The overall sense of style was still aloof as the third day of the Snow Industries America (SIA) trade show ended here in Denver. Instead of standouts like in years past - neon, loud prints, baggy one piece suits- the upcoming season seems more like an extension of last year or last decade.
Men's lines like Marker, Obermeyer, Arcteryx, and The North Face still present clean lines that any hetero male will appreciate and kids' stuff from Obermeyer and Spyder are adorable. Our kids in fact are the lucky ones in terms of fashion- Burton, Kjus, and The North Face have added slick new youth lines to their collections.
Women's outwear, however, feels very much conservative and stifled, including the snowboard lines. Must be a nod to the economy. If you don't buy something trendy, you can make it last for years. Even Burton's Bonfire waned on the sizzle.
Fabrics, on the other hand, continue to dazzle. Volkl Performance Outerwear is using Sympatex, a waterproof/breathable fabric that's also PTFE-free and biodegradable. Marmot's Coombs' Collection has Intelligent Shock Absorption material that has D30 fibers that lock together on impact to absorb energy. The D30 in the shoulders of their softshell is a sweet feature for hikers who lug their skis around.
MountainHardwear is using OutDry technology in their gloveline to produce a true waterproof/breathable glove. The four-way stretch, bonded polyurethane laminate also provides the dexterity you'd need for fingers. PolarMax has a new logo, new pitch and new plan to attract the youth market. Their line of technical baselayers has something many other lines don't - reasonable prices and an exclusive technical cotton fabric called TransDry. Now you can have the feel of cotton with the performance of a synthetic. The 100 percent cotton fabric can move moisture away from skin and dry faster.
Spyder's new Osmo fabric shows a 20,000mm water resistance and a 30,000 breathability. "It's the next best thing to a plastic bag," one spokesperson told me. "Except a bag doesn't breathe like this fabric." It's as light as a softshell, but with primaloft insulation so it's just as warm as any nylon insulated jacket. Silver fibers are embedded so that bacteria won't get in there, grow, and degrade the material. Next year, Spyder may surprise with style as well, now that they've nabbed Chris Davenport to design a backcountry freeride line.
The big thing in hats last year was cable and clunky knits. Those styles flow into next year. A small, unknown Canadian company named Nobis stormed onto the scene and found its way onto Oprah, so many heads that were turning. Today, they still make the coolest, most fun adult hats we've seen so far. Even cuter, Nobis has three "Mommy and Me" styles. Your grom can wear the same killer hat as you so they don't have to "steal" yours off your head.
There's no lack of gadgetry on the show floor. Zeal debuts the world's first direct-to-eye ski stats goggle. The Transcend uses Recon and GPS technology to provide real-time details of your day (just like you would have in the dash of your car). Speed, altitude, stopwatch, temperature, time are displayed in a teenytiny display in the bottom right edge inside the frame. The unit stores everything you do so you can download it and share with friends at the end of the day. It will retail for $450 with the polarized, photochromic lens. High Sierra tackles the "travel-with-your-gear" question. The Wheeled, Double Decker Combo bag promises a place for your skis and board without going over the 50-pound limit. The only issue is your skis can't be longer than 180cm; you will need the adjustable, wheeled ski/snowboard combo with expandable zippers for those.
Rossignol will add two new intermediate-level all mountain skis with early rise in the tip and tail to their Avenger line. While rocker and early rise are normally left to aggressive high performance skis and boards, we're seeing more companies add it to their beginning and intermediate skis. They are realizing the technology deals a tremendous turning benefit for lower level riders.
Blizzard puts its award-winning IQ Max binding system on their big mountain skis (the binding slides into rails and attaches to the ski with one single screw) and the Titan will have the first "open source" slider so you can mount any binding (AT, Tele, alpine) onto it without drilling holes into the ski itself. You'll also be able to move the binding forward or back with the twist of a screw.
Tecnica has developed something we hope to see in more of their boots - the AirShell Fit. They've put a bladder between the liner and shell that you can pump up to fill spaces in the heel and forefoot. Not only will the air lock your foot in place but will add extra insulation. All Tecnica has to do is partner with Klymit to use argon gas for ultimate warmth. Utah-based Klymit manufactures patented super-lightweight vests that fill with argon gas. The owners based their idea off diving drysuits that use similar technology.
Body armor is big for next year. Basecamp displayed three new thermo-foamed, spine-protecting backpacks. One - the Worst Case Scenario - has a removable pad that can double as a shovel or splint. Ladies afraid of bursting an implant (kidding, kind of) can get removable plastic chest plates for their UFO Plast Safety Jacket. The company also makes guards for kids' backs, butts, hips, and chest. We'll be looking today at what McDavid, one of my favorites for active knee bracing, has coming up for next season. Toodles! Back with a trade show wrap-up Monday.