We've scoured the floors of Winter OR and SIA 2015 in search of the coolest gear for our coveted Gear of the Show awards. And these 10 products—from fog-fighting goggles to one ingenious winter shoe—are our top picks.
The North Face Modulator ABS
Inflatable avalanche airbag packs, designed to keep the wearer on top of the snow if he gets caught in a slide, are becoming a mandatory part of the backcountry quiver. While they work great, the airbags are also permanently built into the pack: if you want a small avy pack for short excursions and a larger one for longer trips, you have to buy two different packs. Enter the North Face’s Modulator, the first-ever avalanche airbag system that converts any backpack into a potentially lifesaving ABS avy airbag pack.
Read more about the Modulator ABS.
Abominable Labs F-BOM Goggle
Goggle manufactures have been trying to figure out how to prevent goggles from fogging up for years. Smith has its fan system. Julbo just debuted an elegantly simple mechanical solution (it too won an award from us at this year’s winter trade shows; check it out here). But the most novel solution has got to be Abominable Labs’ F-Bom, which has an extremely thin—less than one billionth of an inch thick—transparent metal heater embedded in its lens.
Read more about the F-BOM goggles.
Fischer Profoil Skins
Traditional nylon and mohair skins are great for the uphill, but they have almost no glide. Which is fine if you only are going up. But, whether you’re skinning up the resort for fitness (what’s known as uphill travel, a big trend at resorts across the country) or looking for powder deep in the backcountry, most routes to the top also invariably involve flat sections of terrain or even small descents. Knowing this, Fischer’s designers decided to try something new: a climbing skin with enhanced glide.
Read more about the Profoil skins.
Voormi Drift Hydro
Waterproof-breathable jackets. They're the staple of every outdoor enthusiasts' kit. And ever since Gore-Tex was first invented in 1969, waterproof-breathable jackets have been made more or less the same way: you take a membrane and sandwich it in between a face fabric (the jacket's exterior) and an internal coating or fabric (what you feel against your skin). But now a Colorado upstart by the name of Voormi thinks it's come up with a better way to make a waterproof-breathable layer.
Read more about the Drift Hydro.
Because they’re extremely lightweight and more secure than they look, tech-style alpine-touring bindings, which rely on two sets of pins to hold the toe and heel in place and require a special boot, have become the most popular style of binding in the backcountry. The trick has been figuring out how to build one that can also handle the day-to-day pounding of resort skiing. With the new Kingpin, Marker has potentially created one of the most versatile bindings we’ve ever seen.
Read more about the Kingpin.
Columbia Heatzone 1000 Jacket
Cold spots. They’re the bane of all puffy jackets and sleeping bags. Most often, they occur at the seams where the baffles are stitched. To prevent heat loss between the baffles, the new 900-fill Heatzone 1000 has unique overlapping seam construction that all but eliminates the dead spaces where heat can escape.
Read more about the Heatzone 1000 jacket.
Under Armour Fat Tire GTX Shoes
Don't be fooled by the name. These oversize and waterproof shoe-boots aren't designed just to be worn fat biking in the winter—the tire in the name refers to the outsoles, which are made from Michelin tire rubber designed to stick to rocky, loose trails like a honey badger on a beehive.
Read more about the Fat Tire GTX shoes.
Julbo Aerospace Goggles
Nothing ruins a powder day faster than fogged-up goggles. Which is why we’re so excited to try out Julbo’s new Aerospace goggles, designed for the up and the down.
Read more about the Aerospace goggles.
Dynafit Chugach Skis
We don't typically associate Dynafit with versatile big mountain skis. The Austrian company—makers of some of the best, lightest alpine touring bindings on the market—is better known for gear designed to go uphill, not down.
Read more about the Chugach skis.
The North Face Ultra Lite WP Jacket
A short-sleeved waterproof-breathable jacket? Seriously? Yes, seriously. Some of our staff were a bit dubious about the real-world functionality of the Ultra Lite, but anyone who has run long distances in cold rain knows that doing so in even the most breathable hard shell can often suck: you steam up the inside quickly and your sweat tends to pool in the crook of the arms and elbows.
Read more about the Ultra Lite WP jacket.