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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…)

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