Will it ever snow again in our local mountains? Who knows? But here are 10 winter 2009/2010 trends in apparel and equipment tracked by SnowSports Industries America (SIA), the nonprofit North American trade group for the industry.
1) Vibrant orange jackets inspired by the bright, bold patterns of the '80s are back in. (Everything is back in sooner or later, which is why I've held onto my wood-slat skis.) SIA: "Burtons White Collection harnesses Shaun White's spirit with England's post-punk inspired prints, bold colors and quirky trims."
2) Fatter skis in much more variety, with waists wider than 80mm. SIA: "They aren't just for powder anymore, fatter skis provide more stability in all conditions and skiers of all ages are discovering the joy of speed without chatter."
3) Reverse camber in snowboards--or, a downward bowing out between your feet rather than the concave curve that a traditional board makes lying on a flat surface. SIA: "While it might seem counterintuitive, this technology is meant to deliver heightened control between your bindings, while a slightly stiffened tip and tail add pop." Look for the technology in skis, too.
4) More backcountry boots in greater variety because this has been one of the industry's few growth categories in an otherwise crappy period for equipment sales.
5) Star power from athlete-endorsed snowboards with special collections featuring rocker and reverse camber and a penchant for artistic expression. SIA: "Snowboard manufacturers rushed to get reverse-camber and rocker products onto the market for this upcoming season. The reason for the rush was no secret--they work."
6) More adjustable boots, clothing and snowboard options for kids because, "When the economy is tough, parents are looking to get one more season out of kid's equipment and outerwear, and snow sports companies are designing products with this in mind."
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7) Greater emphasis on lenses, ventilation and "a bit of bling" when it comes to goggles. Also, "helmets are being designed with goggle-compatibility in mind, which increases the performance of the goggle including climate control and airflow."
8) More wearable electronics thanks to a new breed of devices that work with helmets, hats and even gloves.
9) Like ski areas, snow sports apparel companies are taking extra steps to incorporate eco-friendly practices. SIA: "ThirtyTwo uses recycled polyester rip stop material in part of their line while Lib-Techs new outerwear line, dubbed EcoMotional, showcases jackets and pants made from 100-percent recycled polyester. Always known for their eco-friendly efforts, Patagonia is striving to close the recycling loop by making every garment out of 100 percent recycled material."
10) Snowboard companies are also getting greener, as Venture, Arbor, CAPiTA, Nidecker, K2, Ellis and Salomon have launched eco-friendly boards that feature recycled materials, sustainable cores and biodegradable waxes. SIA: "Check out the Arbor Draft."