Nov 24 2017

Review: Scarpa Maestrale RS2
—a worthy upgrade

Scarpa's Maestrale-RS for 2018.

Scarpa’s Maestrale-RS for 2018.

Although Scarpa put in a little overtime to improve the performance of their legendary Maestrale boot line, the part they tout the most in this second version (RS2) is the improvement you’ll notice the least — the lateral stiffness. There’s no denying the torsional rigidity of the boot has been improved by infusing the back half of the scafa with carbon for maximum power transfer. However, the plain Maestrale, like its predecessor was already plenty stiff for most conditions thanks to a Grilamid lower shell. Thankfully Scarpa did not make the tongue of the boot from Grilamid also, but instead used Pebax, allowing for some progressive give to the forward flex, making these boots a delight to drive the fall line in. Even though the increased lateral stiffness is noticeable, unless you plan on running gates with these boots, the improvement, though welcome, pales compared to the degree of noticeable improvement in Maestrale’s touring performance.
Keep earning your turns

Nov 19 2017

Review: Scarpa TX-Comp 2018

 

TX- Comp: Scarpa's burliest NTN boot.

TX- Comp: Scarpa’s burliest NTN boot.

The common theme among aficionados of burly tele boots is their lack of sensitivity. Not the skiers, the boots. As a powder pig sensitivity is a boot quality I revel in, but I’m no tele charger. Not by burly boot standards. However, that lack of sensitivity is really only an indication that boots like Scarpa’s TX-Comp were not meant to be skied at speeds where the forces driven and received between your legs, boots, and skis require sensitivity. If you routinely hammer the bumps, enjoy air, crush crud for breakfast, and spit in disdain at slush, these boots were built to navigate your path with power. In powder it just means you can go a lot faster and still maintain control because the boot won’t waffle in terrain or at speeds that make boots like the T2 or TX melt.
Keep earning your turns

Nov 16 2017

Ski Review: Black Diamond Helio 88

 

Howie rips mush with BD's Helio 88 and a full pack.

Howie rips mush with BD’s Helio 88 and a full pack.

Now that the pendulum is swinging back from the fringes of phat skis to moderately wide skis, what used to called fat but is now even skinny, Black Diamond’s Helio 88 should perk your interest. It’s a solid ski that lets you minimize weight without sacrificing good performance. Of course, a lot depends on your weight, boot, skill level, and how far you want push the boundaries.
Keep earning your turns

Sep 25 2017

Arva Reactor 32/40 liter airbag packs

Arva's Reactor 32 airbag pack

Arva’s Reactor 32 airbag pack

Arva has done a good job of balancing opposing goals with their Reactor avalanche safety packs. They provide ample touring utility while minimizing the weight of the airbag plumbing. The ingredients are a text book example of how to synthesize the best features currently available for cartridge systems:

  • inert gas,
  • a mechanical trigger for simplicity
  • dual airbags extending the length of your torso
  • It was an easy decision for Arva to stick with cartridges; besides having years of experience working with ABS as their pack manufacturer, electrically powered airbags don’t really have a long track record to prove their reliability.
    Keep earning your turns

    Aug 07 2017

    Review: Dynafit Radical 2.0

    When it comes to the Dynafit Radical 2.0 the current version is almost a no-brainer decision for anyone earning turns who wants to save weight without sacrificing frills like brakes and easy to flip climbing posts. The only feature you need consider is the toe that rotates a few degrees in downhill mode to add some elasticity to a pin system known for pre-release. The question is do you need the extra elasticity and is it worth the cost? Cost is less about price and more about the consequences of that rotation. Below, a review of the undisputed benefits.

    Dynafit's Radical 2.0 on a rental frame. Erase the rental frame and you

    Dynafit’s Radical 2.0 on a rental frame. Erase the rental frame and you have the culmination of 30 years fiddling with the Dynafit concept. TUV Certified for reliable release.


    The Radical 2.0 is the culmination of all that Dynafit has learned in pioneering their revolutionary low tech binding system which, to those who have attempted to copy it have learned, it is anything but low-tech. In fact, the simplicity of Dynafit’s tech system is due to extra precision in the control systems required to manufacture it. This yields a binding that, within the inherent limits of a 2-pin tech binding, can be relied upon when you’re far from help. And in the alpine world of reliable release, the Radical 2.0 has achieved the coveted TUV certification for this ability.
    Keep earning your turns

    Mar 07 2017

    Review: G3 FINDr 86/94/102

    Skis are a funny business. They are a combination of what one might consider mere mechanical construction, yet they are also part art. A portion of that is certainly due to the delight we experience when shussing through the snow, but the real magic is how ski designers can take what are essentially a common set of ingredients and combine them in such a way that every design is unique, like songs that rely on the same notes, but are infinitely variable. And the song some skis sing is magical.

    FINDr skis from G3 in three widths: 86, 94, 102 mm.

    FINDr skis from G3 in three widths: 86, 94, 102 mm.


    G3’s FINDr is one of those skis that starts out steady and solid, gaining your confidence before you dare to turn ‘em loose. When you do, they fairly leap into action, goading you along with a playful pop at the end of each turn that has the net effect of encouraging you to rev the engine and give ‘er a little more gas.
    Keep earning your turns

    Feb 27 2017

    Review: Scott Sports Minerva/Voodoo NTN

    Scott Sports Minerva NTN - women's version of Voodoo NTN.

    Scott Sports Minerva NTN – women’s version of Voodoo NTN.

    Last year my review of Scott’s Voodoo NTN was considered pretty harsh by Scott Sports. I received an email from Paul Parker, Scott’s boot advisor telling me as much, and that I was unqualified to review the boot. Some of the criticism I stand behind, but I must also admit that Paul Parker’s criticism of my criticism raised a point I couldn’t deny. I knew the specific pair of Voodoos tested was too large implying that my conclusions were at least suspect. Last month I managed to get into a pair that fit better – in this case a pair of size 25.5 Minerva NTN, a Voodoo in women’s colors. When I realized the boot wasn’t just one size too large, but two, the conclusion that some of my claims were flat out erroneous was unavoidable.
    Keep earning your turns

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