SIA Snow Show – Part 2

Ben with Mystery Ranch was nice enough to talk to a few of us for almost half an hour about their packs, and it was very informative. I’ve always thought of their products as heavy and expensive – which they are, for the most part. But seeing the packs and hearing how 80% of their business is not to recreational users brings that in to perspective. They’re designed to fit well, carry well, and survive in very abusive environments. Mystery Ranch packs are also sewn in the US, which adds some cost over moving production to a factory in China. They had their existing airbag pack (the 42L Blackjack) and a smaller prototype model on hand, and it’s clear that they’re designing a functional pack first, and then figuring out how to add an airbag, rather than designing an airbag pack and trying to add functionality later. Weight (7.8lb) and price ($975) is fairly competitive with other bags on the market, so the “expensive and heavy” stigma isn’t necessarily appropriate. Definitely something I’m considering, as airbags become more pervasive in the market.

Our first stop Saturday morning was at Mammut, who is expanding their line of airbags next year. The system is fully removable and can be swapped between other bags in the line, with several packs ranging from 20L to 45L. The 45L even has back panel access, which makes it the first airbag pack I’ve seen with that feature.

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SIA Snow Show – Part 1

This weekend marked the annual SIA Snow Show at the Denver Convention Center, and I was back to check up on the state of next year’s gear. Despite the poor snow year, people were mostly optimistic. Industry sales are decent, and – if nothing else – next year has to be better, right?

Friday started off with a snowstorm of surprising intensity, which didn’t deter Michael Collins, owner of Leadville-based Freeride Systems, manufacturer of some very-well thought-out ski jackets and work pants. He’s too small to run a booth at the show, so he set up across the street, enthusiastically showing off his wares in spite of the weather. Watch for his company to do some great things in the coming years.

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Through a pretty strange turn of events, Lauren and I are getting a puppy in a few weeks. This past weekend, we loaded up Scout and went for a visit. They’re getting big fast, more than twice the size as at Christmas. Not a whole lot of narration needed for this, just puppies!

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