If You Enjoy Breathing: They’re expensive, a pain to travel with, and not much help if you get rinsed through trees or off a cliff. But inflatable avalanche safety packs are saving lives, as well-publicized events have shown, and suddenly they’re big sellers. Swiss-made ABS has been out there since the ’80s and is still the benchmark (and highest-priced). But new brands and less expensive models are popping up, like the Float 22 from Colorado-based Backcountry Access. —J.C.
German Engineers Gone Wild: If Mercedes can sell a $200,000 car, then Völkl ought to be able to sell a $1,575 ski. The super-premium V-Werks project spares no expense, bringing all of Völkl’s design and technology expertise to bear in two superlight, carbon-rich constructions: the racy V-Werks Code (76-mm waist) and the all-mountain V-Werks RTM 84 (84 mm). —J.C.
K2 Playing With Knives Again: It was about the time Bode Miller destroyed the world on a K2 Four that K2 walked away from racing. Fat skis and soft snow were more fun, the brand reasoned, so that’s where the innovation energy went. But now K2 is back with the Bolt, a 72-mm-waisted carving ski from the guys you least expect to make a carving ski. Is it a trend? Nordica debuted a cool carver a couple years ago (Fire Arrow), and Rossi’s Pursuit line gets into the act this year. Maybe we can admit that knifing groomers at speed is...fun? —J.C.