THE SELL: A carbon-fiber, wood-core ski that’s more reactive, lighter, and more durable than a traditional fiberglass-metal, wood-core ski. THE TEST: DPS makes some lofty claims about the Pure SE, but testers were smitten. The fully tip- and tail-rockered ski floated through everything, while its traditional camber underfoot laid down a reliable edge on hardpack. Its bulbous nose surfed over chop, and true to DPS’s claims, it was one of the most energetic skis we tested. Also available in a cheaper (and heavier) carbon-fiberglass layup, the Wailer 112RP Hybrid ($799). THE VERDICT: Pricey, but tons of fun. 141/112/127, 6.5 lbs
Yvon Chouinard could have taken Patagonia public a long time ago. Instead, the former blacksmith and original climbing dirtbag of Yosemite’s Camp 4, now 73, has kept his company private so he could pursue his twin goals of innovation and environmental sustainability without having to answer to shareholders. Along the way, he realigned the outdoor industry every decade or so. When, in 1996, Chouinard began demanding that only organic cotton be used in his products, he created the organic-cotton industry. Ditto for recycled polyester. A few years ago, Patagonia redesigned the wetsuit, adding merino wool, making the neoprene stretchier and warmer, and setting a standard that other companies are still chasing. Chouinard is a groundbreaking philanthropist as well, founding 1% for the Planet, an alliance of businesses that give 1 percent of their sales to environmental causes. Patagonia’s Freedom to Roam initiative, a coalition of environmental groups and businesses attempting to preserve wildlife corridors, was absorbed this year by the World Wildlife Fund. Chouinard even does volunteer work for corporate America—in 2009, Wal-Mart asked his advice on how to green its supply system.
By the Numbers 1,450: companies in 1% for the Planet (Outside is a media partner); $39 million: amount Patagonia has given to environmental organizations since 1983
Second Opinion “When you actually use the products you make, it’s not hard to appreciate the environments you use them in,” says Peter Metcalf, CEO of Black Diamond Equipment. “Yvon has been a real catalyst in pushing the outdoor industry to adopt a green mentality. In fact, he’s the catalyst for the entire outdoor-apparel industry in the U.S.”
What separates Melinda Gates from other philanthropists? Money, for one thing—the Gates Foundation’s $36 billion endowment makes it the world’s most powerful cash-bestowing organization. The other factor? Her relentless hunt for innovation. The 47-year-old Duke business-school grad and former Microsoft employee insists on a high-tech, empirical approach to tackling the world’s problems, tapping the minds of thousands of scientists worldwide. In July, the foundation announced a reinvent-the-toilet competition to find a clean sanitation solution for the 2.6 billion people without plumbing in developing countries, doling out $3 million to top-shelf researchers to design waterless and solar-powered commodes. Meanwhile, the foundation gets results—since 1985, its vaccination program has decreased the number of polio cases in the world by 99 percent. Gates, who has summited Mount Rainier, also plans to make dramatic headway with malaria, an AIDS vaccine, drought-resistant crops, and America’s ailing education system.
By the Numbers $3 billion: amount given away annually; $41 billion: estimated value of a gift financier Warren Buffett has pledged to the foundation, to be paid out upon his death
Second Opinion “Melinda Gates has done more good for more people than just about anyone I can think of,” says New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. “And it’s not only that she’s richer than God: she has helped set the global agenda by focusing on issues like AIDS, reproductive health, and women’s poverty.”
Fund Climate-change denial The two most powerful people currently influencing the national dialogue on climate change are investing millions of dollars to suggest it doesn’t exist. The Koch brothers—billionaires many times over due to their father’s fortune and their oil, paper, and petrochemical businesses—operated under the radar for years. That changed last year when a series of reports—most notably a New Yorker exposé—outed them as the brains and wallet behind Americans for Prosperity, a foundation that has helped fund the Tea Party. Not that they’re dissuaded by the newfound recognition. Last September, Charles Koch, 76, wrote to other business leaders concerning government regulation of industry: “It is up to us to combat what is now the greatest assault on American freedom and prosperity in our lifetimes.” And the warming of the planet? As David Koch, 71, told New York magazine, “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people, because a far greater land area will be available to produce food.” By the Numbers $44 billion: combined net worth, according to Forbes magazine; $55.2 million: amount Koch family foundations have given to organizations questioning the science of climate change since 1997; $30 million: fine Koch Industries paid in 1999 to settle a civil suit accusing the company of causing more than 300 oil spills Second Opinions Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, called Koch Industries “the Standard Oil of our times.” Greenpeace described it as the “financial kingpin of climate-science denial.” And Bill McKibben, the author and environmental activist, says of the Koch brothers, “They hold so much sway because they have so much money, and they’re willing to use a small bit of it to make sure they get a whole lot more.”
There were more than just feathery carbon road bikes and high-tech 29ers on display at Interbike. We saw tons of intriguing designs across the board, from belt drive commuters and cross bikes to a radical new mountain bike design with 26-inch wheels. In our final installment from the show, we present a few off-beat bikes we're looking forward to testing this fall. --Aaron Gulley aarongulley.com
BMC MassChallenge MC01 Turns out that Tour de France winners like fast bikes even when they aren’t racing. Designed by and for 2011 TDF champ Cadel Evans, this Gates CenterTrack belt-drive commuter pairs an aluminum rendition of BMC’s distinctive frame design with a host of Easton’s top-shelf carbon components (bar, stem, and seatpost). In case XT disc brakes and EC90XC 29er wheels seem a bit rich for your city bike—all the bling adds up to a price tag over $4K—BMC is offering more down-to-earth models in the Alpenchallenge and the Urbanchallenge.