This past season Backcountry Access came out with the BC Link. An affordable and easy to use 2-way radio with all the features designed for backcountry and winter use.
When it comes to backcountry skiing and travel, safety is paramount. Whether you’re a catsking operator, or just a recreational ski bum, this fact should remain the same. One more way to ensure safety in a group is communication. Ski guides and professionals have been carrying portable radios for years, and it is becoming more common for entire groups to be linked up. This is where the BC Link fills a need.
Not Your Typical Ski Test When most testers try out new skis it is on a busy ski hill with questionable conditions. They usually get a run or two and make their assessment. Not us. No, we took our Loken's right from the hand made factory to the peaks of Snowwater Heliskiing for a 4-day intensive test run. With the experience of testing the Skevik Oda and the Anton we were familiar with how the brand felt. The Oda is a big reverse sidecut, reverse camber fun stick while the Anton is a burly big mountain slayer. The Loken, as we found out, was as different animal all together.
The First Run Stepping out of the helicopter on our first run we found ourselves on top of a wide open bowl to get warmed up on. After studying the skis for a few days my impression was that it would be quick and light edge to edge but also would break free easily in the pow. I was half right. After clicking in we all dropped into the bowl one after another. I thought I would pull a full speed long drawn out turn but the Loken had something else in mind. As soon as I initiated my turn it gripped and held like it was on rails! I was pleasantly surprised. This ski wanted to go. Three turns later I was at the bottom and I knew that the Skevik Loken and I were going to get along great.
The Rest of the Day The entire first day at Snowwater was spent in open bowls, steep chutes and lots of time playing in the trees. It was in the trees where I really fell in love with the Loken. It is so nibble from edge to edge and has a very light swing weight. After a day of skiing I didn't feel fatigued from lugging a massive ski around. Yet is still hung on at high speeds. The Loken is a perfect blend of what a skier would want: light and nimble in the trees and a confidence inspiring powerhouse in the bowls.
Some Technical Background The Loken comes in two widths: 106mm and 116mm. We opt'd for the 116mm since we do most of our skiing in the deep powder of the BC backcountry. Lengths range from 164cms to 188cms.We tested the 188. The ski design has a more traditional sidecut combined with a longer more subtle rise tip and a lower profile tail (to accommodate skins better). The Loken still has the same bombproof solid wood construction as the rest of the Skevik line up as well as the ultra fast base.
Quality The quality of the Skevik Loken is top notch. They are constructed in a small shop in Vernon which is in the interior of British Columbia. Only the best hard maple wood cores are selected, hand routered and layed up for pressing. Skevik uses 4001 sintered bases – not often seen in the freeride world as companies want fancy graphic bases. The base material is lightning fast and hard enough to handle the odd rock scuff. The top sheets are tough as well which is good because all of the graphics are designed by local artists and really add to the story of Skevik. Our pair was layed up with the new futuristic looking Scheske design. Overall quality is excellent. Handcrafted skis at its best.
The Verdict Buy a pair! If you are looking around at new skis consider shopping for something more grassroots. Skevik offers an excellent alternative to the big brands and has the quality and experience to it back up. The Lokens are a perfect one-ski quiver. They deliver float, pop, power and speed in the pow and chop. If you are skiing on piste they hang on to the hardpack and are fun to carve. Being lighter than most big skis in their category makes it so you can ski first chair to last without your legs dropping off. If you find yourself in a cat or heli, they will take on any feature the terrain can throw at them. Finally, if you are a granola crunching ski touring type, the skis are light enough to skin up without losing performance on the way down. For $649 and available in 2 sizes you can't miss with the Skevik Loken.
So here it is, January 2014. You have gotten over the Christmas frenzy and drank the rest of the eggnog (and most of the rum. Ok, all the rum). Now that all the relatives have left your house, you can get back to the outdoor winter pursuits you love. And, if you have some extra Christmas gift money in your pocket, I’ve got the thing to use it on. Whether you find yourself skiing through a powder field down to a snowcat, or hiking up a ridgetop to a new line, a warm Icebreaker mid layer is always a welcome companion.
The newly redesigned Quantum Hood is a great piece to have in your layering arsenal. It comes with great features like mesh underarm gussets for extra ventalition during periods of high exertion and a drop tail for good coverage under your shell or when worn on its own. One other feature that I find vital in my base and mid layers, is the thumb hole for holding the sleeve down. Nothing is more annoying than a pile of snow up the arm when you make that unexpected turn into a snowbank.
The Quantum Plus (shown in Red) is made from a water resistant terry merino wool that repels water, so it can be a great piece worn on it’s own around town as well as warming you on the slopes. I find it also seems to repel stains... which comes in handy. Check it out online, or find a retail location near you where you can try on this wonderful piece.
I don't always review skis, but when I do, I don't use words.
The Skevik Anton (A tribute to the namesake itself, Mr. Anton Skevik) is a great, big mountain ski with versatility for all mountain use. On first glance, I liked it for it's wood topsheet appearance and the Anderson graphic displaying Moose and maple leafs. It kind of bears resemblance to an old Christmas sweater, and it draws a lot of attention from onlookers.
On the snow, it continued to impress me. I skied the Anton 185 for a few days late last season out at Selkirk Wilderness in the West Kootenays of British Columbia. I had a hard time giving them up for anyone else to try because I was having such a good time on them. The 185 was a good balance of a big mountain, beefy ski to handle all the variable conditions and high speed. The 122 mm underfoot and rocker give it great float in the pow, and still light enough and easy to crank around in tight chutes and trees. It's a bit wider than what most people would call the "one ski quiver", but it is one of my favorites to take out in the backcountry or on the ski hill.
The Anton remains unchanged for 2013/14, and you should check it out if you get the chance. As you can see from the video, I have trouble coming up with more words to say about the ski. You just need to try them for yourself. Skevik Skis are available online or at Attrigde in Vernon, BC, just down the street from where the skis are made.
When I first stepped into the big and fat Oda from local ski maker Skevik all I could think of was the symphony Ode to Joy by the great composer Beethoven. I don't really understand why. It could have been a subliminal thing. It could have been that everything came together at that moment in a harmony of perfection. Or more likely it could have been the lack of oxygen as I stood on top of Meadow Mountain at Selkirk Wilderness Skiing.
We began our trip the day before starting out in Vernon BC where we stopped to meet Gregg and Glenn Anderson of Skevik Skis Inc. These brothers have set up a ski manufacturing plant in the North Okanagan and are pressing some inspiring designs – in shape and style. We were given a set of Oda's as well as their flagship ski the Anton to try out on our trip to SWS. What better proving ground for a BC powder ski than the place that pioneered cat assisted powder skiing.
Pulling the Oda out of the truck and onto the cat got a few questions and even more looks. The shape of the ski is the McConkey-inspired reverse sidecut/reverse camber. Onlookers were strangely attracted to them and wanted to know what the deal was. When we explained that they were pressed only a few hours away in Vernon by a couple of brothers their eyes instantly went to inspect the build quality. The attention to details and quality of materials used in the Skevik product is top notch, right down to Canadian maple cores, beefy ¾ wrapped edges and a lighting quick 4001 sintered base.
The First run: I have to admit, the first run on these wide beauties threw me for a loop. It took me the run to find the sweet spot in the cambre. A few runs later and I was in the groove of how these skis wanted to be skied and I could find out what they were really all about. There is no back seat on the Oda but there is plenty of heft under foot. My explanation for the perfect riding stance is right in the centre and ride them loose and kind of surf style. Once I knew what made the Oda tick it was straight into pure powder pleasure.
Powder Performance: Powder is what the Skevik Oda was bread for and we get a lot of it here in the Interior of BC. Many people will say that the Oda and other reverse cambre skis are not versatile. Of course they are not! That is like saying an F1 car is not a very versatile car. They are designed for a specific purpose: shredding deep powder. And shred it they do. The Oda is solid as a Mac truck under foot yet nimble when you want to play around. The mix between the solid wood construction and reverse shape reveals a magnificent combination where you can charge lines with, jump into the trees and pop off features like you are in Mother Nature's terrain park.
Construction: When it comes to powder skis I am not usually too concerned with construction. Shape and durability is where it is at in my books. But this Oda is just too well crafted to over look. Handmade with a traditional vertically laminated Canadian maple core, plenty of triax fiberglass, carbon fiber stringers where you need them and a super tough base and edges all add up to a light, fast and really tough ski.
Graphics: Love em! The set we had were graced with a graphic call the Stein – a piece of custom art by a local Vernon artist. It is depiction of BC mountain life right from the top of the mountain forest to the rivers of our great province. I especially liked the howling wolf on the tips. You can get any of the Skeviks in 5 different top sheets with new designs released every season.
The Verdict: I spent two solid trips on these Oda's of Joy. Three days at SWS and another two at Valhalla Powdercats. They made a lasting impression on me. I know this to be true because every time I open the door to my storage locker my heart races a little when they greet me. This is a pure powder ski that requires the skier to be a dedicated powder hound. There is a sweet spot on this ski and once you find it, you will be having the time of your life just like me. The construction with the wood side walls requires an annual treatment of linseed oil to keep them looking and performing optimally. If you are looking for a unique powder ski for your quiver, we recommend checking out the Skevik Oda and find your symphony of Joy!
If you are going to get caught with your pants down, be sure you are wearing Icebreaker
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Here it is, the all new underwear from Icebreaker Merino Clothing. Who would have thought that one could wear wool underpants? Rather than itchy, scratchy and sweaty, Icebreaker Underwear is comfortable, dry, and is excellent for active use. And for some reason it makes you take pictures with you holding your spear. The socks are the real deal as well. Great for on your feet or for 'stuffing' (see above).
This season we decided to change our underwear and start wearing Icebreaker right at the source of our daily clothing. Cleverly displayed in our images here we have the Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers. Bright and tight with maximum comfort. They are made using the ultralight BodyFit 150 Merino wool with a dash of Lycra to perfect the fit. Although Icebreaker uses the motto 'No Stink' we don't recommend pushing the limits when it comes to your underpants.
Icebreaker is more that a clothing company. They are more than fashion. They are even more than a lifestyle. You see, for us Icebreaker is an obsession. An obsession that has seeped from the dark corners of our closets to the forefront of our lives.
Everyday we all make the conscious choice to put on clothes (most of us anyways) and that decision comes easy to some and more difficult to others. But when you have an Icebreaker obsession, these decisions come easy. It goes a little like this: “Ummm, let me see, polyester shirt, cotton underpants, tight and uncomfortable socks? No thanks, I will just put on my Icebreaker again.”
OR steps up their Sidecountry line once again for 2013
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Christmas came early this season for everyone here at Catskiing Canada headquarters! The delivery man dropped of a few boxes of joy from Outdoor Research filled with the latest and greatest gear for 2012/13. The new Sidecountry line-up from Outdoor Research looks stunning and wears even better. This will be our third season running the OR outerwear at Catskiing operations around BC and we are stoked to show it off.
New additions we are particularly excited about are:
We will be posting reviews of the OR Sidecountry gear during the first few weeks of the season once we get some time on the snow. But we can tell you that as the word spreads, there won't be much left on the shelves at your favorite mountain shop!
It's not even winter yet here in North America, so why am I showing you a new set of gloves? Frost is starting to clear the leaves off the trees and the white stuff has started gracing the higher mountains, but no real accumulation to speak of. How could I even test them?
Well, these BLACKPOWDER gloves from Outdoor Research are special. They are a durable, goat leather and suede work glove inspired masterpiece, with a trick up their proverbial sleeve. The middle finger of the right glove hides a clever tool that every ski bum needs, a bottle opener. The reversible stainless steel ring proves to be very functional while remaining subtle and stylish. With no practice at all I was able to crack a cold one in 3 seconds or less.
So while I may not know how well these gloves keep out the cold or stay dry throughout the day yet, I do know that they will be a favorite of the apres ski scene all over. We will be testing the BLACKPOWDER Gloves this season and let you know how we get on. Meanwhile, I think I shall make good use of my new gloves. Cheers.