Tech highlights from this year’s Outdoor Retailer trade show include ski boots heated by an app, a jacket with a built-in hydration system and goggles with magnetized lenses.
If there’s one place you can get a real look at the future of outdoor gear technology, it’s at the Outdoor Retailer trade show, which ended Sunday at its new location in Denver. At the biannual show, manufacturers of everything from skis and snowboards to sunglasses and backpacks gather to showcase new products.
So, what’s on forecast for new snowsports gear due out for winter 2018-19? We rounded up some of the most innovative products and trends on the showroom floor for a glimpse at what’s to come.
Lock-it-Down Backcountry Boots
Professional freeskier Eric “Hoji” Hjorleifson has been tinkering with his ski boots for years, rebuilding and reinventing features to make them more suitable for his type of big-mountain skiing. The new boot from his sponsor Dynafit, called the Hoji Pro Tour, is the culmination of a boot project that’s been a couple of years in the making, a collaboration between Hjorleifson and Dynafit’s original inventor, Fritz Barthel. The boot has 55 degrees range of motion for uphill touring and all the sturdiness you’d need to ski Alaskan spines. But where it really shines is its new patented lock system, a simple lever to lock the boot into ski mode that connects the boot’s upper and shell to give you even more performance on the way downhill. The boot will come in women’s and men’s models and is set to debut in REI stores and online in fall 2018.
Goggles with Magnets
Goggles brands like Anon have been utilizing magnets for a few years now, but this will be the first time Smith Optics introduces an interchangeable lens using a magnet closure. The new I/O Mag goggles from Smith, which will be available from REI in fall 2018, has an easy-to-swap lens—for when the light fades at the end of the day or a storm blows in—that clicks into the wide frame with magnets.
Lightweight Big-Mountain Skis
More and more ski companies are debuting essentially backcountry big-mountain skis—meaning skis that are lightweight enough to climb mountains but also burly and stiff enough to charge downhill. Take, for example, Sego Ski Co., a small, independent company started by two brothers in Victor, Idaho. Their Condor TI ski, a new model due out in fall 2018, is super lightweight, thanks to a balsa flax wood core, but is plenty stiff enough for high-speed descents. (And not that you should like a ski just for its graphics, but what’s not to love about a matte black ski with a single image of an avocado on the tip?)
A Jacket with a Built-in Hydration System
Some skiers and riders carry hydration packs around the resort with them, but 686 has a new piece that’s both insulated jacket and hydration system in one, marking the first time an outerwear company has attempted this. The 686 Hydrastash Reservoir Jacket, due out in fall 2018 and sold in REI stores, has a 25-ounce water bladder inside the snow skirt, with a drinking tube that runs inside the jacket. Bonus: Your body heat will help reduce the likelihood of the water freezing inside the tube. So you can now ditch the backpack inbounds and stay hydrated at the same time.
Touring Binding That Does it All
Salomon and Atomic’s much-hyped new binding, called the Shift MNC 13, deserves all the attention it’s been getting. It climbs uphill with the 90-degree range of motion of a traditional pin binding, but then with a few simple adjustments, transforms into a standard alpine binding for the way down. Engineers have spent years building and testing the binding, with input from their freeride athletes, and the result looks like the kind of product that’ll truly be a quiver killer—if you’re a backcountry skier who also skis inbounds at resorts, you may only need one binding from here on out. Sister companies Salomon and Atomic will both be debuting a version of this binding in September 2018, and it will be available at REI stores.
Ski Boots Heated by an App
Cold feet? Salomon has a fix for that, too. Their new downhill X Pro Custom Heat Connect boots, including the X Pro 80W, X Pro 90W, and X Pro 100, come with custom heat settings that you can control with an app on your phone. Previous incarnations of this top-selling, all-mountain boot had three heat settings that you could adjust via a button on the boot. But now, whip out your phone and you can dial your toe heat to an exact temperature. The boot will come out in fall 2018, and sold at REI, with two different flexes of women’s models and one men’s model.
Airbag Backpacks Get an Overhaul
Backcountry Access’ collection of Float airbag packs are not new, but for fall 2018, they’re rolling out Float 2.0, the next generation of more streamlined airbags, designed to be employed in case of an avalanche. These packs, which come in sizes ranging from 12 liters to 42 liters, come equipped with airbags that are 30 percent smaller and 15 percent lighter than their previous versions, which means you get more space in the pack for storing essentials like extra layers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They also have a newly designed trigger handle, which is more oval in shape to make it easier to pull in the event of an emergency. The BCA Float pack will be sold in REI.
Tough Coolers on Wheels
While not technically snowsports gear, we know skiers and snowboarders can still use and appreciate a good-quality cooler. The popularity of the super-tough YETI coolers has opened doors for a flood of other robust up-and-coming cooler companies. Like Rovr, which got its start in 2016 in Boulder, Colo. Rovr’s new Rollr 80 and Rollr 60 coolers, which can stay below 40 degrees for 10 days, are perfect for après ski tailgates in the parking lot. They’re equipped with sturdy, 8-inch wheels and an easy-to-tow handle, which makes hauling them around easier in both winter and summer. Plus, they come tricked out with built-in dividers (to keep your eggs from getting crushed by your beer), attachable cutting board and drink holders, and a nifty storage bin on top for stashing dry foods or cooking supplies. Beginning in March 2018, the Rollr 60 cooler will be available in select REI stores (Seattle, Denver, Bloomington, Minn., and Washington, D.C.) and the Rollr 80 will be available online.