Every year, snow-sports companies pour big money into R&D in hopes of making faster, lighter, tougher gear. Some of their new ideas take off; some don’t (anyone remember AstralTunes?). Here, we present 10 promising pieces of cutting-edge equipment that we’re pretty sure won’t be ridiculed in years to come.
To see how to hit the slope in high-tech style, launch the gallery here.
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Alpine
With more and more recreational skiers hitting the backcountry, Marker built the Duke, an alpine-touring binding that skis with the performance of the traditional heel-and-toepiece design. The Duke sports a wide platform for increased snow feel and slides back three centimeters in touring mode for long uphill slogs. **[$500; markerusa.com]
Off the Chain
Wait, tire chains are a technological breakthrough? Designed specifically for two-wheel-drive cars and trucks, Thule’s CS-10 Snow Chains are so easy to use, they must be. Just drive over them, snap together the color-coded ends, and you’re ready to roll. **[$150â€$280; thule.com]
Where Am I?
Load SnowRanger GPS trail maps onto your handheld Magellan or Garmin GPS, and you’ll see where you are in relation to lifts, lodges and nearby runs. It even tells you a run’s difficulty, so you won’t accidentally find yourself in the middle of a double-black-diamond bump run (or on a Great Plainsâ€esque green). This year, the company adds maps to many East Coast resorts and more than 500 in Europe. **[$20; snowranger.com]
Welcome to the era of experimental ski design. Salomon’s The Rocker gets its name from a reverse-camber, or “rockered,” design. The tips on this ski are bowed upward, which, combined with its minimal sidecut, swallowtail and 127-millimeter waist, make it perfect for skiing bottomless powder. We do not, however, recommend it for East Coast hardpack. **[$1,155; salomon-sports.com]
Air Dorks Unite
Ever curious how long you were in the air after launching a massive kicker in the terrain park? The HangTimer watch uses a tri-axis accelerometer to measure the duration of your freefall, be it hucking a cliff or dropping off a cornice. **[$100; hangtimer.com]
Portmanteau a Specs
We love it when companies make up words. Take Smith’s newest lens technology. The special finish found on these ski-friendly Super Method sunglasses is called “Polarchromic.” Basically, it combines lenses that cut glare and provide crystal-clear (polarized) contrast with lenses that lighten or darken based on conditions. It’s amazing and simple-amazimple! **[$120; smithoptics.com]
Beam Me Up, Scotty
Tech-savvy backcountry nerds are finally getting their Ortovox S1 beacons this winter after a much-delayed released. Utilizing a unique, flip-phone-like casing, the S1 displays possible burial victims as recumbent silhouettes, making it great for parties of two or more. It also kind of looks like a communicator from Star Trek (TOS, not TNG), which is cool to some of us. **[$500; ortovox.com]
For cutting through East Coast ice castles, what you need is a set of steak knives. More specifically: the Magne-traction technology in Lib Tech’s TRS MTX snowboard (it’s also in the company’s new line of skis). The grooved metal edges were thought to be a joke at first, until they became popular among superpipe gurus and Canadian big-mountain rippers. These edges dice ice, providing superior edge grip. No kidding. ** [$500; lib-tech.com]
Now That’s Handy
In the newest thing to hit gloves since high-fives, Gore-Tex developed a two-in-one design for this winter. The interior is split into two compartments. One is lined with Primaloft fleece to keep your digits warm on cold days; the other, closer to the palm, is thin enough to manipulate bindings or write down phone numbers on the lift. Kombi’s Freeform gloves feature this system and have gauntlets long enough to keep snow out in any conditions. **[$100; kombisports.com]
You’ve Got the Power
The Volkl Tigershark 12FT Power Switch has as much-or as little-edge grip as you want, thanks to carbon-fiber rods that run the length of the ski and stiffen with the flick of a switch. Turn the power on using the switch under the binding, and you get a rigid ski that arcs like Bode Miller. Turn it off for mellow cruising. **[$1,375; volkl.com]