2015 Backcountry Ski Gear Trends

January 5th, 2015

Backcountry and “sidecountry” skiing wins in 2015 with an array of new gear that is

lighter, more comfortable, and user friendly. Being properly prepared with the right

backcountry ski gear for fun and safety is critical. Although

considering your activity “sidecountry” may seem a little safer due to its close

proximity to ski area boundaries, light, bombproof equipment such as avalanche

beacons, trekking poles, bindings and boots will be to your advantage for a safe and

enjoyable time out of bounds.

 

However, before anyone crosses a ski area boundary, even just for one run, he

or she needs a working avalanche beacon or transceiver. New in 2015 is the

Backcountry Access is introducing the Tracker3 —a smaller, lighter version of the

best selling avalanche transceiver in America, the Tracker2. The Tracker3 is 20%

smaller than its predecessor and claims to be the thinnest multi-antenna beacon on

the market. It is sleek, streamlined, and even easier to use in a worst-case scenario.

While investing in an avalanche beacon (or better yet, an airbag) is absolutely

necessary for any kind of side/backcountry adventure, becoming familiar with

how it’s used is vital.

Backcountry Access Tracker3

Backcountry Access Tracker3

 

A good pole plant is key to any skier’s technique, and the new G3 Via trekking poles

are just the tools to get you there. This year they have surprise improvements that

will help you when you’re out on the skin track as it starts to get steeper and you

want to adjust the hike assist on your touring bindings from one level to the next.

To date, the easiest way to change the ladder on your binding has been to flick it

up, down or to the side with your ski pole. Now, with the Via, G3 has created a

trekking pole with a built in “QuickFlick Utility Tab” to assist in this move. Gone are

the days of struggling to flick your binding heel lift with a flimsy pole basket or

bending over to manually adjust with your hand. Just simply use the Utility tab on

the end of Via’s pole grip to flick and go. In addition to the handy “QuickFlick” utility,

G3 Via poles feature ergonomic, comfortable grips with removable straps. The

durable connection between pole sections has simple to use aluminum levers for

adjustments. At the pole’s base is an asymmetrical powder basket and a carbide tip

for secure grip on hardpacked snow.

G3 Via Trekking Pole

G3 Via Trekking Pole

 

A key piece of equipment in any skier’s quiver is his or her boots. Ski boots link

you to your skis and their design and fit should respond sensitively to changes in

pressure and direction. Using their patented “Vacuum” technology and ergonomic

“Soma-Tec” concept of “ducked feet”, Fischer has created a knee-saving touring

boot with the Transalp Vacuum TS that feels natural, fits comfortably, and responds to a skier’s

pressure and power transmission from boot to ski performance on the snow. Fischer also offers

a “Lite” and a Women’s version of the Transalp Vacuum TS. In addition to “Soma-

Tec”, the Transalp Vacuum features padded, motion supported liners built to move

the way you move uphill, customary Dynafit tech inserts, and a shell that fits the

anatomy of the ankle for more direct control on the downhill. And with all this, the

Transalp touring boot is still 15% lighter than Fischer’s alpine boots.

Fischer Transalp Vacuum TS

Fischer Transalp Vacuum TS

 

Touring bindings are crucial to a set-up and brands across the board are jumping

on the alpine touring band-wagon to compete for the next big thing in bindings.

Tyrolia and Look have joined with their longtime ski brand partners to develop

DIN touring bindings, the Adrenalin and XM 13 respectively. Yet Marker has moved

away from the traditional DIN touring binding of years past to, arguably,

the most exciting new piece of gear for 2015. Marker’s Kingpin 13 is the first of its

kind. It combines the classic “pintech” toe insert like Dynafit with a more traditional

alpine-like heel piece— free from pins. According to Marker, the new combination

of the Dynafit-esque toe with the traditional alpine heel piece allows for a more

versatile setup capable of both skiing hard in-bounds and going uphill out of

bounds. Although the Kingpin 13 improves upon the old Marker Duke or Baron in

terms of weight and ease of use, the more burly heel piece makes this set-up slightly

heavier than its traditional tech binding counterparts.

Marker Kingpin 13

Marker Kingpin 13

 

Marker Kingpin in action

Marker Kingpin with crampons in action

*Check out a thorough review of the new Marker Kingpin here.

 

*For more on skiing in the backcountry and details on all the new gear, check out

these links:

Powder – “Sidecountry” is Dead

Unofficial Networks – “Sidecountry Skiing Essential Equipment – 10 Items YOU Should Have”

Backcountry Magazine – “What’s Next: 2015 Gear Primer”



 

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