Guest Post: A Guide's Perspective on the Good, the Bad@ss and the Ugly from the 2012 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market

Guest post author JB. (E Sagalyn)
In today's post, SWS Mountain Guides Senior Guide James Brown (JB) reports back from his weekend at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City. In addition to a book signing for his co-authored Climbing Mount Shasta, due out soon, JB had time to look around and scout out some great gear.

For five days every winter, the entire outdoor gear world descends upon Salt Lake City, Utah in an annual ritual involving everything from testing out the latest in apparel technology to sustainability seminars.  The Outdoor Retailer Show draws all the equipment buyers and retail shop owners from across the country to see the latest and greatest for the upcoming year.  And then, we do it all over again in the summer.

This January marked my fourth year participating in the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, and from the first day it seemed akin an old west shootout; a cutthroat fight between companies representing gear of all sorts to garner the attention of the coveted retail buyers.  This year was no exception with new release flashy marketing and fast talking designersIn keeping with the Wild West theme, here’s this year’s “The Good, the Bad@ss, and The Ugly,” a list of some of my favorite and not-so-favorite items.

Checking of the Davai Boot. (J. Brown)
The Good – Millet Davai Boot.  Not as well-known in the United States as they are in Europe, this company is rooted in the history of mountain climbing in the Alps and places a high emphasis on mountain performance.  This deep history and appreciation for perfection is obvious in their new boot, the Davai.

This technical mountaineering boot is designed to tackle anything from general mountaineering to high altitude mixed ice climbing all while keeping your foot warm down to -15°F.  The built-in Superfabric® stretch gaiter provides good protection from the elements while a thin Primaloft® lining keeps your feet warm.  A dual density sole makes it rigid enough for great crampon performance while still allowing some cushion against the pounding your feet take. What really sets the Davai apart from the competition the fact that the boot weighs in at 3lbs 8 oz per pair. It's by far the lightest boot in its class. Look for them this fall.

The Bad@ass - Venture Odin Splitboard. It isn’t often you find an avid backcountry skier raving about a snowboard, but I will give a holler when one is deserved.  The natural progression of the sport of snowboarding demands that riders be able to do all the things skiers can do.  Until now, snowboarders have had trouble keeping up with skiers in the backcountry not due to a lack of interest but because the equipment hasn’t been there.  The Odin is one of a series of boards that is helping the progression towards backcountry equality.

The Odin Splitboard is the next in a generation of boards that split to allow easy uphill travel and recombine to allow for a ripping ride down.  It has a light rocker and flat camber allowing it to crush in the powder.  It has a thin side cut won’t help with carving, but it gets the job done in the powder.  A slightly stiffer board allows it to tour well but don’t just ask me.  The Odin won Backcountry Magazines Editor’s Choice Award.  Not bad coming from a bunch of skiers.

the RT Tech Crampon is sold separately from the binding.
(J. Brown)
The Ugly – La Sportiva RT Tech Ski Binding.  Sometimes you just look at something and you know almost immediately that it is far and away the best in its breed.  The RT Binding is a dynafit style backcountry binding that has far surpassed its predecessor.  Each binding uses the minimum number of pieces and is individually milled to ensure it is the strongest most reliable binding on the market.  La Sportiva states they are combining Ergal 7075 aluminum and stainless steel pins in order to make the RT just 350 grams per set, almost half the weight of the next lightest binding on the market. La Sportiva's website described the RT Binding as one in which "race performance meets touring function."

So with it being a stronger binding and half the weight what makes it “The Ugly”?  The $750.00 price tag!  With their inventive front mounted breaking system, you might have to fork over as much as $900.  It’s not a binding for the everyday consumer.

If you made it to Winter OR this year, did you see these items? What did you think? Were there other items you'd say were better, or worse?


chrispund said…
Finally a post that didn't talk about the water
resistant Down fill from Sierra Designs and Brooks Range. $750 for bindings is
crazy, that's for sure! Unrelated to snow sports, the Wyoming Trail tent from
Big Agnes is awesome and was on full display at the show.
So glad you liked it, Chris! It's nice to hear about the lesser-known items folks found at OR Show for sure, and JB's an authority on ski equipment.

Thanks for the link to the Big Agnes tent too. I've got one of their tents and love it, but haven't seen that one before. Anything else cool you saw at the show?
chrispund said…
Umm....there's always cool stuff. The other thing I'm looking forward to coming out is the new Petzl Nao headlamp (which is getting a ton of coverage too). Besides that it seemed like everyone had something neat to share. My business doesn't sell a lot of hats or beanies but it seemed like there were just waaaaayyy too many companies with beanies/hats with the animal shapes and crazy colors. This was our first Winter OR, so I don't know if it's been that way before, but it seemed like some kind of knitted winter hat was at every other booth as you walked the isles. Looking forward to the Summer show already!
about kumar said…
This technical mountaineering boots are so good and helping.I think it will be a great help for those who are fond of mountaineering.

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