Outside magazine, January 1999
Review: The Other Stuff
SNOWSHOES | BUYING RIGHT | THE OTHER STUFF | BOOKS
If you've been holding off on buying a camera because you can't settle on whether it should be a single-lens-reflex or one of those nifty Advanced Photo System numbers, the Nikon Pronea S ($520; 800-645-6687) will make the decision infinitely easier. The smallest and lightest SLR available (16 ounces), the Pronea S also possesses the versatility of APS: It gives you the option of wide, panoramic, or normal prints; conveniences like the ability to change film midroll as well as automatic focus and exposure; and a cool little index sheet of your shots. Yet it has the pedigree to please even the fussiest of shutterbugs. To wit: a light meter descended from Nikon's professional mainstay, the F5, that works flawlessly in all but the toughest situations. Nikonophiles will twitch with delight over the standard lens mount, which allows you to swap the somewhat slow (but high-quality) 30-60mm zoom (f/4-5.6) with most other Nikon lenses. And it's easy to wield one-handed if, for instance, you need your other hand to hang onto the chairlift. The Pronea's only real drawback is that the miniature APS negative means enlargements won't look sharp. But if you're mainly interested in filling photo albums, this just might be your perfect camera.
— Steve Casimiro
Casual fleece outerwear may be practical, but its ubiquity these days doesn't exactly allow one to stand out in a crowd. Wool duds, on the other hand, have a certain bygone-era appeal, but the era in question came long before words like "wicking" had entered the outdoor lexicon. This season, we have something different with the French Alpine Shirt by Bertram-Mann ($98; 510-232-8676), which cleverly melds the aforementioned fabrics. The result is essentially a souped-up wool shirt. Made from a blend of polyester, acrylic, and wool, the French Alpine has both the quick-drying capability of fleece and the warmth of wool. Its woven fabric also means far greater durability than the regular knitted stuff, while triple-needle-constructed seams further toughen it for years of stormy-weather abuse. And on the style front? It's trimmed with such of-the-moment touches as pewter-colored snaps and faux suede lining on the cuffs and neck. Which means that the winter of '99 won't be without its own brand of bundled chic after all.
— Kent Black
Kryptonite just made life tougher on would-be snowboard thieves with the Ball & Chain ($24; 800-729-5625), a snowboard lock that secures your board as well as its easily removed bindings. The innovation is that the "ball," which looks like a miniature, stainless-steel Wiffle ball, mounts to any exposed binding hole with a five-millimeter Allen screw, and stays there. Noose the "chain" around a roof rack, Douglas fir, or picnic table, thread it through its counterpart ball, and suddenly you've covered access to the anchoring Allen screw, thus keeping scofflaw grommets at bay. It's a boon to fans of step-ins, who previously couldn't lock their boards at all. And those who ride strap-in bindings will like that the three-foot-long cable can snake through their highbacks too. The cable-and-combination-lock portion weighs just 10.4 ounces and stashes easily in a jacket pocket, making it a serious hassle-free sentry.
— Michael Kessler
Despite countless innovations alpine skiers have enjoyed of late, the best fix for that most irksome of inconveniences — cold feet — has still been the hot-chocolate hiatus. But a new ski boot from Nordica could change all that. The Next Exopower 9.0 ($495; 800-892-2668) has a foam liner that contains Outlast, revolutionary stuff that actually regulates body heat. Developed by NASA for space suits,Outlast will see many applications — gloves, skivvies, hats — but none as ideal as in these boots. Zillions of plastic-coated paraffin microcapsules in the boot's liner conduct your body's heat, store it, and transfer it back to toes made icy by creeping chairlifts. The paraffin wants to maintain a temperature equilibrium, so your feet bask in a constant climate between 85 and 90 degrees. Tear down a mogul run in the spring and your boots won't pool up with sweat. Even beyond its built-in thermostat, the Next Exopower 9.0 is a great boot. The flex is adjustable and at its highest setting is only slightly softer than Nordica's renowned competition line. A densely padded tongue prevents shin bang, an easy-to-flip switch lets you walk comfortably, and it fits a medium-width foot. Quite simply, if the boot fits, you'll want to wear it.
— Mark North
Photographs by Clay Ellis