“The Internet of Things” was a big, buzzy phrase at last year’s CES, as online accessibility continues to become part of our daily lives. And while the outdoor industry probably won’t ever go full-cyborg on us, we have seen some smart tech-centric products over the last few years, from avalanche airbag backpacks and outdoor-focused apps to smartphone cases with batteries and high-def videos of…everything. And in fall 2013, Osprey’s Portal line of packs (pictured) will continue this trend, targeting traveler and touch screen-dependent subway riders. The seven packs, like the Tech Commute, will have touch screen-friendly see-through windows and padded sleeves for tablets and smart phones, in both messenger bag and backpack styles, starting at $99.
They’re also making packs for the more active commuter (read: the cyclists, runners, and in-line skaters—hey, we see one in DC every once in a while!). Designs like the Radial ($159) and the Spin ($139) will have a nicely vented back panel, a padded laptop sleeve, an integrated rain fly, and bike-friendly features like a dedicated U-lock pocket.
We also look forward to the new line of snow packs. The Reverb ($89), for example, will target the lift-access resort set who might also want to do some in-bound (or sidecountry) hikes. It’ll open via the back panel (so it lays in the snow with the shoulder straps facing up, thus keeping them dry), let you carry your skis diagonally (or your board vertically), and has space for all the essential backcountry tools as well as an extra layer and a hydration reservoir. The Kode ($129) ups the ante with more storage (including a stowable helmet pouch on top), the ability to carry the skis A-frame or diagonally, side-zip access, and a hydration sleeve in three different pack sizes.
Those few skiers and snowboarders who are still not wearing a helmet just ran out of another excuse. Available this August, Giro will introduce the Combyn, which they’re calling a “soft shell” helmet. It uses an impact-absorbing liner made with vinyl nitrate foam constructed into two distinct layers to handle both high- and low-energy impacts. Unlike most helmets on the market, this liner is compressible and flexible, and, when paired with a proprietary shell material similar to that found in hockey and football helmets, makes for a very comfortable, flexible fit without sacrificing any safety features. The helmet will have eight vents, a removable goggle holder, three fit kit sizes, and will be fully compliant with CE EC 1077 safety regulations.
Already highly praised by the backcountry crowd due to the R.A.S. (Removable Airbag System) avalanche airbag packs, Mammut looks to make things even lighter for backcountry skiers and riders in fall 2013. The company is introducing the P.A.C. backpack—this fully R.A.S.-compliant, lightweight pack boasts better cushioning in the shoulder straps, hip belt, and back panel than the old R.A.S. packs, so the carry is more comfortable. Mammut has upped the performance quota by providing more trauma protection for the upper torso with a design that’s intended to keep you floating feet-first in the snow in the event of an avalanche. It’ll come in five new sizes, but in order for the airbag to offer full protection, wearers must have at least a 16.5-inch-long torso.
Rossignol knows skiing, and it’that has never been so apparent as with their fall 2013 Line-up. The new Soul 7 reinforces Rossie’s reputation as master of the rocker ski. This medium-fat ski is a single-ski quiver—designed to float on powder, carve on groomers, and style you through choss and crust like an Olympic champ. The Soul 7 is designed for both lift-hounds and backcountry-cats—a hollowed out ABS resin tip helps to shave 20 percent off the ski weight (from last year’s S7) and lower swing weight. The lightweight ski has a solid wood core that helps with stability, plus the same smidgen of rocker on the tip and tail to make turning effortless while maintaining edge control.
The new ski measures 136/106/126, and comes in sizes 162, 174, 180, and 188. If you are in between sizes, we recommend sizing up slightly on rocker skis, as there’s less board-to-snow contact. Turn radius is 17 mm, which means the ski is nimble enough to handle the bumps. We’ll test the ski this spring and report back, but word is that its noticeably calm and stable at high speeds, and “super playful.”
Partnering with Chris Davenport, one of the most accomplished big mountain athletes skiing today, Scarpa will release a line of ridiculously nice, new free-ride boots next season. The Freedom SL ($750) is the Cadillac of the line, weighing in at three pounds and 13 ounces, with an interchangeable metal sole system that’ll let you step into any kind of alpine or AT binding. The four-buckle boot will have a new shell mold and construction to reduce the overall volume, and a carbon-fiber core adds stiffness to this otherwise soft boot. The ski/walk mechanism (which hinges at the back of the boot) provides 27 degrees of movement, with seven degrees of resistance and 20 degrees of forward flex. That means you can hike uphill unfettered—you’ll even appreciate the flexibility when you’re hoofing it from your car to the ski lodge. The boot will also come with Scarpa’s heat-moldable Intuition liners, some of the lightest and most comfortable on the market. Oh, and the graphics for each boot are unique, which may appeal to some free-riders more than all the tech specs we love!