Vail’s Arn Menconi: A sneak peak for next year’s gear |

Vail’s Arn Menconi: A sneak peak for next year’s gear

Arn Menconi
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

Editor’s note: Arn Menconi, executive director of Avon-based youth nonprofit SOS Outreach, is on the road attending various ski and snowboard industry tradeshows and conferences. He’ll be sending dispatches from the events, telling readers what’s new and interesting in the world of snow sports. This dispatch came Saturday from the Snowsports Industries of America Snow Show in Denver.

DENVER, Colorado – Amid the bling, noise and hype of the snowsports industry tradeshow, the real question is, what’s new this year? A tour through the halls of the showroom floor is truly a sneak peek at what skiers and snowboarders will be sporting and using next year.

We roamed the floors of the show to bring you what we thought might be the latest and greatest of what you’ll see on the chairlifts next season.

Zeal Optics’ new Transcend goggles are really half eyewear, half fighter jet cockpit. The GPS-enabled goggles give real-time information and track your speed, time, distance, temperature, vertical feet and distance traveled. The information shows up in the lower part of the goggle frame, so it doesn’t obscure vision while on the slopes, and it can be replayed later on a computer. You can even log onto a Web site and compare your stats to other users’ all over the world. It’s GPS – not cell phone – enabled, which means that it can track your stats in the backcountry as well.

“What’s so neat is having all that information at your fingertips,” said Zeal Optics President and Owner Michael Jackson. “The reaction from users has been phenomenal. The funny thing is you’re usually not going nearly as fast as you think. Or you see how fast you’re going and think, ‘I better slow down!'”

Zeal was the first to integrate the GPS goggle technology, although some other companies will be following suit in the coming year. The company also now has a solar-charging backpack with a removable solar panel that can keep the battery-operated goggles charged.

The trash heap isn’t usually where you’d expect to find inspiration for a new line of jackets, but that’s exactly what apparel company 686 has done. Instead of using organic fabrics or alternative materials, the company’s new Reclaim line is made completely from leftover fabrics that otherwise would have been thrown away. That means no two jackets are exactly the same, said Kristin Cusic of 686.

“With outerwear, it’s next to impossible to make it green because the way you make things waterproof is with chemicals,” she said. “However, there are 25 million tons of textile waste produced each year in America alone. From day one this company has been doing things differently, so this was a way we wanted to make an environmental contribution.”

The line piloted last year and sold out. This year, the company is expanding the line as well as donating one jacket for every Reclaim jacket sold. A designer contest at the tradeshow features three clothing designers working throughout the show to design an original jacket from clothing scraps.

We were also impressed by their slick-looking snowboard boot, a line made in partnership with New Balance. The result is a snowboard boot that has the feel of a sneaker.

It might not be new technology, but an idea that’s been catching on is to focus on women and kids when making ski and snowboard wear. That’s the biggest change that the apparel company Sessions is making this year. You’ll start seeing more variety for their women’s technical wear, and cool new styles for kids, including girls’ denim-style snow pants.

The female sector is one of the fastest growing parts of the sport, said Sessions President and Owner Cindi Busenhart.

“It’s a female market. They’re the people who buy so much, for themselves, for their kids, for the whole family,” she said. “For women especially, we’re offering more technical wear, a wider variety for everything from the total snowsport enthusiast to the casual vacationer.”

Seirus Innovations just introduced Soundtouch, a series of form-fitting gloves that allow you to work on hand-held devices, such as touch screens on cell phones.

If you’re tired of freezing hands, or struggling with your gloves while answering your phone, this one seems like a no-brainer. So if you must answer your phone on a powder day, this is a good solution.

“This allows you to work without having to take off your gloves,” said Seirus President Mike Carey.

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