“Best of Show” at SIA: 14 of next year’s most impressive products
While perusing the show floor at the SIA Snow Show, we saw literally thousands of incredible ski products. (Check out over 100 of our favorites, here.) But in the end, 14 stood out above the rest, earning “Best of Show” honors. Check all of them out, below, with detailed reviews, and start planning out your ski gear purchases for the 2017-18 season nice and early.
POC — Auric Cut Backcountry Spin
SPIN is the big story from POC this coming season. Twelve silicone-injected pads inside the helmet protect against rotational impacts by shearing, or sliding, with the head during an impact situation. The Auric Backcountry SPIN, specifically, features an ABS shell, fortified by a multi-impact-resistant, expanded polypropylene liner as well as adjustable ventilation.
Pret — Corona X
Pret is introducing a sister helmet to the celebrated Cirque X, released last season, with the women’s-specific Corona X. The helmet is built with Pret’s VTT4 venting system, which utilizes six vents up top, four in the front and back and a switch that opens them or completely closes them, depending on conditions. The helmet features MIPS and is also built with polycarbonate sheets of differing sizes, placed in strategic locations, for incredible protection.
Giro — Ella
Brand new for 2017-18 is the Ella goggle, a women’s-specific offering from Giro. The Ella is sleek and frameless. Its cylindrical ZEISS lens utilizes Vivid technology—Giro’s tech solution for providing enhanced contrast and definition. Premium venting at the top of the goggle further boosts the goal of clear vision, and an easy-to-use, magnetic quick-change lens system comes in handy when it’s time to swap lenses. Not to be overlooked, the style and feel of this product is super attractive and sure to please.
Oakley — Fall Line
Building on the success of the Line Miner—a new goggle from Oakley for the 2016-17 season—is the Fall Line. Introduced for ’17-18, this model rocks a similar style to the Line Miner, but boasts a larger field of view, much thanks to a rimless design and a big cylindrical lens. It utilizes Oakley’s highly-acclaimed Prizm lens, which increases color and contrast incredibly well, resulting in a more enjoyable skiing experience, no matter what the conditions are like. It’s sure to be a hit among consumers this fall.
Smith — Squad XL
The new Squad XL is the largest goggle Smith has released to date and stunning peripheral vision and top-notch lens tech are its foremost features. Said lens tech is the beloved ChromaPop, back again for 2017-18 with its remarkable contrast- and color-enhancing properties. Inside, an anti-fog coating further increases visual clarity. The Squad XL is without a doubt one of the most impressive new goggle offerings on the market.
Zeal — Portal
The name of the game for this new goggle from Zeal is its one-of-a-kind Rail Lock System. While many other goggles utilize magnets or clamps, this one has rails on the lens that seamlessly slide into slots on the frame; the action is similar to that of a garage door opening and closing.
The aforementioned lens is impressive, as well. Dubbed Automatic+, it’s both photochromic and polarized, resulting in visual clarity as well as the ability to fight off powerful rays from the sun. Top it all off with that sleek, frameless design and you’ve got some amazing peripheral vision, too.
Hestra — Ergo Grip Incline
Hestra’s new backcountry-specific glove is built to handle all out-of-bounds pursuits, from the access gates to the skin track to the boot pack. Midweight insulation is enough to keep hands warm when it’s shiver-worthy outside, but not too much to overheat during spring missions. It’s Ergo Grip design—pre-curved fingers sewn to the glove—improves dexterity and an impregnated cowhide backs ups the toughness factor.
Seirus — Heat Touch Hellfire
Seirus’ Heat Touch Hellfire Glove and Mitt take an idea that’s been around a while—heated gloves/mitts—and make it a reality. Via slim, rechargeable batteries, they heat up with the press of a button (low, medium and high modes available), and can stay powered on for up to 12 hours. Simply charge the batteries via a wall outlet (takes about 3-4 hours), hit the hill no matter how cold it may be and let it rip all day without worries.
BCA — Float 27 Speed Pack
BCA’s new Float 2.0 airbag system (cylinder and engine) is 30 percent smaller and 15 percent lighter than the original Float airbags. Compatible with the new Float Speed packs (20 percent lighter than BCA packs with the 1.0 system), the cylinder is located in the airbag chamber, opening more space in the main compartment. The Float 27 Speed is geared towards full days in the backcountry, with 27 liters of storage, main and internal tool compartments and external ice axe loop, all weighing in at a manageable 5.7 pounds with full cylinder. The Float 27 Speed is also compatible with the BC Link radio—the unit is stored in the pack and the SmartMic on the strap for constant communication with your backcountry partners.
Phunkshun — Aviator Baselayer
Consumers are always looking for more environmentally friendly products, and Phunkshun’s Aviator piece—the brand’s very first baselayer—goes above and beyond in that category. Touting REPREVE fabric made of recycled water bottles and handmade in Denver, this product is also moisture-wicking, sports UPF 50-plus protection and odor control tech. It’s built to handle serious exertion but also keep you warm. It’s quite stylish, too, easy to sport off-hill without hesitation.
Dalbello — Lupo Ax 120
Dalbello altered the last-width from 98 to 100 mm in the new Ax collection (three boots), part of the Lupo series. The skiers who have struggled to find a boot that’ll fit their Sasquatch feet will bow down to this line. Besides accommodating those with girthy foot sizes, the Lupo Ax 120 boasts a 120-flex rating, tech inserts, a new hike mode mechanism that allows for a 67-degree range of motion and a fully customizable liner. The Lupo Ax 120 also comes complete with Dalbello’s own GripWalk rockered soles.
Strafe — Eden Jacket
A fully-featured, insulated yet breathable women’s jacket,” says Strafe of its Eden. This delectable trifecta is achieved in part thanks to three-layer, waterproof, breathable and highly stretchable Polartec Neoshell; 100 percent Polartec Alpha insulation (100 g body, 80 g sleeves and hood); plus a nylon, air-permeable micro rip-stop liner. The list of additional features runs for miles. And it boasts a thoughtful story, too: In a nod to Strafe’s home base, the jacket is named for the once-secret stash in the once-closed-off section of Olympic Bowl, at Aspen Highlands. The Eden zone opened to the public in early 2016 and has inspired countless humongous smiles ever since—same as this jacket will do beginning in the fall of 2017.
HEAD — Kore 105
HEAD says “Bon voyage!” to its Flight series and introduces the brand-new Kore line for 2017-18, complete with all-new designs. The overall package here is one that screams lightweight above all else, but certainly not at the expense of downhill performance. The implementation of an extremely light, yet stiff Karuba wood core was a big step in this regard. Furthermore, said core has been cut out of the waist and replaced with a thermally welded honeycomb Koroyd core—this helps to further keep weight savings at a premium while also acting as a dampener, directly under the user’s foot. The skis’ tips and tails are fused with Graphene for an ultra-thin profile, checking off another box in the weight reduction department. The Kore models are also topped with a polyester fleece layer, further reducing weight. Get the point? The Kore 105 in a 180 cm length weighs in just below 1.7 kilograms. Like its 93 and 117 mm-underfoot brethren, the 105 utilizes two layers of triaxial woven carbon to ensure torsional rigidity remains on-point.
Faction — Prime 3.0
Mark our words; the all-new Prime series is going to create a big splash among the industry waves in the fall of ’17. The exhaustive efforts of Faction’s designers, with help from Freeride World Tour athlete and UIAGM guide, Sam Anthamatten, have resulted in high-performance, lightweight, “tourable” big-mountain skis that stand up to powder, chunder, icy conditions and everything in between. The decidedly premium line of freeride skis boasts four waist widths—90, 98, 108 and 118mm. The 3.0 is lightweight on the ascent and crazy-stable and nimble on the ride down thanks to construction features including sandwich sidewall construction; a hybrid balsa/flax core; TexTreme’s proprietary carbon weave across the length of the ski that’s thinner and stronger than regular carbon for superb torsional rigidity; a multi-dimension sidecut and rockered tip and tail.