After 4 mega days of seeing all the amazing new clothing, skis, climbing, and more that everyone has and will be launching in the next 12 months, I wanted to share my top 5 favourite bits of kit. This is just from the big guys as I want to follow up with another post on the incredible new startups that were there too.
1) The North Face Ventrix Jacket
Oh what a sexy piece of kit! I have been working a bit with The North Face and, in all honestly, just love their kit but one of my go to layers is my Patagonia Nano Puff – a mid-layer jacket that is toasty warm yet very breathable and, even when you’ve sweated a lot and would normally start to get cold, still keeps the heat in.
This year TNF will be releasing their take on this essential bit of kit with the Ventrix. Designed to be worn at all times and adapting to your current needs, what I love the most is the fit; snug in all the right places but never restrictive in movement, you barely notice it is on you – always a great sign with mountain clothing.
Pencilled to be released in late 2017, I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these!
2) Black Diamond Fuel Ice Axe with Hammer
Now this is not exactly a whole new product, more an improvement on one of my favourites. I have been ice and mixed climbing with the Black Diamond Fuels for the last few years and I absolutely love them. They swing well, are robust, and, let’s face it, are damn sexy. There has, however, been a small feature lacking – any hammer or adze.
These ice tools are designed primarily for waterfall ice climbing but they are a great mixed tool. In Chamonix, and the alps in general, hammers and adzes are not always needed. We often climb in better weather and have nowhere near the sort of gnarly conditions that you find in Scotland where smashing away hoar frost and clearing iced up cracks is a daily endeavour.
However, there are times when a hammer is really necessary and I’ve found myself wanting one, normally at a moment where there is nothing I can do about it. Well, BD have listened and added an extra version of the Fuel to their arsenal. Small but perfectly formed, it only marginally affects the swing but the benefits will be huge in the mountains.
3) Scarpa Ribelle Tech Boots
There is a huge movement in mountain footwear brands to start addressing the current trend of moving fast and light while changing what you are wearing as little as possible. This has seen a lot of running innovation crossover into alpine clothing and now footwear is catching up.
Scarpa have designed a lightweight mountain boot with a stiff, crampon compatible sole and paired it with a low cut boot and integrated gaiter. Bringing their great design to the product it looks awesome and, I hope, performs superbly as well.
I can’t wait for the release and see about testing them out!
4) Black Crows Skis
Ah, Black Crows. Does anyone make a sexier ski? Designed in Chamonix and the go to choice for everyone from regular off-piste skiers to mountain guides to the most extreme steep skiers, what Black Crows have achieved in a very short time is unparalleled.
Each year they have grown their flock, listened to the feedback of their incredible pro team, and built just the right skis for everyone’s demands. Now with 24 different pairs, they are really in the ring with the big guys.
I was fortunate to have one of their pro skiers, Minna Riihimaki, show me around the full line up and I was just drooling the whole time. They have spent so much time really making sure that each ski as a definite and deliberate purpose and then made it utterly perfect for the job.
One day, Freebird Navis, you will be mine. Oh yes, one day.
5) Montane Quattro Jacket
Similar to the TNF Ventrix, Montane have released an alpine mid-layer jacket with the Quattro. Designed to be worn at all times and not needed to be taken on and off, it is one sexy piece of kit.
They have used different fill powers in different sections to map the body’s heat requirements as well as used different durability fabrics in the high-wearing areas to maximise longevity and minimise damage from use (or careless use, as is often the case with me..).
Another awesome jacket that will be invaluable to anyone moving with purpose in the mountains.
Thank you, again, to ISPO for inviting me along and giving me an opportunity to check out all this amazing kit!