Category Archives: Gear

Don’t Buy New Skis

You ski two weeks a season, if that; you hear about the latest rocker, fat, fill-in-the-blank technology, see the gear guide picks in Skiing Magazine and, whammo, you’re begging Santa for a new set of sticks. The pair you bought last year hasn’t even rusted yet. But you have to have the 2012 model. Whooo boy would the car industry turn around if they could figure out what skiers are drinking and bottle it for themselves. Maybe it’s time to sit tight, get creative and save yourself a grand. Who really needs new skis every year?

Ski Swaps

New to you is almost the same as “new” if you do your research. Buy skis in the fall at annual ski swaps or in the spring. Resort retail shops have to blow out their inventory to make room forthe latest stock. Last season;s models are going to be just as good as this year’s and half the price. You can often find discounts of more than 70 percent off brand new 2011 skis. Demo skis are usually the best score. Demo bindings are clunkier than regular bindings but you can walk away with a decent pair of skis for about $200. Look closely at the bases to make sure you’re not buying beaters; but getting skis and bindings for that price is epic. Bring your smartphone so you can Google to make sure you’ve got the best price. If you hit local events like the Black Diamond Swap in Salt Lake City, Utah, you could be buying skis that belonged to your favorite freeskiing idols like Julian Carr or Rachel Burkes. Skilebrities in spots like Whistler, Squaw Valley, Alta, Jackson Hole, make their living hocking their schwag.


Getting skis on Craigslist is cheaper than eBay and you can taste, touch, stroke before buying. If you don’t mind buying them unseen look at listings for cities nearest to ski destinations and ask the seller if he’ll ship. Just take a look at what’s on Craigslist SLC right now. eBay tends to be more expensive but you’ve got built-in fraud protection. If you’re a gambler, wait until your next ski trip and buy skis when you get there. Depending on how well you plan, not only will you save on baggage fees, hassles, and rentals but you could potentially MAKE MONEY in the deal if you sell them after your trip.


If your skis are older than five seasons and you only ski one week a year, your choice is a no-brainer. Throw them out or nail them to your wall as art and rent skis when you hit your destination. They’re going to perform better than what you own and you’ll save a bundle. Buying a new pair of skis before a trip based on something you read is a dumb move. Maybe those Rossi 7s are perfect for your ability, height, weight, etc. Maybe. Or maybe you finally get them on the hill and can’t buy a turn. Oh, and, while we’re on it, let’s add up the cost of bringing your own skis on vacation after you buy them. Here’s the math: On Delta, skis and boots count as one bag and they charge $25 for the first bag. The second bag which would carry everything else is $35 and anything over 50 pounds is $90-175. Consider whether you can pack the ski bag to the hilt and stay under 50 pounds. If not, checking skis separately from your luggage would cost at least $60. EACH WAY. There’s also the $175 “oversize bag fee” for going over 200cm.

If the airline loses your gear not only would you have to pay the checked baggage fees but you would have to rent while you waited for them to (hopefully) arrive. Still want to bring your own gear? You could ship everything to your vacation destination. By U.S. Post (seven days) it’s about $34 without insurance, or by FedEx Ground (5 days) you’re at $39. Companies like will even pick up and package your skis for you before they ship them but you’ll pay about $120+ for roundtrip service. Problem here is that you have to plan ahead. Procrastinators will be SOL. Not to mention, what if you wanted to ski at home the day before you left? Forget it.

So here’s a novel idea- Pack (and check) one clothes bag ($25) and rent your gear. The total would run you about $185pp and save you the hassle of lugging heavy, awkward-shaped bags around the airport. Plus, you escape the whines of small children unwilling to carry their own stuff. Sites like and will come to your hotel with a four-day sport package of skis, poles and boots for about $169 with the damage waiver; just $49 more than checking two bags round trip… and you can thrash on rocks if you want.

Use What You’ve Got
Unless you live in a ski town and arc 40 plus days a season, new skis on your feet won’t make a difference. Get a sweet tune from a local shop and call it good. One note: test your bindings. Even one summer in a garage can warp the springs and send you to the ER.

Work Where Skis Are A Benefit employees have a “gear closet”. Retail store “shoprats” have unlimited access to the demo fleet. Most ski mountain host programs give you the hottest skis to use and many resorts in states like California are required by law to provide gear as part of their uniform if you have to ski for work. Not only will you avoid buying new skis but you’ll actually make money skiing. Bonus.

Okay, I lied, kind of.

I’d be a liar and a hypocrite if I didn’t disclose that my single most guilty pleasure in life is the day my new skis arrive. This year, I came home to a pair of 2012 Dynastar Paradises on my doorstep. Last year, the Head Jimis. My car is six years old; some of my street clothes are 10. But not my skis. If they’re older than two or three years, I feel self-conscious. I’m a ski instructor, ski model and ski writer. You gotta walk the walk. Or better ski the ski. Skis are a free part of my uniform the way they are for mountain employees so technically I’m staying true to my advice. In the end, no one’s going to hell for buying expensive toys so indulge if you must. However, in this economy isn’t it nice to know you have options?

Outdoor Footwear Turns Funky

Fall is officially here and the weather seems to be cooperating. It’s our last hoorah to hit those mountain trails while there’s still dirt on them and bust out the fall footwear. You gotta figure two, maybe three, more months and then ‘poof’. Everything’s white and you’re wearing insulated Gore-Tex and waterproof boots.

Until then, it’s all about the cross-training and pre-season ski conditioning so don’t wait to slip on one of these new fangled footwear creations and get cracking.

fall footwear

The Tecnica Diablo Max almost…almost… looks like a regular trail runner. But it’s this TRS Max technology that puts it in a league of its own. Stable, shock absorbing, and super cush, these shoes can go anywhere and your feet will feel like they’re encased in marshmallows. This is not a shoe for Tarahumarans. The wide sole and the oversized rocker profile help stabilize the foot on uneven terrain. Good news for those of us with weak ankles. $130.

fall footwear

You, Dude, check out my bitchin’ Five Ten Karver skate shoes. But yo, Bro, they work sick seshes on my BMX and mountain bike. Take that you skinny bitches with your clipless pedals. This is so other world from a climbing shoe but they’re rocking the sticky Stealth S1 Rubber. I plant and my foot stays, Bra. For reals! Plus, they’re beefy and bulky so I know I’m cool when (if) I go endo. For dudes and betties. $135.

fall footwear

You say tomato, I say tomaaato. You can run in Vibram Five Fingers all you want but I’ll take a pair of flyweight Hoka’s over those feetkillers any day. The Hoka Mafate are the same used by ultra-runner Karl Meltzer and he’s posting impressive results. They’ve got to be some of the weirdest/ugliest trail runners on the market but we hear they can go 600 miles without disintegrating despite how light they feel on your foot. Tons of cushioning, a wide platform and some serious rocker will have you planting each stride with confidence. $170.  To read more about Hoka check out this page!

fall footwear

When you’re headed south for some rafting or canyoneering don’t forget to pack the Chaco Ponsul Bulloo river shoes. The quickdry poly canvas upper is brushed on the inside so it feels soft around your foot whether you wear socks, and the removable ChaPU footbed feels cush under your foot. The Keen-like rubber toe protects from rocks and other pointy objects and the Vibram Idrogrip sticky rubber sole works in and out of the water. Not to mention how cool they look on your feet. FYI- they run about a half size big. $120,*Not in stores until Mar. 1.

fall footwear

Time to chill. Slap on a pair of Teva Mush Frio Ballerina Mesh shoes for both comfort and steeze. They
weigh in at 3.4 ounces! They’re collapsible and packable, making these slipons the perfect choice for those TSA checks, trips to the yoga studio or driving home from a run. They’re surprisingly warm given their weight but the antimicrobial mesh lining will keep sweaty feet from stinking. The men’s version has laces. $45.

Favorite Finds at Outdoor Retailer Pt1

You could easily get lost among the major players on the main floor of Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace Convention Center. The big guys like Mountain Hardwear, Teva, Black Diamond, Kelty, attract immediate attention from the buyers while the little guys in the Ballroom and the recently added New Exhibitor Pavilion get less love. However, it wasn’t long ago that Cloudveil and KEEN debuted on the fringes. The showcase for next year’s summer gear was literally bursting at the seams so the newbies had to go somewhere. You never know what you’ll find sitting vigil so smart buyers made sure to pencil in time to see those green brands.


They’re not necessarily built for the trail but Rockport has joined with Adidas to create a footwear line that brings a bit of the outdoors to the city. The company is not necessarily small but they’re not huge in the outdoor market…yet.

No one ever said that bikes must be seen solely at Interbike in Vegas. Scott and a few others dared to spin their wheels at this year’s Summer Market. It makes sense. The commuter bike market has blown up. Clothing manufacturers like Gramicci and The North Face have added specific pieces just for this market of road cyclists.

Ah, the Packs

What you’ll see most at the Outdoor Retailer Show are packs- backpacks, dog packs, kid packs. You name it. What makes Mile High Mountaineering unique is that the company is comprised of three college-age tattooed white guys who decided running their own business would be better than working for someone. “We don’t want to wear a white collar,” they chant. The packs are innovative but the prices are high. The Salute34 on the lower left features a top to bottom zipper that makes it easy to access everything in your bag. You can even spread it out and use it as a climbing rope tarp. It retails for $200.

The LittleLife Animal Daysacks are a must for anyone with tots. Kids under three can’t wait to have you strap the ladybug, butterfly, shark or bee on their backs. They don’t even care that it has a detachable “rein” so parents can keep them on a leash. The stowaway rainhood completes the animal effect. The company also makes kid carriers and backpacks for older children.

Crazy Creek busted the camp chair market wide open but they’re not the only game in town. Comfortable, low profile for concerts, made of mesh to catch the breeze on those hot summer nights, backpack straps and a stash zipper make the Kelsyus Lounger a rockstar.

Sock manufacturers Darn Tough and FITS stayed inside and out of the way of their more recognized competitors in the center – Thorlo, Smartwool, Lorpen, Fox River- but they are no less durable or attractive. What’s more, everyone is starting to play with color and patterns for next year. It’s hard to tell the difference anymore between companies so your purchase will come down to price and style. Everyone features durable, technical fabrics and lifetime guarantees.


OR organizers resurrected the New Exhibitor Pavilion to house 165 newcomers to the market. The last time they needed the tent it took a twist in the 1999 tornado that hit Salt Lake City. The homeless vendors piled into the main hall as those with bigger booths offered to share. Up until now, the convention center had just enough space not to need the tent. But with more than 1000 exhibiters attending it was finally time. The jury’s out as to whether the tent was helpful or lame. Some vendors bemoaned the pseudo banishment while others saw attention they don’t think they would have gotten if they had to compete in the main space.

Egos aside, popularity probably had more to do with the product than the venue. Geopalz, an inventive colorful pedometer meant to get kids walking and interacting seemed to be a hit with media and buyers. The more they walk, the more points they get and the more products they can purchase with those points.

One guy who was destined for disappointment at least had the courage to take himself seriously even if we didn’t.

Just that really is a sleeve for a water bottle on that girl’s neck. Believing that we all take a cold bottle and stick it to our neck when it’s hot, the ‘inventor’ spent his life’s savings coming up with this gem. Maybe you get it. But wouldn’t it just be easier to pour the water on your head?

Outdoor Retailer Media Suite

Day 1 of the OR Show ended with a media retreat at the Hotel Monaco. Verde PR out of Colorado rents a suite to showcase their outdoor clients and it’s an efficient way for writers like me to preview a handful (or better a roomful) of companies and not have to squeeze them into my already overbooked schedule at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Plus, they bring in massage therapists from Sanctuary in the Gateway Center who are some of the best in state. Nemo’s known for their tents but come next spring, Primaloft sleeping bags like this one will put them on the map for softgoods. It’s kind of a square mummy bag to give you ample hiproom. Would that make it a Squammy?

FoxRiver Socks has also incorporated Primaloft (Pronounced Prime – a – Loft for those of you who still say TEE-VA) into their line. I didn’t see any Primaloft in Stoic’s line. That’s’s own brand. Looking forward to getting my hands on a Hadron Down Anorak pullover. Like the Patagonia down sweater but a hoody and cuter. I was hoping to see the TEKO sock puppet but the PR gal said they’re changing their image. They’re going high-tec with the SIN3RGI line of socks. Haven’t tried mine on yet but it’s a blend of an ultra-fine polyester yarn and Merino wool.

Commuter bikers should check out Biologic. They’ve got all sorts of gadgets to keep you connected and chic on your bike. My little one will love the wraplight. It’s supposed to wrap around a bike frame but she puts it on her bed like a nitelight. Her last one died a few months ago.

Over at the Zuke’s table was a bowl of HipAction sample treats. Glucasime. Perfect for the aging companion who still knows not when to stay home and rest. With Zuke’s new Superfood your pup can be vegan too. Zuke’s is making a ‘green’ dog treat they call Superfood. Makes sense that if you’re denying yourself meat products you should stay true to your dog as well.


I got home at about 11. Just enough time to crash and wake for the OR Industry breakfast at 7 a.m. yesterday. Glad I didn’t skip it though the temptation was there. Marian Salzman Trendspotting gave quite the lecture on the state of Americans and how the outdoor industry can get their attention.

Gadgets Gone Wild @CES


It’s the stage for intense hyperbole.

I am no longer a Consumer Electronics Show virgin. I have conquered my first time at the biggest tradeshow convention of my life. More than 150k attendees have dropped into the Las Vegas Convention Center to explore the latest and “greatest” technology to come. Everything here is the biggest, the smallest, the fastest, the most efficient, the greenest, the most innovative, the only, the _____ (your adverb here).

We entered the South Hall Thursday morning and were instantly disoriented. Imagine walking into a robust casino with every slot machine going off and you have an idea of the frenetic energy on the show floor.  Oh, and, the South Hall doesn’t even cover a third of who’s here at the show. By 6 p.m. we had barely made it to the Main Lobby where Microsoft, Samsung, Sony and Panasonic were displaying ginormous 3D flatscreen TVs.

The trends you’ll find for next year start with tablets. Everyone is making a keyboardless touchscreen thanks to the iPad frenzy. Blackberry’s Playbook is getting the lion’s share of the buzz but that doesn’t mean you won’t find a pad that’s just right for you and within your budget. Could I tell you who’s making the best? NO. I’d have to use all of them and I don’t see that happening. But I do plan on chatting with the marketing dude for CES to get his expert opinions on  all things electronic.

Green energy and home automation to address energy saving is all over the place. I can’t wait to get my hands on an electronic thermostat I can control with an iPod app. GE and a few other companies are working on “smart systems” that integrate your home appliances with your power meter but until the utility companies purchase the technology we won’t be able to fully utilize what they’re creating. But I did hear that a company called Trane has a stand alone, mobile-enabled thermostat.

Imagine you’re out skiing and you realize that your thermostat was set to 70 because it was frigid when you woke up and you ran out without lowering it back down. Just open your app and log into your home meter before the tram doors shut and you have nothing to worry about.

Another company I’ve hunting down is called Vision Objects. They’ve developed handwriting recognition software that really works! The possibility of me writing in my journal or on a notepad, recording my penstrokes and uploading them into a word doc is really here. I can use my own paper anywhere. It’s too much to ask to make the pen and recorder waterproof but that day may come shortly.

This one didn’t

I’m sure you’re wondering if I saw any robots. Of course I did. In addition to the iRobot Roomba, the little, round disc that bumps into walls and furniture and jams up from all the dog hair, there were a few of those Jetson/R2D2 buddies attracting attention. Some worked, some didn’t. Most are still in the development phase and will be used by researchers. The one below is only for friendship at the moment. I’m not sure what’s worse; social interaction solely through Facebook or a robot friend.

Other attention grabbers at the show include boxes to stream Internet programs to your television, gaming like Wii’s race car driving game that you play from an inflatable race car, electric ‘smart’ cars, solar chargers of every size and shape with finally enough juice to power your iPhone smartphone or Mp3 player, pocket projectors to screen movies onto a wall from your iPhone and 3D digital cameras.

I slid into the Oregon Scientific room knowing I could find outdoor gadgets. Wireless weather stations, a new point-of-view waterproof helmet cam with a GPS add-on accessory that will map your trails and locations, and a strapless, touchscreen heartrate monitor wrist watch dazzled my expectations.

OK, I have to confess that one of the most exciting things I saw today was a wireless, waterproof, um, massager called the Alia from Lelo. Ladies, the little gizmo was sooo cool! Can’t wait to, um, test it.

More gadgeting and reporting tomorrow.

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