What’s New for Winter | VailDaily.com

What’s New for Winter

Eric Eves
Matt IndenThough last year's telemark boot will probably look like this year's, users will likely feel a difference.

Every fall it happens. The leaves start to change, the days are shorter and the nights colder. It’s time to put away the tank tops, the hiking shorts; to put the kayak back into storage, and start getting ready for winter.

Each year ski and snowboard companies release their newest products, effectively raising the bar for snow riders everywhere. The advances in the past year for ski and snowboard gear, and winter clothing, have been huge. Here’s a preview of what to expect in the stores – and on the slopes – this season:

Those crunchy, crisp hard shells so important to keeping wet and windy conditions from freezing your core are becoming a thing of the past. Lisa Glaser, owner of Mountain Quest in Edwards says that when it comes to the jackets this year the key word is “soft shell”.

“There are many new products, the waterproof and breathable soft shells are taking over,” said Glaser.

Even the zippers on this year’s pants and jackets will be revamped to waterproof status, making gear almost impenetrable to Mother Nature.

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Of course, it’s what’s inside that counts, and by that, we mean underwear. James Gregg, sales manager for Ptarmigan Sports says that the future of underlayers is wool. He would know, Gregg has a degree in wool technology from a university in New Zealand. The wool revolution is due mostly to the manufacturers commitment to buying the highest quality wool directly from the grower. New undergarments and socks made of 100 percent wool tend to transfer heat and retain heat better than synthetic products, Gregg said.

“Wool has a higher efficiency, while keeping the same consistency in body temperature,” said Gregg.

Another strong selling point for wool is that it doesn’t retain odor like others materials.

When it comes to clothing for snowboarding, the theme is integration and coordination. The Audex jacket by Burton is an office on the go. Using Blue Tooth technology, the jacket plugs into your IPod and your cellphone. It includes a control panel for ease in making calls, switching songs on your IPod, and it even has a mini caller ID screen.

“It’s a business oriented jacket,” said Ryan Palmer, sales manager for One Track Mind. Palmer also predicts that prints and bright colors are the trend for this season.

Outdoor gear companies continue to make advances in toys for women. Glaser is excited about the women’s telemark gear to hit the market this year. “Finally, women’s gear is catching up,” Glaser said.

Gone are the days when women’s skis and boots were only a toned down, flowered up, second-rate version of mid-level equipment. From the new women’s Scarpa boot to the Rossignal women’s downhill and telemark lines, your modern-day ski bunny just became hard core and a lot harder to catch.

When is comes to downhill skis, the trend for the past few years has continued, and they are shorter and fatter than ever. Mike Brumbaugh, owner of Venture Sports says that the stability and stiffness of skis are getting stronger, too. And now, the International Federation of Skiing is changing its ways to fit the new technology.

“FIS has now mandated how short of a ski you can race with, it’s amazing,” said Brumbaugh.

The real change in this years ski is in the plates and binding mounts. “Everything goes in phases, now bindings have to catch up,” said Bo Pihl, buyer for Mountain Quest Sports.

Most manufacturers are moving to an integrated plate because it allows the ski to flex more naturally. The downside of an integrated plate is that the consumer is limited to using the same bindings as the skis.

“Every company has the latest and greatest, it’s like saying a Ford is better than a Chevy,” Brumbaugh said.

Snowboard manufacturers also continue to tweak their designs and many freeride boards are getting a little softer and lighter. The evolution of the sport has been in the bindings. The Burton toe clip is quickly becoming the shredders’ choice.

“The toe clip allows for more comfortable riding and helps prevent the feet from falling asleep,” Palmer said.

The advances in equipment and clothing can help make you a stronger skier and boarder, and can also help make you look stylish and in vogue. As always, though, don’t expect gear to compensate for your own lack of ability. No jacket will save you from biting it on Pepi’s Face in front of a crowd.

Eric Eves is a frequent contributor to The Trail and can be reached at eeves@hotmail.com.

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