Free Drop Off to the Bow Valley and Calgary
Outdoor Retailer, Day 1: New Year New Topsheets
Here we are again, Denver, Colorado, January 30th 2019. Another year of the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show, another couple days of mayhem and an overwhelming amount of products. So many fabrics to touch, skis to flex and boots to try...
After last year's big releases by most of major (and smaller) players, 2019 will be remembered as a quiet year in the backcountry skiing market. A couple brands are offering some very interesting redesigns, but the fact that the K2 booth had so many "Show Stopper" and "Best in Show" stickers says one thing: most brands are sticking to what they are already doing (well) for 2019-2020. It seems like the talk right now is mostly about redesigning top sheets and tweaking waist widths, a sign that there are lots of great and well-refined products out there.
Under those circumstances, it is hard to ignore the amount of work that K2 has put in their new Mindbender skis and boots. While those aren't necessarily in our "SkiUphill" weight range, K2 is adding another well thought-out line to their catalog after the hugely successful Wayback/Talkback redesign from this Winter. And the hype is real, lots of reviews are already raving about the Mindbender. I don't like to talk about "quiver of one" as there is no such thing, but in the "light but resort capable and huckage-enabled" category, the Mindbenders will rank pretty high.
A few good surprises at the Fischer booth made us excited to see what the future will bring with these folks. Finally, we are seeing a Hannibal 106 to complement the newly-redesigned Hannibal 96. Expect a slightly stiffer flex, a lively ski and the same great alpine feel that Austrians do so well. From what we heard, the 106 is a last minute addition to the line for 2019-2020. The top sheet will likely be different than its little brother the 96 when it hits the stores next Fall.
A carbon-cuffed boot is making its debut in the Travers line-up, and this will be a very welcome addition for a product that already offers a great fit, an outrageous walk mode and good stiffness (easily improved by a booster strap and an Intuition liner for example).
Interestingly, Fischer is also producing skis for various other brands. For example, we noted that both Dynafit and Scott skis are manufactured by Fischer.
Plum is planning on building on the great durability and reliability they have had with their latest generation of bindings. Expect a deeper line-up that will satisfy a wider variety of skiers, from spandex-wearing racers to the rad hucksters out there. More choice, more beautifully anodized colours and just more well crafted products that won't let you down in the middle of nowhere.
Overall, the impression we have this year is: why change something that is already well refined? For a lot of brands, that is the direction for 2019-2020.
Other photos from the day