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New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021

K2 Mindbender 130 and 120 Flex boots

We’re back from another Outdoor Retailer Trade-show and have New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021. This year in the boot world the focus has been on four buckle touring boots withGripWalk and pin compatibility. We also saw more and more companies pushing for 130 flex and 98 to 100mm last in boots with an uphill mode. The biggest notable difference breaking out onto the AT Touring scene is the Lange XT3 130. Though we didn’t get to look at all AT boots for 2021 we did put our hands on a few. Salomon has a new Shift Boots collection and K2 and Rossignol have also improved upon their existing models.

New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021: Lange XT3 130

Lange XT3 130Lange’s new XT3 130 has improved upon it’s patented V Lock hike to walk system. The updated V Lock system adds an additional 2 degrees of rearward motion and 11 degrees of forward motion. This results in 53 degrees of total range in motion of the cuff- pretty impressive! The redesigned shell sheds weight (though felt heaver than any other boot in it’s category), providing a balance of agility for the climb up without sacrificing performance on the downhill.  The sole’s new construction, which sandwiches Grilamid between two layers of Polyurethane, was developed for durability. The Lange XT3 130 has (you guessed it) 130 flex so it’s stiff- and has GripWalk and pin compatibility. The boot is also available in 97mm and 100mm lasts.

Pro’s

  • True 130 flex. This boot is stiff!
  • Two Lasts Options
  • 53 degrees of total range in motion

Con’s

  • It’s heavy. Though touted as a lighter upgrade than previous models, the XT3 is on the heavier side.
  • Velcro cuff strap

Final Thoughts

If you are one of those people looking for the stiffest of stiff Alpine Touring boots, we’re not going to sway you away for the Lange XT3 130. With two layers of Poly and Grilamid, this boot is super stiff. It’s going to be warmer than a Atomic Hawx XTD 130 for sure, but it’s also going to take longer to warm up and longer to cool down. The strap is a standard Velcro strap which we suspect will wear out quickly. Other boot companies offer cinch straps so if we as a user were to purchase this we’d upgrade the strap to something aftermarket. Lastly, the weight of this boot was a big turnoff. Having skied in the Atomic Hawx XTD 120 this season, the XT3 felt like a brick by comparison.

New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021: Salomon Shift Pro 130

The Salomon Shift Pro 130 is the newest backcountry compatible alpine touring boot. The Shift Pro draws inspiration from it’s S/Pro collection but with a 4 buckle design and more durability for everyday resort use. The 100mm last boot includes a Sensifit insert, new instep geometry, lightweight construction, a customizable shell, a 40 degree range of motion cuff, and a seamless liner. Salomon’s Coreframe construction provides the power transmission and performance of a traditional alpine boot. GripWalk and Pin Compatible- the Salomon Shift Pro is also available in a full range of flex options.

Salomon Shift Pro 130

Pro’s

  • Performance, The Shift Pro really defines what an all-terrain, alpine touring boot should be. This boot performs well for touring but also will hold it’s own for downhill only days.
  • Seamless liner. No bunching our weird pressure points. Out the box the Salomon Shift Pro will feel good. Some of our employees who have tested this boot have yet to heat mold their liners- it’s just that good.
  • Easy to use flip switch from alpine to walk mode.
  • Wide range of flex options

Con’s

  • Price. This boot will put you back $970 (in-store may be cheaper) whereas other boots in it’s category are less.
  • Velcro strap. Like the Lange boots, velcro wears out fast. We prefer cinch straps for touring and higher flex boots.
  • Only comes in 100mm last. Most people fit in that category, but if you prefer 98mm last you’ll need to look at the S/Pro

Final Thoughts

The Salomon Shift Pro 130 is really filling in any loose ends that the QST and Shift collections had. We’re digging it because there’s a whole range of men’s and women’s options in flexes to choose from. You’re not just limited to a top tear option. The last is 100mm which is the most common footprint of skiers. We do wish they offered a 98mm last in the 130 flex but can settle for  finding that last in the S/Pro line. The Coreframe construction is simple and easy to use, though may be cumbersome in sub-zero temps. The price is also a bit high, which  would make us as a user consider other options. But if you’re deadset on salomon and want to be on a 100% Salomon Package, we’re not about to stop you. And if that price point really doesn’t bother you- we’re more than likely to convince you that this is the boot for you.

New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021: Rossignol Alltrack Elite 130

Rossignol Alltrack 130The Rossignol Alltrack Elite 130 offer’s a no-compromise with with tech fitting and enhanced downhill performance for an all-in-one ski boot. The Thinsulate liner is 100% compatible and comes pre-articulated, so out of the box the boot should perform well. The heel cup is also well designed and like many other 98mm last boots will really hold your heel in place on ascents. The Alltrack also has Dynafit compatible touring lugs, offering a secure connection to tech bindings.

Pro’s

  • Price. The Alltrack Elite 130 will put you back $699.95- Far cheaper than other 130 flex class boots.
  • Great out of the box liner
  • Easy and Efficent flip switch for walk to ski
  • Dynafit Compatible tech lugs
  • Higher quality Velcro strap

Con’s

  • Only uses Grilamid plastic. Not poly, Still a stiff boot- but in the softer side of 130
  • Only comes in 98mm last

Final Thoughts

Many who traditionally ski in the AllTrack resort model will have a hard time switching to the Alltrack Elite. I say this because the Resort Alltrack 130 is 100mm last not 98mm. So this touring model will feel snugger than typical. Many boot companies make their all-mountain touring boots in 98mm last for a more secure fit, especially while touring uphill- where your foot is likely to move around a bit. The price on this boot is superb for a touring boot though, and clearly other companies are finding it hard to compete. If you had trouble fitting into an Alltrack before, definitely try this one out- the fit is going to be much different and with that great price point you can’t go wrong here.

New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021: K2 Mindender Boots

Relativly unchanged from last year the Mindender is back and is one of our favorites. We love the big “mitten compatible” buckes, the cinched cuff strap and the spring loaded walk to ski mode. Available in men’s and women’s models, the Mindbender offers up a lot of options for both men and women. The women’s 98 flex, and men’s 100 flex boots will both have 100mm last on them- the rest of the line will be 98mm last.

Price wise, the Mindbender 130 will put you back $699.95. Still cheaper than the Lange or Salomon options. K2 uses TPU in it’s boots calling this their Powerlight core. TPU typically regains it’s flex in the cold versus polyurethane which will get stiffer the colder it gets (to a certain extent). This results in a true to flex feel and is lighter than most plastics used in ski boots.

New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021Pro’s

  • Price, A decent and competitive price point in the touring market at $699.
  • Mitten friendly, spring loaded walk to ski switch.
  • Big easy to use buckles
  • Cinch cuff strap
  • Light

Con’s

  • Color (can someone just make a straight up black boot already)
  • Only TPU Plastic
  • Buckles stick out and snag on stairs and other objects. You may need to replace them.

Final Thoughts

This boot was the lightest of all the boots I touched. The price is right and the fit is pretty decent out of the box. The buckles are mitten friendly and easy to use but be warned, if you unbuckle your boots in-bounds, these do stick out and we’ve already seen people coming in with bent or broken buckles. The Mindenders also come in a whole range of flexes so you don’t just have to get into a 130 flex. This boot was our favorite at the show, it checked all our boxes for weight, multi-use compatibility and easy to use buckles. The K2 Mindbender is our 2021 pick for favorite Alpine Touring Boots.

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NILS Barbara 2.0 Pant Gear Review

Women in red ski jacket

NILS Barbara 2.0 Pant is unexpectedly spectacular for long days on the slopes

 

NILS Skiwear is one of the first Fashion focused ski clothing companies to incorporate Gore-Tex into their collections. A smaller brand than many others, NILS has been able to incorporate high fashion accents into technologically comfortable winter skiwear. With the innovative design of the high waist, stretch bottom suit they soon began to dominate the stretch suit market. Over the course of the next several years NILS established a reputation as the best fitting women’s skiwear collection in the business and the product offering was extended to include sweaters, fleece, resort wear and petites. The universal active sportswear layering system and waterproof, breathable outerwear system is consistently regarded as the most complete offering for women in the industry.

The NILS Barbara 2.0 is no exception to the high standards NILS sets. The Barbara is they’re best selling women’s winter ski pant with a regular fit and mid waist rise. Designed to fit like your favorite pair of jeans, the Barbara is 20K/20K waterproofing to breathablity. This is the highest set standard for winter pants. Essentially the fabric is of a highest quality to resist water up to a certain pressure per square inch. For example brands like Arc’teryx are 20K rated.

Seams are critically seam sealed. Critical seam sealing is different than full seam sealing. Critical seam sealing essentially means that the critical seams have been taped for waterproofing. Full seam sealing can make pants more stiff and restrictive hence why NILS went with Critical seam sealing to allow the pants to move more freely. To top it all off, the zipper is a YKK zipper. High quality, durable and easy moving- YKK’s are the zippers of choice amongst winter ski companies.

Performance

We can go on and on all day about the tech of the Barbara, and some of you came here for that. But let’s be honest- if it doesn’t perform on the slopes, what’s the point in owning a pair? 60 grams of synthetic ecoloft insulation adds a good amount of warmth without the additional weight. Typically the heaviest winter pants you find (that still retain decent breathability ratings) is 100 grams. So 60 is slight above average for warmth.

When you first pull on the Barbara you’ll notice how stretchy it is. It moves with you and not against you. I personally like it, because it’s a quiet snowpant. Some pants with Gore-Tex Pro are stiff and in some ways restricting to move in. The Barbara is definitely not like that- and like your favorite pair of jeans, is incredibly comfortable. The best performance feature I found was the warmth factor. On those cold, slow chairlifts, my bum did not get cold. It was nice and toasty which is kind of a big deal. In comparison to other shell pants I’ve worn I was pleasently suprise by the warmth of the Barbara. The other nice thing too was that I wasn’t overheating. I was a happy warm and not sweaty.

Final Thoughts

For a good looking, functional pant that will keep you warm I think the Barbara is a great choice. I would recommend this pant to the skier who maybe won’t spend an entire day on the slopes. Someone who will take a few runs then maybe hang out in the base lodge. The seams are critically seam sealed and not fully taped which means, once they do get wet eventually water will sneak in. The other aspect of this pant is that though it is functional and oh so warm, it’s not necessarily technical. It feels like it’s more designed for the comfort and function aspects of skiing, not necessarily the technical aspects that sometimes come with the sport. So if you’re a weekend warrior, a mom with a VIP chair in the base lodge, or just someone wanting to get into a quality ski pant, I’d say the NILS Barbara 2.0 is your ticket.

Shop NILS Here

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Top 5 Skis For 2020

Top 5 Skis For 2020- From An East Coast Ski Shops Standpoint

These reviews are based on our on-snow testing, discussions with brand reps, and years of experience.

Top 5 Skis Of 2020

Basin Sports is a ski shop in Killington, Vermont. With access to the largest east coast ski resort at our door, we are able to provide accurate and intelligent insight to the state of the ski industry as it reflects our specific market.

K2 Mindbender Series

You’ve probably heard about the K2 Mindbender and Alliance-benders by now.  The replacement of the Pinnacle and LuvIt Series skis. K2 spent a lot of time testing and designing these skis to make them what they are. They wanted something stiff torsional but soft and floaty too. So what makes the Mindbenders so amazing? They’re incredibly light, yet stiff, yet powerful. The 90ti in particular for both men and women is stiff yet not. In our on snow test the ski was phenomenal on groomers and comfortable and controllable in the bumps. It didn’t feel like you had to overcompensate to make a turn. It didn’t feel too heavy or bulky either. One moment you’d be making beautiful racer carves on groomers, the next you’d be navigating tight New England trees. The Mindbenders want to float and dance over terrain- not bash and brawl their way down the mountain.

The Mindbender Series comes in many lengths. The men’s is 116C, 108Ti, 99Ti, 90Ti, 90C and 85. The Women’s or Alliance Series is available in 115C, 106C, 98Ti, 88Ti, 90C and 85. Yes, the Alliance series is a different mold. Everything is going to be the same about these skis except for the core. The main difference between the two is that the Men’s Mindbenders have full wood cores and the ladies Alliance have Aspen Vanier Core. Yes, that’s still technically wood- it just flexes differently than the full single wood core.

Top 5 Skis Of 2020

We’re on the east coast here, so we’re biased to the 99 and 90Ti (Or 98Ti and 88Ti) options. When we demoed these skis it was hero snow. Or at least what us east coasters call Hero Snow. Firm yet soft groomers, with plenty of packed powder in the trees.  We’ve been slimming down what the optimal waist width is for the East Coast and was planning on ordering more 90’s instead of 99’s. That’s not to say one was better than the other. Both skied excellently. By this point, it’s more personal preference.

We’ve been asked a lot to compare the Mindbenders against the Nordica Enforcers, and we’ll probably end up doing a blog and video comparing the two, but for now, we’ll give you this. The Enforcer Series is a great All-Mountain ski. It does everything well and is incredibly fun to ski on. One main difference between the two is the rocker profile. The Enforcer is going to want to power through everything- we refer to the Enforcer as a brawler ski. It’s fun, enjoyable and strong- but it would rather power into snow than float. The Mindbender is going to feel more familiar to skiers who maybe raced or spent a chunk of time on groomers- expect the Mindbenders allow you to ski off trail comfortable. You can go really fast on the Mindbenders and not feel out of control with twitchy rocker in your tips. The Mindbenders carve, they don’t smear. You know that famous quote, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”? That pretty much sums up the Mindbenders. They float and dance, they didn’t come to muscle their way through. They’re precise, agile and responsive.

Nordica Enforcer 88 & 104

Top 5 Skis Of 2020

Speaking of Nordica, There are some new additions to the Enforcer Family. The Nordica Enforcer 88 and the Enforcer 104. Both skis come with new technology and so far, our staff have been raving about the changes. The 88 was designed with us East Coasters in mind. It’s a true on-piste carver. You can read our review on these skis here. The 104 is a wider option but not overly cumbersome like the 110.

What Makes the 88 So Great? It’s different than it’s big brothers because It has less ABS sidewall. The ABS Sidewall is essentially plastic. Plastic is damp and non-responsive on impact. Nordica reduces the amount of Sidewall and filled it in with more wood to make the ski more snappy and powerful. Then they added a carbon grid to increase snap. It makes the ski much more maneuverable at speed and not quite as unstable.

The 104 has the same technology as the 88 and made many of our employees who own the 100 consider upgrading to the 104. A positive aspect of the 104 is that it offers more drive and stability at speed without increasing extra weight. The 104 allows you to explore more of the mountain with stability and control. One of the positives in the new designs is the power in and out of turns. One thing I’ve found in the older designs is that due to its shape I often feel like I lose a lot of my speed in and out of turns. The 104 certainly does not have that problem. Same goes for the 88. Both are responsive and power out of the turns effortlessly.

These skis are great for one ski quiver shredders or enforcer series collectors. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the 20/21 series of Enforcers don’t all have the new carbon technology incorporated into their design.

Salomon QST 92

The Salomon QST 92 has got it’s S—t together this year. In it’s first iterations it was one the softer side of all-mountain skis. Now it’s back and in it’s series (so the 92, 99 and 106) have the same technology throughout. But it’s an entirely new ski. So new tip design, new sidewalls and new core construction. I’m generalizing but all three waist widths will be the same construction. We’re digging the 92 because it’s probably the lightest All-Mountain ski that’s isn’t made of foam, fiberglass or unicorn dust. It’s rocker profile would make it great for a east coast skinning ski but also as a weekend warriors ski.

If you ski anything like me you may have thought that the QST was a fun ski but it was a bit soft and chattery on harder snow. Beefed up sidewalls have eliminated this chatter to a minimum and torsionally increased stability in turns. Win, Win!

The carbon, basalt, and flax are blended together in the new models from tip to tail, and there’s an extra layer of flax plus cork tips to optimize dampness at a lower swingweight. This is translated onto the women’s Lux, Lumen series too. The tip shape is new too and this reduced taper. The cork in the tip and tail makes the skis less chattery, and reduces swing weight making turns pretty darn fun. The graphics aren’t half bad either on these skis. Sticking with solid tones and less flair. Mounted up with the oh so toted Salomon Shift Bindings and you’ve got one heck of a ski set-up.

Black Crow Camox & Camox Birdie

We also are going to talk about Black Crow. They’ve been around for a while but really have exploded onto American markets more recently. The Camox is the showcase twin ski and has really stayed tried and true to its roots. It’s a true twin tip ski with classic rocker, camber, rocker profile.  Nothing overly fancy or technical, just the stuff that works- which is why it’s one of their bestselling skis.

But, the Camox is on the heavy side. So this year Black Crows reduced the weight of the ski and shortened the taper without overly changing the performance of the ski on snow. It does have a shorter turn radius- which can just mean it will get edge to edge quicker. An Advantage here is that as a true twin tip ski the Black Crow Camox and Camox Birdie will have an increased playfulness feel on snow. This will make for more a lighter, but tried and true ski that anyone can have fun on.

Atomic Redster X Series

An honorable mention and one ski that’s not really getting a whole lot of attention is the Atomic Redster X series. This skis was redeveloped last season and can be distinguished from its World Cup counterparts by it’s lack of red coloration. We’ve been jokingly calling it the greenster since the 18-19 skis was bright neon green. This year It’s not as bright but still a gunmetal grey with green highlights. Of the Redster X series the one that caught our eye the most was the Atomic Redster X WB (WB= Wide Body). The Redster is a series no F-ing around ski. The Redster X WB is the same nutty ski but minus the servotec. At 75 underfoot (versus 65) the WB is just a bit more forgiving. With true race camber underfoot the Atomic Redster X WB is still an extremely powerful ski. It’s just nicer to play with.

Coming in 152, 160, 168 and 176 you have a few options to choose from. The WB still has the multi-radius sidecut, full sidewall (hence 0/100/0 camber to rocker), Powder Woodcore, Titanium Powered, Structured Topsheet, and World Cup Base Finish. It still has all of those goodies. The reason we’re mentioning this ski is not that we enjoy it (I mean we do, we wouldn’t be writing this review otherwise) but because it enables you to still carve aggressive groomers, but still be able to walk the next day. We will be pushing this ski towards our Ski Bum Race Series competitors who want a fast ski for race day, but a comfortable ski for groomer days.


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