Gear We’re Testing: Skis, boots, outerwear and sunglasses we used this week
Welcome back to Gear We’re Testing, the series from FREESKIER in which our editorial staff provides in-depth, honest reviews about the gear we’re testing on a weekly basis. Our goal? To point you towards the best brands and products on Earth so you can have as much fun in the mountains as possible and trust your equipment whole-heartedly. Check out four different product reviews from this week, below, then tune back in next Friday for even more.
Next year’s Candide Thovex 2.0 pro model ski, by Faction
I had the great fortune of shadowing a crew of Faction Skis athletes, artists and staff in Verbier, Switzerland, this past week. Said crew is working tirelessly to produce a full-fledged, feature-length film (to be unveiled in the fall of 2017), and my task was to observe the ongoings; I expect to write about the experience in an upcoming issue of FREESKIER. In addition to enjoying a behind the scenes look at the impressive film production (there were approximately 11 cameras documenting the action at any given time), I also happened to be clicked into a pair of Candide Thovex 2.0 skis (2017-18 edition) for five awesome days of skiing at one of Europe’s premier resorts. The testing that ensued was nothing short of extraordinary.
The first thing you should know about Verbier is that the place is a giant f’ing playground for skiers: Gullies, gaps, rollers, wind lips, chutes and steep lines abound. That sort of terrain is absolutely ideal for the CT 2.0. So, if that all sounds like your cup of tea, keep reading. If not, feel free to browse these awesome photos of next year’s skis, as seen at our recent ski test.
Down to brass tacks.
The CT 2.0 is designed for playful skiers who delight over opportunities to pop, press, smear, butter and carve up a storm across ski slopes of all shapes and sizes. And I’m pleased to report the ski excels in all of those aforementioned departments. Chasing the likes of Adam Delorme and Duncan Adams around Verbier kept me on my toes (and in the air) seemingly non-stop, and I felt 100-percent in control, even during quick movements; light on my feet (1880 g @ 178 cm); and comfortable returning to the ground after entering orbit (carbon reinforcement underfoot dampens and spreads the impact of landings). Getting up into the air was a breeze, as well. This ski boasts crazy-good pop—the soft tail acts almost like a diving board as you arrive at the lip of your jump, knuckle, mogul, etc.
A poplar/beech wood core fits squarely in the “fairly rigid” category in my book. The poplar is there to balance weight, dampening and spring while the beech provides serious torsional rigidity, stability and power. Sandwich sidewall construction also ensures rockin’ power transmission to the edge of the ski. Camber underfoot lends itself to hard-charging edge hold, while tip and tail rocker take care of the smeary good times, and a bit of float for when the going gets rough (or awesome, depending on your outlook). A symmetrical sidecut also translates to optimal switch skiing and playful performance.
We skied at mach 10; we built and aired off of jumps at every corner; we ripped through the spring slush; we destroyed mogul fields; we made jump turns down fall-you-break-yourself-real-bad mountain faces; we ripped firm groomers; we slashed, pivoted and buttered; we made tight-as-hell turns through rock fields; and so much more, and this ski held up to the abuse like a champ.
Faction markets this ski as a “freestyle do it all” offering. The ski comes in four models: the park-oriented CT 1.0; the versatile all-mountain CT 2.0; and the lightweight, backcountry freestyle-inspired CT 3.0 and CT 4.0. Thovex himself stamped his seal of approval on this line of skis, and, well, that speaks volumes.
Watching Delorme, Adams, Antti Ollila, Alex Hall, Eirik Sæterøy, Tim McChesney and co. throw down in Verbier on these skis was a true pleasure. Skiing on them was a true pleasure. And rest assured, you’ll feel the same.
Be on the lookout for the CT 2.0 in the fall of 2017. Because it’s never too early to start planning next season’s on-hill domination. — Henrik Lampert, Editor-in-Chief
Dimensions: 135-102-135 mm
Radius: 16 m @ 178
Lengths: 166, 172, 178, 184, 188 cm
Next year’s Dalbello Lupo AX 120 boots
I recently had the pleasure of testing out next year’s Dalbello AX 120 boots and, let me tell you, these things rule. Brand-new for 2017-18, the three-piece boot strikes a great balance between touring and freeride prowess, thanks to a variety of well-thought-out technologies. On one side of the spectrum, they’re lightweight (1500 grams/boot) and boast a 67-degree range of motion in walk mode (with an easy-to-use walk-mode lever)—ideal for the up. On the other side, they’re burly enough to really send it downhill; as part of the Lupo family, these are built to perform on big-boy terrain, aided by a solid 120 flex.
A huge detail to know about this boot is that it has a 100-mm last, opposed to the 98-mm last Dalbello often leans towards. And as a guy with a wide foot who doesn’t quite fit into a 98-mm boot, the 100-mm model hits the sweet spot. In addition to that width, a feature I absolutely love about these is the roomy toe box; there’s plenty of space to stay comfortable both on the up and on the down. That fit also helps with blood circulation—something all skiers should know is really important. Building on that comfort is the customizable, heat-moldable “MY Liner,” which held my feet, ankles and shins in place like a well-wrapped burrito, while also boasting fantastic shock-absorption.
If you’re wondering whether these boots are compatible with your bindings or not, the answer is yes, as long as your bindings are GripWalk-friendly (almost all bindings these days). They offer tech inserts, but also fit into a traditional alpine binding no problem. So whether you’re rocking a tech binding, framed touring binding or normal alpine binding, you’re good to go (again, as long as they’re GripWalk-friendly). I’ve found this incredibly useful, as I have various ski/binding setups and am not very keen on switching out toe pieces every time I go skiing. Off the hill, or when trudging through the backcountry on foot, those GripWalk soles are absolutely money.
For a skier like me who enjoys touring but also spends a ton of time just nuking down resorts, this is a total dream boot. It’s light and technical enough to enjoy on the uphill, but badass enough to confidently shred downhill on any terrain. All in all, it’s a great product—which is why it won a “FREESKIER Best of Show” award at the Snowsports Industries America Tradeshow in January and has continued to impress us ever since. Look out for the Dalbello AX 120 come fall 2017 and, for the time being, browse through more FREESKIER gear reviews here. — Connor W. Davis, Online Editor
Note: This boot will be available in a women’s version, too, dubbed the Lupo AX 110 W.
Strafe Outerwear Nomad Jacket and Northwoods Bib
Updated for 2017-18, the Nomad and Northwoods are what started it all for Strafe. Built to withstand an entire season on the Freeride World Tour, the three-layer shells are burly, to say the least. I’ve tested the kit both in- and out-of-bounds, and I can say it stands up to a wide variety of conditions.
In late March, I found myself at Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor, wearing both garments. There, I experienced heavy, wet snow, howling winds and sunshine at the resort, and took a backcountry tour, all in the span of three days.
On one day, a storm rolled through the area, bringing with it dense, moisture-laden snow. Whether I was walking between Bachelor’s various base village buildings or skiing off of the Northwest chair, the highly waterproof eVent fabric along with a the full seam-sealed construction and DWR coating kept all moisture at bay.
That same day, the wind was brutal but the Nomad boasts a 100-percent nylon face fabric, which did its part in prevent any cold gusts from making it to my underlayers.
On my last day in Oregon, I took a pre-dawn tour up Tumalo Butte—the temperature hovered in the teens. With minimal layering, I stayed comfortably warm underneath the Nomad and Northwoods, and as the sun rose and the dawn revealed a bluebird day, the ample venting and high-breathability of the kit allowed me to dump heat with ease. For the rest of the day I lapped the resort, skiing under the early spring sun in comfort, thanks to the aforementioned attributes.
Additional details in the Northwoods Bib include a roomy chest pocket to keep belongings in, extra deep thigh pockets that could be utilized to store skins in the backcountry and a four-way stretch construction (also present in the Nomad) for optimal mobility. — Donny O’Neill, Senior Editor
Dragon Liege H20 Sunglasses
As summer quickly approaches, it’s almost time to turn your goggle tan into a sunglasses tan. While there are a million pairs of sunglasses to choose from, I’ve recently been stoked on the Leige H2O shades from Dragon. Stylish and super lightweight due to an injection-molded grilamid frame, these sunnies feature polarized lenses with 100-percent UV protection and an awesome bonus feature: they float.
From pond skims to spring skiing to summer water sports, these shades have got you covered. I’ve rocked them with a hoodie while taking some spring laps and am already excited to wear them as the weather gets warmer for swimming, surfing, wake boarding and more. I can’t count how many sunglasses I’ve lost to the abyss after taking a splashy slam into some water and, while it still wouldn’t hurt to throw a pair of stylish croakies on these, rest assured that if you don’t, they won’t end up as a bottom feeder’s lunch.
—Sarah Sherman, Social Media Coordinator