What to wear: Local snowsports shops talk soft goods, from jackets to packs to goggles
November 20, 2016
Editor's note: This is the third part of a three-part series covering new ski and snowboard equipment and apparel for the 2016-'17 season. Visit http://www.vail daily.com for additional articles.
Powder days might still be a distant dream, but in the meantime, you can stock up on the stuff to get you ready for the steep and deep. We've rounded up a few of the top clothing and accessory picks from local ski shops to give you an idea of what's new for 2016-'17.
Osprey Kamber 32
• Capacity: 32 liters
• Size: 22 inches high, 12 inches wide, 12 inches deep
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• Weight: 3 pounds
• Fabric: 420HD Nylon Packcloth (main and bottom), 420D Nylon Mini Check Dobby (accent)
The details: Whether you're bound for the backcountry or toting brats and burgers out to Blue Sky Basin for a day of grilling, a functional pack will help get you there. The Osprey Kamber 32 is one option that crams a lot of bells and whistles into a basic pack, said Arthur Ballew, of Ptarmigan Sports in Edwards.
Upper and lower reinforced carry straps provide secure diagonal ski carry, and dual front-panel hypalon-reinforced straps make it possible to carry a snowboard or snowshoes vertically. Either option still allows easy access to the contents of the pack.
"You take the backpack on and off, and you can actually keep your skis and snowboard on it and get into the pack itself," Ballew said. "A lot of the packs you have to take off your skis or snowboard to get into the pack. This one you don't have to do that; you set the backpack down, and it opens from the back."
The Kamber has dual top load and back panel access to the main storage compartment, as well as a large J-zip around the front panel to get to the avalanche safety pocket with shovel handle and probe sleeves for backcountry excursions.
"That's going to be your wet spot," Ballew said. "In that spot, you can keep your probe, shovel, skins and keep that completely separate from your main compartment, where you have your snacks, extra gloves, jacket, stocking hat and items along that line."
A stow-away helmet carry quickly deploys so you can store your helmet on long ascents, and pockets on the waist belt are a good place to stash easy-access items such as granola bars and Chapstick. The Kamber also comes in a smaller, 22-liter size for shorter jaunts and a beefier 42-liter with additional features.
"The 42 does have a top lace-in panel, so you can throw ropes on that, as well, for mountaineering," Ballew said. "It is hydration capable. There's an insulated hose cover built into the pack, you don't have to have a hose cove for it. You can still drink water and the hose won't freeze up, even at colder temperatures."
The Kamber comes in black, red or blue. The women-specific version, the Kresta, has all of the same features, in slightly smaller sizes — 20, 30 and 30 liters — and is built from the same heavy-duty 420HD Nylon Packcloth in powder blue or gray.
The goods: The Kresta 20 and Kamber 22 ($150), Kresta 30 and Kamber 32 ($170), and Kresta 40 and Kamber 42 ($190, special order) are available at Ptarmigan Sports, 137 Main St., No C-104, Edwards; 970-926-8144.
Arcteryx Sabre Jacket
• Gore-Tex three-layer construction
• Helmet compatible StormHood
• WaterTight water-resistant zippers
• Hidden Recco rescue signal reflector
• Machine washable
The details: There's a reason Arcteryx is occupying a growing spot on ski-shop racks, and it has to do with the way the company makes its products, said Mike Jarvis, product manager for Sun & Ski, a new store in Avon.
"The fabric and all of the construction that they use — making sure they tape every seam, making sure the zippers are all sealed, using good-quality down — they last really well," he said. "I have three years on one outfit and it doesn't get wet (inside)."
At $625, the Arcteryx Sabre Jacket has a pretty steep price tag, but the seemingly simple shell is anything but, starting with a breathable, three-layer Gore-Tex construction with a durable water repellent finish. The jacket uses the company's exclusive WaterTight water resistant zippers on all of its external closures, from the main front zipper to the pockets to the pit zips, and has a fit suitable for both skiers and riders.
"It's in their White Line collection, which is ski and snowboard," Jarvis said. "It's an athletic fit, not super tailored like ski mountaineering jackets. … You see skiers wearing a little looser thing, snowboarders wearing a closer fit, so it really does fit both markers very well."
Snow-specific features include a powder skirt with gripper elastic and snap closure, lift-pass loop, snap closures that enable the jacket to be fastened to ski pants to prevent snow entry and a hidden Recco rescue signal reflector.
"On a shell like that, you want big pockets, pit zips so you can control body temperature — it's got every feature you're looking for," Jarvis said.
Arcteryx makes a range of base and mid layers to complete the insulating puzzle — Jarvis recommends the Cerium LT Jacket ($349) or Hoodie ($379), made with 850-fill down — as well as a women's version of the jacket, the Sentinel. The Sabre comes in dark blue, light blue, ocean blue, red and a kind of burnt-orange color called "oak barrel." Sentinel colors are turquoise, white, maroon, purple and orange.
The goods: The Arcteryx Sabre ($625) and Sentinel ($625) are available at the new Sun & Ski, 218 Beaver Creek Place, Avon; 970-748-0086. The store will celebrate its grand opening on Friday.
Smith I/O Goggles
• Quick release lens change system
• Spherical carbonic-x lens
• 5X anti-fog inner lens
• QuickFit strap adjustment system with clip buckle
• Helmet compatible
The details: The I/O has been around for a few years, but Smith gave it an update this year, with a wider field of view, a new frame design and — perhaps most exciting — the addition of the brand's ChromaPop lenses.
"They've had it in their sunglasses, they just haven't had it in their goggles," said Dan Mitchell, sales associate with Pepi Sports in Vail, of the ChromaPop technology. "It's a great addition to the line; the I/O series has been one of the top-selling goggles for years."
The spherical lenses provide a high level of optical clarity, improved fit characteristics and increased volume, which boosts the anti-fog capabilities of the goggles. The lens is also treated with 5X anti-fog, a micro-etched surface that absorbs moisture and disperses it over a wide surface area to prevent fogging.
"It makes groves in the lens; it's not something that can be wiped off," Mitchell said. "It's actually in the lens and it prevents fogging. They are a sealed lens with a relief valve, which adjusts to the altitude and the pressure."
And that ChromaPop? It filters two specific wavelengths of light that cause color confusion. By doing this, the lens delivers greater definition, more natural color and higher clarity, allowing you to see more detail.
Coupled with Smith's Tapered Lens Technology, which corrects light refraction through the goggle's surface, the new lenses make use of a hefty amount of science that equates to longer days on the hill without visual fatigue.
"This year, they are redesigned with new foam around them, with a deeper nose pocket and a little more peripheral vision out the side," Mitchell said. "But they will still use the old I/O lenses, the lenses still work from the old ones."
The new lenses also work with older I/O frames, he said, and the frames still integrate with Smith's line of helmets. Sizing is unisex, and the series also includes the I/O 7 and I/OX, each with slightly different features and color options.
The goods: The Smith I/O (manufacturer's suggested retail price $210), I/O 7 (MSRP $230) and I/OX (MSRP $210) are available at Pepi Sports, 231 Bridge St., Vail; 970-476-5206. The story also carries a full line of compatible Smith helmets.
Mountain Hardware StretchDown Jacket
• Stretch-bonded channel construction
• Water-resistant Q Shield Down 750-fill
• Stretch-knit fabric
The details: The down "puffy" coat has become a staple mid-layer for many skiers and snowboarders, but the rip-stop nylon that most of these quilted jackets are made from leaves a lot to be desired in terms of comfort and maneuverability.
Mountain Hardware has addressed the mobility issues of a traditional puffy with its StretchDown Jacket, featuring stretch-welded channel construction that allows the coat to move more freely with an athlete's body.
"Everyone around town wears puffys all the time, but the fabric on the outside of this is stretchy, it moves with you, it's really comfortable and lightweight," said Lauren Williams, store manager at Outdoor Divas in Lionshead Village. "It's a nice update on the traditional puffy that everybody has."
The insulated jacket is marketed as a mid-layer, but it features water-repellent Q Shield Down 750-fill tech that repels moisture and maintains loft even when wet.
"It's probably not something to just ski in; you're going to want to put a shell over it," Williams said. "It's good for walking around town, running between your car and work. You'll stay dry if you're out for a few minutes in it."
Having a down insulator adds an exponential amount of warmth to any shell, and it compresses easily, making it very packable, Williams said. The fabric also has a softer feel than the standard nylon.
"It's a nice piece to have in your collection of gear because you can wear it on its own or you can layer it as a liner with a shell," she said. "There's a lot of different ways to use it, and with the stretchy fabric, it gives it more versatility."
The jacket has two hip pockets and an internal stash pocket and comes in hooded and non-hooded versions and an array of colors, including black, maroon and navy. Mountain Hardware also makes a men's StretchDown Jacket with all of the same features.
The goods: The Mountain Hardware StretchDown Hooded Jacket (women's, $289.95) is available at Outdoor Divas, 520 E Lionshead Circle, Vail; 970-476-3888.
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