Alas, we have reached the end of our series of ISPO Diaries, but don’t fret, there are still a few nuggets of backcountry shred gold to feast your eyes on. We’re non-partisan when it comes to the shred – you can get your turns however you want – so there’s a bit for skiers, a bit for boarders, and something that you can both enjoy. Let’s take a look…
Scott S1 Touring Boot
Scott have been producing some pretty tasty lightweight ski touring boots in recent years, with the likes of the Superguide and Cosmos 2 gaining both critical acclaim and a loyal following. Now it seems they’ve got a radical new offering – the S1.
The S1 breaks the mould for modern touring boots by moving the ski/walk mechanism to the front of the boot. When in the open, walk position, the S1’s clever tongue articulation gives you more forward flex than you’d get in other stiff-tongued boots, and results in a huge range of movement for super-efficient climbing. Close it up again and you get a really nice, stiff platform to lean into on the downs.
The model we looked at comes in at around 1300g with a 120 flex rating, plenty of carbon and a fully-replaceable sole. It’s unlikely to come cheap, but we reckon that the innovative S1 could prove to be a real performer.
Capita Neo Slasher & Union Expedition Bindings
Two of snowboarding’s best-loved brands are making a much-anticipated entry into the splitboard touring market in the ‘17/’18 season – Capita and Union.
Capita’s Charlie Slasher has been getting rave reviews over the last couple of seasons as one of the best pow chargers in the business. They’d even given you an ABS stringer down the centre, so you could split it yourself if you wanted to.
Now they’re launching a factory split version – the Neo Slasher. It looks lovely, and if the Charlie Slasher was anything to go by, it should ride like a beast too.
Right on cue, Capita’s pals over at Union Bindings are launching their own foray into the touring binding market with the Expedition. They’re gunning for the Likes of Spark R&D and Voile with a new type of system that’s all their own.
The model we looked at had a glass fibre baseplate, with easy-to-use integrated climbing bar and the option to open the highback up to a negative forward lean position for a greater range of movement when skinning.
We got them to do us a quick demo of the process of switching from one mode to the other and it looks simple enough. The only concern might be the pin, which the whole thing seems to hinge on (excuse the pun). It was attached with a cable leash, but perhaps you might want to make sure you’ve got a spare in your backpack, just in case!
All in all, it looked like a nice, lightweight and straightforward system that fans of Union are going to love.
The Voltair is the new avalanche backpack from Arc’Teryx. It’s already available in North America, but yet to gain all the safety certification it needs to be sold in Europe so you can’t get your hands on one over here just yet.
The Voltair uses a battery-powered electric fan to fill the bag quickly and continuously once deployed, and Arc’Teryx claim that this system has a number of advantages over gas-powered alternatives.
Firstly, you can deploy it as many times as you like without having to shell out for new gas canisters every time. This means that you can really get to know the bag and firing mechanism, so if and when the time comes to use it, you’re well-practiced – knowing exactly how to trigger it and precisely what happens when you do, so there’s no surprises.
The other benefit of a fan system is that it fires continuously for the length of the avalanche, meaning that if the bag takes an impact or gets a small tear, there’s far more chance of it remaining inflated.
Generally, the build quality of the backpack was what stood out for us – the robust fabric and quality of the straps, the leg loop harness and other features just gave the impression that this was a serious bit of kit that had been well designed and wouldn’t let you down.
When it finally arrives to UK shores it’s going to come with an equally serious price tag, but as we often say with this avalanche gear, how much value do you place on something that could save your life?
That’s all folks…
That’s it for our ISPO Diaries for this year. We hope that you’ve enjoyed getting a wee sneak peak at some of the bits and bobs that got us all fired up. If this gear’s anything to go by, next season’s shaping up to be another cracker.
If you can’t wait that long, there’s still plenty of time to pick up some new gear for this season, so head on over and shop touring skis, splitboards, backcountry ski equipment or snowboard equipment now.