It’s tradeshow season right now. A time when all brands show their new ranges for next autumn / winter season. Every year there are standout products that seem to grab headlines more than others.
Here’s a run through some that caught my eye. These won’t be available until late summer or autumn 2017.
Synthetic insulation is still a big growth area in clothing. Next winter synthetic fillings will be even more breathable and down-like than ever.
Montane Icarus Jacket
The Icarus Jacket from Montane features new Primaloft ThermoPlume; a fibre that mimics the characteristics of down more than ever before. ThermoPlume is super soft, light and packable. Warmth wise the insulation is equivalent to 650 fill power down.
Patagonia Hyper Puff Jacket
Following on from a long line of classics like the Nano Puff and Nano Air styles, the Hyper Puff looks set to be a Patagonia standard bearer too. The Hyper Puff uses a new type of synthetic fibre that has an accordion like construction. This enables the insulation to expand and trap warmth when in use and compress well when stored.
Arc’teryx Alpha IS Jacket
The Alpha IS is the first product in what looks like a new product segment (IS) from Arc’teryx. The Alpha IS is designed to combine both midlayer and outerlayer in one. It uses premium synthetic insulation along with a high end Gore-Tex outer. Weight savings over a similar midlayer / outerlayer combo are claimed to be in the region of 20%. It looks like a great single option jacket for ski touring and splitboarding, especially for anyone who finds that just a base layer is usually sufficient whilst in the skin track.
POC Spin Helmet
POC’s new SPIN technology is designed to reduce the damaging rotational forces often experienced during an impact. SPIN is similar to an existing technology called MIPS which has been proven to reduce these rotational forces very effectively. SPIN works by placing several thin pads in certain places throughout the helmet. These pads shear in any direction and work to minimise the damage caused by an oblique load by allowing the helmet to move relative to the head.
Burton Step On System
Next winter Burton will revive the step in snowboard binding. It’s been a long time since step in bindings were a regular sight on the slopes and there’s no doubt that this product from will initially divide opinion amongst snowboarders. The Burton Step On System includes both boots and bindings. The boots have 3 cleats, 2 at the toe and 1 at the heel, that clip directly into the base of the binding. There are no straps involved. The boot is released via a lever on the binding’s highback. So far reports of performance and responsiveness are generally positive. The Step On System might last a couple of years, or it could herald the return of the step in binding for good, we’ll just have to see.
Salomon SLAB XALP Boot
The Salomon SLAB XALP follows on from where the Arc’teryx Procline Boot kicked off this winter. It’s a ski boot that climbs well, or a climbing boot that skis well, depending on your point of view. The SLAB XALP is stiff and supportive enough for backcountry skiing yet has a sole unit and overall profile that means it has enough feel and precision to climb ice and rock too.
Another important new ski boot development, this time from Scarpa. The Maestrale has become the benchmark ski touring boot in recent years. Indeed, Scarpa claim it’s the best selling touring boot of all time. Updates for winter 2017 / 2018 include a massive increase in flex range from 37 to 60 degrees, more stiffness in the ride mode and, perhaps most importantly, a drop in overall weight of 140 grams per boot.
Although it could be argued that a new Buff isn’t the most exciting product ever, the number of people who own an existing Buff, and will potentially buy a new one, must be enormous. The Buff Thermonet features a new fabric developed with Primaloft that looks to up the game for winter conditions. It’s warmer than existing Buff fabric, is made using 70% recycled materials and reportedly won’t freeze up even in the coldest conditions.
Read more of Andy's reviews on his website.