Photo Courtesy Ozone Kites

Photo Courtesy Ozone Kites

Reporting and images by James Brown

If you’re thinking about upgrading your snowkiting gear for the season ahead, you’ve come to the right place. This year, Tkb sent me (snowkite advisor, James Brown), along with my trusty ski experts, Maria Trujillo and Scott Siao, to the SIA Snow Show in Colorado to check out the latest in products for the 2015/16 season and give you the low-down on items most-related to our sport.

ABOUT THE SHOW

The show consists of two venues; a giant gear expo at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver and an on-snow gear demo at Copper Mountain Resort. We picked gear we felt was relevant to snowkiters to review then compiled our thoughts below.

thecrew

Maria, James and Scott putting the new gear to the test.

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

Below you’ll find our list of show and product highlights. Think we missed an essential, must-have, snowkiting item? Please let us know.

Garmin Fenix 3 Watch and Virb Elite Camera
It always feels like a UFO sighting when we see snowkiting somewhere outside of our world. Garmin featured North snowkite team rider Billy Bordy in their ad for the Fenix 3 watch and camera in the SIA show daily newspaper. The watch has many features such as GPS, compass, altimeter and barometer while also including a ski mode that tracks speed, distance and vertical drop. It also acts as a remote for the VIRB camera.  https://www.garmin.com
Hovland Snowskates (Most Fun Award)
Riding a snowskate was pretty much the most fun we had over the two days of the on-snow demo. It made green runs fun and challenging. After one run we took it through the park and were doing little jumps and carving banks. If you snowkite on any flat areas where you don’t have to wear the leash, you could have a blast. From past experience kiting on a snowskate, we can tell you that you wouldn’t want to wear a leash while attached to a kite. And you also don’t want to try going up a big hill without a leash or you are going to lose the board at some point which is dangerous to anyone downhill and is no fun to chase down. They are available with short twin tip skis for hard surfaces and tricks, or you can get a longer ski for deeper snow and a surfboard feel. https://www.hovlandsnowskates.com
SONY DSC
Rodin Splitboard (Most Intriguing Award)
This concept solves the downside of split boards; once you separate the halves you end up with skis with a straight edge on one side. That is fine if you are only going to use them for skinning up. But with the Rodin setup you can ditch the skins and actually ski down. It uses a Dynafit snowboard binding that works for both snowboard or ski mode. Check out the video on the website to see how it works.  https://www.rodinsplit.comrossignol soul 7
Rossignol Soul 7 and Savory 7 Skis
The Soul 7 (men’s) and Savory 7 (women’s) have been toward the top of our list for a couple seasons now. While a lot of skis we demoed are great at ripping around the resort, we keep in mind what snowkiters want and need. The 7’s are super light mainly due to the honeycomb construction in the tip. You will love them for jumps, grabs and spins. They have a middle of the road width at 106mm waist so you will float but they are not too wide so you can still edge and carve. The early rise tip will also keep you floating in deep snow and they have kicked up tails for riding backwards whether you meant to land that way or not. https://www.rossignol.com/SONY DSCC4 Belts (Coolest Accessory Award)
Is your leather belt stretched, cracked or soaked? C4 belts are a non-stretch rubber that solves these problems. The belts and plastic buckles come in a bunch of colors that can be mixed and matched to create your own unique combination. If this sounds like a marketing pitch, it’s not! We just liked these belts. https://www.c4belts.comAbom gogglesAbom Goggles (Best New Technology Award #1)
When foggles (fogged goggles) are your nemesis, take a look at this new technology. Rather than using anti-fog coatings, wiping cloths and fans that have to be constantly adjusted, these guys came up with a high-tech invisible heated film that is powered by a battery. They claim it will eliminate fogging. The battery will last 7 hours. It has both active mode (always on) for all day heating or Boost mode (on demand) for 10 minute bursts to eliminate fog only when you need it. https://abom.comripclearRipclear Goggle Lens Protectors (Best New Technology Award #2)
We sure wish that we knew about these protectors sooner. After picking up a pair of brand new Electric goggles, we got a scratch on the lens from a ski. These lens protectors are a great invention. They currently come in both flat or spherical lens versions. The spherical lens version is a bit small for large frameless goggles but they are coming out with a larger version as soon as possible. https://ripclear.comScott goggles
Scott Goggles
Scott goggles have a fit system that uses a screw to change the fit of the goggle on the face. Other manufacturers have an A-fit (or Asian fit) version but Scott actually allows you to turn a screw that adjusts the height of for the bridge of the nose so it will work with any face shape. https://www.scott-sports.com/us/en/Electric 3g3 goggles
Electric EG3 Goggles
We tried a pair of these frameless goggles with a nice dark lens during the brightest part of the day. They provided the perfect combination of darkening with great clarity. When the clouds rolled in and the light got flat it was harder to see but even low light lenses from other brands were not working very well at the time. They have an easy way to swap out lenses that is kind of like how a ZipLock bag seals. The peripheral view is great on these goggles which is a must-have feature in our minds. Being able to keep an eye on the terrain below and kite above all at the same time is especially important for snowkiting. https://www.electriccalifornia.com

 

banshee bungee
Banshee Bungee
Banshee went out of business for a few years but is back. We used one at Skyline in Utah years ago and it was fun for hitting kickers and rails when the wind died. It’s a great alternative to throw in the car. https://bansheebungee.com

 

go tenna
goTenna (New Safety Category Award)
With this device you can use your phone to text or share your location even if you are out of service range. You can send to one person or a group. It uses Bluetooth-LE to connect to your phone and VHF radio waves to send to other goTennas. They say you can expect about 3.6 miles of range, which is what you’d expect with handheld radios that are pretty much limited to line-of-sight communication. https://www.gotenna.com

 

SONY DSC

Northface / ABS Retrofit Avalanche Pack
We didn’t get any information on this but it appears to be a universal ABS avalanche device that can be added to any backpack. In this case it is a Northface pack with the bags on either side of the pack. Keep your eye out for this option next year. https://www.thenorthface.com or https://www.abs-airbag.com/us/

 

black diamond jetforce
Black Diamond JetForce Avalanche Pack (Avalanche Safety Award)
Black Diamond has designed a series of packs that use a lithium/ion battery and a high-powered fan instead of refillable canisters. The advantage of this system is that you can inflate the air bag multiple times on site without having to have extra canisters on hand. https://blackdiamondequipment.com

 

bca float mtn pro vest
Black Diamond JetForce Avalanche Pack (Avalanche Safety Award)
Black Diamond has designed a series of packs that use a lithium/ion battery and a high-powered fan instead of refillable canisters. The advantage of this system is that you can inflate the air bag multiple times on site without having to have extra canisters on hand. https://blackdiamondequipment.com

mtn approach backcountry skis

MTN Approach Backcountry Skis
MTN Approach has a different concept to getting around in the backcountry. Instead of using a splitboard with skins to get around, they’ve developed a three-section ski with permanent skins that you can just throw in or on the outside of a backpack. The advantage is that you can ride whatever snowboard you already own or prefer to ride. With this setup you don’t have to drop big coin on a heavy splitboard that lacks the performance you crave, although the $799 price tag for this system makes it a toss up. https://www.mtnapproach.com

 

SONY DSC

Ohski (Least Likely to Succeed Award)
This contraption is a shock-absorbing platform that is set up for skis or snowboards. They weren’t at the on-snow demos for us to try but we did stand on them at the convention center. They felt wobbly and our suspicion is that they would put excessive lateral strain on the body, which would outweigh any shock absorbing or leverage benefits. Time will tell. https://www.ohski.com

 

xensr

Xensr
You may already be aware of the Xensr since they have been involved in kiteboarding since their beginning. It tracks jump height and distance, altitude, rotation, speed, landing impact, vertical feet and maps it out so you can see it in 3D when you get back to your computer. https://www.xensr.com

 

thermalcell heat packs

ThermaCell Heat Packs and Heated Insoles
These heat packs come in 2 sizes, 3 heat settings and 6 hrs per charge. The insoles are available on their site currently and eventually I’m sure the heat packs will show up for next season. https://heat.thermacell.com/

 

aviwear

AViwear
These HD video and audio sunglasses and goggles were pretty cool. The sunglasses feature a 5.0 mega pixel pinhole CMOS camera for clear digital video recording (720p video resolution, 30fps video frame rate); 16GB onboard data storage; removable, cordless speakers that can also be used as a stand while on Web Cam mode; and a built-in MP3 player. https://www.aviwear.com


On a final note, there were some products that caught our eye in 2014, and showed up again this year at the show. Check out our review from last year and these two products in particular:

Apex Ski/Snowboard Boots: A boot that works for snowboarding or skiing.
Outdoor Tech Chips: Wireless speakers for your helmet.

Get the scoop on both products here: https://kiteboarder3.wpengine.com/2014/10/snowkiting-gear-spotlight/

 

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