Test The Best: Backcountry and AT Ski Preview for 2014-2015March 1st, 2014 By Dave
If you read our blog regularly, you know we get to see and test all the new gear about one year before it hits the shelves at the shop. These are always some of our most popular posts, so if there is anything missing that you want to hear about, just let us know in the comments section at the end of the post.
This year we headed down to Mammoth for a full day of ski testing and then had some extra random days in Utah, the Tahoe backcountry and at our local resorts like Squaw and Alpine. Here is a brief rundown of everything we tested and those that made the cut for the ski wall during the 14-15 winter season.
This was our first season offering Tecnica boots for men and women along with two models of Blizzard skis: Kabookie and Scout. Starting with the popular Tecnica Cochise line of boots, Tecnica updated the Cochise boots with a better fit, tighter heel cup, improved liner, new graphics and lighter buckles. The main difference between the Cochise Pro and Cochise Light is going to be the existence of the nicer power strap on the Pro model, and the Light model will come with Tech soles in the box while the Pro model will have Din soles.
As for Blizzard Skis, all we can say is WOW! They ski like a dream, hold an incredibly strong edge, transition smoothly and, in general, were some of the best skis we skied all day. The only downfall is that they are not exactly light, but they are not very heavy either. In our testers’ opinions, these are some of the best one-ski-quiver options you can buy.
The clear highlight in the Volkl line is the new BMT line, which highlights the V-Werks construction in three new skis (or more accurately, three models of the same ski with different waist widths). The V-Werks Katana launched this year and has been a solid, lightweight performer that drives with power and determination. The BMT skis on the other hand, are even lighter, can hold an edge as well as all Volkl skis but initiate their turn really smoothly and rapidly, and are therefore really highly targeted to the backcountry crowd along with a strong crossover appeal to that person who spends their time about 50/50 between resort and backcountry. The Volkl BMT skis will come in a 94, 109 and 122 waist. These are light, indestructible, fast turning, strong edge holding, smooth riding skis. Two thumbs up for sure!
We only skied two of Salomon’s skis and they were the Rocker2 100 and Q BC Lab at 114 under foot. The Salomon Q BC Lab (Dims: 140/114/128) is a takeoff from their running line where the S-Lab series represents the best, newest technology and highest end materials that shoes can be made of and developed for. This ski is the new entry into Salomon’s backcountry foray.
Out of all the skis we tested that were in the 115 underfoot category, the Q BC Lab easily beat them all with its immediate responsiveness, lightweight construction and overall consistency in the given conditions. In the same vein, the Rocker2 100 excelled in its class. It wasn’t the edge holder that the Blizzard skis were, but it was a solid, transition enjoying, responsive ski. I would say that the 2015 Salomon skis were the surprise winners of the day.
The most exciting part of the K2 line is the addition of the famous Coomback ski in a 114 waist. For 14-15 there will be two different Coomback skis available. This particular test day didn’t really beg for a ski that was 115 under foot, but after coming from the Salomon S-Lab, I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same as the Salomon and while it will be a fun and playful powder ski, it is not a ski that can do it all. The Coomback 104 skied similarly to years past and will be a dependable one-ski-quiver long into the future. The ski for the day today was the K2 Annex 98 with its metal top sheet and sandwich sidewalls, this ski held its line just like the Volkls before it. The Annex series is a great choice for that person spending more than 60% of their time at the resort.
Before I wrap this up I need to mention two of our favorite pieces of winter gear that we’ve been fortunate enough to test, review, and sell – although gear from POC Sports sells out fast because it’s in such high demand. POC helmets and POC goggles are insanely comfortable and integrate perfectly together, creating an almost seamless fit. POC goggles provide superior visibility (peripheral span and contrast/clarity) and, as if you’re not already aware, POC helmets have been repeatedly proven safer than the rest.
After a long day of lapping the slopes of Mammoth and trekking to and from the demo tents, we ended testing over 15 skis between two people. Not bad for an average day of work! Check back here for updates as the skis become available and more skis are tested out for the 14-15 season.
Arva Patroller 24 Ski/Board Backpack
Black Diamond Ascension Nylon STS Climbing Skins – 110mm
Tags: 2015 blizzard skis, 2015 k2 ski review, 2015 salomon skis, 2015 tecnica ski boots, 2015 volkl review, 2015 volkl skis, blizzard kabookie, blizzard scout, K2 Coomback, salomon q lab, salomon rocker, salomon s-lab, salomon skis, tecnica cochise 2014, volkl bmt, volkl katana, volkl skis, volkl v-werks