Overall The Moment Deathwish is the most fun ski I've ever skied. Hands down. When I first heard of them, I was dying of curiosity to try them, and got my chance at Powder Week last year in Jackon Hole, Wyoming, where they were the #1 ski I wanted to ski on, and the half day I had the chance to do so was quite possibly the most fun few hours of my life. And I am happy to say that I am now a proud owner of a pair as a result. The Deathwish is unlike any other ski on the market. The reason for this is Moment's 'Mustache Rocker', which consists of no camber under the foot, camber in front and behind the bindings, and rocker in the tip and tail. While some hailed this concept as a gimmick when it first hit the market (despite the success of certain snowboards that have embraced this concept), for some reason, it totally works in a variety of fun ways... First and foremost, it makes slash turning better and more fun than ever. Because where as some rockered skis have the tendency to wash out while slashing (like a surfboard or water ski), thanks to the camber in front and behind the binding, these bas boys grip like a knife, so you'll feel like the late and great Shane McConkey when he ripped down an Alaska spin on water skis. Second, they're easily the lightest and most playful and poppy ski I've ever tried (and everyone I know who's tried them says the same thing), as my favorite terrain to ski is trees and pillows, and the Deathwish makes it so much more fun to do thanks to how light, springy and easy to turn and slash they are. Third, both the dimensions (at 110 under foot, with a healthy amount of sidecut, which is my ideal width and shape in a ski, so I can ski anywhere and everywhere with it) and flex is perfect for me, as it's not overly stiff, or noodly soft, which is exactly what I look for in a ski (and particularly in a wide one). It's definitely firm under foot, but not to the point where you have to really crank it to get it on edge, and the slight softness in the tip and tail helps with that and allows you to enjoy and shred soft snow like a charm. Fourth, and perhaps most surprising, while they don't ski as well as a conventual ski on the groomed (as it's a tad less smooth going from one turn to the next), the extra contact points give the ski serious edge grip, which causes you to feel stable in not just pow and crud, but on groomers and/or ice as well, which came as pleasant surprise to me, as I was concerned that the camber points would cause them to catch an edge easier or cross over one another easily and in a dangerous way...but it's never happened. I could go on and on about how much fun this ski is for hours and hours, but as opposed to doing so, I would highly encourage anyone who loves skiing pow to try them out for yourself. Because you'd have to have a death wish to not be smiling ear-to-ear while skiing them.
From the moment I unleashed my first slash turn on these bad boys a handful of years ago, I knew Iâ€™d found the one, as the Atomic Bent Chetler was and still is one of, if not my favorite pow ski of all time. The Bent Chetler, which I'm sure everyone on here knows, is the brainchild of its namesake, Chris Benchetler, and if youâ€™ve ever had the pleasure of watching Chris ski, then you know he rips, and his pro model offering is a big part of the reason why. In the deepest of the deep, this ski (along with my other favorite pow ski of all time, the Moment Deathwish) caused me to have more fun skiing than I ever have, thanks to a well-tapered tip and tail that helps you initiate and finish your turns like a pro surfer, the perfect amount of rocker, and a healthy offering of stiffness and girth under foot. And although most skis beyond the 120mm under foot realm only perform well outside the ropes, the Bent Chetler slays in-bounds terrain as well, allowing you to tear up the groomed like a hot knife through butter and the crud like a monster truck in a parking lot full of smart cars. Much love to Atomic and Chris for producing a ski that has made skiing that much more fun.
The Pettitor, aka the brand spankinâ€™ new pro model of one of the best skiers in the world, Sean Pettit, kicks as much ass on the hill as Seany does. At 120mm under foot, the Pettitor acts as somewhat of a comfortable in between of the K2 Hellbent and Seth Morrison Pro Model of old (before it was revamped into this year's Side Seth), so it's perfect for someone who is looking for a little bit more ka-boom than the latter but a little less girth (and more versatility) than the former. Like most rockered skis of this nature, the Pettitor gives you that giggle-inducing schmeary and surf-like feeling in the pow, and plows through crud like a running back tears through an offensive line, but it also skis very well on the groomed, which is one of the most important things for me in a rockered ski, because a versatile rockered ski is a hell of a lot better and more desirable for me than one that isn't. Flex-wise, it's perfect for my style of skiing, with a serious dose of stiffness under foot and a slightly softer tip and tail, along with a feather-like swing weight to make the ski's overall maneuverability and playfulness something you have to ski to believe.
Ever since Sammy Carlson started skiing for APO, and I heard some exciting background on the company (namely that their snowboards and skis are designed by the same man who designed the Rossignol Scratch, which was of course the first sandwich construction ski that helped kick start the freeski and twin-tip design movement), I've been dying to try out his pro model, because I knew he (along with Bob from APO's expertise) would come up with something truly special...and I certainly wasn't wrong. At 87 under foot (in the 178, which is what I rock) with a not too straight or too shapely sidecut, the Sammy C Pro Model is the perfect width and shape for a park ski, as the fact that it's a touch wider than other park skis helps you stomp the biggest of landings, and also shreds the entire mountain like a boss. This was a big deal for me, as while I enjoy skiing park, I enjoy skiing the whole mountain more, and there's more than a few other park skis out there that I've found to be unstable and have caused me nervousness when I'm skiing through crud or on icy conditions. This isn't the case with this ski, as I've taken the time to push it to break neck speeds on less than desirable conditions, and was pleasantly surprised with how stable it was and the confidence it instilled in me as a result. Park-wise, this ski is one of the most playful ones I've ever tried, because man oh man does it pop! With a healthy amount of stiffness under foot and a springy tip and tail with an ultra light swing weight, it pops, butters, spins, flips and stomps with ease, and locks on rails like a bank vault, turning any and every day in the park into a smile-filled one no matter what the conditions are. After producing a ski this good (and fun!) for their first kick at the can in the ski world, the future is unquestionably bright for APO. As a result, I can't wait to see what they come up with next, and highly encourage all of you to try out the Sammy C Pro Model along with any of their other offerings. You won't be disappointed, and may just have the best ski day of your life.
O'Neill was kind enough to hook me up with two jackets this winter while I waited to receive a sample of our next year's collab jacket with them, and one of them was the Toots. Design-wise, with all due to respect to other jackets from other companies I've owned, this (in my opinion) is the coolest looking jacket I've ever had. It has a dark brown body with tobacco brown arms, and because I think the tobacco brown is such a dope looking color our next year's collab jacket with O'Neill will also feature the same color on the arms. I also love the black waistband at the bottom, along with the snow camo liner in the hood, as it gives the jacket some extra flair and makes it look and feel really unique. Fit-wise, it's somewhat on the taller side (but not too tall), and slim (as opposed to most tall jackets, which tend to be wide/baggy as well), and I love the fit of this jacket so much (more so than any jacket I've ever owned to be honest) that I suggested we use the same specs for next year's O'Neill/Newschoolers collab jacket, which is what exactly we're doing. Tech-wise, it boats a 10,000mm waterproof and breathability rating (which is great in pretty much every condition with the exception of torrential rain), along with critically taped seams, and a host of cool pockets to hold your goggles, iPod and other essential items while you're skiing. Definitely check out this and other jackets from O'Neill, and get stoked for our collab with them next year.
O'Neill was kind enough to hook me up with two jackets this winter while I waited to receive a sample of our next year's collab jacket with them, and one of them was the Seb Toots Premium. I know, I know...a skier rocking a pro snowboarder's pro model jacket? Kind of lame right? Well, not really, because as we all know, snowboarders design dope jackets, and Seb is an absolute boss. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, it's time to discuss what this jacket is all about. First off, the design is stellar. It's primarily black body with grey tweed sleeves makes it look extra sleek and somewhat classy, and the burgundy waist band at the bottom gives off a nice basketball jersey type of feel. Fit-wise, it's somewhat on the taller side (but not too tall), and slim (as opposed to most tall jackets, which tend to be wide/baggy as well), and I love the fit of this jacket so much (more so than any jacket I've ever owned to be honest) that I suggested we use the same specs for next year's O'Neill/Newschoolers collab jacket, which is what exactly we're doing. Warmth and waterproof-wise, it rules. It's not Gore-Tex, but with a 15,000mm waterproof rating and 10,000 breathability (along with critically taped seams), it will keep you toasty and dry in any and all conditions, unless you're planning on skiing during a hurricane. Definitely check out this and other jackets from O'Neill, and get stoked for our collab with them next year.
For a few years now, I've wanted a pair of skinnier snowpants, but I wanted them to be more rocker than full-on hesh (since I'm a metal head, and not a hipster), and because most skinny snowpants are really, really skinny, I was having a tough time finding a pair. This fall I came across the O'Neill Stereo, and after reading pant's bio on O'Neill's website ("Embrace your inner rock star and rock the Stereo on the slopes this season."), I knew my prayers had been answered. When I received the pants, look and fit-wise, they were everything I could have hoped for. Skinny, but not too skinny, and most importantly, great quality, as in addition to its slim fit, the Stereo has a 10,000mm waterproof rating with a blend of canvas and denim materials, which makes the pants feel as unique as they look. For all you gangstas out there, this definitely isn't the pant for you, but if you're in the market for a pair of slimmer pants that you don't have to jump off a four-story building to get into, definitely check out the Stereo.
What can I say about Armada's Anchorage ski bag that I haven't already said. I've been using it religiously in all my travels over the past five years, and if I'm not mistaken I've already reviewed it twice, but I wanted to do it again just to repeatedly (and loudly) proclaim that I think it's the best ski bag ever made, and I feel so strongly about that statement that I've threatened multiple Armada employees' lives if they ever change it. The best part about this bag is that all of the pockets are on the inside, because I absolutely despise ski bags that have external boot pockets, as I find that it causes ski boots (which are obviously large and bulky) to infringe on the amount of space you have inside, which can make packing for a big trip a bitch. And speaking of the pockets, there's four of them, which my boots, goggles, toques, bandanas, base layers and other accessories all fit into perfectly. Another huge bonus about this bag is the additional straps on the outside of the bag, as while most skis bags just have one at the top and the carrying strap on the side (which this one does as well), the Anchorage has two additional ones on each of the sides, which makes lifting it that much easier, and sure comes in handy when you've got a sore or bad back. One thing I noticed about this year's version of bag is that the zippers seem much tougher, as I did have an issue with one of them a few years ago, but then again, when you travel as much as I do, it's bound to happen, so kudos to Armada for strengthening them up.
I've been rocking Nordica's Ace of Spades for the past few years now, and for good reason...it's the best boot I've ever had. Here's why... First off, I hate stiff boots...a lot. And although I wouldn't consider the Ace of Spade to be an overly soft boot, it doesn't feel like you're about to drop in a World Cup race course when you have it on either. It's more so a comfortable in between flex-wise, which is perfect for me and the way I ski. Feature and design-wise, it has three buckles that give the support of four, a cushy liner complete with padding on top of the foot, and a gel-filled boot board that increases comfort and stomping ability while doing a great job of absorbing shock. In terms of the fit, it's definitely a bit on the wider side, but not too wide, as I have a bit of a narrower/average width foot (with a high instep, which has always given me problems in boots, until I started wearing these), and it fits like a glove, or rather, how a ski boot should fit. In short, if you're looking for a boot that's not too soft and not too stiff and not too skinny and not too wide, give these a shot, because Nordica truly has an ace in the hole with these boots.
For as far back as I can remember, I've always used Salomon bindings, and still do on some of my skis. But after years and years of seeing countless friends sporting the Rossignol FKS, and listening to everyone sing their praises, I decided it was time to see for myself if the gospel that's consistently spread by virtually every freeskier on the planet is true. Guess what? It is. The Rossignol FKS is quite possibly the best and most trustable binding on the planet. It's so damn good, durable and tough that it's hard to put into words, but above all its incredible features, the release system is by far the best, and my (along with so many others') personal favorite. The turntable heel (which has the longest elastic travel of any binding on the market) releases you when it needs to and keeps you firmly in place when it doesn't, making blown knees and/or lost skis a thing of the past. And speaking as someone who's blown a knee a few times and had to dig for lost skis even more often, I couldn't be happier with this binding. In addition to that, the FKS also boasts a substantial amount of shock absorption, which is great for those of us who like to hit jumps, cliffs or leave the ground in general, and comes with a variety of brake sizes to accommodate the widest of skis. Do note though that this binding is designed for more aggressive skiers, so if you're just starting out or are an intermediate skier it would likely be an unnecessary purchase, but for all the die hard shredders out there, this binding is your golden (or orange rather) ticket to success, healthy knees and the most stomped landings of your life.
Right when the season began, a brand new company called Soul Poles reached out to me and asked me if I would be interested in trying a pair of their poles. I promptly went to their website and was delighted to discover that their poles are made of bamboo, which got me really excited, as I'd been wanting to own a pair of bamboo poles for a while. I got even more excited when they informed me that they do custom engravings on their poles, so needless to say, I was beyond stoked when a pair of Original Soul's with my last name and the Newschoolers logo on them showed up at my door. Looks aside (which I'm obviously pumped on), I really, really love these poles, as my biggest gripe with most bamboo poles I've tried is that they tend to be really heavy, where as the Original Soul isn't (and even lighter is their park/pipe pole, which everyone on this website should check out), and is actually lighter than a lot of aluminum poles I've owned. Another bonus is the fact that it has a standard basket, as other bamboo poles I've tried have had weird ones, which I didn't like at all. And in addition to all of that, these poles are made of 100% biodegradable materials (including recycled plastics for the baskets and of course the bamboo shaft), which makes Soul Poles the greenest pole offering in the world, which is a big time plus in my opinion. The one thing that may scare some people away from these poles is the price, as they're a bit more expensive than the standard throng of ski poles that you can find in any shop, but with the quality, customizable engraving option and sustainability factor, trust me, they're more than worth it.
Line's Pollard Paint Brush Poles are some of the coolest looking and feeling poles I've ever owned. This pole (aka Pointy Stick With Grip) is at the top of the food chain of Line's pole offerings, and for good reason. It boast the strongest and most lightweight aluminum of any of their poles, and without question the most stellar graphic, thanks to the artistic genius of its namesake, Eric Pollard. The one thing about this pole that I wasn't so sold on at first is the pole's most unique feature, the Grab Tab, as I find it to be a bit intrusive, but that's likely a result of using poles without this feature for so long, and I've found over time that I've gotten quite use to it, and that it's actually helped my pole technique while I ski, along with getting the grab, which is what it's designed for. Another feature that makes this pole unique is the screw off baskets, which allows you to twist the basket off as opposed to pulling it/forcing it off like on virtually every other pole on the market, which can be a bit of a bitch. All in all, the Pollard Paint Brush is an incredible pole, but be aware that you may need to give yourself some time to get use to the Grab Tab.
Overall Quite possibly my favorite ski of all time, from the moment I finished my first run on the Bent Chetlerâ€™s I knew I was done with one night stands and had found the love of my life. Performance On top of its dreamlike qualities in the deep stuff, this powder hound is also the best rocker of the bunch on the groomed in my opinion, and Iâ€™ve skied on a lot of them. Design You can never go wrong with hand drawn and hilarious Japanese-inspired graphics :) Characteristics With just the right width, rocker and flex, this ski gives me everything I want in the pow and I donâ€™t have to work for it, or think about it. Thanks for creating something thatâ€™s made me love skiing that much more Chris.
While I'm not a pipe skier (although I do enjoy the odd trip down the stunt ditch), I'd always been curious about the Armada Pipe Cleaners and really wanted to give them a shot, mainly because I heard they were an incredibly well-built, fast and stiff (yet nimble) pair of skis. Turns out everything I'd heard about them is true. In a nutshell, the Pipe Cleaner rocks. At 85 under foot (in the one 176cm, which is what I rock) and without a ton of sidecut, it's great not just in the pipe, but in the park and crud as well. And boy oh boy does it rule on the ice, to the point that it's probably the best ski I've ever had for when the going gets icy. It is definitely a stiffer ski than many other park skis out there, and while I'm use to skiing on softer skis, I really appreciated the firmness of the flex, and found it to be a great contrast to some of the softer park skis I've tried and owned. That being said though, I don't want anyone to think that it skis as stiff as a board or hard as a rock, as I found it to be extremely playful and nimble inside the park and out of it, but if you're more into the overly flexy/softer park skis, then it might not be for you, but you'll sure appreciate it when you're screaming down the mountain in icy and/or choppy, crud-infested conditions...or while boosting bigger than you ever have out of a pipe.
The Armada Prime Glove is hands down the best glove I've ever owned. I was running a pair of the original Joystick gloves for years, because every other glove I tried since I first got them couldn't compare, until I started rocking the Prime. My favorite thing about this glove is how slim it is, because I hate bulky gloves. Their lack of girth caused me to wonder if the Prime would stand up well to the elements when I first received them, but after skiing with them all winter in mega cold conditions I couldn't have been happier, or more surprised. The Prime is full leather on the outside (which tend to be my favorite style of gloves) with a micro fleece liner on the inside (which thankfully doesn't bunch up, as that's my and likely everyone's biggest pet peeve with gloves), which makes it ridiculously warm and dry, to the point that you'll feel like your hand is in a microwave. It also has a nice 1/4 length zipper at the bottom, which makes it even easier to get in and out of, along with a 1/2 velcro strap to tighten up the base if it's feeling loose on you. In short, Armada's Prime Glove means business, and makes winter its bitch, so if you're in the market for a kick ass glove, look no further.
Pipe gloves are a must for any freeskier. They're better in the park, better in the spring/summer, and in my case, better for taking photos. I've tried many a pipe gloves over the years, and Armada's Crest Glove is one of the best I've had. While some pipe gloves tend to fall apart after a fair bit of use, the Crest Glove has held up well for me thus far. In addition to that, I've found it to have the perfect amount of warmth (thanks to the leather and nylon exterior and micro fleece liner), as while some pipe gloves I've owned in the past are too thin (and therefore too cold), or too thick (and therefore too warm), I've used this one in balmy conditions without sweating, and to my surprise, have also worn them when it's cold out and been quite comfortable and dry (due to the fact that it boasts a 10,000mm waterproof rating). And while I opted for them in Black, the Crest Glove comes in a variety of wild colors, including Maroon/Blue, Green/Grey and Blue/Yellow, so you can look good and feel good on the hill, because let's be honest, crazy looking and in your face pipe gloves are awesome.
Teva, maker of some of the best sandals in the world, was kind enough to hook me up with a pair of Chair 5's at the start of this winter, which is the flagship boot from their brand new Lifty Collection that was featured in The Life of a Lifty video series that we produced in conjunction with Teva (click here to check them out). Ever since I started covering events and traveling with film companies on shoots, I've been a big, big fan of using winter boots, as prior to being in this line of work I found that I never had a ton of use for them, because they always seemed bulky and unpractical to wear around town, even if it had snowed a ton. This is not the case with the Chair 5, as isn't too tall and is extremely light (unlike a lot of winter boots out there), to the point that I was initially skeptical about how waterproof, warm and tough they'd be in wet and/or cold conditions. After using them a couple of times though, all of my skepticism was put to rest and then some, thanks to how durable, warm, waterproof and easy they were to walk around in, which was a huge bonus for me in a winter boot. My favorite feature on the boot is the removable liner, as it's a great option to have, because after a long, cold/wet day of trucking through snow, it's nice to be able to remove it so it can dry them out lickity split (because nothing is worse than having to wear wet boots the next day), along with not stinking up the room or your feet as you wear them again and again. For all of you thunder foots out there though, be aware that in my opinion the Chair 5 fits a tad on the narrow side, and I only say that because I have a pretty narrow foot, and as a result (and much to my delight) my feet felt like they had been inserted into a cozy sleeping bag in these boots. So next time you're in a shop and you see the Chair 5 on the wall, pick them up to marvel how light they are, then slide them on your feet to see what I mean, and don't be surprised if you walk out with a pair. Because if you spend a lot of time in the great outdoors throughout the winter, you'll be glad you did.
Overall Since their inception I was a touch on the skeptical side of things when it came to rockered park skis. I felt the technology only made sense in powder, and although I understood its obvious benefit when it came to buttering, I prefer turning to buttering. But I began whistling a different tune when I first tried these skis. Performance One of the most playful and fun skis for cruising around in park. Not surprising from Salomon, the company that brought us twin-tips. Characteristics The purex-soft and slightly-rockered tip and tail make popping and initiating a turn a breeze, while the firmness underfoot prevents wash out and can hold an edge with the best of them.
Overall Mark Abma says â€˜bamboo is betterâ€™, and being that I treat everything that comes out of his mouth as skiing gospel, I knew I wanted to give these a shot the moment I saw themâ€¦and it was a good decision to make. Performance This ski can shred everything from the deepest of the deep to early morning corduroy with the fluidity weâ€™ve all come to expect from its designer. Plus when you point these straight in the crud, you feel like the Iron Chef teaching a table full of onions a lesson. Characteristics A little narrower, snappier and easier to turn than its big brother the Czar, which I also loved, the Shogun possesses just the right flex pattern for anyone who loves to charge the big lines, but still likes to sit back and cruise from time to time without feeling like their skis are three feet ahead of them.
Overall It's no small wonder why these boots are beginning to grace terrain parks and slopestyle competitions as often as the Salomon SPK and the Full Tilt Hot Dogger, and there's plenty of good reasons why... Performance With three buckles that give the support of four, a cushy liner complete with padding on top of the foot, and a gel-filled boot board that increases comfort and stomping ability, Nordica truly has an ace in the hole with this boot. Fit Definitely a bit on the wider side of things for anyone who's rocking a foot skinnier than Taylor Swift, but easily the most comfortable boot Iâ€™ve ever worn. Period. Characteristics I hate stiff boots...a lot. And although the Ace of Spade is undoubtedly a tad on the stiffer side of things for a park boot, it doesn't feel like you're about to drop in a World Cup race course when you have it on.
Overall I canâ€™t remember the last time I went a winter without wearing Orage, and thereâ€™s many a good reasons for that. Designed and tested in of my proud homeland of Canada, Orage knows a thing or two about what itâ€™s like to be cold, and they hate it. Here's the results... Performance If there's one thing Orage is famous for, it's their warm and comfortable jackets, and if there's another, it's the ton of bells and whistles that come with them in an effort to both benefit and entertain you on the hill. Because who doesn't want a jacket with a bottle opener in the pocket? Not me, that's for sure. Design Xavierâ€™s great looking jacket comes in a variety of loud color schemes, which is great, because it allows me to piss of my photographers by scoring mad background appearances in their shots. Fit With my 80's metal inspired wardrobe, I'm not much one for the gangsta steeze by any means, but I don't want to look like a gaper either. So take note that this jacket in size Large fits a bit like an XL, which is perfect for me, as it gives me just the right amount of length (and comfort) while still feeling cool enough when I meet all you kids ;)
Overall Mike Schneider is the man. First he brought us one of the most well loved and positive upstart ski companies on the market, Surface, then acquired Joystick to help take it to the next level, and if that wasnâ€™t enough, heâ€™s also launched a stellar new outerwear company with Causwell. If everything Mike has done for freeskiing isnâ€™t enough to make you want to support his brands, then maybe this will... Performance The Reasons Jacket has the look and feel of a hoodie and keeps you warmer than a down jacket, but without the bulk. I would know, as I wore this coat for the better part of my time at Jon Olsson Super Sessions, which takes place Northern Swedenâ€¦not too far from where Santa lives. Design This all-over whirl print will make you look like something straight out of the pages of Alice in Wonderland, and standing out on the hill is always good, whether your friends are trying to find you in the woods or the ladies are checking you out in the lift line. Fit Baggy, hesh, Causwell has all sort of strokes for different folks, but this particular piece leans towards the Dr Dre side of things, with enough room to conceal your...lunch.
Overall Poles are poles, and when Anthony Boronowski started the company now owned and operated by Surface he certainly didnâ€™t re-invent the wheel, but he was the first person to give skiers a reason to be excited about buying those pointy sticks we carry around and try not to stab snowbladers with. Performance With a light swing weight, loud colors and a rental-style strap that makes adjustment easy even while skiing at Bode-style speeds, I love Joy. Design When it comes to graphics on poles, no one holds a candle to Joystick, and this in your face pattern with banana yellow grips proves that point and then some. Need more convincing? Check out JP Auclair's limited edition pro model pole on www.joystickskiing.com to see what I'm talking about. Durability Although I don't shred the gnar as hard as I used to, I've yet to break a pair of Joystick's, and that's more than I can say about other poles I've used in the past.
Overall Want to look real damn good both on and off the hill while staying warm? If youâ€™re one of those types (and really who isnâ€™t?), look no further than Voleurz, one of the most exciting, diverse and unique clothing companies in all of action sports. Performance Voleurz = quality in anything and everything they do, from breaking down barriers between skiing, snowboarding and skateboarding, their action packed and feel good movies, and wild partiesâ€¦and their clothing is at the top of that list. Design Although Iâ€™m madly in lust with everything that comes out of their factory, this piece in particular is one of my favorites, and was practically surgically attached to me for all of last winter and summer.
Overall Buying Electric goggles = looking like a rockstar on the hill. Performance Fog? What fog? Design With a wide range of far out colors and designs, including this cosmic, space-aged color scheme that somewhat reminded me of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album cover (along with coincidentally and perfectly matching my Orage Xavier Bertoni jacket: http://www.newschoolers.com/ns/content/reviews/action/read/id/1598?), you can never go wrong rocking the bolt. Fit When I first put my handsome face in these oversized goggles I wondered if they were too big, but after spending the last three years enjoying a heaping helping of peripheral like never before, Iâ€™ll never go back. Durability I've been wearing Electrics for the past couple of years now, and in contrast to previous goggles I'd owned, I've never had any problems with the oh-so-terrible foam peelage, and I've found that the lenses are surprisingly tough to scratch, especially with all the tree skiing I like to do. ___________________________________________________________ Buy 2012 Electric EG2 Goggles at evo.com or shop for all Electric Gear.
Overall The EG2.5 is a brand new frame from Electric this year that has a similar shape to their classic EG2 frame, but it's a bit shorter with more of a square shape as opposed to the roundness of the the EG2. Performance The frame and strap holds up like a semi-truck in a car accident with a smart car, and I've found that the reflective lenses from Electric fare well in all conditions, rain or shine, bluebird or fog. Plus they're great for checking out chicks in tight ski pants without them being able to bust you. Design I'm rocking the purple and black frame...because I don't like to go skiing with something on me that's not purple. Fit I've been wearing the EG2 for the past three years and love the staggering amount of peripheral vision that comes with it (check out my review here: http://www.newschoolers.com/ns/content/reviews/action/read/id/1596/), but I jumped at the chance to try out this new frame to mix things up a bit...and I wasn't disappointed. You still get the lengthy side-to-side vision of the EG2, but with a little less height, which is great for all the people out there who don't have as big of a face as I do and who may be intimidated by the girth of the EG2. Durability I've got a chrome lens on mine, which means that any scratches are a bit more noticeable on the outside, but I've yet to experience any vision problems from the inside, which once again proves that Electric makes some of the finest lenses in the game. ____________________________________________________________ Buy 2012 Electric EG2.5 Goggles at evo.com or shop for all Electric Gear.
Overall Orage has once again hit a home run by collaborating with one of their marquee athletes, Xavier Bertoni, on his 2011-2012 pro model jacket. With a unique design, multiple in your face color ways and tip-top quality, here's a few reasons why you'll be seeing this jacket all over the place this winter... Performance I've been wearing Orage jackets for as long as I can remember, and there's a host of good reasons why. They keep you warm, dry and most of all comfortable. What else would you expect from one of the premier outerwear brands in the sport who test their product in the coldest confines of my home country of Canada. Design I like this color scheme more than the other four options that are available, as it stands out (which I like), and looks like a Christmas tree (and who doesn't like Christmas trees?). If this one isn't your cup of tea though, check out the other color ways here: http://www.orage.com/ca/en/aum0035.html Also, like with most Orage jackets, this coat comes with a ton of bells and whistles, like a Xavier Bertoni voodoo doll in the goggle pocket (which seems kind of silly and like it's there for no reason, but it actually does a great job of sucking up moisture from the inside of your goggle) and three condom pockets...because you never know when you're going to score in a gondola. Fit I love the fit of this coat. At 5'9, I always have a hard time figuring out if I should wear a Large or XL when it comes to outerwear, as sizing can vary drastically from company to company. In this jacket I rock the XL, and it comes about halfway between my waist and knees, so I don't look like a gangsta or a gaper. It's not too wide either, as some XL coats that aren't 'tall fitting' tend to be, which is an added bonus...because no one wants to look fat. Durability This jacket is tough as nails. I don't have a single ounce of wear and tear on it and spent the better part of last winter skiing in it all over the world in every condition imaginable, from -20 C mornings in Iceland to the unfortunate torrential downpours that plagued the glacier in Whistler in this summer. It really doesn't get much better than this.
Overall It's here! We're super excited to unleash the Sessions/Newschoolers jacket this winter that we've been secretly collaborating on for the past two years, and being that I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one last winter, here's a look at what you can expect if you're smart enough to pick one up for yourself before they're all gone... Design One of the best features on this coat is the smooth, silk-like material throughout the inside of the coat, which I was pleasantly surprised by and helped make it (in all honesty) one of the most comfortable jackets I've ever owned. And as far as the look of it goes, we spent months and months behind closed doors asking some of skiing's top athletes and our most loyal members which color scheme they liked the best, and in the end (based on their input) we went with the red, yellow and black, along with a small Newschoolers logo on the left sleeve and big one on the right hip, so you can loudly and proudly display your love for the best skiing website in the world on the hill like never before. Fit We knew you would want it...so we worked with Sessions to make this a tall fitting jacket. I wore the XL last year and it was a bit taller than I was expecting and liked (I'm 5'9 and it came to just above my knees), as I'm not big on the tall steeze, but for all of you out there who are, this is the jacket for you. The XL also fits a touch on the wider size, but not to the point that you'll look like a blimp instead of a pimp. Durability This jacket can take as much abuse as people get in our forums, and just like they do, it will keep coming back for more ;)
Overall As soon as I saw the Armada TST I knew I had to have it, as on top of the unique shape, flex pattern, graphics and ideal dimensions, the ski is a tribute to one of Armada's team riders, Travis Steeger, who grew up skiing near my home ski hill of Red Mountain in Rossland, BC before he was tragically killed in a hit and run accident. Mad props to Armada for producing this ski to honor his memory. Performance In my quiver I like to have three skis. One for just playing around in the park, one for just the deep stuff, and one that's good all-around, and the TST is the ski that will be coming all over the world with me most often this winter. At 102 underfoot it's still wide enough to make me smile in deep pow, but also rips the groomers surprisingly well for a rockered ski, which is something that's important to me when I'm skiing in bounds. Design The TST is one of the most unique skis Armada has ever produced, and from the company that's given us the JJ, ARG and Alpha 1, that's saying a lot. The ski is a hybrid of three of their most popular models, with the tip of the JJ, the sidecut of the ARV and the tail of the ANT. And the graphics, just like all of Armada's offerings, are extremely unique, with some aboriginal-like artwork that stands out wherever you take it. Value A portion of the proceeds of the TST will be donated to Travis Steegerâ€™s Memorial Fund and the Avalanche Awareness Beyond the Boundaries Society, which provides free avalanche skill training courses for youth. So you know your hard-earned money is going to a good cause. Fit I'm 5'9 and rock the 183cm, which is a perfect length for me, as I find that anything shorter than 178cm (even in a park ski) makes me feel like an unstable snowblader, and anything longer than 186cm makes my knees cringe and beg me to head straight to the bar. Characteristics The TST has a medium flex patten that's ideal for all conditions, with a slightly softer tip than tail and firmer than both underfoot, making it excel all over the hill, whether you're floating on pow, charging the crud or ripping groomers in between. Durability I haven't been able to put a full season on the TST yet (as I only received them last spring), but so far, so good, and you can rest assured that any ski that has Travis' name is sure to be bombproof on the hill...just like he was.
Overall From the moment David Lesh told me about First Drop, I knew I wanted to rock his gear. Lesh is one of the coolest cats in skiing, and has helped Newschoolers out a ton over the years with some stellar content, so I expected nothing less from his foray into the outerwear realm. Performance This year's offerings from First Drop are a huge step up from last year, both in the fashion and functionality departments. I've already rocked this new suit amidst the bitterly cold winds of Breckenridge, Colorado and during rainy days on and off the hill in Whistler and Vancouver, and it's kept me both warm and dry, all while looking good and trading high fives with other happy First Drop customers. Design The first thing to mention is that First Drop is the only company with a customizable color picker, so you really can't go wrong. For myself, I love Sweden, so the blue/yellow color scheme that matches the national flag of one of my favorite countries in the world was a must. Although I personally didn't mind it, the chest pocket is gone this year, but the new design still has plenty of places to store your goods. The shell jacket feels a bit on the thicker side of things to me than many other companies out there, but not too thick that I end up sweating like I'm in the Sahara. And when winter turns to spring, best believe I'll be taking advantage of the zip-off sleeves to get my tan on. Fit At 5'9 I rock the Large, but for all you gangstas out there, be sure to check out the XL, because it's big. Real big. Durability So far so good. No rips, coming apart at the seems, frostbite or wet body parts to speak of.
Overall This bag doubles as my winter home, and home sweet home it is. Performance This bag has more wonderful features than a Vivid girl, and similar ones too, such as easily stretchable compartments, multiple straps, heavy duty zippers, and it doesn't weigh a ton, which will help minimize the chances of you having to pay astronomical charges for overweight bags at the airport. With the amount of traveling I've done over the years, I've been beyond stoked with how well this bag has held up, and refuse to use any other. Because of that, I highly recommend this bag to anyone who's going out on the road with their skis for more than just a weekend trip or two. Design Of all the ski bags I've ever had, the design on this bag is by far the best I've seen, and it really makes it what it is. I hated (almost as much as I hate mayonnaise) the fact that in previous ski bags I've owned the boots compartments were on the outside, as I found it more difficult to pack the main compartment and zip it up as result of the boots sinking down and interfering with the placement of the skis (especially if you're taking two pairs). But with Armada's Anchorage Ski Bag, in addition to the stellar main compartment, which is big enough to pack two pairs of skis and a host of outerwear, hoodies, shoes and other necessities for me while I'm on the road, on the inside of the main compartment is four additional pockets in which I can easily store my boots, goggles, toques, bandanas, headphones, gloves, socks and base layers. Once packed, it then nicely folds over the main compartment making packing and my life that much easier, leaving me more time to focus on the more important aspects of traveling, like how to convince the girl sitting next to me on the airplane to 'join' me in the bathroom. In addition to that portion of the design that differs from most other ski bags bags out there, the Anchorage has a whopping 5 straps. The standard top strap which was smooth on the hands as I dragged it through airports all over the world, plus four additional ones on the sides that made it a breeze for a muscle-less wimp like me to lift it through narrow train doors in Europe while Italians screamed at me (trust me, it's happened), and into the back of pick-up trucks for backcountry trips in BC while grizzly bears chased me (which hasn't actually happened, yet). Value Take it from me...buy this bag if you're going to be traveling a lot. Last winter I was home for only 10 weeks between the end of December and July and was basically living out of this bag at all times in between, and it served me well. So if that doesn't prove just how badass of a ski bag this is, I don't know what will.
Overall The Empire Roman II mitten is badass. Warmth + waterproof + style = happy, happy hands. Performance I was never a big fan of mitts over the years, but after giving these a shot and experiencing the warm and comfy benefits, you might say I've converted. I still rock my fingered Joystick's from time-to-time, but if it's freezing cold outside or I need to get the grab, only the Empire's come out to play. Design Two features about this glove that stand out for me are the zipper on top of the glove that reveals a secret stash pocket (where you can store a host of on-hill necessities, like your lift pass, ipod or house keys), and the goggle squeegee on the thumb, which allows you to wipe the snow or rain off of your goggle lens mid-run with ease. Fit I've got pretty big hands (must be because of all the typing I do), and you know what they say about guys with big hands right? They need big gloves. I went with the XL, and it's just the right size, without too much space that will turn my fingers black, but with enough room to make a fist inside the glove the help get the blood moving when it's igloo weather. Durability These bad boys are tough as nails, just like the company's founder. Nothing makes me happier on snow than tree skiing, and I've repeatedly pounded through the bush with these without a battle scar to be seen. Be sure to slide your hands in a pair if you have the chance. You'll see what I mean.
Overall I first peeped these skis at SIA Vegas and amidst all the kabuffle of new gear I was seeing, I didn't think too much of them initially. A few weeks later I was in Japan with Mike Douglas and I was asking him about it and he said it was not only the best ski Salomon has ever made, it was the also the best ski he's ever skied. I took that statement to the bank because Mike is not only one of the best skiers in the world in my opinion, he's also been super open and honest with me about what product he does and doesn't like over the many years I've had the pleasure of being friends with him. I began to get more and more curious about the Czar after coming to the conclusion that I was tired of skiing on skis over 185cm and wanted something more in the 182cm range with a 100+ waist. Then, a day after mentioning this to Tyler Gigg and Bruno Bertrand from Salomon, I was presented a brand new pair, which were mounted and hand delivered to me on the hill...no big deal. Thanks gentlemen! Performance Although I haven't had too much chance to ski it in the deep stuff as I got them towards the end of the year, I've really, really enjoyed my time on them thus far. They mob through the crud, are super lofty in the pow and although they're not as turny of a ski as I'm use to, they ski pretty well on the groomed as well. Design I love the fact that Salomon has started going to wood cores (particularly with this ski) and has figured out the weight issue that has given them some trouble with their wood core skis of the past. The ski is light and nimble but is definitely made for charging. A big plus is that it's reportedly the only rockered ski on the market that is pre-pressed with rocker (which adds to the durability and longevity of the rocker), as opposed to being rockered after the fact. Graphically, it's subtle but with a bit of pop. The crowns and snowmobiles on the tip are cool because I like to think of myself as a bit of a king and I heart snowmobiles. I also dig the finger of God-type image in the middle of the ski. Value I got them for free so I'm pretty stoked. But for those of you that have to mow lawns all summer or crunch numbers in the stock exchange tower, believe me...it'll be money well-spent. Fit After skiing on skis over 185 for many, many years and my knees getting worse and worse, I decided this season that I was over long skis and was becoming more of a 179-182 type of guy. Thus, the 182 length for me in this ski (at 111 in the waist) was a perfect fit for my desired all-around shred stick. Characteristics I love the flex, and it was one of the initial things that drew me to the ski. It feels a bit softer in the tip than in the tail (mainly because of the rocker) which is nice because I usually tend to land a bit backseat when I drop cliffs. Having this flex gives me a bit more confidence to stomp the piss out of drops which makes all the ladies waiting for me at the bottom extra turned on. Durability So far so good. These skis are monsters.
Overall I worked for Line for many, many years before coming to NS and right from my first run on the Lizzie's it has been one of my favorite skis of all time. I've skied on them every year since their inception and fall in love with them more and more every time I take them out. I'm an extremely avid tree skier and have never skied on a ski that excels as well in that area as this one (and I've skied on A LOT of skis). My home hill of Red Mountain in Rossland, BC has some of the steepest and tightest trees I've skied anywhere in the world, and when I go back there, although I normally travel the globe with two or three pairs of skis, I only bring the Elizabeth. Design I, like anyone else with half a brain, am a huge fan of Eric's art and each and every ski he designs, and the time and love he puts into the Elizabeth makes it that much more of a keeper. Value Line's are durable, have badass graphics, ski like champs and are designed, tested and produced by people just like you and me...die-hard skiers. Combine with the fact that they make some of the most affordable skis in the game and you cant go wrong with slapping down your credit card for any ski in their line-up. Fit The Lizzie only comes in a 172 so it's certainly not made for straight lining pencil chutes. If you're going out to charge the steep and gnarly my best advice to have another ski in your quiver, but for cruising the trees, park and mini-golf lines (or even the groomers, as its symmetrical snowboard-like design makes it carve like a hot figure skater), you'd be hard pressed to find a ride more fun than the Lizzie. Characteristics The flex is quite soft (the ones I have seem significantly softer than in years' past, although it could be because it's a sample) which makes perfect sense for this ski as it's designed for pow. The softness makes it super happy in the soft stuff and nice and nimble on groomed and packed conditions, and needless to say, buttering them is easier than getting laid in Sweden. Durability The durability issues that have plagued Line over the years are a thing of the past. Nuff said.
Overall The good people at North Face were kind enough to set me up with this jacket, and after having owned many of their jackets and pants in my younger years, I was quickly reminded why they're considered to be one of the big kahunas of the outdoor world. Performance The Gonzo Jacket can take a beating in any and all weather catastrophes, and has kept me dry during the lucky days I've had the chance to rock it. As far as warmth goes, the shell is a bit thin as all North Face shells tend to be, but whatever voodoo spells they cast on it seem to work, as I've yet to be chilled to the bone. Even the snowmobile grease on it has come off without a fight. Design I know Wallisch has been hyping the Pittsburgh Steelers steeze on this jacket, but since I'm Canadian, I'm going to go ahead and claim the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Black and yellow FTW! Fit The North Face isn't known for their baggier fits, so to avoid ending up with too small of a jacket, I played it safe and went with the XL...and was pleasantly surprised. It's not too wide across the chest, and has a respectable amount of length to it, making it one of the finer fitting jackets I've had in a while. Durability The name says it all. The North Face knows how to produce a bomb proof garment for all conditions and temperatures, and this jacket helps prove that their reputation is well deserved and then some.
Overall Historically, when the youth of skiing thinks of snow pants from The North Face, only one word comes to mind...tight. But I'm hear to tell you to take a second look, because the Fargo Cargo pants from The North Face offer both fashion and function for all of us who don't want to look like gapers. Thanks to the addition and input of guys like Tom Wallisch, Nick Martini and Mike Riddle, The North Face has been stepping things up in the baggy department, and I was pretty damn stoked when I slid these on for the first time, and at 5'9, I'm only rocking a size large. Enough with the look and feel of them though, and on to the quality. For years I've shredded the bottom of snow pants to the point that they look like a witch's broom, and I've spent close to a year skiing in these without a tear to speak of and/or a drop of water to freeze my legs. What else would you expect from the company who builds outerwear that people summit the highest mountains in the world in? And on top of it all, although they may not have the 'cool' factor of a 'core' outerwear company like Saga or Orage, take a step back and look at all of the great things The North Face is doing for our sport (most notably The North Face Park and Pipe Open Series, which has picked up where the classic US Open competition left off and offers an opportunity for up-and-comers to score a spot in the biggest event of the year, X Games), and show your support for a company that kicks some serious ass.
Overall What can one say about The North Face that hasn't already been said. They're the most iconic outerwear company in the world for one reason and one reason only...their gear rules. The North Face makes some of the warmest, driest and best quality outerwear on the market, whether you're hanging around the park or en route to the summit of Mount Everest. I picked up the Rugher Jacket in black this year, because I was digging the military look of it and wanted to stray from the usual in your face color schemes I like to wear. When I got the jacket, I was pleasantly surprised to find a slight down-like insulation inside, so I put it right to work by busting it out on some of the coldest days I've experienced this winter, which consisted of a -15 Celsius weekend in Whistler, BC, and during the night time events at X Games in the always frigid Aspen, Colorado. And to my delight, I felt like a piece of bread in a toaster. And on the waterproofing side of things, I've skied and stood around in this coat while it was both snowing and raining, and didn't feel an ounce of dampness...just like every North Face jacket I've ever owned. Fit-wise, it's a bit wider than I would have liked (I rock it in XL (I'm 5'9, 165 pounds), although in hindsight I should have gotten it in Large), but the length is perfect: not to tall and not too short...because I don't looking like a gangsta or showing skin.
Overall FD Wear gets sweeter and sweeter every year, and this year they've stepped up the quality, look and bells and whistles on their Vertika jacket in a big, big way. In addition to the zip-off sleeves (a feature that I absolutely love when spring and summer skiing season rolls around), the Vertika jacket has four vents to keep you cool when it gets warm (two on the hips and two on the back), along with a cool fanny pack-style pocket on the lower back where you can stash your lunch. Also new this year is waterproofing on the zippers, so your lunch, wallet and cellphone don't get soaked, because no one like soggy sandwiches, money, or having to shell out hundreds of dollars for a new phone. This year's jackets also feel a little more insulated than they have in years' past, which adds to the warmth and comfort factor when I'm skiing in the cold confines of places like the Rockies. Style-wise, I went with the red and blue color scheme this year, which helps me look good, feel good and stand out in a crowd (like any and all First Drop jackets will do), and most all, wearing FD Wear screams one thing and one thing only, "I'm a freeskier." So if you're looking to represent a brand that was born to support the newschool skiing movement (and consistently hosts a ton of awesome contests on this site to stoke you guys up), look no further than FD Wear, and you won't be disappointed.
Overall Eira is a relatively new company that comes from the knowledgeable people behind Ripzone, who wanted to create a freeski-specific outerwear brand to complement their iconic snowboard offering. I naturally became interested in the brand when they signed three of the most talented, hilarious and wild freeskiers in the game (Peter Olenick, Ian 'Chug' Cosco and Joe Schuster), and after seeing them rock the gear first hand for a year I decided it was time to give it a shot myself. Having started my career in the ski industry working at a big box ski and snowboard shop in Vancouver (Sport Chek), where I satisfied many a customers by suggesting Ripzone, I had high expectations for the Eira Progression Jacket, and it didn't let me down. With it's slight insulation and 15,000mm waterproof rating, this jacket has helped keep me both warm and dry in some of the burliest conditions, while the outlandish yet clean design assists in attracting attention from ski bunnies of all shapes and sizes. It also boasts a ton of pockets, especially on the inside, which was a big win for me, as outside of being cold and soaked, nothing drives me crazier about a jacket than when there's no inside pockets. Size-wise, I got an XL, and was initially a bit nervous as to whether it would be too big or not (as at 5'9 I tend to fluctuate between a Large and XL depending on the brand), but to my surprise and delight, it fit just right length-wise, although I found the arms to be a bit longer than I would have liked. Eira is on the up and up (and hitting more and more shops by the day), so the next time you see it on the rack, do yourself a favor and give it a shot, because if the quality of their gear is any indication, they're going to be around for a long time to come.
Overall I'd been wanting to try out a pair of Coreupt's for a few years now, so I could see (and ski) for myself if their products lived up to the hype of their A+ roster of athletes. So being that I live in BC and love to get into the deep stuff, along with the fact that it was designed by Richard Permin (who's an absolute boss!)...I chose the Born To Drop. The Born To Drop is a very unique ski, both in the look and feel of it. The tip gets wider and wider until the very end, at which point it tapers to almost a point, and it has without question more rocker than any other ski I've tried...and it works! These bad boys float through the deepest of the deep with easy and agility, and the fact that it's also one of the lighter skis I've skied made me feel like I was surfing, which is a feeling I've only experienced with the old Line EP Pros. The perfect amount of stiffness under the foot and in the tail (along with a slight amount of rocker) helped me stay on top of things as opposed to riding backseat, and although I didn't find it to be as quick edge-to-edge as other skis around the 125mm in the waist range, the fact that I ski it in a 179cm length makes it easy to maneuver. Be aware though: this ski is for deep pow and deep pow only, and I wouldn't recommend them for skiing groomers, ice, park or pipe. It's the type of ski that you bust out for those big days, and when you grab them off your ski rack the morning after a fresh dump, you'll be glad you had them waiting in the wings.
Overall Ever since my good friend CR Johnson left us way too soon I've been wanting a pair of these skis, both to honor his memory, and because I know that CR knew what was up when it came to ski design...and I wasn't wrong. The 4FRNT CRJ is such a well rounded ski that it's hard to put into words. Thanks to its 115 waist, it's wide enough to float like an overweight Russian in the Black Sea in the pow, but still nimble enough to surprisingly rip the groomers like a Japanese bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka. It also boasts a perfectly tapered tip (with a healthy dose of rocker in both the tip and tail to boot!), which makes it feel a lot less sluggish than some of the other big daddy rockered skis out there. Flex-wise, the stiffness under the foot instills some much needed confidence in my rickety knees in any and all conditions (even ice), and the softness in the tip and tail helps me swing it around the tight trees I love to ski with little to no effort. Graphics-wise, I have to confess that I'm not much of a Rasta guy (what can I say...I'm a product of the 80's metal era), but I do dig lions, so I was more than stoked on the look of this ski the second I pulled it out of the box, particularly the see through portions of the top sheet which allow you to bear witness to the fine craftsmanship of the core. Most of all though, every day I'm skiing on these makes me think of what an amazing skier, friend and human being CR was. So it's impossible to have a bad day on them :)
Overall This bag doubles as my winter home, and home sweet home it is. Performance This bag has more wonderful features than a Vivid girl, and similar ones too, such as easily stretchable compartments, multiple straps, heavy duty zippers, and it doesn't weigh a ton...which helps minimize the chances of you having to pay astronomical charges for overweight bags at the airport. With the amount of traveling I did last year, I was beyond stoked with how well it held up. Because of that, I highly recommend this bag to anyone who's going out on the road with their skis for more than just a weekend trip or two. Design Of all the ski bags I've ever had, the design on this bag is by far the best I've seen, and it really makes it what it is. I hated (almost as much as I hate mayonnaise) the fact that in previous ski bags I've owned the boots compartments were on the outside, as I found it more difficult to pack the main compartment and zip it up as result of the boots sinking down and interfering with the placement of the skis (especially if you're taking two pairs). But with Armada's Anchorage Ski Bag, in addition to the stellar main compartment, which is big enough to pack two pairs of skis and a host of outerwear, hoodies, shoes and other necessities for me while I'm on the road, on the inside of the main compartment is four additional pockets (see pic 2) in which I can easily store my boots, goggles, toques, bandanas, headphones, gloves, socks and base layers. Once packed, it then nicely folds over the main compartment making packing and my life that much easier, leaving me more time to focus on the more important aspects of traveling, like how to convince the girl sitting next to me on the airplane to 'join' me in the bathroom. In addition to that portion of the design that differs from most other ski bags bags out there, the Anchorage has a whopping 5 straps. The standard top strap which was smooth on the hands as I dragged it through airports all over the world, plus four additional ones on the sides that made it a breeze for a muscleless wimp like me to lift it through narrow train doors in Europe while Germans screamed at me, and into the back of pick-up trucks for backcountry trips in BC while grizzly bears chased me. Value Take it from me...buy this bag if you're going to be traveling a lot. Between December and July I was home a grand total of 7 weeks and was basically living out of this bag at all times in between, and it served me well. So if that doesn't prove just how badass of a ski bag this is, I don't know what will.
Overall You simply can't be Dakine for luggage, and this bag is the cream of the crop for all your traveling needs, especially when you're on the road as much as I am, where this bag has easily and happily doubled as my home away from home. Performance I first picked up this bag about two and a half years ago before my first big journey overseas to China where I promptly stuffed it with counterfeit DVD's and Louis Vuitton wallets. Since then, I've taken it all over the world about three or four times over, with trips all over Asia, Europe and the Middle East...and it's still rocking. The zippers are tougher than a gang member from East LA and the wheels have seen more abuse that Richard Simmons at the hands of David Letterman. I've dragged this bad boy down huge flights of stairs in London, cobblestone streets in Zurich and dusty roads in Cairo...and it won't give up. Design With the heavy duty handle up top right down to the burly urethane wheels at the bottom, pretty much every aspect of this bag's design kicks ass. Like most luggage, the Split Roller opens up into two compartments, but unlike most luggage, the uber strong zippers make it easy to jam pack a ton of stuff into them without having break the zippers (along with your sanity) to get it zipped up. It also boasts two sets of outside pockets on the top of your bag where you can store things like your passport and bathroom bag in the event that you get held up by guerrillas at a military checkpoint and you need to show your ID while shitting your pants at the same time. Value As I mentioned, I've had this bag for over two years of non-stop traveling, and it's still holding strong. For a bag to last that long with that much usage, you know it's worth every penny.
Overall Speakers on a backpack with a built-in amp? Multiple ipod and headphone hook-ups? What the hell else could you ask for in a bag? Performance This bad boy is my #1 airplane carry-on bag, and seeing as how I seem to spend more time on airplanes than anywhere else, take it from me...you just can't ask for a sicker backpack than this. I mean what other bag can you plug your ipod into in one pocket and your headphones in another and destroy your eardrums by running your beats from a control panel on the straps? And if you're a true obnoxious rocker like me, you can leave the headphones out of the equation all together and just bump your loud-ass, obscenity-filled favorite tunes for everyone to hear through the speakers, which are also built into the straps. Nothing beats walking through a family-filled lodge at a ski resort blasting 'Why U Turn On Me?' by 2pac followed up by 'Get in the Ring' by Guns N Roses for all the grannies and pre-schoolers to hear...trust me. My only gripe about this bag is that if you're cranking the volume at full blast out of the speakers they tend to crackle a little bit after a year or so of use, but I suppose that's my fault more than the bag's! Design On top of the overwhelming number of badass audio features in this bag, it absolutely rocks (no pun intended) in terms of storage and durability. At first touch the zippers and stitching felt a bit brittle to me, but I was pleasantly surprised that I've yet to bust even a single tooth after jamming this puppy full of gear for all my globe trotting adventures over the last year. Inside the main compartment is the built-in amp that makes your tunes go extra loud, plus a neoprene laptop sleeve and a multi-cd holder that can double as a sticker or passport holder...because who buys cd's anymore? In the front compartment is a nice mesh pocket to hold your wallet, condoms and other goodies you need to grab a moment's notice at a brothel in Southeast Asia, and below is a section designed to store pens, credit cards and sunglasses, so you have all the necessities to look extra badass when paying for the hotel room you just trashed. And on the front wall of this pocket is a big mesh bag that can store a host of other things, like chargers for all the teched out shit that you've surely got plugged into this bag. On the front and side of the bag are a couple of additional and smaller storage spaces, with the one on the side being your main ipod pocket...also ideal for holding snus tins for your trip to Sweden, and the tall one on the front is perfect for a sawed-off shotgun...for your trip to the tribal region of Pakistan. Value See the 'overall' section. Nuff said.
Overall A great ski for playing in the park or anywhere on the mountain. At 86 under foot its got the width for stomped landings and steady rail-sliding in the park and can hold its own in the pow-pow. The softer tips and tails give it a wicked amount of pop and its stiffness under the foot make it stable as hell. Performance I've only skied on them for a few months on the glacier in Whistler, during which I admittedly had a bit of a bum knee, but I had a ton of fun hitting rails, buttering and testing my fate on a few smaller jumps. I felt confident and almost as cool as Ian Cosco on them, whom I hooked up with these skis for a few laps so he could give em a shot by performing his wacky aerialistic maneuvers on them. He called them one of the more fun park skis he's tried...and then he didn't give them back for the rest of the day, or the next day, or the next day. And after my muscular, stone-faced Italian friends finally got them back for me, everytime I took them off at Momentum they would mysteriously disappear. Design Neon topsheets, bases, sidewalls. Loud, obnoxious and in-you-face. It's almost like I designed them. Value As everyone knows, Salomon's usually tend to be a bit more expensive than the K2's and Line's of the world, and I wasn't a huge fan of their previous park offerings (although I loved the Foil for all-around skiing), but they've really hit a home run with the Suspect. I would recommend anyone and everyone giving these skis a shot to see what they think, and I'd be surprised if you'd be disappointed. Fit I'm rocking the 176, which is right around my preferred length for park skis. At 5'9, 160 pounds (with my boots on), they're not too long, as I find anything over 180 a bit clunky in the park, but they're not too short, as anything under 175 feels a bit rickety for me when I'm terrorizing young children and pissing off speed control in the beginner areas. Characteristics I hate stiff park skis, but at the same time, I've been skiing on Line's for years, which I always felt were a touch soft, The Suspect is a good balance between both ends of the spectrum, as the tips and tails are a bit softer so you can butter and pop easily, while under foot it's as sturdy as a well-made pirate ship. Durability So far, so good. As I said, I've only skied on them for a few months, but being that I was up nearly every day this summer they've seen about 30-40 days. No signs of chipping or edge damage, and I skied a bunch this year with Sammy, Clarke and Walker who all have pairs of them and they all still appear to be in great shape.