The SnowSports Industries of America trade show that filled the Colorado Convention Center last week has melted away -- but not before we got the drop on some hot new items that will be on the shelves in your favorite shop this year. Technology has only gotten better, and so has the gear for the 2012-2013 season. Click through to see what's in store:
5. NOW Bindings
JF Pelchat, part of the Wild Cats crew in the late '90s, created these revolutionary snowboard bindings. Designed to operate similar to a skateboard truck, the binding responds to your lean and feels more connected to your foot, rather than to the actual snowboard. With rubber base plates that allow for flexibility in the transition from your heel edge to your toe edge (and vice versa), the carve ends up smoother and takes tension off your calves. If you enjoy skateboarding in the off-season, these bindings are something you'll surely want to demo.
There are a lot of headphone suppliers -- really, maybe too many. But a unique idea still makes itself heard above the noise: Witness Aerial7. The Sound Disc Beanie model is made for athletes who enjoy listening to music while bike riding in the city, skiing on the slopes, or simply taking a relaxing stroll on a brisk afternoon. Though certainly not designed for your everyday DJ (the company does offer the Royale series at MSRP $400), the Sound Disc is great for active music lovers.
3. SkyTechSport skiing and snowboarding simulator Got an extra $50,000 lying around? If so, then we're sure you're going to enjoy having one these training facilities installed in your home. SkyTechSport has created a virtual downhill course; models range from about $20,000 to $100,000 (the one pictured contains three projector screens, stretches 18 feet wide and runs about $60,000) and can be used in conjunction with professional athletic training. Very handy if you have a beach condo in Maui that needs some ski facilities.
2. O-Range bags
These O-Range bags are completely stitchless, and expand to nearly three times their viewable size. With a modest attachment of a four-watt solar panel, you can charge all of your devices while walking, hiking, camping or just being outside. The battery pack weighs merely grams, can charge your smart phone from dead to full twice before running out, and operates using simply USB and mini-USB adapters. The laser-welded seams mean you don't have to worry about stitching coming undone, and the one-year warranty ensures you get ample usage out of the bag before anything can happen. Prices vary, and the products range from simple laptop sling bags to phone cases to larger full packs that expand and stretch with the items inside.
1. Contour HD video cameras We've all heard of GoPro cameras; for the most most part, we all use a smart phone now. Contour has integrated both of these into its new line, letting you use your phone as the actual viewfinder for the camera so that you know you are getting the best shot possible. The rotating lens allows for proper focal orientation, and you can connect this to the Recon goggles with the little screens in the corner. The same application that allows you see the viewfinder wirelessly also allows you to control the aspect ratio (360p, 720p, etc.). With the ability to shoot at an impressive 60 frames per second, you can be sure that when you slow down that footage of a mountain lion coming at you, you'll capture the blood on his teeth. And the high definition will allow your survivors to see it.
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Even though Firehouse isn't the most technologically advanced company -- hell, they're keeping it as old-fashioned as possible -- they are steadily climbing the ranks of boutique apparel. Last year, we showcased their hand-knitted hats made right here in Colorado by real hands and by real friends. Co-founder Erik Hansen knits away eight hours each day, keeping an eye his team and their yields, which must past very specific quality standards (the ones that don't pass get donated to those in need), and talking with his grandmother, whom he both learned from and employs. Last year the company had hats and some printed Tshirts; this year, they rolled out a whole new line of apparel with custom jackets (the FireHouse crew designed the cut), hoodies, jerseys and more hats. FireHouse is based in Dillon, and its merchandise can be found at your local skate and snowboard shops (excluding big-box stores). Keep an eye on this company.