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Tools for Human Powered Oversnow Travel - State of the Market Report
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Tools for Human Powered Oversnow Travel - State of the Market Report on 11/13/2012 21:28:03 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Tools for Human Powered Oversnow Travel - State of the Market Report

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Skis on 11/14/2012 07:34:46 MST Print View

Interesting article, but the skiing article seems a bit skewed towards more high end and more technical skiset ups(i.e. ski/bindings more prone to mechanical failure IMO).

I do not know what the term would be (if there really is any), but Nordic touring gear with 3 pin and cable binding that is double cambered, but looks like tele gear from a previous generation in terms of side cut and width, fits well with the "covering distance vs taking turns" mentality.

These come to mind:

(Neptune's may be one of the few to stock this brand of skis in the US?)

I believe Andrew Skurka used a similar set up for the skiing portion of his Yukon-Alaskan loop.

The Norwegian military uses something similar, too. Think they know something about skiing with winter loads: :)

AT Gear is great for making turns down mountains...seems more of a pain for any distance vs a free heel set up.

I admittedly have a bias towards keeping it simple in my gear vs looking for the latest technological edge.


Edited by PaulMags on 11/14/2012 08:11:32 MST.

Roman Vazhnov
(joarr) - MLife

Locale: Russia
Useful article on 11/14/2012 07:37:45 MST Print View

Big thanks for the article. Very interesting.
What about using AT boots and bindings with touring skis (Karhu Guides)?

Edited by joarr on 11/14/2012 07:39:54 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
simpler gear on 11/14/2012 07:51:58 MST Print View

Paul -- hang tight, Nordic gear will be emphasized in another article that is nearing the end of its editing phase, written by Alan Dixon and Mike Martin.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: simple gear on 11/14/2012 09:21:58 MST Print View

Roman, that's exactly what I'll be trying this winter.

Paul, I advocated for 3 pins pretty aggressively in the article. Doesn't get simpler than that.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Simple skiing on 11/14/2012 09:47:44 MST Print View

Hi DAve,

With all due respect ,while you certainly mentioned 3 pin, my take on the article was that it had a much more technical gear rather than simple gear focus. (Bindings was just one part of it esp with what I thought was an advocacy of Dynafit and AT gear in general).

Again, JMO.

Edited by PaulMags on 11/14/2012 10:31:41 MST.

Charles P
(mediauras) - F

Locale: Terra
Re: Tools for Human Powered Oversnow Travel - State of the Market Report on 11/14/2012 10:37:45 MST Print View

Thanks for this piece. I'm not an x-ctry skier (yet!), but found it well-written, organized, and with good images. I can't quibble about the content but the form was great.

And thanks for the tip on women's MSR ascents -- I'm in the market for new snowshoes and may follow that lead.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Tools for Human Powered Oversnow Travel - State of the Market Report on 11/14/2012 12:50:18 MST Print View

Excellent article. I would definitely recommend it for someone who is interested in snow travel, and hasn't done it before. Even some of those who obsess about winter sports can learn a thing or two.

A couple nitpicks. Metal edges are nice to have, but they add weight. Generally speaking, it is difficult to drive a metal edged ski with a Nordic (non BC) boot. It can be done, especially if the ski doesn't have much sidecut, but it is generally avoided. Thus, a good compromise is a ski with some sidecut (similar to the Glittertind or Outbound Crown) driven by a light NNN or SNS binding and boot. This setup won't work on the ice, but is otherwise just fine. I've used such a setup with the Inbound Crown (68-58-64) which is similar to the Outbound Crown, but significantly lighter (because it lacks the metal edges). I've managed to ski in tricky terrain with this gear, as long as the snow is not icy. I think listing the Inbound Crown instead of the Outbound Crown might have done a better job of representing the spectrum of options available (especially since the Glittertind is quite similar to the Outbound Crown).

The other nitpick concerns the statement that "plastic telemark gear is effectively dead outside of resort ideologues". Sorry, I couldn't disagree more. Telemark gear has an important advantage over Randonee gear: ease of transition. With typical Randonee gear, you can switch from going uphill to going downhill fairly quickly. But the reverse usually involves taking the entire boot out of the ski. On the other hand, switching from downhill to uphill mode with Telemark gear is very fast. This setup works especially well with some of the bigger fish scale skis (like the Rossignol BC 125). Such a setup can move easily through challenging terrain with little need for breaks (unless skins are needed). Like so much in the sport, there are trade-offs, and Telemark gear is not as light as the high end Randonee gear.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Tools for Human Powered Oversnow Travel - State of the Market Report on 11/14/2012 13:50:40 MST Print View

> This setup won't work on the ice
And that illustrates why it is so hard to make generalisations.
For some it may be that they never (or just rarely) see any ice, but for others lots of ice is a fact of life. For example, trying to go cross-country in Australia without metal edges is just not realistic. You have a nice sunny day with clear skies, which is great, but you KNOW that early the next morning everything is going to have an ice crust for a few hours at least. Clatter, clatter, clatter.

> plastic telemark gear is effectively dead ... Sorry, I disagree...
Again, it totally depends on the conditions.
If you are in steep terrain where tele skis are almost *required*, then maybe plastic boots are fine. They are fine on the resorts slopes too. But if you are in gentle rolling country where you want to cover 20+ km that day with packs and maybe, if you are very lucky, some skating action on the very gentle downhills, plastic tele boots will KILL your shins. They just do not have the ease of flex at the ankle. And the weight will leave you knackered. Well, that was my experience with T3s.
As for the 'ease of transition' - what transition? Bain't none in rolling XC country.

It all depends on conditions.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Skis on 11/15/2012 10:48:29 MST Print View

Great article. Lots of tools I'd love to have. I'm a big fan of the Dynafit bindings. Simple, light, trustworthy.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: snow tools on 11/20/2012 18:33:28 MST Print View

Oi, a moribund week here.

The skis listed were the most diverse list I could slap together of skis I could either weigh myself (either own, or a nice local shop let me bring in my scale), or were owned by an acquaintance whose numbers I trusted. There's enough fuzzy math in this area that I was unwilling to compromise. Ergo the bias in selection was unavoidable.

Ross, regarding the superiority of free heel gear for rolling terrain: I could not agree more. I am also hard pressed to think of many instances in which a leather or pleather boot wouldn't be the best choice for such routes, again with the possible exception of the Excursion (which doesn't fit me, so I've never used it). I hope the boots get better.

With regard to metal edges, it would be interesting to take apart a ski and see how much weight they add. My suspicion is less than one might think. In any case, some folks can get away without them. Most folks, with only one or two pairs of skis for true backcountry skiing, will be best served with edges.

Paul, your citation of Asnes skis brings up an interesting point. I'm a big fan of skis the shape Skurka used (the Sondre), namely a tip right around 70mm and a waist around 55. Just skinny enough to fit in most set tracks, and wide enough to have skinny-ski style float in powder. The tricky thing is that there is a huge variation is flex and camber amongst skis this size. Some, like the old Outbound Crown or the Fischer E99, are quite stiff and have double camber or close to it. Others, like the Glittertind, are soft and have camber and a half. The later are much, much easier to turn. And while double camber is nice in set tracks or when skiing on hard surfaces (the Outbounds skate great on frozen lakes), I'm not at all sure that this adds much to forward speed in unbroken snow. This kind of ski, pins and a good boot is a touring quiver of one, but buyers should be aware of the more subtle differences and buy accordingly.

I also think the Asnes "skin lock" is a solution searching for a problem.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: re: snow tools on 11/20/2012 22:53:17 MST Print View

As regards gear for multi-day tours on moderate terrain (by which I mean up to and including short steep stuff, like 35-40 degree slopes), my feeling is that boots are currently the weak link in what is available. A wide range of skis can be used for this sort of tour with success. I have Atomic Rainiers and I'm very happy with their combination of grip, glide and turnability. 3-pin bindings do the job simply and effectively. But boots I'm not so happy. I have Excursions, and I love how dry and warm they are, but I wish they were lighter and more flexible - but not too much. All of the leather and leather/fabric boots seem to have doubtful waterproofness for a week-long tour, and the stiffness/control gap between them and the Excursions seems to be larger than the weight difference. I keep wishing for a lighter plastic boot, but none appear, and all the while the rando race gear gets lighter and lighter. Were I rolling in dough, I'd be trying Scarpa Aliens and a dynafit/pseudo-TTS hybdrid binding system to get some of the action of a 3-pin for the rolling stuff. But since I'm not rolling in dough, I'll just have to keep dreaming, I guess.

Chad Lorenz
(ChadL) - MLife

Locale: Teton Valley, Wydaho
Scarpa F1's on 11/22/2012 15:57:38 MST Print View

Dave, have you considered Scarpa F1's? The bellows has a nice, tele style flex when booting/skinning and is effectively "locked out" by way of a shim mounted underfoot on the ski. They are also quite light. FWIW


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: F1s on 11/23/2012 08:08:01 MST Print View

I did. The problem for me is their bootboard has a bit of a curve/bump at the instep which I find horridly painful. They used to be cheap on the used market, but that has dried up with the popularity of TTS.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: re: F1s on 11/23/2012 09:44:10 MST Print View

I'll admit I've never skied with a Telemark boot (or a plastic boot that has a bellows). But from what I've seen, it seems like it has a distinct advantage over Randonee boots (which I have tried). The striding seems very similar to a Nordic boot (three pin, BC or regular cross country) in that you can bend your foot at the toes, due to the bellows. Maybe it is just because I'm used to Nordic boots, but I found the Randonee style of striding to be awkward and inefficient. If this is the case for everyone, then plastic Telemark boots can provide more efficient striding while providing just as much (or nearly as much) control on steep terrain.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
F1 used to be $1,698.00, now only $934.00 on 11/23/2012 20:20:24 MST Print View

Good news: the F1 seems to be on sale, perhaps because the new Aliens have been introduced: Alien 1.0 is $1,798.00, while the F1 Carbon which used to be $1,698.00 is now $934.00. Interestingly, the Alien has abandoned the bellows toe. There are cheaper models of the F1, and they seem to be on sale as well, but why try to save money on boots?