions day to day. If you liked the much loved pre-2016 Sir Francis Bacon, these are probably the closest thing now available on the market, albeit with much more pronounced taper. They feel quite similar to ski and they are similar fun to ski day to day. They would also work well for someone looking for a soft fat park ski. And they seem durable enough to stand up to abuse in park like your average park ski, though perhaps the edges won’t last as long as something really designed to take a thrashing. Most importantly though, they are definitely a ski I could chuck in my bag and feel comfortable knowing that whatever conditions I ended up arriving to, I’d have a ski that can handle them. Read more at and see the review with images at: http://www.newschoolers.com/news/read/The-Roofbox-Depth-2016-K2-Shreditor-102#0IK9yShJVsKGiB2U.99
Long story cut very short, these are my favourite goggles I've ever used. They come with photochromic (transitions) lenses as standard, so the lenses adapt to suit the light conditions. I thought this would be something I noticed happening but it isn't my eyes were simply always comfortable. I had the Chameleon Lens in mine which ranges from category 2-4. Even in it's lowest light setting it's fairly dark but still gives you plenty of contrast when it clouds over. When the sun comes out though, it gets seriously dark. I have quite sensitive eyes so I really like a high category lens and this is the best I've tried. The optics are excellent, I'm actually sat here typing this in the sun with them on at the moment because they are better than my sunnies. If you have less sensitive eyes than me, the Cat 1-3 lenses I had in my other Julbos may suit you better as they have way better contrast/light transmission in poor light but still darken sufficiently to ski even in full light on a glacier in the summer. The coating on the lenses seems to be of normal to high durability. I have a couple of tiny scratches on my Universes, nothing I notice , after 30 days in them. I've seen goggles scratch much easier than these but I would say that Oakley lenses seem to hold up ever so slightly better. The foam is slightly thinner than say on an Oakley crowbar, which I like because they sit closer to my face and give better peripheral vision. Speaking of which, the field of view is excellent, comparable to any of the oversized goggles but in a slightly smaller frame. I have a fairly narrow face/small head and these fit me fine. The optics are also the best I've come across, though I haven't tried the new Oakley Prizm range in any depth which I'd like to be able to compare them with. I would seriously recommend getting your hands on a pair of Julbos, I can't really state enough how happy I am with them.
So these were my go to pant all summer in Saas Fee and they've come out of the experience looking more or less brand new which is a testament to the durability. The 10k waterproofing with fully taped seams was sufficient to ensure that I never got wet even when repeatedly eating shit in slushy wet summer snow. I've had plenty of pants soak through on me in the past in those conditions so for me that is a good indicator of quality. I rode these in a large, which is pretty big for me at only 5'9 140lbs so I needed to make use of the detachable suspenders to keep them up but for something too big they were suprisingly comfortable. I normally tend to wear skinnier gear so the oversized thing was pretty new to me and not nearly as annoying as baggy stuff I've tried before. The fit is clearly designed to be a tapered and relatively fitted round the knees, slightly baggier than the Saga Fatigues. I'd describe them as the 'fashionable' fit at the moment. But for me they were baggier than that. There were downsides for summer usage, the venting/breathability while adequate are nothing out of the ordinary and so a lot of the time I was a little too hot. There is also some fleece lining/insulation going on, making these much warmer than the shell pants I normally ride in. Now in winter conditions, that would be fine, but they aren't ideal for summer/hiking/touring. That is my only criticism though, I was actually stoked on riding these, and I think the leaf camo print is by far the most subtle and pleasant to the eye camo i've come across. Plus if you're hunting they might actually help you hide unlike some of the loud camo out there! The herringbone fabric is a super nice touch too, keeps things classy. I'd thoroughly recommend these as a park/all mountain resort pant for anyone.
Much to my surprise, the Attacks both the 13/16 have become my go to bindings. For me they are simply the best value bindings on the market. My 13s weigh under 1000g per binding including the brakes. They hold me in when I want them to and release when my legs are going to break otherwise. And they do so for less money than any other binding I've been on. I haven't noticed any difference in unwanted release or unwanted retention compared with my STH2s and I love those bindings. And these are significantly lighter. I thought I'd break them but there seems to be metal where it's needed, though it's sparingly used on the 13. However there doesn't seem to be an obvious break point like the plastic heel column on the Market Griffon, which I have broken in the past. Combine all of this with a low standheight and ramp angle and you have the recipe for what seems to be the perfect binding. However there is a fairly significant downside, and that is the brake screws directly in to the ski. Which means that when you inevitably do kill a brake (though they seem to bend not snap most often, you have to unscrew from the core and screw in the new brake, weakening the thread in the wood. Break more than a couple of brakes and you risk a binding pullout. But even despite that, I'd still thoroughly recommend these as the best cost effective binding out there.
I took the Planks Yeti Hunter Jacket and Pants, on about as tough a test as I could come up with, 9 days skiing, including camping, in Scotland. As it turned out, we only had a couple of days of the national treasure... horizontal rain + high wind but it was plenty of time to work out that this stuff is properly waterproof. Nothing got through, I was dry even when other guys in the crew were feeling soggily disappointed in their Haglofs and Patagonia Gear. The breathability feels good despite only being listed as 15k and there is plenty of venting in the Jacket to keep you cool when touring too.The stuff is also super comfortable, something I was forced to consider while sleeping in it due to a tent collapse. Looking to criticize, I would probably go either a little baggier, or add some taper/shape to the cut. The fit on the jacket is on the baggier side, I'm 5'9 140lbs and I had a medium, you can see how it looks in the picture. The jackets fit better than the pants for me (see pants review). Some of the Planks colour combos are a little garish but the Blue Jacket/black pants combo I had was perfect. It's not my normal style of gear but Planks have won me over with this stuff. It does the job just as well as much more expensive stuff, a trend I'm noticing with Planks gear in general, while still looking good.
I took the Planks Yeti Hunter Jacket and Pants, on about as tough a test as I could come up with, 9 days skiing, including camping, in Scotland. As it turned out, we only had a couple of days of the national treasure... horizontal rain + high wind but it was plenty of time to work out that this stuff is properly waterproof. Nothing got through, I was dry even when other guys in the crew were feeling soggily disappointed in their Haglofs and Patagonia Gear. The breathability feels good despite only being listed as 15k. The pants also have full length zippers down the legs and as such, can be taken off/put on without taking your boots off. Perfect for touring up in shorts and then switching in to for the way down. It also gives you complete flexibility in the amount of venting. I tended to open my zips all the way down to the knee while hiking around. Looking to criticize, I would probably go either a little baggier, or add some taper/shape to the cut. Planks call the cut oversize, and I'd say with the jackets that's accurate. But in a medium on me (5'9 140lbs), the pants fit pretty regular, the legs are perhaps even a little short, though you can easily sag to fix this by lengthening the bib straps and they won't fall down (obviously). I think I'd go large if I had the choice though. While some of the Planks colour combos are a little garish, the Blue Jacket/black pants combo I had (see picture) was perfect for me. It's not my normal style of gear but Planks have won me over with this stuff. It does the job just as well as much more expensive stuff, a trend I'm noticing with Planks gear in general, while still looking good. The Bib Pants have actually become my go to pants to my surprise, I tend to wear them without a jacket and the bib is awesome, it stops snow getting in when you crash jacketless way better than your average pants.
The K2 Domain is unique these days, with its flat underfoot/rocker tip/tail profile. Where most manufacturers have taken their jib oriented models and added camber/stiffness to appeal to the masses, K2 have stuck to their guns and kept the same 100% jibby ski the same for some time now. And as a result, the Domain is ski which polarizes opinion. People criticise a lack of energy, instability on jumps and it's bulk compared to the competition. But for me, it's a gem. There is nothing else out there that is as easy to butter, surface swap and yet still quick edge to edge . They are slightly heavier to hand than other park skis but I don't notice this at all when skiing them. The swingweight is low making and I find them plenty stable on all but the biggest jumps. I also love the damp flex of the Domain. It means you have to put more effort in to popping up on to rails but the ski is extremely predictable, relying on your own ollie for height rather than the pop of the ski, which is how I prefer things.And of course they are perfect for butters, presses and surface swaps. The only downside is the extruded base which generally comes with the Domain's price point. It really is pretty slow and I've struggled for speed on occasion with these, especially in already slow conditions. It is however, durable, as are the edges and the whole ski holds up well in general, I've had a few pairs over the last 5 years and the base speed is the only issue I've had except a couple of lost rivets, easily replaced. The reality is these are a niche ski, strange in a way for such a big company. But if you ski mostly rails, with a preference for pressing and butters, but still want a narrow ski for spinning fast, there is nothing better out there.
The Freak Out is a pretty tried and tested formula. A wayfarer style pair of sunglasses, in a range of colours and lens tints, similar to what almost anyone who makes sunglasses does. What sets them apart is the quality/price ratio. For $54.99 at rrp they sit in the middle ground between the cheap and crappy wayfarer copies and the expensive offerings from your typical eyewear brands. And yet they do everything that the top brands do for a much lower price. With polarised lenses as standard, metal hinges and sturdy frames, these are a great choice for skiing sunglasses. I've been wearing mine instead of my Oakley Holbrooks since I got them.
I spent a lot of time on these skis last season and you can find my In Depth Review of them here: http://www.newschoolers.com/news/read/In-Depth-Faction-Candide-2-0#Vkk6ovfQGvXK01RK.97 There have been some small changes to the ski for 2016, the rocker profile has been smoothed and there has also been an increase in camber from 1mm to 2mm. Not enough to warrant a full revisiting of the ski but they do make a difference. The increased camber makes the ski slightly more stable, and as a tradeoff the ski requires that little bit more effort to butter. They are also slightly more poppy than before which is no bad thing and the performance while carving has improved. I said in my In Depth review of the 2015 skis that the ski is more or less the perfect ski for how I ski. Revisiting it having skied a handful more skis in the same bracket, I'd still say these are probably the best performing overall of the jibby all mountain skis on the market. Stiff enough to ski properly, yet just about soft enough to play on (given my massive 140lbs of weight), they really will do it all. And they are beautifully built to boot. However for my personal tastes, bear in mind my weight, I'd like them to be softer when I'm skiing park. As a result I've ended up spending most of my time on what is in many ways this ski's little brother, the Faction Prodigy, which I will be reviewing In Depth in the coming weeks!
To see this review with Images/video click here: http://www.newschoolers.com/news/read/The-Roofbox-Depth-2016-Line-Sir-Francis-Bacon#m0OD6ZDsRZ8axF1r.97 The Line Sir Francis Bacon is one of the legendary skis of our generation. 2015-16 will be the 10th anniversary of the original model and over those 10 years it’s grown in to one of Line’s biggest selling skis. Despite evolving the ski multiple times over that period, Line have stuck to a similar formula, a relatively soft, playful and durable all mountain/powder ski. I’ve always been a big fan, in fact I’ve owned 4 pairs over the years and the outgoing model (108mm underfoot) was probably my favourite of the lot, I rode it for 2 seasons as my daily park/all mountain ski. So when I heard the newest Bacon was due to arrive on my doorstep earlier this winter, you can forgive me for having been a little excited. But it had a lot to live up to to match my expectations given my love of the previous model. The SFB has undergone significant changes for 2015-16. It’s been on a diet again, dropping from 108mm to 104mm underfoot. The core has been changed to Line’s balsa and flax ‘Cloud Core’ and the fatty base/edge are gone, replaced with thinner, lighter alternatives. The result is a drop in weight of around 500g per ski, big news if you’re touring/bootpacking but if you’re used to riding the Bacon in the park like me, the thinner edges and bases are not something you’re likely to enjoy hearing about. So how do they ski? All past editions of the Bacon have had a similar ‘feel’, does the new model retain that? The answer is sort of. The major similarity is the shortish, eliptical/5-point sidecut, on edge on (soft) hardpack the ski retains that playful feel. They carve relatively well for rockered jib ski over 100mm (as long as the snow is soft), and are very comfortable skiing switch, all things you expect from a Line SFB. But these are a stiffer ski than any previous Bacon model. Where they were buttery, they are now poppy. That’s not to say they don’t butter happily, but it’s a very different feeling. Where before you could lean in to the butter and the ski would sit in that flexed position as long as you held it, the new model pops you right back out again. They have more energy all over the place, poppy off lips, more bounce from turn to turn. Whether that’s an improvement is down to personal preference, 2 years ago I wouldn’t have enjoyed these nearly as much as the old version, but now I’m not so sure. I certainly think a majority of skiers would view this as an improvement. The new pointed nose/tail shape makes them ridiculously good in powder for the specs. I skied some epic days in Saas-Fee on these, so good in fact that I didn’t mess about getting the camera out, but we’re talking 60cm (2ft)+ of fresh and the skis handled it great. I didn’t particularly enjoy the old SFB as a deep snow ski, but these are tons of fun. The tail sinks more happily than the older version resulting in more comfortable riding and that tip/tail profile means they will slarve much more happily with no hooking. Definitely a much more surfy feel in deep stuff than the older model. I’ve always ridden the Bacon as a park/all-mountain ski but I didn’t get to spend a ton of time in the park on these, largely because when I was testing them, the all mountain conditions were so good. I skied a bunch of backcountry jibs/jumps though and can confirm that the light weight does translate to a super low swingweight. They feel 5-10 cm shorter than they actually are in the air due to lighter weight and the tip shape reducing drag. These 184s were easier to throw around than my old 178s. But I would worry about the durability of the lightweight construction, particularly the narrower edges, in the park. There are other downsides to the light weight too. While they carve well enough on groomed snow when it’s soft, when the snow gets hard/icy, they struggle for edge hold. It feels like there isn’t enough weight/power/torsional stiffness and the skis simply wash out rather than gripping. I usually ride my skis heavily detuned and despite leaving the edges intact on these, they didn’t feel a whole lot easier to control on ice than what I normally ride. And when it comes to cruddy, heavy snow there just isn’t enough weight/torsional stiffness to crush it. Whereas the Batalla All MTN Twins I rode for my last review would smash through just about any condition, when the going got tough, these skis did not get going. The old Bacons were fairly awful in those kind of conditions too but they were a lot softer/more playful as a tradeoff. In every ski there are inherent compromises, and that is perhaps more apparent here in the new Sir Francis Bacon than most. Weight loss has been made a priority and that has, for my personal set of uses, reduced the versatility of the ski. Whereas with prior models, I’d happily chuck just my Bacons in a bag and go on a trip, confident that I could ski hit urban, ski park, cruise groomers, and ride some pow, that simply isn’t the case with the new iteration. They are without a doubt, better in deep snow, much more useable for touring, lighter in the air off jumps, quicker edge to edge and more precise feeling on all round. But they aren’t as buttery/playful and I wouldn’t take them in the park regularly. I certainly wouldn’t take them to the streets. I know that’s not what these skis were designed for, and the changes do improve the SFB for the vast majority, who will only use them in the multitude of conditions where they outshine the older version. But for me personally, on a day with nothing special going on, they slightly lack that fun factor that has always made the Bacon one of the most enjoyable skis around.
The Nipwitz Brain Massage box set arrived on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago and it's a thing of beauty. The DVD/Blu-Ray discs sit neatly alongside a full length coffee table photo book and a premium quality merino wool beanie. I could wax lyrical about the production quality and the frankly ridiculous skiing in the movie itself for days. Suffice to say that nobody has ever seen any of the spots hit before, plenty of the tricks have never been done and the film is a thing of beauty. It's one of those rare movies that takes you to the locations and makes you empathize with the people featured. It's a film about another world, about travel and about the people encountered but without the cringy voiceovers and alongside some truly mental skiing. Now the movie itself is available free online, and the box set is expensive, so it needs to be something truly special to justify the cost. But the fact is that it is something special. You get what you pay for, a piece of skiing history. https://holvi.com/shop/nipwitz/product/eb55cd8c800b602fcd80dde883e60671/
It’s always difficult to truly review ski boots because the biggest factor is the fit, you should always go to a boot fitter. I’ve ridden these boots for around 3 weeks now and done very little work on them to preserve the integrity of this review. For reference, I’ve been in Full Tilt Hot Doggers for the past few seasons now and while the Dalbello KR2s are based off the same 3 piece boot design, there are some pretty noticeable differences in both how they fit and how they ski. Fit: I have a borderline 25/26 foot with a 98mm width but I ride the 25.5 in both boots. Although the BSL of the the Dalbello is marginally longer 297mm vs 293mm in a Full Tilt, there is less room for my toes in the Rampages. I molded the liners on both the Full Tilts and Dalbellos with toe caps and particularly on my slightly larger left foot, it’s touch and go in the Dalbellos whether they fit. The toe shape is more rounded, leading to slightly less internal length and I have quite an angled foot so that causes me some issues. To keep riding the Rampage I’d punch out the left big toe slightly. The Dalbello also has better heel hold and fits tighter round the leg than the Full Tilt. The Intuition liner is also thinner. For me that translates to much better power transmission on butters especially, but the downside is they are less forgiving when I fuck up. I’ve had calf bang issues in the Rampage that I’ve never had in Full Tilts. Fitting a booster strap, which I also ride on the Full Tilt, did help alleviate this but not completely (and yes I have footbeds in them). Performance: The Rampage has a 100 flex which for me, being 135lbs riding mostly park with some jibby freeride, is pretty much perfect. The forward flex feels slightly softer than my Full Tilt Hot Dogger 6 tongues but they feel significantly stiffer laterally. Because of this and the closer leg fit, they definitely drive skis better than my Tilts. The downside is the aforementioned calf bang. I’m working on a couple of potential fixes and will update this review if I manage to get it sorted. In terms of day to day ‘real skiing’, I’d say these perform better than the Full Tilt. I love the combination of a medium forward flex with great lateral stability. For jibbing, I’d take the extra comfort of a Full Tilt over the increased driving performance of the Rampage. They are also noticeably heavier than Full Tilts and more similar in weight to a traditional 2 piece boot. This makes 0 difference freeriding, if anything it improves things, but in the park I do notice the difference occasionally though it isn’t hugely significant. Construction: Top notch. Everything about this boot feels quality and that is more or less all that needs to be said. The buckle system blows Full Tilt away and there is next to no chance of anything breaking, unlike the full tilt cable ratchet system, which I may have replaced enough to afford a new pair of boots. The flex feels just as natural as in the Tilts too. The power strap isn’t great but no stock strap is, replace it with a booster and you’re golden. The liner is, as mentioned, a thinner intuition than the Full Tilt and it’s the best fitting liner I’ve used. It hasn’t packed out noticeably since the original molding and I’d expect them to last 2-3 seasons without much issue. Bottom Line: A high quality, close fitting boot with top level performance for a lighter skier. If you weigh more than say 150lbs, I'd look at a stiffer model in the line. With a little work these will likely become my go to boots for everyday skiing.
Many skiers are coming to realise that what they really need is one pair of skis that can do everything well and so the one-ski quiver market is getting increasingly packed. Pretty much every brand, large or small, makes a ski that aims to do it all. The All MTN Twins, Batalla's entry to this sector, are going up against some heavy hitters in the all mountain, freestyle oriented market. Among them are the Faction 2.0s I reviewed last time around and one of my all time favourite skis, the Line Sir Francis Bacon. Before the skis arrived on my doorstep, just hours before they needed to go in a bag, I didn't know much about Batalla. I'd heard of them, I knew they were one of several new independent brands on the up but that was about it. It was really interesting going in to a review with next to no preconceptions of what the ski would be like. When I opened the box, the first thing that I noticed was that the topsheets are beautiful. I really like the art direction of the whole Batalla range and these might be my favourite of the graphics. With their clean lines and subtle Texas flair, they are something completely different from what other brands are doing. The sidewall finish was smooth and I couldn't find any kind of edge gaps. Very impressive for the first run out of a new factory. Fast forward one hurried binding mount, 24 hours and around 700 miles to my testing ground in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. My first day skiing, conditions were a mixture of bulletproof groomers, chopped up refrozen slush and crusted over pow. Not exactly my dream ski day but they are conditions which trouble a lot of skis, particularly ones that place any focus on jibbing, so in testing terms it seemed a great place to start.These things have a smooth predictable flex profile which is pretty stiff throughout the whole ski. They are stiffer than anything I've ever skied, which is marketed as a jibby ski. That stiff flex combined with a generous amount of smooth, kink-free rocker translates to excellent crud busting. At high speeds on icy groomers they were a bit skittish, thanks to detuned edges, but the tips never flapped significantly. They definitely held up better at speed than anything else I've skied in this market sector by a significant margin. Later on in the week, conditions improved and once I could hold a good edge on slightly softer snow, I found you could really ski lay in to them and ski them hard. They felt happiest in mid-length turns but you can slash super quick turns thanks to the small radius, rocker and taper and they were happy enough swinging long turns from one side of the slope to the other too. I spent a fair amount of time in the park over the course of the review thanks to sub-par conditions and they do a good enough job there. I have no qualms skiing a wider ski in the park. In fact I generally prefer it, except in the tight confines of indoor slopes, so the width only took a lap to get used. I had no problems with switch ups and spins off rails because I'm used to riding 100mm+ underfoot. There is significant early taper which keeps the swingweight low and the stiff flex is a massive bonus on off-centre landings. Obviously they are a little heavier and slower than something 90mm underfoot but I had no problems. If you are looking for a spin-to-win park ski, you won't buy. For anyone else, they work perfectly well. Skiing a ski these certainly made me reconsider my preference for (overly?) soft skis, because of the stability they offered on landings. The rocker is pretty pronounced, especially in the nose. As a result, buttering was still possible, despite the stiff flex and my light build but it did take more force than normal. The one other thing I found more difficult than normal was flexing the ski to ollie over things and up on to high rails with flat-ish takeoffs. Again, it was doable but did require my whole bodyweight meaning a lot more effort than I'm used to. This isn't a ski you're going to be able to fold Kieran McSlay style but you can still play on them. In the construction of every ski there is a trade-off between butteriness and stability (despite frequent manufacturer claims otherwise). These are on the more stable end of the continuum but you can still play around. The night before the last day of my trip, it finally started snowing and around a foot fell overnight. I was on the first lift the next morning to see how these things did in pow. Even with a centre mount, the generous nose rocker kept them afloat happily. The tapered shape, with plenty of rocker and only low camber underfoot, was great for slashing and buttering in deeper snow without any hooking. There's even enough rocker in the tail to land switch in a foot of snow without backwards tomahawking. And the stiff flex meant that once the pow got tracked out, I could still have fun skiing tighter lines despite less than stellar conditions, when on softer skis like the Line SFB I'd have been bricking it. They really will charge pretty much anything. Mounds of frozen crud, tree stumps, small children, you name it, these will go through it. They aren't quite say, a Volkl Mantra but they do the best impression of that type of ski I've seen from one I can still comfortably do a front 4 on. I've ridden these for a week so far meaning it's hard to give a definitive answer on durability other than "so far so good". I've seen some topsheet chipping typical of a full sidewall ski but in terms of damage, that's it. No edge cracks despite a fair bit of rail use, no damage to the bases (which are great by the way, rock solid and quick to boot). I've also not experienced any real softening of the ski, they are just as stiff as the day I got on them, which is a good sign of quality. Given how much choice there is in today's ski market, it's very easy to write off smaller brands as they appear. But Batalla are bringing something slightly different to the table and based on these skis they deserve to succeed. There are a lot of skis out there you can ski rails, jumps and some pow on. But with the All MTN Twins, you can comfortably do so much more than that. You can trust them to stay solid on more technical lines and in cruddy conditions. You can land a bit backseat on drops and they won't fold. And if the mood takes you, you can open the throttle and go, without worrying about stability. I ended up skiing stuff I haven't skied in years, because of how miserable it would be on the skis I typically ride, and having an absolute blast. The fact that I could do it all then dip back into the park and comfortably throw most of the tricks I normally do made for a hell of a week. I can't really criticize anything about these skis. On occasion I found them a little too stiff for me in the park, but I'm not a big guy. If I put on another 10lbs, that 'issue' would be gone. My sparknotes conclusion would be that the All MTN Twins are the most genuinely 'all-mountain' skis I've ever skied. So if you really want to ski it all and still get some park laps in during the day, these skis should be right at the top of your list.
If you want to ski park, with a smidge of jibbing everything else thrown in, this is a great ski to look at. Would be a great one ski quiver for the east coast. At 94 underfoot and with the tapered tip/tail, they are stable on rails and landings but the swingweight is relatively low. The edges are huge and construction seems on point. Mellow shot of me skiing them: [img]741592[/img] The flex is mid-stiff for all mountain,but as stiff as any park ski I've skied. They have no problem holding up all around the mountain, I've not experienced any tip flap. The rocker provides some help with float, but the tapered shape of the ski really means they out perform other skis of this size in soft snow. The narrower tail sinks happily, helping keep the noses afloat and the tapered shape means they will travel sideways much more happily than a traditional ski. Mine are mounted true centre and they ski ok on trails, so if your focus is park, I'd go true centre. Don't believe the horror stories. However, if you are more all mountain focused, say 50/50, the -2.5 mounting point does feel more comfortable in carves.
*Please note, I originally reviewed these skis in 2010 and am tidying up my reviews, thus the new date* One of the best skis ever made. Wide enough to be decent in the pow, super soft and playful and stable enough to crank on groomers. Piste: I really love these skis on groomers if the snow is anything but super hard pack. They carve a nice turn and are pretty nimble for a fat ski. They aren't built for mach 10 but you can push them pretty hard. Moguls: Ok this really isn't home territory for the Lizzies but they are manageable. The shortish length and soft flex makes up for the width.. By no means a mogul ski but if you venture in to moguls once in a while they won't kill you. Jumps: Super stable on takeoff and landings and swing weight aren't too bad. Not for fast spinny types but nice for slow steezy spins. I'm not a great jump skier so i can't really guarantee this but they are really nice for slow 180s, 360s and 5s and you can carve nicely in to spins with the short sidecut. Rails/Boxes: Great jib ski, The width makes them really stable to land on and you can spin them around easily enough too. Pow: They are ok for me but for anyone bigger they wouldn't be great. The width and flex mean they float ok but the low profile tips are prone to diving. Fit 172 was pretty perfect for my size/weight. If you are about my size or smaller (5'8-9, 135-140) then this ski will kill it all over the mountain and be ok in pow. A great fun all mountain ski or park ski for the west coast. Durability: Pretty good actually. Normal chipping. I tore a huge hole in the base on about day 15 of my first pair but got it fixed they held up fine for the rest of the season. My second pair probably did 200 days with no noteable issues.
*Please note, I originally reviewed these skis in 2010 and am tidying up my reviews, thus the new date* Overall: I didn't have a lot of fun on piste but they are great in the park. Lightweight, durable and very poppy. Park: This is what the ski is designed for and it kills it. That is all that I need to say really. I don't ski massive jumps so no comment on sw10s over a 60ft table, but it is light and easy to spin. Stiff enough to support on backseat landings and so quick on rails. If you want to spin fast off rails it's pretty much perfect Also very energetic and poppy. Piste: Ok. It's very very quick to turn and doesn't really want to go straight. I prefer a softer ski on piste and I like to do long turns, Bumps:Comparable to my old Walls, a bit poppier and thus less smooth but a good ski for bumps. Design Beautiful graphics. The square tips distinguish them from other skis which is nice. The edges are thick and tough and the sintered 4000 base is bomber and very fast. Fit: I have the 171. At 175cm I found them a little on the short side. I'm sure this contributed to my discomfort on the piste. I was torn between the sizes and went for the 171 due to my loving the Line Elizabeth. But the effective edge is quite short and the rise on the tip/tail is quite long, Durability: Topsheets chip, they always will but these are holding up pretty well, I went over the edges of the top sheet with a razor blade and then a medium file and this has minimised chipping. My edges are detuned under foot for rails and there were no cracks when I sold them on to a friend.
These are a great ski, one of the best Line has made. If I had to pick one pair of skis to ski for the rest of my life it might be these. My most recent pair were centre mounted (and were my 3rd pair). I've also skied them at -2 which is better in pow but since I largely ride park on them, I prefer centre (more on that to come). I ski maybe 70% park on these and they do a good job. The swingweight is low for such a big ski, they butter and surface swap like a dream and feel stable on jumps thanks to the wide waist. They obviously aren't as light as a 90mm ski but for most skiers they will be fine for all but the most technical of tricks. I filmed a couple of (chilled due to hernia) laps on them early this winter to show how they ride: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRbNSw3RePw Where these things really shine is general all mountain jibbing. They carve well for a rocker ski with little camber, but they are always willing to slash and butter with a little extra push. They have just enough rocker and width to land in the soft stuff forward and switch, flex enough to be easy to butter but don't wash out completely. For some people they will be too soft, but at 5'9 140lbs they have the perfect flex. Surprisingly, deep snow is my least favorite place for these. Up to a foot they are pretty good but after that, less so. At centre mount they do ok but that is it. I've skied other skis at centre which feel far better. At -2cm they are better in pow > 1ft but honestly, still not that great. I'm sure this is partly due to the near symmetrical sidecut which makes the tails reluctant to sink. I actually preferred the Line Blend in pow, despite not liking it much elsewhere. Feel free to PM me any questions.
Overall I wanted to give it a 10 I really did. But it isn't quite perfect. As a powder jib ski it is unquestionably a 10. Its perfect, and for surfy deep pow fun the same is true. But it doesn't charge that hard and if you can only afford one 'deep' ski like me, you might want it a bit stiffer. I think if you own this ski then another 'charger' ski would still be needed in a perfect world. My next ski will have to be something of that nature.That one small gripe aside the ski is amazingly versatile, perfect in pow, good in the park and on groomers. I would certainly recommend it to anyone of my size, who enjoys playing in the pow. For that it is unbeatable. Performance This is an amazing ski. Groomers: I'll talk about powder performance at length in a minute, but can I just say that I don't even understand how this ski works. It is seriously fun on groomers. It chatters a bit when straightlining fast, but never feels unstable. When you get it on edge it loves to turn, the chatter stops and it is shockingly good compared with my (admittedly low) expectations. When my dad's skis got lost on the plane when he visited me in switzerland, he rode my groomer skis for days leaving me on these on groomers.. honestly I think I prefer them to my Reno Jibs on piste. Yes you can't push them that hard or they get a bit squirrely and no they won't win you a GS or a race and if the snow gets really hard or icy then they are way too wide and don't hold a great edge, but those things aside, they will handle groomers well and be unbelievable fun while they do. Bumps: Again, surprising. They sort of mould to the bump and pop you out. Really fun. Not for ziplining or mogul comps but you knew that..Park: I took these on rails once as a test, but basically I want to preserve my edges so I avoid that for the most part. They are so stable its basically cheating, and presses are so easy and fun. They are a bit much to spin, but it can be done. They are soft on jumps but manageable, decent for slow spins and great for butters. They could be used as a park ski for a certain type of skier I guess.Pow: Its hard to really explain how good these skis are in powder, if you are jibbing around in more that 6 inches of fresh I honestly believe there is no better ski out there. Having never skied switch in pow before, I was making switch turns down an open bowl like it was nothing. Landing switch they really do pop you out of the pow and keep you floating. Kill pillows, kill little (under maybe 20ft) drops. Perfect is the only word. This ski has ruined powder on any other ski for me.'Big' Mountain: I have skied some more serious lines with these skis. Some narrow, fairly steep couloirs, and they aren't that bad. Bear in mind that I am a skinny bastard, but I could push them pretty hard and they held up ok. I guess it depends on the snow though, the swiss pow I was skiing is pretty soft and fluffy so the soft flex doesn't matter so much even when charging (up to a point), they have limits though. Cruddy snow and thick heavy slush pow crap is not so fun, the skis are too soft for that, and get deflected really easily. Design I always love Pollards graphics, so on that front I love them. The shape is incredible, I would go so far as to say perfect. The flex I am not quite sure about. They feel so amazing in the soft stuff with their current flex, they feel good in bumps because of that too. But in less than great conditions they can struggle a lot and because of that i'd stiffen them up a bit (I think). Value Line Skis are always great value in my opinion. I got these reduced and they the best value ski I ever bought I think. Fit One size fits all.. 185.. My guess is it doesn't fit all though.. I'm 175cm (5'9?) and the ski didnt feel big even for a second. With its forward mounting point and soft flex, I don't think I would love it as much if I were significantly bigger.Recommended mounting point is -2cm from true centre, mine are mounted at -1 cm from true. They ski perfect there in my opinion Characteristics Soft. Probably the softest ski out there. But the amazing thing about these skis is, it doesn't seem to matter except in death crud or on ice, don't land too backseat though.. Durability So far so good! Few chips but purely aesthetic damage. No base damage despite some rocks, really seems a tough ski.
Overall They are great skis. On an intellectual level, I know they are great skis. But as i mentioned before, I didn't love them. They weren't the right ski for me so I've given them an 8, even though I sort of know they are worth more. Performance I quite liked the ski. Piste/Groomers: They carved very well for such a fat ski, better than any other wide ski I've been on (EPs, Hellbents, JJs, Chopstick, S7). Much less tip chatter than any of the others I mentioned. Park: Not exactly what they are designed for but actually the swingweight is pretty light, they are pretty solid on landings. I didn't exactly push it on them but they were fine for what I did do. Edges are pretty thin though so I can't see them holding up long on rails. Pow: Obviously these are a pow ski and that is where they excel. It isnt quite the same unsinkable feel as EP Pros and Hellbents but they still kill the deep stuff. The solid flex made them plenty of ski for me to charge on Much more solid on drops and lighter swingweight off booters than other pow skis too. That puts them above any of the other pow skis I've ridden in terms of pure performance. However, I didn't love them. I rode them for about 3 months probably one in every two days during that time. Come march (mid season in europe really) I sold them and switched back to EP Pros. Despite being a better performing ski, they lacked the fun factor that I got on EPs. They just weren't as playful, they didn't make me love skiing on them. Design I liked the graphic but didn't love it. I never really know what to say about design. Value I can't remember what I paid for them, I got a good discount. They are a comparable price to similar skis so they are good value, being that from a purely performance point of view. I would say they are the best i've ridden. I'd like to try the Line Opus though. Fit I'm about 5'9 and around 140lbs. I got the 183 and they were the perfect size. I mounted mine at -1.5cm from true centre, seemed like the perfect spot to me. Characteristics Compared to what I'm used to, they are a fairly stiff ski. I'm more used to riding soft skis (EP Pro, Elizabeth, SFB). In terms of a full range of skis they are more of a mid flex. The flex is fairly even throughout the ski, with the tip, underfoot and tail all being medium flex. Durability Bomber. The construction of these skis seemed really good to me. All the time i rode them i hit rocks, trees etc. No major base damage, solid skis. Topsheet seemed durable too.