Each winter a wave of ski and snowsports brands arrive in Denver, my home town, to show off to-be-released gear at the Snow Industries Association Show , better known as “SIA.” After three days at the show last week, I’ve put a few items together here that any self-respecting snow junkie needs to know about, and now. Take a look, then add this gear to your “must try” list when it comes to stores and slopes later this year. —Sean McCoy
Honeycomb Ski — We gave the Rossignol Soul 7 a test at Winter Park during the SIA demo day. We’re sold on the honeycomb-tip design, which is a visual hint at the Soul 7’s light weight. Beyond a cool look, the 136-106-126 ski proved versatile in our test. It’s made for skiers who want backcountry access (light weight, powder ready) and resort usability (solid performance on all snow) in a one-ski quiver. $800. Available for next year’s ski season.
Featherweight Ski Packs — A year after releasing an ultralight ski carry system, Denver-based Function has come up with a backcountry backpack made to carry skis (the A1 model) or a snowboard (the A2). They use a paper-light yet waterproof and tough Dyneema material to shave ounces off. Access your gear in the pack through a zipper that’s between the shoulder straps (to keep snow out of the bag). The $180 packs, constructed from all U.S.-made materials, will be available in next fall.
Drink From Your Jacket — Quiksilver has come up with a unique hydration solution: Put the bladder in your jacket. The new Animal, a waterproof/breathable shell, has a “drop-in bladder setup.” A hydration bladder pocket sits at the center of the back inside the jacket, and there’s a small hole to allow hose access. I carried around a small bladder in the jacket for a few minutes at the SIA show and, while it is certainly noticeable riding high on your back, I think the system could be useful for those who don’t feel like carrying a backpack but still want to drink. It’ll cost $150 when it comes to market for the 2013/14 ski season.
Bendable Board — Burton came up with a unique way to drop the core thickness of this its 148cm Fishcuit snowboard to below the slot height of the binding mount, which rises above the face of the board by several millimeters. The result is a smooth, consistent flex profile in which the board bends in a “perfect arc,” the brand cites. The continuous binding channel allows for “infinite mounting options.” If you really want to get zany a surf pad allows for binding-less riding on snow. The board hits the market this August for about $600.
Lightest ‘Fat’ Ski on market? — Carbon fiber and a milled wood core to trim as much weight and mass as possible is the base of the Volkl VWerks Katana ski. The fat 132-112-143 profile is matched by a light weight at 1,800 grams. Built to appeal to “aggressive powder skiers who want the lightest fat ski possible.” Fat wallet required, too, as the boards will cost $1,275.
Lightest 4-Buckle Boot — The La Sportiva Spectre boots weigh about 3 pounds each. But with that lightness you get a solid, four-buckle fit that the brand touts can take on any kind of terrain. Compatible with both tech and ski-touring bindings, the Spectre’s buckles lay flat when not locked shut to maintain a slim profile while loosened up for free-heeling uphill. $599 in fall of 2013.
Magnet Eyes — Anon M2 goggles use magnets for a quick-change lens system that allows easy optics switching on the slopes. Eight magnetic connection points let a person easily snap a lens off and on fingerprint free. Comes with a mirrored high-light lens and a clearer low-light lens for $240.
Carbon ‘Ultracraft’ Split-board — Jones Snowboards’ Ultracraft is a split-board that weighs just 5.5 pounds thanks to unique carbon stringers on the deck. Jeremy Jones has put the board to the test, and he claims the performance (going up and down in the backcountry) is second to none, saying it was “designed to push riders higher and faster into their mountain playgrounds.” We look forward to a test to verify Jones’ steep claims! $1,200.
K2 does Ski Boots Again — Last seen in 1972, the K2 brand name will again grace a ski boot line. I tested the brand’s Pinnacle 130 model at SIA on the slopes, and the freeride boot was solid and fun. The brand markets the beefy, four-buckle boot for freeride backcountry skiing. It is compatible with tech, touring, and alpine bindings without changing soles. $850.
Sensor-Equipped Avy Probe — Anything that makes avalanche rescue faster and more intuitive is a good thing. The iProbe ONE from Pieps has a sensor in its tip that emits an audible signal in the handle when it gets within 2 meters of a buried avy transponder. The tone changes from a beep to a solid tone when the tip is within a half-meter of a buried transponder to give rescuers an exact place to dig. Available now for $159.
—Sean McCoy is a contributing editor based in Denver.