Jan 23 2018

Stoked Stix – better than ‘bucks

Get stoked. Smooth, rich and strong without specialized cookware. Add hot water and serve.

Get stoked. Smooth, rich and strong without specialized cookware. Add hot water and serve.

Ordinarily instant coffee is reserved for road trips and backcountry tours. However, it only took one sample cup of Stoked Stix for me to modify my daily routine. In fact, I sort of sabotaged my original plan, which was to use Stoked Stix instant coffee on a five day tour along the crest of the Sierra Nevada.

As it was, I still opted for Starbucks on the tour. Not because I preferred Verdana instant, but because I found I liked the Stoked Stix so much I burned through it before the trip even began. It was as smooth and rich as my standard cup of fresh pressed joe. Even the dark roast was smooth without the typical bitter bite of burned beans.
Keep earning your turns

Jan 17 2018

First Look: Marker’s Alpinist 2-pin binding

Marker has built a reputation for building alpine bindings with superior performance. Typically that means downhill performance – as in a binding that delivers a solid connection between the boot and the ski, but also knows when to let go. Marker’s new Alpinist 2-pin tech bindings maintain the alpine connection, but this time the performance emphasis is on the uphill.

The Alpinist adds uphill performance to Marker's binding repetoire.

Marker’s Alpinist: 245 grams of uphill prowess.

Keep earning your turns

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

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