By: randosteve|Posted on: July 23, 2009|Posted in: Gear, Gear Reviews | 9 comments

Though I missed the “money shot” of this swainson’s hawk
hanging out on the fence post in southwestern Wyoming on the drive home
yesterday afternoon, it’s always cool to see a bird of prey up close.

la-sportiva-stratosAt last winter’s Outdoor Retailer, I was able to get some spy photos of the full carbon La Sportiva Stratos, available this winter. Rumor was on the floor that the full boot was gong to be at the La Sportiva booth, so I was surely wanted to swing by to check it out. Needless to say, the boot was well protected in a glass case, but I was fortunate enough to get my hands on it for a full look see.

Huge range of rearward range of motion on the Stratos.
Notice also that it stays in the furthest back position without being held in place.

la-sportiva-stratos2First off, the Stratos is absurdly light when in your hands. While my race boots are pretty light, they have been hacked down and modified to the max, so it’s nice to see something crafted so nicely with even lighter results. To begin with, in walk-mode, the Statos has a huge amount of la-sportiva-stratos-ski-walk-mechanismrearward cuff travel, which allows rando racers to really stride out for maximum glide and efficiency. Not only does it travel a lot, but there is nearly zero resistance that can suck-up valuable energy. And while most rando race boot offering’s ski/walk modes entail some sort of metal-to-metal, or metal-to-plastic interface, the Strato’s ski/walk mechanism will be carbon-to-carbon. When the skier locks down the top cuff buckle, the upper section of the rear carbon rod, locks into a slot on the top of the cuff, providing a rigid interface.

Carbon on carbon ski/walk mechanism.

la-sportiva-stratos-gussetHaving experienced the downsides of having snow get packed down my race boots in deep bootpacks during races, it’s nice to see that the Stratos has a generous and what looked to be an effective gusset to keep snow out. of the liner area.¬† Inside, the shell revealed some hidden technology that will for sure be key to providing incredible heel retention. This innovative design involved a Velcro strap that wrapped over the top of your instep. While there is nothing special about that in itself, the strap is also attached to the outer cuff buckle through a system of cables and pulleys. And when you lock the buckle down, it in turn pulls back on your foot, securing it fully into the back of the boot. I thought this was a cool concept.

Internal heel retention system. Sorry this one’s kind of blurry.

la-sportiva-stratos-toe-sectionOverall, the Stratos had a large amount of rocker built into the bottom of the boot, which will obviously allow for great walking (and running) abilities. And I’m sure as the popularity of rando racing increases here in the states, we will see more and more walking, running, bootpacking, or in general…skis-on-your-back sections put into the races. The down side of having so much rocker is that is can make getting into you Dynafit bindings sometimes challenging. La Sportiva addresses this in the Stratos by adding a little nipple or button on the bottom of the front of the sole to help engage the toe into the binding. While I’m sure this piece could wear down over time, I would think that material could be added to it to keep it functional. Though the final price of the Stratos isn’t set in stone just yet, be ready to shell out somewhere in the range of $2,ooo for a pair. About 20 will be available in the US this season.

CAMP Speed helmet.

Keeping on our rando racing theme, while I was over at the CAMP booth, I noticed an interesting helmet on the wall and was told it was the lightest ski/climbing helmet in the world. No wonder why all the euro racers are wearing it. The Camp Speed helmet comes in at an amazing 210 grams and also has a visor/shield accessory that can be attached to the helmet.

Yellow in the windows indicates hot water in the new and improved and lighter weight Jetboil.

jetboil-fuel-canister-killerThough I tend to use liquid fuel stoves more often for my skiing adventures, I do like the Jetboil system for warmer, summertime adventures. The new and updated model will be at least 2oz lighter than the original version and will also include a feature in the neoprene koozie that insulates the pot which changes color when the contents becomes hot. This is nice because the Jetboil heats up quickly and it can sometimes be hard to tell how warm your water or food is inside. Jetboil also has a handy device that will make  bleeding and puncturing old canisters easy for recycling. The modified can-opener screws onto the canister and slowly bleeds pressure from the can through a small hole. It can then be used like a can opener to fully puncture the canister making to ready to recycle with your soup cans.