Monday, April 11, 2011

2012 Icelantic Skis Review Gypsy, Keeper, Shaman Nomad, Nomad SFT: Be An Animal!

2012 Preview of Icelantic Skis: The Ski of Colorado

This year Icelantic has once again outdone itself, bringing a strong 2012 lineup with a couple of new additions. Tune in to check out the full lineup as I go ski to ski, and give you the business behind this independent company’s motivation, mindset, and how it quickly became the Ski of Colorado in 2010.

A little background to get you lifted . . .

Icelantic isn’t your average ski company. I characterize it as more of a cultural awakening to the ski industry. Founder, Ben Anderson, is a Colorado transplant from Toledo, Ohio, but he quickly traded his Midwest hills for Rocky Mountains and never looked back in terms of finding innovative ways to enhance the ski industry. After conceptualizing the idea of filling a void he saw in the industry, it seems he pretty much said, f$c$ it, bought a used ski press, and started making skis in his parent’s garage in Evergreen Colorado. In 2004 the Scout pioneered the line and paved the way for what Icelantic stands for 7 years later – a group of passionate individuals who truly believe in the products that they sell: from the quality materials and American craftsmanship, to the unprecedented graphic artwork and amazing performance, all the way back to the down-to-earth, approachable style that everyone who makes up that company will extend to you. The whole team truly emobodies and lives by their Mission Statement:

"Icelantic is a progressive, independent ski company that represents a lifestyle supporting, art, adventure, creativity, passion and innovation. Icelantic skis are high performance and totally unique, guaranteeing the evolution of the snow sports industry. We employ American craftsmanship, top of the line materials and cutting edge graphic art to provide our customer with the best product and experience possible. We are committed to building lasting, enriching relationships with every customer, to ensure that they believe in our product and company as much as we do. It is our mission and our nature to live a lifestyle inspired by passion and we invite you to join us."
Icelantic's quality construction layer by layer.
 Check the Scene for Yourself
Simply typing into your web browser will give you a pretty good idea of the nature of this company. I’m not going to get into it too much because clicking through the site is the best experience it, but I will say that Icelantic is definitely all about skiing, keeping their company independent, American made, and full of good-natured people that you can see are doing something they love to do. Take for example their International Sales and Marketing Manager, Annelise Loevlie, who also writes a weekly First Degree Newsletter that serves up everything from music picks, reviews, event information, and some good old-fashioned story-telling of her trips far and wide that will have you wanting to smell that same mountain air, float on the same powder, and definitely have you smiling at your computer screen. Anderson also gets the writing urge, sending off reviews of the skis he designs and stands behind with a 2-year warranty. 
It is pretty refreshing to have the owner of the company be so hands on and writing to you about the progression of the Icelantic line. I mean I’ve heard the saying, “I need to hear it from the horse’s mouth,” but that still seems ridiculously cool to me. I’ve never received an email from Mr. JoJo K2 telling me about his lineup – man that guy needs to get off his high horse. Not to pick on K2, they make good stuff to, but I bet they don’t host First Friday parties in Denver with live music and free beer. I’ll tell you a company who does though.
Be An Animal!
Speaking of horses, Icelantic’s theme this coming year is, BE AN ANIMAL, sparking the inspiration behind Icelantic’s trippy graphics ’12. Co-founder and friend of Icelantic, Travis Parr, is the man who brings Icelantic’s lineup to life. Parr is a successful artist who naturally thrives in the conscious world of skiing, and pushes the limits of that reality to express creative symbiosis with his canvas. Two organisms – man and canvas – living in close physical association with one another, each benefitting and giving life to the other. As soon as this symbiosis is complete the skis part with Parr and find another to live harmoniously with ripping stashes, living life to the fullest and possibly taking on new ownership until eventual evolution of a new year, a new line, and a new theme begins the cyclical process again.  
Artist Travis Parr
Well, that is the way I see it anyways and if you check out his artistic philosophies and his stunning work, you will see how I came to that conclusion. It is how it should be. Breath life into a company through art, music, and overall consciousness for quality in product and life, and you will gain loyal customers. Be stagnant, money grubbing, stuffed-shirt, ego maniacs with inflated ideas that your product must be everywhere, and at the same time, to the point that you start believing it really is, then you might as well change your company’s name from whatever it is to “Ubiquity” and you will lose, if not your business, surely you soul. So, the moral is before you lose – lose the ego and all will be fine. That’s my rant now on to the lineup.
Icelantic Lineup 2012
Everyone has gone camber crazy these last few years and why not, it’s frickin’ cool stuff when used correctly and you have not skied Powder until you float on a pair of reverse camber skis and Icelantic has got their Gypsy on point. Like a Gypsy, this thing is a rambler with the mystique to back it up, which is probably why Travis Parr chose the Walrus to represent this NEW diddy. The walrus is quick, nimble and sports the best moustache in the animal kingdom. The Gypsy has nearly symmetrical dimensions enabling you to bounce through the POW and pillow drop your way to blissful face shots that will have you donning a white ‘stache and bragging to your mates that You Are the Walrus, as you calmly sip four fingers of peppermint schnapps. 
Furthermore, the Gypsy isn’t what you think – on hard-pack you can still rip. No need to smear across the cord’ on traverses to your secret stash, lay it over, butter around, make the backcounty your backyard and go play because with these skis the only thing it is lacking is an open mind. It is the reverse camber ski that can simply do it all. What is that slogan? “Rethink Impossible.”  Sucks that AT&T has that slogan because I drop calls all day, practice what you preach AT&T, rethink your whole network.
152, 125, 145
170, 180, 190
19, 22, 25
Represented by the Elk, a western mountain beast with the strength, stamina and power that embodies the very core of this ski. The Keeper has early rise tip and tail giving it flotation through the light stuff, but the traditional camber underfoot allows skiers to engage the full potential of the edge without feeling squirrely at all, set it and forget it. 
Icelantic’s signature sidecut is becoming something of a legend in the industry these days and the Keeper could be the benchmark example of such lore. All joking aside, these things are seriously the most of fun I have experienced on variable condition days when you are not quite sure what you are going to get, but you want to be ready for everything so keep these in your quiver.  Not to mention the turn radius on the Keeper is razor sharp for being 119 on the waist coming in at 16 meters on the 178s. You can take these babies home to mom and when they go to get you another beer from the fridge, mom will whisper to you, “Their Keepers honey.”
150, 119, 136
167, 178, 189
13, 16, 18

Ahh, the Shaman, evoking images of Ayahuasca Ceremonies in the jungles of Peru, but that’s another post altogether. The Shaman is represented by the Turtle, the most ancient of any vertebrate animal and symbolizes the portal between earth and sky.  The turtle may be the most symbolically celebrated animal in literature, mythology, and folklore, and the Shaman is rapidly becoming the most celebrated ski in Icelantic’s catalogue. The first time I took a few turns on the Shamans was in 2007. Ben Anderson was kind enough to send a pair out to a shop I was working at in Michigan at the time. They were shorter then, but still designed the same with their unique diamond shaped shovel, tapered tail, and 110mm underfoot. 
Mock Turtle
My friend who was also trying the skis with me was skeptical. I went into it with an open mind being that I was skiing a fairly wide ski at the time on Michigan packed granular, but I ripped these things with a smile on my face that literally couldn’t be smacked off. I know this because my buddy smacked me when I wouldn’t let him try them out right away. I felt just like the Mock Turtle in Lewis Carroll’s, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland without the calf appendages. I just kept going on and on about them on the chair ride to the top of the mountain.  So, in a few words: amazing and unbeatable, which is probably another reason why the Turtle was chosen as the themed animal. Unbeatable, like facing turtle, King Koopa in Super Mario Brothers for the first time.  Quite simply they rip, built with unrivaled torsional rigidity and a 160 mm tip that can float Pow and crush Crud all in the same day with an aggressive sidecut that is stupid-sweet (that’s very good). You want a one-quiver ski. This is it friends. Be an animal and go buy a pair now.
160, 110, 130
161, 173, 184
19, 22, 25

***I will review the Nomad, Nomad, SFT, Oracle, Pilgrim, Da’Nollie, Scout, and the new Gemini splitboard applying Never Summer’s patented rocker-camber technology this week so stay tuned and Be An Animal!***

The Nomad & Nomad SFT

The 2012 Icelantic Nomad is cosmetically and spiritually symbolized, with good reason, by the mountain goat. Mountain goats have a natural ability to descend down precarious rock faces, traverse across jagged cliffs, and shuffle down sloughing slopes faster, and with more grace than Sly Stallone dodging a melee of gunfire while cascading a two-step down a mountain cliff hanger. Yeah - that fast, and that graceful!

A fitting creature to represent a ski with an equal amount of versatility and maneuverability. I know I've said it before, but this ski is the one quiver ski. With a narrower waist than the iconic Shaman, the Nomad surfs in at a cool 105 mm underfoot. Another brilliant ski from Icelantic that is a crowd favorite due to its adaptability and explosive power. It's as shapely as Marilyn with dimensions running 140 mm in the tip, 105 mm on the waist, and 130 mm in the caboose, and as balanced as Daniel LaRusso, Crane-Style against the Cobra Kai nemesis, Johnny Lawrence. Although, its sidecut is not as drastic as the Shaman, it provides a different style of all terrain shredding.

The turn radius runs 14, 17, and 20 meters respectively for its 156, 168, and 181 cm lengths. I'd categorize this ski under anyone looking for one ski to literally do a little bit of everything. If you like hitting little booters in the BC - no problem - with its balance and exceptional control, it's super fun and playful. If you run into groomers a lot in the Midwest and out East, it can handle it, and handle it well - holding edge on hard pack with surprising side to side quickness. If you make it out west a couple times a year and hope to stumble upon some blower conditions, or you want to hike a ridge you've had your eye on, then no need to demo a powder ski, ride your Nomads with pride and feel the solid planks keeping you confident on that precarious ridge, and floating you to the promised land. 

The Nomad SFT is a lighter, more flexible version of the Nomad. It features Icelantic's soft Nollie Flex Core. It's a big mountain jib ski that allows skiers to take their front-side antics to the BC. One rider I spoke with on a lift was rocking the Marker Schizo binding on his SFTs and was grinning from ear to ear talking about how fun his set up was. He remarked, " . . . it has awesome flex for park days (and the Schizo adds ability to turn your traditional mount into a center mount (with a few key turns on the toe piece ) and even with the 105 mm underfoot, it's light enough to go back side on tree runs and throw down, and so easy and effortless when you want to carve around with your Grandma." I added Grandma.

If you feel the call of the mountain goat, and have spoken to him in your dreams, ask him why his cousin eats leather, and tell him to guide you on your journey to skiing nirvana with the 2012 Icelantic Nomad and Nomad SFT.

140, 105, 130
156, 168, 181
14, 17, 20

Currently, Icelantic can be found at the following Midwest and Great Lakes Shops for the 2011-12 season.

Dealers interested in carrying Icelantic can contact Josh at

Monday, April 4, 2011

VestPac - Gadget Pac Born in the Mountains of Wyoming

VestPac - A little background . . .

VestPac, Inc. is the brainchild of Jackson, Wyoming native Scott Shepherd. While skiing Jackson Hole Scott realized that his hydration system constantly froze up on him and access to all the electronic items we can't live without were extremely cumbersome to get to even with today's advances in apparel. So, he took it upon himself to create an 'Underpac," as Scott describes it to alleviate these common problems. 

While wearing his prototype skiing, he received countless comments on the invention from thirsty skiers and gear fumblers. Scott adapted his idea to fishing the rivers and lakes of Wyoming, then kayaking, Stand-Up Paddleboarding, biking, running, hiking, birding, shooting and well just generally being in the outdoors. VestPac was a finalist for "Best New Gear" award this year and at last month's International Sportsmen's Exposition in Salt Lake City the gadget Pac was a huge success, selling out of all on-hand Pacs by the end of the show. 

VestPac's success is attributed to its comfortable form-fitting design, athletic grade construction built to move with you during the most vigorous activity, while the 3D Airmesh material is so flexible and soft, it barely feels like you are wearing it. As an "Underpack" VestPac can be worn underneath your ski jacket with no fear of being uncomfortable. No more frozen hydration tubes, frozen iPods and your favorite electronics' batteries last longer. The best part is that it can be switched out to accommodate any activity in about 20 seconds with its modular design. Using VestPac, has expanded its uses for me exponentially. 

Some Ways I Have Personally Used my VestPacs . . .

First, while fly fishing I used the DriftPac to keep all of my flies, boxes, leaders, thermometer, forceps, lines and everything else easy to reach, and I was comfortable and hydrated standing in my waiters because of the 1 liter of water that was on my back. No need to use lanyards and other cryptic inventions to tote your gear, VestPac can do it, and do it well. With built in tippets and retractable zingers this front is definitely one of my favorites, and is sure to be a staple of the angler world in the months to come. Check out the props from the ISE show 2011 here brought to by the guys from Fly Fishing Frenzy.

Second, while kayaking I used the WilsonPac with VestPac's compact dry bags to hold my phone, GPS, camera, and iPod right on the front of my PFD using the Monostrap accessory. The best thing about the combination of drybag and VestPac is that the once dreaded camera or phone swim is a thing of the past when rolling your boat, or having to bail, because everything is secured, and VestPac's drybags are waterproof up to 10 feet! These are not the so-called "Dry Bags" you see that will keep your stuff dry from splashes, these are submergible bags, compact and made to work with VestPac fronts. There is even an mp3 bag with a 2.5mm jack and VestPac makes "Dry Buds," waterproof ear buds for your mp3 player. 

Third, I started Stand-Up Paddleboarding last summer and realized right away the need for some sort of gadget pack to hold my phone, iPod and water. Moreover, a lot of the time I go out by myself with no place to keep my KEYS, and trust me people are hip to the old - leave the key on the front wheel or in your Thule rack somewhere - trick. Very few models of SUP boards have places to deck anything and wearing a backpack can be hot. Moreover, on windy days any extra baggage can work against you on SUP boards. I used the TetonPac, which becomes the utility, lifeline, and hydration necessary for staying on your SUP for extended periods of time worry-free.

True storyA friend broke his mast while windsurfing last summer. He was raging through the ocean at high speeds, hit a wave, and tried to stick a landing and wound up sticking his knee into part of the shattered mast. He was not prepared with any means of communicating to someone that he was in trouble. It was a "scorcher" that day, as he put it, and although he was experienced, he was too far out to swim against the current with a banged up knee. All he had on was his boardshorts, desperately trying to surf paddle back in with no luck. He waded around on his board for almost an hour before a fishing boat scooped him up thankfully. 

A lot of this blunder was probably due to him not being prepared, and not respecting mother nature. He came out of it with a sunburn and a chipped knee cap, but having a radio, phone, or at least some water would have been a total lifesaver in that situation. I'm not saying that VestPac will save your life, but it may keep you calm when unforeseen accidents happen.

Fourth, using the VestPac is awesome for hiking - wearing it underneath your hiking pack is no problem at all. In fact it adds a little cushion to your load and keeps air circulating between the sweat-zone - the area between your back and your pack - with VestPac's Airmesh. I used the JacksonPac with its two pocket cinch flaps and I  also strapped one to my dog Jack using the Monostrap just to see what other uses I could get out of this gadget pack. He pretty much goes with the flow and was totally fine with it. Now I just have to teach him to use the hydration hose and he'll be set.

Lastly, skiing with the GranitePac was one of those moments where you say to yourself, "Why didn't I think of that." It's so simple and yet so innovative at the same time. My iPod Touch did not freeze and go technicolor screen on me even at higher altitudes because it was close to my body. After hiking a ridge, I was noticeably dryer and cooler having the placement of the Pac circulating air on my back. Ski pass was easier to scan since the GranitePac has two see through vinyl pockets on the front. Unzip jacket a little bit, scan and I was on my way.
VestPac MP3 player waterproof bag
I even used my iPhone with the speakerphone on the chairlift just to push the boundaries of what my VestPac can do. I kind of felt like C3PO while doing it, and it was refreshingly easy to get to. The best way to use your smart phone with VestPac is to use VestPac's mp3 drybag with built in input - have your playlist dialed in on your smart phone and use the microphone equipped headphones that come with most smart phones now to switch from music to answering calls. Then when you get a call simply answer and use the mic on the headphones. A lot of apparel companies have mp3 pockets, but they freeze your phones and mp3 players and are a real pain to get to. VestPac is chest ready, easy access, and comfort all in one.

Thanks for reading and take a look for yourself at to check out the revolutionary new gadget pac. What will go in your VestPac?

For Retailer inquiries in the Midwest and Great Lakes region contact Josh Marino at

Point 65 Degrees North Modular Kayaks - Tequila and Martini

Point 65 Degrees North Kayaks - Background and Designer Information . . .

I would like to introduce you to Point 65 Degrees North Kayaks. Owner, Richard Ohman is a true innovator and has a knack for bringing in some of worlds most revered engineers to make his ideas a reality. Hall of Fame sea kayaker, Nigel Foster joined Point 65 in the latter part of 2007. He pioneered designs for many sea kayaks including The Rumour by Current Designs, but was unhappy with later versions of these boats. In early 2008, Nigel announced he was working with Point 65 and unveiled the Whisky 16 -- characterized by Nigel as a quick responsive touring boat that is easy enough to spin without edging, yet even quicker on edge - and thrives in rough conditions.

This past year Point 65 has been receiving notoriety for boats other than their world class touring fleet. If the name Magnus de Brito rings a bell at all, then you are definitely up on your engineering innovations of the last decade. Magnus has been involved in design projects for industry giants like Porsche, Intelligent Sound, and Pirelli. His Pirelli boat design won the prestigious Red Dot Design award for "Best of the Best" in 2009, and is responsible for streamlining parts of the new generation Porsche Carrera 997 and Carrera GT. With his extensive design experience in marine design technology - experience not usually available to kayak companies - Magnus has designed many of Point 65's kayaks, but his two modular kayak designs - the Tequila sit-on-top and the new for 2011 Martini sit-inside - are truly revolutionary to the kayak industry.

Point 65's Tequila and Martini . . .

2010 saw the Tequila enter the market with excitement, wonder, and apprehension. The ambivalence toward the Tequila was mainly due to the question of whether a modular take-apart kayak could still have the same stability and maneuverability that other sit-on-top kayaks are known for. The prevailing answer was a resounding yes, and then some. The Tequila not only tested amazingly well, but received countless accolades along the way. An ISPO Finalist for "Best New Hardgood," Red Dot Design Award Honorable Mention 2010, and Popular Science's prestigious 2010 "Best of What's New" winner to name a few.

It is by far the lightest sit-on-top kayak on the market (24.3 lbs per section) and maybe the feature that runs a close second to its ability to be taken apart, is the ability to add sections to convert the Tequila into a Tandem, a Thrandem, a Fourdem, or more as the guys at Point 65 illustrated at the 2010 Summer OR show. I'm sure if you were at the show, you saw 9 people paddling a 41' foot craft on the lake. 

The possibilities are now endless for many people who once thought owning a kayak was impossible due to storage limitations, weight, cost, or convenience. There are other companies out there that make take apart or folding kayaks. Usually it takes quite a long time to put together all of those structure poles, inflate the boat, then clean it off before deflating it and trying to cram it back into the impossibly small bag they give you to store it in. The foldable kayaks are a joke - super heavy, and just plain terrible in terms of performance. The Tequila and Martini snap together in literally 10 seconds! Check out this link to see it firsthand: TEQUILA VIDEO.

2011 introduces the Martini - the next innovation by Point 65 in the form of a take apart, sit inside kayak that, like the Tequila, can be made into a tandem by adding a mid-piece. During my time as a salesman at the retail level, I ran into countless customers that wanted a tandem kayak, however the first question they had was: 
"If I wanted to take this boat out by myself, would I be able to paddle it solo?" 
The answer is a resounding NO in most instances, and even when there is an adjustment to a tandem kayak's seat, paddling something that large by yourself is about as easy as pulling a semi in neutral. Well, maybe not that bad, but if you've tried to paddle a tandem you know it is extremely hard work and very frustrating. Further, the pain of loading a backbreaking 60+lb tandem kayak measuring 15+ feet in length is a painstaking process. I've done it, and it is no picnic.

Martini montage
The Martini provides a solution to all of these problems and more. No need to buy two kayaks anymore. The mid-sections transform the Martini into a multi-paddler kayak in 10 seconds flat. Add another midsection for extra storage, or to bring along your dog, or your toddler. No more gripes from your little ones having to sit on your lap making it difficult to paddle your boat. With two mid-sections, your son or daughter, grandson, or granddaughter can sit comfortably in the middle section where you can have your eyes on them at all times. The features are plentiful with an integrated rudder in the hull providing precision tracking, while the cup holder serves its much needed purpose, and the Paddlepark frees your hands when you are lounging, or baiting your line to hook a big one. 

Check out for videos and information on these amazing new innovations. Also click on this link to see Richard Ohman's blog and the April 2011 Outside Magazine write up praising the Martini for its ingenuity writing, "That's why Point 65's Martini is so brilliant."
Back by popular demand - another one of our team's RETAIL TIPS OF THE DAY. "If it's true then preach the truth all day long!" If a product has unique points that are specific to one, two, or a hundred customers, make sure you know those points. It is the easiest sale you will ever make. If a customer comes in looking for a take-apart kayak and you say, "Sorry, we don't have those." and he points to a Martini sitting on your wall, 9 times out of 10 he is going to walk out thinking what a rag-tag operation they are running here. 99 times out of 100, sales associates should have more knowledge than the customers. Of course there is that google-laden gearhead who knows the chine pitch, resin density, and the best color boat to match his eyes, so I am leaving him as the outlier. Check the points below for just a short list of perfect customers to match with either a Tequila or a Martini and get sellin' guys and gals.

Breakdown Points:
   People who are unable to lift heavy kayaks.
   People who live in apartments or condos with no place to store a kayak.
   People who can't put a rack on their car, or those unwilling, or unable to spend extra money on a pricey roof rack.
   People who want a tandem, but also want to paddle it solo.
   People with cottages and want a kayak that has the potential to handle multiple people - cousins, aunts, uncles, friends etc who are visiting.
   People who travel with an RV and want something compact.
   People who travel on vacations once or twice a year and want to ship their kayaks to where they are going to be, these kayaks can be shipped UPS in sections.
   And the list goes on. There are so many uses for these boats and I'm sure dealers and retailers can see the possibilities.

Outside Mag Digs Point New Rig
At last month's Paddlesport 2011 in the Garden State, our Point team witnessed the demand for these boats firsthand. Patrons and industry moguls were lined up before our team even arrived to get a look at the new Martini. All the boats that were brought to the event sold. One woman was so ecstatic that she practically had tears in her eyes saying that she paddled her whole life and when she retired she moved into a condo with no place to store a kayak. Plus, she remarked that the weight of most kayaks is too much to lift by herself. The Martini has given her another opportunity to participate in an activity she has loved her whole life.

Happy Prius owner now able to trunk her Teqila
Earlier this year Point 65 contracted with WYNIT, Inc. to be the sole distributor of Point 65 kayaks in the US. WYNIT has 20 years of experience distributing products in the US, offering competitive pricing, no-minimum order requirements, and same day shipping.

For retailer inquiries in the US please contact Josh Marino at

Tequila in three pieces just hook up and go every piece floats.

Boating with your boat is no problem so drop anchor and still have room for your buds.
Checking a Martini or Tequila is no problem at most airports.

Happy US customer with a Martini TANDEM in his Mini Coop
Trunking your boat even in a convertible VW Beetle is now possible.