The final day of the big Snow Industries America (SIA) trade show in Denver started out as a glove day - Kombi, Gordini, Level, Swany, Hestra, Grandoe, Black Diamond. There are as many glove manufacturers as there are those who make socks. Swany debuted their Eco-Circle program of completely recyclable gloves. Every part of the glove can be used to make the next pair. Once the glove is used up, you return the gloves to Swany (in an envelope provided) and Swany recycles them into polyester fabric and makes more gloves. There's no limit to the number of times a glove can be recycled.
Though the buzz from years past over iPod jackets and helmet headphones was over, it didn't mean electronics in the outdoors are gone. At Snowbird, it feels like one in every three riders has an iPhone. Swany's Techno and I_Finger gloves have "touch screen compatibility" which allows you to manipulate a touch panel on a cell phone or a MP3 player without taking off your gloves.
Though Gordini is seen as the low-end, affordable line of ski gloves (the go-to company when you leave your gloves back at the condo), their new Heatrap system will appeal to anyone with poor circulation. They've patented finger warmers similar to those handwarmer packets from Grabber that fit into the "custom warmth pocket" on top of the glove. No more bunching your hand into a fist on cold chairlifts. You can now ski for up to eight hours with warm fingers.
My fave at Gordini was the Naturaloft goose down mitt. BD's mitt has the index finger separated for extra dexterity, but promises supreme warmth. Level Gloves also has a delicious mitt called the Mummy. Those who want less bulk, however, (junior racers especially), will appreciate Level's custom fit line. They base the system off the custom boot liner idea. You find the glove you want, then bake it and mold it around your hand for a snugger feel. No more finishing a race with just one pole because it slipped out of your hand.
Speaking of poles, Leki will be introducing a fun new program for action sporters. With Pimp-Your-Grip, you can choose from five wild graphic styles of aluminum pole shafts, four different grips/straps, and comes with two types of baskets (a race disc and larger ‘flake' for pow days). The baskets are easily interchangeable so one pair of poles is all you'll ever need.
Dale of Norway has entered the baselayer market with their Comfort Series. The Midlayer and Midlayer Supreme lines are made with fine Merino Wool on the inside and outside. For colder days, and those where you want to get away without wearing a jacket, the Supreme has a water repellent, stain resistant wool that sloughs off snow.
I saw more traditional cuts and styles for outerwear, but making a splash - so to speak - are the waves of color on the ladies' Northern Lights jacket by KJUS. Each jacket features a unique to itself multi-color print inspired by the Aurora Borealis. The four-way stretch fabric, combined with 20,000mm/20,000g Dermizax EV Laminate and 60g of PrimaLoft insulation, provide ultimate winter protection while Schoeller PCM inserts regulate body temperature.
I loved Salomon's technical puffy. Both the men's and women's Symphony and Hub, respectively, have venting and removable powder skirts. The men's version is completely waterproof.
Patagonia now has competition when you want something technical for baby next winter. Molehill's new Quilted Synthetic line of jackets, vests and one-piece buntings utilize 160 gram synthetic fill and feature all the necessary tech features like zipper baffles to seal out the wind and DWR micro rip-stop nylon.
Getting into the backcountry will be even easier next winter with new freeride boots and packs. BCA has retooled its popular line of Stash packs. The freezeproof Stash system for hydration now makes its way into the freeride market with helmet carrying systems, back panel access, load lifters for supporting big freeride skis, and its innovative "Noose" diagonal carrying system. The line also includes a rowdy new pack for snowmobile-accessed skiing and boarding called the Stash Throttle.
One of the biggest trends to stand out at the show are burly AT boots. Atomic, Black Diamond, Tecnica, Head and Salomon have recognized the path freeskiers are taking into the backcountry. We can't wait to demo the new Salomon Quest. It's supposed to be "everything you would expect in a high performance alpine boot" with a Biovent liner for warmth and dryness even during stop and go activity, a release cuff system for better walking/hiking, lighter weight, and a true alpine flex ranging from 80 to 120 depending on the model. The boot also comes with Quest touring pads so you can use it with bindings other than Marker.
Rocky Mountain Sunscreen's new SPF 35 with micronized titanium dioxide looks promising. It's designed to address those who want benzophenone-free protection. A new company called Real Earth is distributing fragrance free, paraben free SPF 30 sunscreen with antioxidant protection -- all natural ingredients.
Look for our OnTheSnow Ski Test 2010 reports later this spring. I'll be leading group of top ski instructors and we'll test them all for you once again.
It's hard to believe one can pack an entire season into four days. SIA did just that as they boarded and boxed up softgoods, hardgoods, accessories, and gadgets to be shipped off to the next big trade show - ISPO in Munich, Germany- and waved goodbye to Denver. Nearly 19,000 people strolled the Colorado Convention Center halls this year.
Special thanks to the swanky Curtis Hotel in Downtown Denver for providing accommodations for OnTheSnow.coverage during the SIA show. It's an awesome place for those traveling with dogs or kids who want walking distance to the Convention Center and LODO. Each floor has an art deco-like style and a theme like the Simpsons and sci-fi with character voices in the elevators announcing the floors. We asked for a room with a bathtub and had plenty of space for all of the luggage and our stacks of product catalogs. Clean rooms, friendly staff, and Slinky and Silly Putty on the bed when we arrived. Those warm chocolate chip cookies from Doubletree and family board games we can check out from the front desk rounded out the stay.