Free Drop Off to the Bow Valley and Calgary
2022-2023 Season Preview
Backcountry skiing’s been booming for a while now, but it’s exploded in popularity these past few years. Thanks (?) to COVID and a renewed enthusiasm for the paths less travelled, more skiers than ever are earning their turns, connecting in a deeper way with the mountains and the wilderness. Is this going to be the year we’ll start talking about overcrowding? It’s certainly been becoming more and more of an issue although compared with popular destinations we are still faring pretty good.
Double-digits increases in backcountry skiing can only mean one thing: the competition is fiercer than ever among manufacturers for what you put on your feet and under your feet. But the gear’s gotten so good nowadays that reinventing the wheel is getting exponentially more difficult. And that’s in a way the theme we’re observing among most brands; incremental improvements, tweaks and fixes but the age of groundbreaking innovations might be behind us for now...
The truth is, prices are going up…
You’ve heard it everywhere, double-digit inflation means we are all paying more than ever for groceries, services, and now ski equipment. Sorry folks, we aren’t escaping the price hike that sports like mountain biking have gone through. Expect a five to ten percent increase on most skis, boots, bindings and accessories.
With lots of changes across the board coming down to new colours, 2022-2023 might be a great year to take advantage of discounts on last year’s equipment and keep a bit more money in your wallet…!
Lightweight boots are better than ever
While sub-1200 gram boots aren’t offering alpine-race levels of stiffness, they have improved tremendously in performance, durability and walkability. What used to be a few choices is now starting to look a lot more like a proper category. Heck, even big alpine players like Dalbello are now flirting with the kilo boot!
For the supporters of the ankle liberation movement like we are, a few new products are making our feet and our brains restless. Dynafit is skipping a number with its new Blacklight and TLT X boots and we are expecting big things already. With a slimmer fit, less volume at the heel and a more secure instep hold thanks to an innovative new cable/reel system that offers a lot more power than standard BOA systems, we’re already seeing the latest offering from Dynafit become a popular option for medium-high volume feet. And Kudos for keeping the price in then 3-digit category.
Dalbello is a new addition to our line-up this Winter and expect a lot of the team to spend time on the Quantum Free line. While we doubt it’ll truly offer a stupid-stiff flex in a 1200 gram package, it might come pretty close to being the best of both worlds and we are in love with its simplicity and its slim profile.
After launching then F1 LT last Winter, Scarpa keeps adding to its dense line-up with the F1 GT. Features like a fiberglass-infused shell and standard instep buckles will rejoice the BOA haters out there with a simple boot that will offer a ridiculous range of motion and enough stiffness for the technically-proficient skiers out there. Centered skiers to the front of the line!
Bindings: Light is Right for Everyone
The wildly successful introduction of ATK bindings into the North American market last Winter spread the word ; it is indeed possible to ski (really) hard on lightweight tech bindings. In fact, it is possible to ski however you want and make up for the training you said you were going to do but didn’t get around to by choosing various incredibly capable and equally weightless options. ATK, Plum, SkiTrab and Dynafit all have a robust range of bindings that make a certain wanna-be touring binding from a well-known brand (rhymes with switch) obsolete for every skiers but those who spend most of their time at the ski hill. And if you truly spend more time in the air than on snow when you are out skiing, do yourself a favour and get a CAST system already.
Again this year, a special award goes to the SkiTrab Vario.2 binding for ski feel and overall performance. As a matter of fact most of our team outfit their powder skis with this jewelry and for a reason; no tech binding comes remotely close to the level of dampness the Vario.2 offers. Tested by our head ski technician Chris forwards, backwards, upside down and sideways on the snow and off the snow.
Good skis everywhere!
Forget the radically different designs and welcome to 2022. Skis have gotten really good. And if you look closely at specifications, you’ll quickly realize that manufacturer’s R&D departments converge towards similar recipes; radius around 19-20 meters, progressive rocker, round flex, a bit of early rise at the tail and more or less camber based on the soft snow performance they aim for. These ingredients guarantee that from intermediate to expert, the odds that you really like your skis are quite high. We are still seeing skis aimed specifically at the burliest or at the greenest skiers, but most skis nowadays will make most of you happy as long as their features and character fits what you want to achieve.
K2 is adding to their backcountry firepower this Winter with their new Dispatch line. We’re expecting it to be a proper backcountry-specific charger for the freeriders out there. Pintail design, long radius and a modernized shape will let you angle hard when you need it or skid and slash when your friends are snapping photos! Cool new tech includes a tech-binding specific vibration dampening plate underfoot.
SkiTrab is also finishing updating their ski line-up. Our team spent lots of time last Spring on the new Neve, a 93-mm waisted daily driver that features the same incredible quality and durability as all SkiTrab-crafted skis but with a rounder, more comfortable and modern profile. Expect great floatation for the width and the same bomber edge hold that made SkiTrab famous. The mountaineers out there will enjoy the Ortles, an 88 mm-waisted technical ski that comes in multiple stiffnesses to match your ski style.
What’s new at SkiUphill?
Good thing you asked! Having been a Plum Centre for the past few years, we added the Pomoca Service Centre last Winter to offer improved services and warranties for Pomoca users. This Winter, we’re officially Canada’s second Dynafit Competence Centre! What that means for you, avid Rockies backcountry skier? Better access to service parts, better product availability, access to special releases, more demo skis and even more!
And last but not least, we’ve slipped into the dark side of the Force. Sideways-sliding enthusiast (splitboarders) will soon find a selection of equipment from the likes of Cardiff Snowcrafts, Rossignol, K2, Fjell, Karakoram, Plum and Voilé. You might even spot our team split boarding in the wild come Winter…!