Perhaps the most entertaining way to pass the time before ski season is pining for the latest and greatest gear. The new skis and snowboards that make last year’s perfectly fine model seem borderline obsolete. The new jackets with cooler colors. The goggles that cost more than your prescription glasses.
We recently swung by Sturtevant’s Ski Mart and asked assistant manager Chad Alden to show us what’s likely to be some of the popular gear on the slopes this season. Hope you’ve been saving your money.
Salomon Q-Lab Skis
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DETAILS: Alden describes these go-anywhere planks as the SUV of skis. They’re wide — 138 millimeters in the tip, 104 in the waist and 127 in the tail on the 183-centimeter version — helping them float through the powder and over chunky snow. It’s much more ski than you’ll need for the groomers, but it does that too. “It’s a big mountain ski that’s built like a giant slalom ski,” Alden said.
Salomon Warden Mnc 13 Bindings
DETAILS: Alden expects these bindings to be a big seller this year. A new design makes the bindings compatible with both alpine and touring boots. The Marker Lord bindings ($370) offer the same technology. Both promise their bindings will offer more precise control over your skis.
Tecnica Cochise 120 Boots
DETAILS: The Cochise 120 boots feel about half the weight of alpine boots and they’re designed not only for going downhill, but for hiking and skinning uphill as well. These high-end boots also have good traction, and they won’t go unnoticed. They’re bright yellow. “It’s good for visibility if you ever crash in a tree well,” Alden said. “They will see the bright neon.”
Arc’teryx Stingray Jacket
DETAILS: “Shells in the Northwest are really popular because you can shed layers underneath or add layers to insulate,” Alden said. The Stingray is a high-end shell that’s breathable, waterproof, lightweight and durable. Add the pants for another $400.
Smith Vantage Helmet
DETAILS: “Helmets are getting lighter with more ventilation,” Alden said. The Vantage is lined with what looks like a neon green honeycomb for protection that weighs less than other helmets. It also two different ventilation options and a little bill to keep snow off your goggles and help keep them from fogging. The lining also wicks moisture.
Smith Iox Elite Turbo Goggles
DETAILS: These goggles come with two lenses, one for overcast days and one for sunny days. The lenses can be swapped out in a matter of seconds. Like most premium goggles, Alden says, these have spheric-shaped lenses that help you recognize terrain changes quicker at speed.
Gnu Carbon Credit Snowboard
DETAILS: Shelby O’Rourke, Ski Mart’s snowboarding guru, say the Carbon Credit from Seattle-based Gnu is an ideal board for a variety of terrain and skill levels. The board is designed to turn easily, and its serrated edges give it extra contact points with snow, making it easier to hold your edge.
Burton Genesis Bindings
DETAILS: Burton’s hammock strap allows boarders to “get an even more precise ride,” O’Rourke said. The lightweight binding is also designed to reduce vibration and better distribute pressure. And perhaps most important of all, Burton boasts that the Genesis provides “all-day comfort.”
Nike Zoom Kaiju Boots
DETAILS: Nike is quickly emerging as leader in the snowboard boot business and, as with its other sports products, has landed some big name spokesmen. Among those wearing Nikes is 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Scotty Lago. And it’s more than just hype, O’Rourke said, “they’re really good boots.”
Akka Ski Retriever
DETAILS: Anthony Kolb started his Tacoma-based Ski Retriever business after he had an idea for a radio-frequency identification device that allows skiers to find skis lost in deep powder. Transmitter tags are attached to each ski and a credit card-size retriever can be used to hone in on the lost skis.
Armada Stage Suspenders
DETAILS: Suspenders have become quite popular on the slopes in recent years. With who? “People who don’t want their pants to fall down,” Alden said. Most often those who want to wear their trousers a little lower than most. Flair is optional.