Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Shane McConkey. Freeskiing's rock stars have swung back to the '80s to make black-leather studded belts all the rage in the international hucking scene. Skiwear manufacturers such as Fate and Orage have caught on and added three-inch belt loops to their new school ski pants. Before we know it, we're all going to start slam dancing again.
In the less-is-more department, Nike's Convertible Hydration Pant means you carry one less piece of gear on the plane, in the car, up the hill. The bladder is integrated into the suspender system and zips into a back sleeve, with the tube running right over your shoulder. Some companies have attached drinking systems to jackets, but the pant option makes it easier to swap out top layers.
The Air Back There
At last count, there were about 3,900 backpacks on the market. So why are Deuter Aircomfort packs so hot? Because they're cool. With an arch of suspended mesh that creates three-way ventilation, these lab-tested packs keep weight and material away from your back, reducing perspiration by 25 percent and allowing your technical threads to breathe.
Get Your Yo-Yo's Out
Competitive ski touring-racing downhill and up-recently lost out on a bid to appear at the 2006 Olympics, but that doesn't mean randonnée rallies aren't on the rise. There are 14 on the schedule for '02-'03 in places like Jackson Hole, Alpental in Washington State...and Slovakia. Black Diamond has even unveiled the F1, an AT boot with one buckle for quick adjustment, locking heels for descents, and a tele-like bellows for easy strides uphill.
Join the Bongo Line
The toy you used at rockin' '70s parties has been rescued from the dump and fattened into an oblong training machine. Physical therapists are now prescribing strength drills and balance exercises on the new Indo Board to fine-tune your body's three-dimensional proprioception (body awareness in space) and knee control-helpful while shaking your booty to old Saturday Night Live records.