Dynafit The Beast GTX from Best in Show: O.R. Winter 2014

Best in Show: O.R. Winter 2014

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Dynafit

Dynafit The Beast GTX

The backcountry specialists at Dynafit tricked out a lightweight, breathable Gore-Tex Active shell—adding roomy chest pockets for stashing skins, ventilating pit zips, a full zip-off powder skirt, interior pockets and a wire-brimmed, single-hand operable hood—but still managed to keep the weight at a single pound. It’s meant to be an all-purpose AT jacket, as suitable for sweaty uphill skinning as it is for speedy descents through chest-deep stash. And from the looks of it, it’s exactly that.
$500; dynafit.com

Salewa

Salewa Firetail EVO Mid GTX

For this year, Salewa keeps the much-loved features of the Firetail GTX—360º protective rand, rugged nylon-mesh upper, waterproofing, breathability, climbing-shoe lacing and 3F Power System for a precision fit and, given all that, a surprising lightness—and adds a high-ankle cuff that increases stability and warmth across seasons. What was once a versatile technical approach shoe may now be a worthy primary hiker, too.
$189; salewa.us

Montbell

Montbell Plasma 1000 Anorak

Last winter, Montbell released the Plasma 1000 jacket (pictured), the first-ever commercial product to sport high-quality 1000-fill goose down. It was incredibly warm given its 4.8-ounce weight, but in the end the spartan, three-season jacket was more of a technology statement than a practical buy. In 2014, the company is making a more functional all-season, half-zip anorak. With a hood, a kangaroo pocket for hand warming and double the insulation of its predecessor, it’ll still be very light but far more useful.
$269; montbell.us

Goal Zero

Goal Zero Sherpa 100

The new two-pound Sherpa 100 packs double the power of its best-selling predecessor, the Sherpa 50, in only 25 percent more space. That means more juice in the backcountry—enough to charge a DSLR 10 times or your GoPro 18 times—without sacrificing too much pack space. Toss in one of GZ’s unbreakable solar panels for a never-ending charge, no matter how far off-grid you venture.
$350; goalzero.com

Mountain Hardwear

Mountain Hardwear Super Compressor

Sometimes how you construct insulation can be just as important as how much you stuff into a jacket. In the Super Compressor, MH used 100 grams of its proprietary Thermal.Q insulation—quilting a 40-gram layer to a 60-gram layer—to create a baffle-like effect that delivers 30 to 40 percent more warmth. It’s a clever trick that we’ve never seen before, and it hints at what more can be accomplished with synthetics.
$295; mountainhardwear.com

Brunton

Brunton All Day GoPro Battery

Running out of GoPro juice midway through an afternoon shred session is a huge buzzkill, but it happens all the time. To solve the problem, Brunton made the aptly named All Day, a 4,000 mAh battery pack for the Hero3+ (whose “improved” battery life is still under two hours). The water- and shock-proof All Day extends overall battery life up to four times, for a total of close to eight hours. At $55, it’s a steal, especially when compared to GoPro’s own solution, the $50 Bacpac Limited Edition, which only packs 1,100 mAh.
$55; brunton.com

The North Face

The North Face Fuse Uno

Though, at first glance, the minimalist Fuse Uno doesn’t look all that impressive, it is undoubtedly a game changer in terms of construction. That’s because The North Face cut it from a single swatch of HyVent Alpha waterproof-breathable fabric and carefully stitched it together, resulting in fewer seams—durability and waterproofing weak points—and less material waste. Even more complicated (and, yes, cool), the single piece of fabric is woven with two different yarns, which allowed the designers to strategically alter durability and breathability throughout the jacket.
$399; thenorthface.com

Black Diamond

Black Diamond Halo 28 JetForce Pack

Avalanche airbags, in general, are a pain—bulky, difficult to travel with, expensive and reliant on single-use compressed-gas canisters—with the major upside that they could save your life in a slide. BD’s revolutionary new Halo 28 solves some of the major drawbacks by inflating with a rechargeable electronically controlled jet fan. That means it’s airline-friendly and can be deployed repeatedly in the field (practice makes perfect!), then powered up at home. When you pull the chord, it inflates a 200-liter balloon, and keeps it topped off for three minutes, then sucks the air out, potentially giving you an air pocket if you’re buried.
$1,100; blackdiamondequipment.com

Smith Optics

Smith Optics Forefront Bike Helmet

This premium mountain bike helmet addresses all-mountain concerns—additional protection, light and goggle integration and a built-in POV camera mount—at road-race weight (285g). Smith achieves this small miracle by combining EPS with what it calls “Aerocore,” a honeycomb-style Koroyd material that improves ventilation and makes for 30 percent better impact absorption while reducing overall helmet volume. Sweet.
$220; smithoptics.com

Tecnica USA

Tecnica Mach1 Series 130

Alpine ski boots are big and heavy and stiff and make you walk like Robocop. Right? Well, that could all change with the new Mach1 Series. The “microcell” liner fits your foot more snugly than usual out-of-box, but doesn’t rub you in the usual wrong ways. First, the toebox is shaped asymmetrically to match the line of your foot, a hole is punched out so as not to rub your ankle bone and a groove is carved out to cradle the Achilles tendon. Customizations are easy, too—Tecnica made the boot easily grindable, and the liner is heat-moldable. If revolutionizing alpine boot fit and comfort wasn't enough, the Mach1 also offers high-performance stiffness and power transfer.
$785; tecnicausa.com

Garmin

Garmin Forerunner 620

This touchscreen GPS running watch with high-resolution color display tracks the usual data—distance, pace and heart rate—but, when paired with an optional smart heart rate monitor ($50), goes a big step further by estimating your VO2 max and post-run recovery time. The additional module provides feedback on your running dynamics—cadence, ground contact time and vertical fluctuation—to give you insight into your form and running economy. It’s a slick watch that, if used right, helps you train much smarter.
$400; garmin.com

Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Lucent Heated Gloves

Admittedly, there’s nothing new or exciting about the concept of heated gloves. What’s novel here is that OR has integrated the heating elements into the Lucent’s insulation, allowing it to warm not only the fingers, but also the front and back of hand. What’s more, this waterproof, insulated glove pumps out 61 percent more power than its competitors, which ought to be enough to ward off chairlift numbness and backcountry frostbite.
$350; outdoorresearch.com

Best New Outdoor Tech

Want to see more of the coolest gear hitting stores this year?
Click HERE to see 12 amazing new tech pieces from Outdoor Retailer

Best in Show: O.R. Winter 2014