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Best Skis of 2014: New Skis & Winter Gear Demo At Alpine Meadows

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

This post was a group effort from three hard-chargin’ TMS employees: Dave, the owner, F.O.H. sales rep Ryan, and Adam, a punk snowboarder. Collectively, we spent two consecutive days at Alpine Meadows ripping around on new skis, boots, bindings and a splitboard that are set to release next winter. A few products were reviewed by more than one tester and not all reviews are fully positive, but we thought you should hear each valid perspective so we included everything below in raw, uncut form. Here’s what we thought of the new winter ski equipment you can expect to see soon from your favorite brands.

k2 pinnacle 130

K2 Pinnacle 130 (Dave)

I started the day with the K2 Pinnacle 130 boots on my feet and a pair of K2 Annex 108s in the 174 length attached to those. I was excited to try K2’s new boots as there has been a lot of press around them lately and K2 themselves are very excited to have a full boot and ski line for the first time in a long time. First things first, from appearances, you can tell K2 has really polished the look on these boots and unlike some other lines, they match up nicely with their skis. Not that cosmetics matter that much to me, but it is unbelievable to see some companies match up new boots with their new skis and have them just be the ugliest of colors that go together. Okay, back to the important things: a translucent bottom shell allow you to see right through to your Intuition liners on the inside and the size and shape of the buckles makes them very easy to manage. I particularly like the K2 Powerbuckle, which is the top “power strap/buckle combination”. It was designed to offer a larger range of motion than you get with most buckles. This makes touring more efficient yet still offers the power and stability you need to ride hard and fast with confidence. Unlike most other “sidecountry”-marketed boots these days, K2 has integrated the Dynafit toe tech fittings into their boots and therefore there is no need for two types of soles. Swapping soles is no longer an issue, simply because you don’t have to do it. I like this a lot because it will help bring the price down as you don’t need multiple soles, and it will be easier to go from a backcountry Dynafit setup to a resort-oriented alpine setup. All in all, I think K2 has a winner here and you will for sure see these on our shelves for the 2013-2014 season.

K2 Annex 108 (Dave)

After many years, K2 has decided to redesign their “sidecountry” line and has done away with the perennial favorite, the Sidestash, and replaced it with the Annex 108. There is also an Annex 98 (formerly the Hardside) and an Annex 118 (formerly the Sideseth). I was a big fan of the Sidestash so I decided to give the Annex a try. I was not disappointed. The Annex 108 skis perform just like the I remember the Sidestash skiing, but it has a little more rocker in the tip and more of a kick-tail for maneuverability in the rear. Skiing mostly on groomed runs, this ski held an edge great and did not waffle or bounce at high speeds. All in all, a great ski that will definitely be part of our selection next year.

salomon Q105 ski

Salomon Q105 (Dave)

Salomon has also updated their wildly popular and best-selling Rocker line, plus split it up a bit. Next year, expect to see
the Q-series of skis billed more as Salomon’s backcountry setup with the Rocker2 staying in the line as the frontcountry setup. The Rocker2 108 was one of our most popular skis this year, so I decided to ski the Q105, which is mimicked after the Rocker 108m but with less rocker, especially in the tail. I think this is going to be an excellent soft snow ski, as it did chatter quite a bit on the hard pack and groomed surfaces I was trying it on. While the Rocker2 really does excel in a wider variety of conditions, the lighter weight of the Q105 skis will make it a contender in the backcountry market.

technica cochise pro light 130

Technica Cochise Pro Light 130 (Dave)

This will be one of the newest boot additions to our wall for the 13-14 season. I didn’t know much about this boot before trying it out, but was pleasantly surprised. The stiffness in ski-mode is great and really (more…)

Eastern Sierra Backcountry Report – 4/22-4/26/10

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Pam and I just got back from a 5 day trip down the Eastern Sierra Nevada. I will provide some condition details, but they have already changed so not sure what good that will do. Our trip started with powder tree skiing outside of Mammoth on the Punta Bardini ridge. We then headed north to June Lake for a day on the Hemlock Ridge, back south again to Little Morrison and Old Man’s Bowl and then north again to Dunderburg where we skied north and south facing aspects.

Pam coming down the "Tele Bowl" on Punta Bardini

Pam coming down the "Tele Bowl" on Punta Bardini

All in all, very little corn so far as we went from powder to 60 degree temps in about 2 days and now it is snowing and super stormy once again. During our time down there, we did see mostly powder on north facing slopes, though those were starting to get super wind affected by Sunday. The snow was also getting fairly soft on most south and east facing slopes, but it was not consistent and it was more like soft snow rather than the corn that we all love to hunt!

Started the hike up Dunderburg with South Peak in the background

Started the hike up Dunderburg with South Peak in the background

After 4 days of early rises and long skiing with lots of sun exposure, we decided it was time for our own private hot springs, so we called up the folks at Benton Hot Springs in far eastern California and they hooked us up with our own private tub and campground for the night. Wow, it was truly an awesome place with nothing else around and we loved our private hot spring. Here is a pic:

View from our hot tub to the White Mountains

View from our hot tub to the White Mountains

Now, time for a little gear talk as that is what we were really there for, gear testing. I won’t mention everything here, but there are some hightlights. First and foremost is the Nemo Losi 2 Person Tent. If you don’t know anything about Nemo, start looking them up now! This tent has so much head room and easily fits 2 people. It has very steep walls thanks to the engineer’s design sense who built this thing and overall it is light, super livable and stands up to whatever elements it has to. Check out the headroom on this thing:

Showing off the head room in the Nemo Losi 2 person tent

Showing off the head room in the Nemo Losi 2 person tent

Another highlight was my new Mammut Viento Jacket. I am a sucker for soft shell jackets, but they have to work, and with this Mammut jacket, I was not disappointed. It had amazing breathability and it kept the wind and light snow off me with no problem. When you are standing on a ridge and the wind is howling at 50 knots and you are sweaty but chilling down quickly, the Viento was able to keep me warm enough and active enough to stay on top of my game and not let the weather faze me at all. My final, and new favorite piece of gear is the Black Diamond Verdict skis mounted up with Dynafit TLT ST bindings. I chose the Verdict because I didn’t need a huge ski for all this touring and in the 170cm size, it was the perfect length for short turns as well as for skinning up with ease. I also can’t say enough about the Dynafit bindings as they offerred up effortless travel and easy climbing the whole way. I don’t know if I will ever Telemark in the backcountry again!

Verdict Skis with Dynafit Bindings

Verdict Skis with Dynafit Bindings

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