The hills are alive with the sound of…skiers and snowboarders charging down the mountain. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to break out into a Julie Andrews impersonation.) Even with ski resorts in full swing throughout the northern hemisphere right now, it’s never too early to start thinking about the gear you’ll be hitting the slopes with next season.
SnowSports Industries America recently hosted its annual Snow Show in Denver, where brands from around the world showed off their 2015-16 ski and snowboard equipment. It’s a massive event (who knew there were so many companies making skis?) with everything from a miniramp to a scissor lift that you could jump off of into an airbag to Ken Block’s RaptorTrax truck.
With so much going on, it can be tough to know what’s truly cool from what’s just hype. That’s where we come in. We combed through all the gear to find out which items will be worth your hard earned cash next season.
ZEAL AUTOMATICPLUS+ LENS
In recent years, goggle companies have focused on making it easier to switch lenses in and out of frames when light conditions change. Zeal made switching lenses obsolete. The AutomaticPlus+ lens automatically changes to let more or less light in depending on how cloudy or sunny it is.
JONES SNOWBOARDS STORM CHASER
Big mountain snowboard legend Jeremy Jones partnered with renowned surfboard shaper Chris Christenson to create a deck that brought a true surf feel to the snow. The extra width, bottom contour, and swallow tail will keep you floating and carving through the deepest powder.
More and more skiers are exploring backcountry and sidecountry terrain. Traditionally, they’ve attached climbing skins made of mohair that allow them go uphill without sliding backwards. Fischer’s new Profoil skins are made of a revolutionary polyethylene material that allows you take longer strides when climbing without sacrificing any grip. The skisn are also extremely lightweight and don’t absorb any water.
SMITH X WOOLRICH VANTAGE HELMET
The Buffalo check is one of the most recognizable patterns in traditional outdoor gear. Smith teamed up with the creators of the pattern, Woolrich, on its popular Vantage helmet. The ear pads on the helmet are wrapped in Woolrich wool that is milled in Pennsylvania to create a look that is modern in its brain-protecting capacity, and classic in its design.
OUTDOOR TECH KODIAK PLUS 10000
Being in the cold zaps your cell phone battery, and there’s nothing worse than not having enough juice to snap a selfie before dropping into the halfpipe (you can omit the one after you slam). The Kodiak Plus 10000 has plenty of power to charge any device and is fully waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof so that it can stand up to the demands of a rugged day on the slopes.
DC TRAVIS RICE SNOWBOARD BOOT
Building a boot that can stand up to the demands of snowboard god Travis Rice isn’t easy. While mere mortals can’t comprehend what Rice puts his boots through, they’ll appreciate all the R&D when they lace up a pair of his signature model. Rice’s new boots feature an asymmetrical design that more closely mirrors the foots natural shape and reduces toe and heel drag. A flap over the top of the boot keeps snow from getting inside.
Carbon fiber makes everything better. By incorporating carbon fiber into the tip and tail of Cochise, the freeride skis are more stable and easier to control. Blizzard’s Flip Core technology creates the rocker (a.k.a. curve) in the skis by making them upside down in the mold instead of having to bend them in a press later, which gives them a more natural flex.
TECNICA MACH1 SKI BOOTS
People’s feet vary widely, which makes finding the perfect pair of boots a challenge. What works for one skier could result in constant pain for another. To accommodate all the different foot shapes, Tecnica will start producing a low volume and mid volume version of its Mach1 boots. Working with the top bootfitters, Tecnica created the Mach1 to fit great out of the box, but is also highly customizable without sacrificing any performance.
UNDER ARMOUR NIMBUS SHELL
If you only think of Under Armour as the guys behind “Protect this house” and tight compression shirts for football players, get ready to have your mind blown. UA is an emerging player in the ski and snowboard space and this jacket packs plenty of technical design. Using a highly breathable Gore-Tex fabric, it has full chest zippers for venting, which provides more efficient cooling when you’re hot than the traditional under-the-arm vents.
HELLY HANSEN GRAPHIC WOOL BASE LAYER
By using a sublimated printing process, Helly Hansen is able to apply awesome graphics to its base layer shirts without sacrificing any comfort. The merino wool base layers are incredibly warm and soft and feature some pretty trippy artwork.
CAPITA x SPRING BREAK POWDER PILL
Capita is combining its design and production capacities with Spring Break founder Corey Smith’s expertise in handcrafting boards. The result is surf-inspired snowboard with zero camber between the feet and a thicker profile to keep you afloat in the powder. But it is also a surprisingly fun to ride even when the snow isn’t deep.