At the 2011 SIA On-Snow Demo/Ski-Ride Fest at Winter Park, Colorado, buyers and media had the opportunity to field test the new gear from the SIA Snow Show which debuted in Denver this year. Close to 160 brands setup shop on the snow to let SIA Snow Show attendees demo the latest and greatest gear. Standouts from the SIA On-Snow Demo/Ski-Ride Fest came from several brands looking to innovate and make snow sports a little more comfortable and easy for this season and the next.
Plank and Accessories– This season, Head debuted new gear for the rental business. The Tribute Rocka made turns and tricks easy, giving credence to their claim “learn to turn in 58 minutes,” but there were more innovations with the Head setup. Their NXR bindings feature a lever which makes adjusting the positioning lightning fast, verifying their claim to get riders on a board in “58 seconds.” The other new feature is the Strap Pad. Head had a custom version made for their snowboards to debut next season. It’s a stomp pad fitted with a strap, and makes riding the lift infinitely more comfortable. I slipped it on after I got on the chairlift, and stress on my ankle and knee from hanging portion of your board immediately disappear. Getting off the lift gets actually gets safer because the strap prevented my foot from slipping off the board. It also might have applications on the catwalks, but the demo didn’t last long enough to find out. Head made a brilliant move by adding an accessory that allows riders of all levels to spend more time on the mountain in comfort and safety. (www.head.com)(www.strappad.com)
Gloves– While already available, Mountain Hardwear’s OutDry technology really is impressive. I was lucky enough to demo their new Fall 2011 Dragon’s Claw Glove featuring the tech in sub-zero temps, and my hands stayed comfortably warm and dry due to the waterproof and windproof OutDry membrane. Even with snow getting in the lining(not because of defect, but from leaving it in the snow), my palms and fingers still felt warm and dry. The natural hand-curve design makes it more comfortable and dexterous. Its construction is extremely rugged, enduring numerous scrapes against the snow without any wear or tear. To get the most out of these gloves, get a carabiner for carrying them (they will not fit in pockets) and make sure your jacket cuffs fit well over them. (www.moutainhardwear.com)
“Goggs”– I was able to try the Oakley Airbrake goggle, and although lighting conditions didn’t vary that much at Winter Park that day, it’s innovative Switchlock technology performs exactly as Oakley claims. The big lever on the left actually does make taking out the lens with a glove on while still wearing it possible. The lens is of the same high quality Oakley is know for, and its high-profile construction optimizes field-of-view. While it takes some practice to put another lens in, it’s by far the easiest lens changing technology out there. (www.oakley.com)
Footwear and Accessories– Vans had footwear to demo for every riding style. The top strap on the Matlock snowboard boots makes for a soft fit and a comfortable ride, but their Cirro boots are great for riders who prefer stiffness. Both boots feature twist lock technology for easy lacing and support. Stance Socks offered a novel approach to snowboarding socks, combining technology, west coast style fashion, and innovation in their 2012 collection. The Artist Series I tried featured a bold and unique design, with a mini-bio of the designer Matt French on the package tag. They did a great job providing support at the ankle and arch, and cushioning on the shin and calf. Other Stance Socks offer a “third sock” so someone can mix and match designs, which are colorful, fun, and unique. Their other lines cater to different needs and preferences. Their Akrylk line is for those on a budget. The Merino Wool socks keep feet warm, comfortable, and dry. The Premium series boasts the most comfort and support technology.(www.vanssnow.com)(www.stance.com)
With literally hundreds of exhibitors at the 2011 SIA Snow Show, it’s impossible to talk about them all. So, if you were there, let me know what your favorites were.