A look at the Best in Show from Outdoor Retailer
When GearJunkie.com managing editor Sean McCoy attends the annual Outdoor Retailer winter exposition at the Denver Civic Center, he knows he and his staff of nine other editors and writers will sift through 1,000 puffy jackets to find one that’s different than before. They may analyze hundreds of skis before awarding one.
In all, the Minneapolis-based company that plans to open a Colorado office — likely in Denver or Golden — in the next few months hands out 15-20 Best in Show awards each year. And they do so after conducting 150-200 meetings with brands, asking them about their favorite products.
“We tend to look for innovation,” McCoy said. “We are looking for things that either address a problem, or address a new type of technology that is being applied in a new way.”
But what were the best innovations that McCoy thinks will benefit recreators like those who choose to venture out on the trails of Summit County?
Led by a potential giant leap forward in both resort and backcountry skiing, here are his key three.
SALOMON S/LAB SHIFT HYBRID BINDING
McCoy didn’t mince words when he said one product blew him and many, many others away at the show: the long in-the-works Salomon Shift Binding.
“It’s going to change the way people shop for skis I think,” McCoy said.
He went on to describe the binding as one that “looks like a transformer” and is the “marriage or stepchild, somehow” of a normal alpine binding and a pin-tech touring binding pioneered by Dynafit.
Salomon says the binding’s adjustable pedal toe allows compatibility with all boots. Then, skiers can adapt the binding to suit their boot via an easy-to-use screw. And with the creation of the binding’s alpine toe piece that integrates pins, the company and McCoy believe it’s the first hybrid binding that delivers ultimate versatility.
McCoy said he was impressed that the binding — which is not ultralight — allows more casual skiers to use the pins going uphill before transitioning to an alpine-style boot going downhill.
“(It’s) for someone who wants to skin uphill in the backcountry and ski downhill really hard and probably tour a little more slowly and have downhill performance,” McCoy said.
“But more importantly,” he added. “It addresses that person who only wants to buy one pair of skis. They’ve done something nobody has tried before with this.”
Salomon says the binding will be available in September.
DPS PHANTOM PERMANENT BASE GLIDE TREATMENT
McCoy was plenty optimistic about DPS’s highly anticipated permanent base glide treatment for skis and snowboards, though he was much less certain the product would make good on its promises.
The chemical compound — a patent-pending polymer technology — is touted as a way to permanently treat the bottom of skis without actually waxing.
McCoy and Gear Junkie said the company’s compound remains relatively under wraps by the brand, so time will tell how it performs. The product retails at $99.
CAKE KALK E-MOTOBIKE
McCoy described Swedish company CAKE’s new all-electric 160-pound, 20-horsepower motorbike as, essentially, a “motorcycle for all purposes.”
But that’s not where he feels this bike, with a top speed of 80 kilometers an hour, stops. He was also impressed with the product’s 150-mile charge range and nearly-silent mechanics for more remote riding.
“You’ll zip around but go quiet,” he said. “It’s very different, there’s not much like it on the market yet.”
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Jones is coming off a season where she was named U.S. Ski Jumping Athlete of the Year