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      Like the Backcountry? Here's a Ski Gear Preview for Winter 2011/2012

      It's only February, yet I’m already looking forward to next winter! That might sound crazy, but I just got back from a ski/snowboard demo at the Mission Ridge ski area in Washington state where I tried out a bunch of 2011/2012 backcountry gear. The good news: There’s some pretty exciting stuff happening.

      The biggest trend I noticed is that rockered tips are becoming more and more popular. Many of the backcountry ski makers are putting them on their all-mountain and powder skis. How did they perform? Here are some of my highlights:

      Voile skisVoile Vector BC skis with Voile Switchback telemark bindings

      Built to perform just like the current Voile Vector skis when skiing downhill, the Vector BC skis add a waxless climbing pattern underfoot to save you the hassle of having to put skins on to climb moderate terrain. With 94mm-wide waists, these will be some of the widest skis on the market that include a climbing pattern. With rockered tips and light cores, the Vector BC skis are designed for soft snow, but I was able to ski them aggressively down groomed slopes without any issues. The climbing pattern performed well going up moderate slopes; for steeper terrain, you’ll probably want to carry some climbing skins with you. The lightweight, tour-friendly Voile Switchback telemark bindings are a perfect match.

      Dynafit Manaslu skisDynafit Manaslu skis with Dynafit TLT randonee bindings and Dynafit ZZero4 C-TF boots

      I mostly telemark ski, but I decided to give some randonee boots, bindings and skis a try. I swung by the Dynafit booth where they put me in a pair of ZZero4 C-TF randonee boots and handed me a pair of next year’s Dynafit Manaslu skis with Dynafit TLT bindings. The new Manaslu skis feature a core similar to the current Dynafit Stoke skis, which allow them to handle a wide variety of backcountry terrain. The skis were light and easy to turn. This is an awesome backcountry touring setup.

       

      G3 Infidel SkisG3 Infidel skis with G3 Targa Ascent telemark bindings

      The flashy G3 Infidels feature twin-tips and rocker for fun in soft snow, yet have enough sidecut and camber underfoot to perform well on harder snow. It took me a bit to get used to the lively feel of the Infidels, but once I did I had a blast carving turns and cruising fast. At 127mm-wide up front and 97mm-wide underfoot, the Infidels can take on most snow conditions at the resort and in the backcountry.

       

      Black Diamond Drift skisBlack Diamond Drift skis with Black Diamond 01 telemark bindings

      The Black Diamond Drift skis don’t change at all for winter 2011/2012, but I was still amazed at how much fun they were to ski. Despite having wide 100mm waists, the Drift skis were surprisingly easy to turn on harder snow. I was able to sit back and relax while carving smooth turns. I can only imagine how well the rockered tips and soft flex would perform in a foot of fresh.

      Some other products I tried and liked:
      - Black Diamond Justice skis
      - Black Diamond Amp skis
      - Black Diamond Verdict skis
      - Voile Charger skis
      - G3 Saint skis
      - Rottefella NTN bindings
      - Scarpa Terminator X Pro NTN boots

      That's just a small sampling of what's headed your way for next winter. Does anything in particular catch your eye? What are you currently skiing on, and will you be shopping for new gear for next year? 

      Posted on at 1:10 PM

      Tagged: Backcountry skiing, climbing skins, randonee, skiing, snowsports and telemark

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      fullmilk

      Hey there Joe,

      You write that you have seen/tested the Rottefella NTN binding for 2011/2012. Do you know if there is anything new? Size/weight, different versions? Or is it the same as last year, just in a different color?

      Hope you can help me. Best regards,
      Pete

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