The Gear Junkie: Ski Gear Preview 2008, Part II

Scarpa Hurricane ski boot
Part II in a two-part series on new skiing and snowboarding equipment for the '07/'08 season. Click here for Part I.

Vail Ski Resort in Colorado opens this week for business. The lifts have been cranking at California's Mammoth Mountain Ski Area since November 8. By the time you read this, ski areas across the country will be operating and in full swing for the new season. Here's the second part of my peek at the gear you'll see on the slopes this year. 

Scarpa's Hurricane looks like a downhill ski boot. But this hybrid footwear does double duty in bounds and in the backcountry, as its sole is compatible with alpine-touring bindings as well as traditional downhill setups. In addition, the Hurricane is as stiff as an alpine ski boot, but at 3.8 pounds per foot is light enough for the rigors of pursuits like ski mountaineering. A "thermo-moldable" liner fits custom to your foot, plus there's an adjustment to set the angle of lean for optimal downhill performance--in bounds or out. $699, www.scarpa.com

Kaestle All-Mountain Ski Austrian ski maker K?stle is back. After shutting operation for almost a decade, the company, founded in 1924, was purchased by a group of former Austrian ski racers, and there are four new ski models this season. The MX88 is the line's all-mountain ski, featuring an ash wood core, sandwich sidewall construction and two layers of titanium for stability and control. It comes in a men's and women's model, both mounted with Marker Duke or Jester bindings. A unique touch is K?stle's "Hollowtech technology," which mills an opaque oval of fiberglass in the ski tip to reduce ski weight by about 15 percent to minimize vibration and help you better hold an edge. Pricing starts at $1,450, www.kaestle-ski.com


Bridgedale wants to make bulky ski socks a thing of the past. The company's Precision Fit line features "anatomic knitting" that contours the shape of the leg, ankle and foot with varying fabric thicknesses and elasticity to ensure proper fit and performance in a ski boot. The ankle, calf and bottom of the foot feature thinner fabric. The toe and tongue areas are thicker for padding and warmth. The Women's Precision Fit model has extra cushioning around the toes, plus they are knit to accommodate the feminine profile of narrower, lower-volume feet and broader calves. $19.95, www.bridgedaleusa.com

The Nomad line of skis from Atomic are "mid-fat" all-mountain boards designed for use on the trail and off. They have strange half-moon shapes carved out of the top sheet to lighten the skis' weight by 20 percent and create a "buttery smooth" flex, according to the company. The Nomad comes in seven iterations, including models with 72, 76, 79 and 86 mm waist widths. A women's-specific model has a softer flex and a binding mount that creates a forward-leaning stance. Pricing starts at $525, www.atomicsnow.com



Ortovox S1 transceiver This is one product you hope to never use. But just in case, the Ortovox S1 avalanche transceiver provides an intuitive interface and a large illuminated display screen. If people are buried in snow with avalanche beacons on, the S1 can detect them and show their position relative to the position of the searcher. It continuously scans a 60 meter radius. Within three meters of the victim, the display changes automatically to a pinpoint mode to narrow the search. $499, www.ortovox.com



Marker Attiva M2 helmet Marker's Attiva M2 helmet was made for women and includes touches like a fleece liner and a removable neck pad to accommodate a pony tail poking out. A double-shell design creates a lightweight and close-fitting hard hat. The removable helmet lining is machine-washable, antimicrobial and hypoallergenic. The helmet--made for skiers and snowboarders--comes in pink and white with wispy graphics for flair. $99, www.markerusa.com




Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eight U.S. newspapers; visit www.thegearjunkie.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog and an archive of Regenold's work.

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