Colder nights and the occasional dusting of snow can only mean one thing: ski season is approaching! Although it has been a busy Summer for us, we have once again carefully curated a wide selection of backcountry skiing gear from our favourite brands. It’s one of those times where if the maximal amount of skis was really (n+2), we would have a really hard time not buying every single model for ourselves. This is the gear that we believe in and the stuff that will take us and you to incredible places this Winter. Here are, as a preview, our top five gear picks for 2018-2019.
Who said you couldn't get airborne on light bindings?! That's a Plum Oazo...
Plum’s new baby: The Oazo
Plum is one of those brands that has made a giant leap over the past few years. After a first few years refining their designs, the quality of their binding offering has skyrocketed and their bindings are now some of the most reliable products out there. Plum really does believe in the stuff they make and this Winter, they are even increasing the warranty to 5 years on certain models.
What really caught our eye at Outdoor Retailer last Winter is their new Oazo binding. This beautifully machined “race +” binding packs a bunch of great features in a proven package and it will work wonders for the “I want a light binding with an adjustable lateral release and more risers than a race binding” crowd. 200 grams, adjustable lateral release values, three different riser heights and beautiful looks. What’s not to like about that?! The Oazo will be one of those things that you will see on lots of our own skis this Winter.
SkiTrab’s Titan Vario Binding
The Titan binding from SkiTrab was one of those things that had us quite puzzled last Winter. Their wild, futuristic and minimal toe piece with no true “open” position is far from what the rest of the industry offers. Imagine our surprise when we noticed that many skiers on the Skimo World Cup circuit had adopted the design on their race skis! And imagine the even bigger surprise when a client told us “those binding feel like fully-featured touring bindings and I was ripping down Whistler in them”!
SkiTrab’s Titan binding now features a Titan Vario as well as an optional dynamic Flex 30 plate that allows some spring-loaded heel travel. While you won’t find much riser height on those minimal bindings, the Vario comes in 3 different release values, both vertically and laterally (R8, R10, R12). The toe piece should also damper the feel of skiing than the classic “tech” toe pieces, but you might need to stretch those hamstrings to get in and out of them. A serious choice for skiers who want to push it on the steeps or spend days skiing first tracks in Rogers Pass without the weight penalty.
K2’s new Wayback line
K2 is one of our new arrivals at SkiUphill. For us, they stole the show on the touring side of things at Outdoor Retailer. We just couldn’t stop wandering around the K2 booth to look at their new Wayback and Talkback collection. A number of features impressed us, and their skis really made me think of Blizzard’s Zero G but with a smoother flex. A 20 to 25 meter radius, a gentle rocker, a low tail rise and that classic K2 feel will make those a favourite in the “do-it-all workhorse” category. Expect a comfortable and stable ski that still packs a punch when things get rowdy. They even have a metal mounting plate! The uphill-enthusiasts among us definitely noticed their new Wayback 80 featuring a race skin notch and a sub-kilo weight for 80mm underfoot.