By: randosteve|Posted on: January 24, 2011|Posted in: Gear, Gear Reviews | 24 comments

la-sportiva-hi5-ski1At last winter’s Outdoor Retailer, I got to fondle one of the new La Sportiva skis. While it seemed to have decent construction (made in the Movement ski factory, in Tunisia), it was sub 90mm at the waist, which honestly, doesn’t really get me jumping for joy. But when I heard they also had a more North American market ski, with early rise/rocker tip and a waist of 105mm, I was much more intrigued.

la-sportiva-hi5-skiWhile at the demo, I was able to go for a spin on the new La Sportiva Hi-5, and honestly, I was really quite impressed. It skied the best out of all of the 100-105mm skis I was able to try and with its giant rocker tip; I’m dubbing it the mini-Megawatt. With a progressive radius of 18/24/18 for the 188cm model, it was very easy to turn, but not so much to make it squirrelly. Vertical sidewalls helped with edge hold and the big tip was pretty tough to bury in the chopped up crud. At 1800 grams, it’s not the lightest ski out there, but sub 8lbs is still pretty light in my book for a 105mm/188cm size ski.

La Sportiva Spitfire, Sideral and Starlet.

la-sportiva-ski-mountainbeeringIt must have taken some serious arm twisting from the La Sportiva offices down in Boulder to convince the higher-ups overseas make such non-traditional ski and I applaud them for making it happen. The new boot line is truly Euro-inspired though and really focuses on lightweight and touring, as opposed to beef and downhill performance. I didn’t ski on these new boots, so I can only judge from looking at them, but they had a nice single throw (a al Stratos) for going from fully unbuckled and in walk more, to locked and loaded for skiing. Range of motion looked good in walk mode and it will be interesting to see how there boots are received by the US consumer.

Dynafit Titan Ultralight is 250 grams lighter than the standard Titan.

I spent a good amount of time looking at all the new Dynafit products. We touched base on the Radical bindings already, but the new boots look great as well. The new Titan Ultralight ($869) has some carbon fiber in it, but it really gets most of its weight savings by moving to Pebax dyanfit-zzero-4c-green-machineconstruction, which is lighter that the Polyurethane the Titan is made with now. Dynafit shaves off 250 grams by going with Pebax, which is rather substantial in my book. I’m sure the new Titan Ultralight is also stiffer than the regular Titan, and will be winner for Dynafit just the same.

I was anxious to see the updated Zzero4 Green Machine ($1000), which now has a full carbon spoiler on the cuff, as opposed to only lateral stringers of the past version…which is still available. The new construction and design of the cuff also adds about 10 degrees of cuff travel in the rear-ward part of the stride, which is something I like, since a lot of the tours here in the Tetons have flat approaches. While not earth shattering, the new Green Machine is 50 grams lighter (1585gr) than the past version and I think it looks cooler too. I can’t wait to see how they ski.

Light and affordable Ski Trab TR-Race bidning.

There are many new “tech-style” bindings out there, some for racing, some for freeride and others for general ski touring. I though Ski Trab’s had one of the best and affordable race bindings being offered with their TR-Race ($539). There are lighter and more expensive models out there, but not everyone can throw down $800 for a pair and I applaud Ski Trab for trying to keep the price down. The TR-Race keeps the weight down, even with a ski crampon attachment and at only 141 grams…light, IS right!

ABS Vario system allows the user to buy one base-unit and several zip-on packs.

new-abs-pack-ballon-materialAs some of you may know, the JHMR ski patrol now use ABS airbags when they are on duty and doing snow-control work. I’ve shied away from ABS packs in the past, mainly due to the extra weight that goes along with them, but I figured I’d swing by abs-vario-50lthe ABS booth to see what they had to offer. Not only was I excited to see that the weights of their packs are coming down (3kg for the Vario 50L/2.5kg for Vario 15L), I was also psyched when I learned that the body of the packs could be interchanged. Meaning, one would only have to buy a single base unit (with the airbag system and backpack harness) but then could attach many different size packs onto it. This is nice and saves money in the long run. ABS is also using a new material (some sort of Hypalon, from the rafting industry) in its balloons, which reduces weight, but is also more durable than what they were using in the past. Pretty nice stuff and I will probably now have to get an ABS pack sooner, rather than later.