Our team spent last week in Denver at the SIA Snow Show and at Copper Mountain for the On-Snow Demo checking out what’s coming up in 2017 women’s ski and snowboard gear. After four days of working our way through hundreds of items on the tradeshow floor along with field tests, we came up with a shortlist of what outdoor women should keep an eye on for next winter.
DPS flipped the script this year by introducing the Foundation Series, forgoing their signature hybrid construction that resulted in a fairly high price tag. The new Foundation construction utilizes bamboo underfoot, poplar at the tip and tail, and unidirectional carbon in playful new shapes. Fortunately for us, this change doesn’t mean they’re sacrificing quality. While the series’ 112-underfoot “Yvette” is getting a lot of attention this year, the 99-underfoot “Nina” is a better choice for skiers who aren’t seeing fresh powder on a weekly basis. Still, with its rocker and float, it’s a versatile piece for the hard-charging female who wants one set up that can play on powder days, too.
Compare to this year’s model: evo.com, gearcoop.com
Rossignol Soul 7
An iteration of the “Savory 7”, 2017’s “Soul 7” updates the original with a new name, new lengths, and a new look. After Rossi’s team filled us in on the ski’s technology during the SIA Snow Show, we were expecting a lot from it. It did not disappoint. The “air tip” (actual air in the tip and tail) and flexibility of these skis make them super floaty and playful. With a dual rocker and 106 under foot, they are incredibly easy to control in powder. Moving into groomer territory, they retained that control, carving nicely. The Soul 7 is an ideal option for skiers looking for a one-quiver ski that can also handle backcountry. Much more fun than your typical all-mountain ski, you won’t feel like you’re sacrificing in the sidecountry and you’ll still be able to carve the groomers on your way back to the lift.
Compare to this year’s model: backcountry.com
Rossignol Temptation 100
Among Rossignol’s lineup, the 7 series garnered the most attention, but the Temptation line should not be overlooked. The Temptation 100 is a solid all-mountain ski that’s ideal for the skier who needs the width and a bit of rocker to explore the back bowl’s deeper snow while she is progressing from frontside skiing. We found that these skis had minimal chatter when riding at high speeds and were able to withstand variable conditions and terrain seamlessly. The Temptation 100’s are wrapped up nicely with a vibrant topsheet.
Compare to this year’s model: backcountry.com, gearcoop.com, rei.com
SEGO SKI CO Gnarwal
If you’re gonna name a ski with “gnar” in the title, it better live up to its name. Designed by Lindsey Dyer, we were pleased with how well the Gnarwal handled across the board. These skis were equally happy with whatever the mountain threw their way, from backcountry terrain to bumps. They even look like a good time; they’re plastered with bright colors and a narwhal alongside Lynsey’s unicorn emblem. Compared to Lindsey’s other SEGO ski, the 112-waisted UP Pro, the Gnarwal is a nimble ski that’s just right on the feet of intermediate to expert skiers in coast to coast conditions.
Compare to this year’s model: rei.com
The 100eight is, in a word, powerful. With 108 underfoot, it has the width to handle powder, but coupled with the rigid stability of an all mountain ski, it offers outstanding control on hard-packed. The 100eight created a chatter-free experience while turning at speed, making them a great choice for someone who goes hard, fast, and expects a lot out their gear. Though not as playful or with as much float as other skis we tested, it still handles powder well.
Compare to this year’s model: backcountry.com, evo.com
Scarpa is narrowing the gap between boots that ski well and boots that tour well. The F1 is comprised of a thermo-moldable liner to help ensure maximum comfort and fit along with a carbon core insert to stiffen the boot and increase your driving power on the downhill. The F1 uses a BOA closure system and a single “Fast Buckle”, making this one of the most customizable and easy-to-use AT boots we looked at. Out on the hill, we were surprised at how little power we had to sacrifice (compared to a downhill boot) in the steeps. We would recommend these for skiers who spend a large chunk of time touring but still venture into frontcountry every now and then.
Jones Snowboards Twin Sister
The Twin Sister is everything you want from a twin board. The 2017 model sports a new topsheet, while its tried-and-true construction remains the same as 2016 and won our trust across the mountain. Though it’s a fairly soft board that’s great for jibbing, we loved how nicely it handled while picking up speed and carving on firm snow. It’s a versatile board to play with wherever the mountain takes you.
Compare to this year’s model: backcountry.com, evo.com, gearcoop.com, rei.com
Never Summer Aura
The Aura from Never Summer Industries will also be sporting a new topsheet next year while keeping the same construction of 2015-16. Of all the boards we tried at the demo, the Aura allowed us to ride the most aggressively. It handled a few inches of powder, crud, and glades like a champ. There’s also double the amount of camber in this board than any other women’s board in their lineup, giving it enough flex to have some pop and fun.
Compare to this year’s model: evo.com
Never Summer Proto
If you can only have one board in your quiver, this freestyle twin would be our pick. The Proto from Never Summer Industries handled exceptionally well across the whole mountain, with just the right balance of playfulness and stiffness, keeping aggressive riders stable while riding hard. It’s already available for men, but the women’s board we tested will be released for the 2016-17 season.
Compare to the men’s model this year: backcountry.com, evo.com
When we first saw it, the Vetta’s oversized ankle strap jumped out at us. It looked like it might cause the binding to be unwearable because of uncomfortableness. However, when we took it for a test spin on the mountain, the strap conformed to our boots and was very comfortable. The toe cap fit over our boots perfectly and felt secure throughout testing; we didn’t even have to adjust and re-tighten. With the tool-less adjustment straps and sleek look, the Now Vetta bindings are definitely worth looking into for your board.
Compare to this year’s model: backcountry.com, evo.com
Spark R&D Arc and Surge
For 2017, Spark R&D is releasing two additional colors for their women’s splitboard bindings. Taking all the features from the men’s line that make the bindings strong and lightweight, the women’s Arc and Surge (the latter being stiffer and burlier) are designed with narrower and shorter baseplates for a women’s-specific fit. Their CNC-machined (computer-controlled manufacturing) baseplates cut out as much material as possible to shave weight while retaining function. New for the 2016-17 season, the whammy bar will replace climbing wires to make switching heel height on ascents (high: 18 degrees; low: 12 degrees; and stowed) an easier task.
Compare to this year’s model: evo.com, rei.com
Union’s Lineup (Milan, Trilogy, Legacy)
All three of these bindings from Union were winners. The Milan comes in at the lowest price point of the three, followed by the Trilogy, then the Legacy. Comfort, easy to get in and out of, and excellent response were qualities in each of the bindings. We were especially fond of the flexible toecap that conforms to boots, along with Union’s mini disc design. This mini disc (which will be available in the higher-end models) is designed so a smaller surface area of the disc interacts with the board, helping to keep the bindings from interfering with the board’s performance.
Compare to this year’s model: backcountry.com, evo.com, rei.com
Smith Chromapop Everyday Lens
Smith has had ChromaPop polarized lenses in their sunglasses for a few years now. Next fall, Smith will be implementing the technology in its goggle line. According to Smith, ChromaPop lenses eliminate color confusion while providing a sharper, easier and faster visual experience, resulting in upgraded confidence for on-snow performance. Because of the way these lenses filter light wavelengths, we experienced incredible clarity and color while testing the ChromaPop technology in the “Everyday” lens. Smith will be releasing three new lens offerings for their interchangeable frames: the Everyday, Storm, and Sun — a simple way to explain the conditions each was designed for use in.
Skiers and snowboarders know flat light can turn the easiest run into utter treachery. The Backbowls are the best weapon in your arsenal to fight flat light. We tried these goggles in tough conditions: a heavy snowstorm that was dropping what seemed like an inch of snow per minute. Despite Mother Nature, we couldn’t get over how well we could see in the Backbowls: every bump and ice patch was defined.
New for 2017 is Native’s unisex goggle line that is designed for backcountry use. Our favorite was the Upslope, a medium-fit frame that fits nicely with the various helmets we tested. The Upslope’s double spherical lens helps increase the viewing field while the company’s new “Super Anti-Fog” coating claims to delay condensation up to eight minutes versus the standard 30 seconds in other goggles. After hearing that a Native employee tested the Super Anti-Fog tech by running around town with the goggles on, we put the Upslope to the test. Even during the hazy, low-light conditions we tested in, we found the goggles helped us retain exceptional clarity. And like the Native employee: no fogging.
Zeal Automatic+ Lenses
Zeal is coming out with new colors for the 2016-17 winter season, with lots of options to match to your gear and express your personality. What we’re really excited about are the improvements to the company’s Automatic+ lenses. Already available this season, upgrades for next year include improvements in both the permashield hardcoat (read: a reduction in scratches) and Zeal’s “Everclear Anti-fog” coating. Additionally, these polarized lenses act as an all-in-one lens that make the best of the various lighting conditions as the weather changes throughout the day. The lenses transition between 33% and 18% VLT (the amount of “visible light transmitted” to your eyes) in less than 30 seconds. We tried them in conditions ranging from overcast, bursts of sunshine, and while it was snowing. The adaptability of the lenses meant we didn’t need to sacrifice clear vision during variable conditions or transition lenses or goggle frames throughout the day.
Compare to this year’s model: backcountry.com, gearcoop.com
Flylow Foxy Bibs
Flylow is finally coming out with women’s bibs. On the market for the 2016-17 winter season, the Foxy Bibs use Flylow’s proprietary “Intuitive” fabric, a 3-layer system with 20k/20k waterproofing and a breathable membrane. The bibs are fully seam taped, feature low front pockets to accommodate longer jackets, a high bib to maximize protection against the elements, and a backside designed to keep you cool. They also feature a long zipper for easy entry and those times when nature calls in the backcountry. Though they weren’t available for testing, they caught our eye on the tradeshow floor. And because we like what Flylow has brought to the table with shells and pants so far, we’re looking forward to seeing how this addition performs.
Stance La Hoya
Stance has plenty of new women’s styles coming out next year in their graduated compression socks. These thin socks use Thermolite Compression technology to keep feet warm and blood flowing. If you aren’t familiar with graduated compression, the tech is designed to increase blood flow by applying compression at the ankle and reducing it as it moves up the calf. This helps maintain blood flow throughout the day and, in turn, helps skiers and riders maintain performance rather than succumbing to fatigue. During testing, our feet stayed dry and comfortable; some of us even decided the La Hoya socks were worthy of being called a “go-to sock” for winter activities.
Compare to this year’s model: backcountry.com
Voormi’s Fallline Jacket
It certainly doesn’t look or feel waterproof, but Voormi wants their women’s Fallline jacket to be the only winter jacket you need. This is the first product in the company’s lineup to utilize their “CORE CONSTRUCTION” technology which integrates waterproofing inside the jacket rather than on the outside as a membrane. By doing this, the jacket looks and feels like a wool sweater. Voormi claims there is no sacrifice in breathability or water resistance as compared to a more standard construction. It also wasn’t available for testing, but it’s worth a place on the list since no other garments at the trade show were demonstrating this kind of technology.