Product Reviews – January 2012

4FRNT YLE 177 Skis

YLE 177 Skis
The latest release from local ski company 4FRNT is the YLE.  It is the signature model for local athlete and breakout skier, Wiley Miller.  “The great thing about our company is that the skis reflect the rider’s style and they play an intricate part in the design process,” said 4FRNT owner Matt Sterbenz.  I took out these bad boards for a few days of shredding Little Cottonwood Canyon, and was simply amazed.  It is clear that Miller’s versatile style comes out in these skis and I felt that I channeled a bit of his creativity each time I clicked in.   The skis felt super stable underfoot, floated like a dream in the pow, and held an edge in the chunder.  I had some apprehension about a center-mounted ski, but these beautifully symmetric boards performed like none other.  The rotational weight is balanced, and spinning 3s is as easy as eating a pork chop.  The mountain truly became a playground, and terrain features took on a different light as I descended confidently down the slopes. They are available in 177 and 187 lengths, and can be found at the 4FRNT StoreFRNT on 2900 S. West Temple. –Sean Zimmerman-Wall

Perisher Sound Disk Beanie
The Aerial7 Perisher Sound Disk is a tightly knit, relaxed beanie similar to the Daily (yeah you hipsters! I know you all own one). The depth is quite similar and allows for the flop. There is, however, an added knit band for the speaker housing which does provide quite a snugger fit. This works well to provide stability when out there going H.A.M., but is a little uncomfortable after a period of time. Hopefully, they break in a bit. As far as the sound was concerned, the speakers rocked. I have a default set list in order to test a speaker’s ability and I can tell you that the trebles were as high and the basses as low as any bum in Pioneer Park. The pockets allow just enough movement to allow you to pull the speakers back, which was a huge plus for me as well. This allowed me the option of either ignoring or talking to cohorts, with no one the wiser.  Some things are made to combine with a head cover, like the beer helmet. Others are not, like the mullet trucker hat. That being said, the Sound Disk beanie falls somewhere in the middle. Not quite as tawdry as the (Con)federate fedora, but somehow highly functional like an ole booze bonnet. Now, by no means do I intend to call these cheap, as they do retail for a whopping 60 bucks, it’s just the idea that’s lacking in quality. Companies have been trying out the best way to pack Prodigy into our ears via head security for a long time now (that “Fire Starter” song still jacks me up!). The bottom line is that I don’t think headphones need to be installed into my hat. For those of you who do, then by all means, give this beanie a whirl. –Shawn Mayer

Camelbak  Hydration Pack
Highwire 25
Living in the Wasatch presents a myriad of opportunities to explore the excellent terrain and enjoy the beautiful vistas.  However, the best places to visit often involve lengthy excursions and it is easy to get dehydrated and exhausted.  I have experimented with a variety of different water bottle configurations and most have left me wanting something more.  The Camelbak Highwire 25 solves those issues and is a spacious, yet streamlined, pack.  It holds a three-liter reservoir that fits into its own storage compartment and supplies cool, nourishing water to the tired hiker.  Simply twist the quick-seal mouthpiece, and refreshment is delivered with minimal effort.  The pack has adequate storage space for an extra layer, snacks, shades and a camera.  It even has elastic external pouches that secure other small items. Comfort-wise, the Highwire has a great suspension system and fits snugly and securely on my back.  For forays into the foothills or cross-country bike rides, this pack keeps your gear organized and your body hydrated.  –Sean Zimmerman-Wall

Plaid Rancher Jacket
You know how girls like wearing a hoodie and tightening the hood over their head to wear around the house when they feel fat and want to watch Sex in the City? Guys have that same urge, too (sort of), but it manifests itself in a different way. The male equivalent to this feeling is wanting to look like a grandpa and drinking a cup of coffee in the kitchen, but not looking like a goddamn LAN party nerd. Dickies’ Plaid Rancher Jacket accomplishes this. The Rancher Jacket insulates your upper corpse with toasty fleece lining that prepares you to walk out into the godforsaken cold, and includes something that my rancher forefathers didn’t have: a detachable hood that’s great for those nippy walks to TRAX. This bad boy provides six pockets to stash your goods in—the front snap-button pockets are convenient for your wallet while slide-in interior pockets prove handy for controlling your iPod while keeping your fingers warm. Its classic plaid design will assure that you’re in style in a variety of settings—from a pissed-off thrash metal show, to snow-bro-y pads like X-Wife’s to the ironic realm of Twilite. Admittedly, the bitter air permeates the jacket when you’re riding your bicycle, but it’s nothing that a little layering can’t fix. You can pick from four colorways involving either red or suede, and $64.99 is a fairly agreeable price for this jacket’s warmth and utility. –Alexander Ortega

Platoon Goggle
These goggles are gigantic, but they feel small and light on your face. The spherical lens creates an awesome amount of peripheral vision, allowing you to see incoming tree branches and out-of-control toddlers better. Plus the frame is big enough to fit over a pair of glasses, for all you four-eyes out there. Each pair comes with a bonus lens—who doesn’t love free shit? The mirrored lens is great for sunny days and letting the homies check themselves out on the lift. The second lens is an orange color that’s great for low-light days. While a second lens is great, changing between the two is a huge pain in the ass. These goggles make the Smith I/O system look like the greatest invention since the Gutenburg press. Spy also needs to work on their concept of colorways. The available colors for the Platoon are either something my dad would rock or slightly off the mark of what’s actually cool. So if style is super important to you, I’d keep looking. But as far as fit and function, these goggles have it nailed. –Katie Panzer

Rigid Duck Vest
As a member of the service industry, my grandfather instilled in me a timeless love for almost all Dickies gear. That being said, I personally have to pass on this Duck Vest. Don’t get me wrong, as with all Dickies gear, it’s hardcore for what it is—a sturdy, water-repellent, insulated vest with “hand-warmer” pockets and heavy-duty zippers—but I’m a man who needs his sleeves. It’s a good vest, I just don’t see the point if there’s nothing to roll up right around the forearm. For the price, it’s a good deal ($54.99-59.99), and it comes in three different colors: Brown Duck, Black and Black Olive. It also has a spacious inside pocket and a zip-able chest pocket that I’m pretty sure is for your gun. So, if you don’t mind the lack of sleeves, or if you just need something to keep your center warm on those extra cold days, pick one up.  –Johnny Logan

Airbreak Goggles
These are the third pair of Oakley goggles that I’ve owned, and I’ve got to say this pair is the best yet. The Airbreaks feature a slimmed-down profile compared to my bulky Crowbars and are way more user friendly when it comes to switching out lenses. Swapping lenses on my pair of Crowbars felt like doing rocket science, and when the conditions changed mid-day, I was more likely to say “fuck it” than attempt to change to a different lens. The Airbreak features an easy-to-use latch—to swap your lens, you simply unlock it and the lens pops out. Once you’ve got the new lens in place, you move the latch back into the locked position and you are good to go. They also come with an extra pair of lenses so you are ready to conquer whatever the mountain has in store. ­­­–Jeanette D. Moses

Marie-France Roy Signature Diagonal Jacket and Trend Pant
No joke, I’ve been wearing the same purple pants and jacket for over 10 years, which is perhaps why I was so blown away by Oakley’s Snow Collection. The Diagonal Jacket is very feminine. It’s more form-fitting than most jackets and a little longer, coming down to about mid-thigh on me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about looking like a girl on the mountain—it’s easier to mingle with the snow bros when you’re in flannel and a beanie—but damn, I look good. Hello world, I have hips! Not only are the pants and jacket super classy, but the days of getting snow down my pants and up my sleeves are over! One of the best features of this setup is the storm skirt system, which allows you to snap the jacket to the pants, making it impossible to end up in wet underwear­­—well, as a result of snow, anyway. The jacket also has wrist gaiters, among its many other features, which include a pocket with fancy fabric to keep your sunglasses from getting scratched and shoulder straps, which I assume are for carrying your jacket around like a backpack on sunny days. Look for me on the slopes, I’ll be the classy lady in the Oakley jacket for the next 10 years.  –Esther Meroño

Line Up Pant
Homeschool is a relatively new outerwear company from the North West, bringing a strong emphasis to the philosophy of “Learning By Doing.” This philosophy has led founder Danny Clancey to produce high-end outerwear that fits well and performs like a dream. Above all else, the “Cocona Xcelerator” technology is what sets Homeschool apart from the rest of the recent start-up companies. The technology utilizes a 10,000 mm waterproof, micro-porous fabric that, when introduced to body heat, allows water vapors underneath the fabric (i.e. sweat) to rise out, keeping you dry, thus warm. The Line Up Pant also comes with a holster on the side of the pant where you can keep your gloves when not using them, such as on the lift, so you don’t have to worry about dropping them. Aside from that, the pant comes with the meat and potatoes of modern outerwear tech, such as fully taped seams, inseam zip vents, adjustable waistband and a pant-to-jacket powder skirt. This pant fits well, looks great and keeps me warm and dry, qualifying Homeschool’s claim that they cut no corners and compromise nothing in the design of their outerwear. –Chris Proctor

Saga Outerwear
Over the last few years, outerwear and clothing companies have come and gone. Some lack creativity or quality, and others just can’t sustain in a declining economy. Some, however, are thriving due to above-average design and strong guerilla marketing. Saga, “a word of mouth company,” is one of the select few that are making it in America.

Saga’s Anomie Pant and Jacket combo have been a mainstay on the scene for the past few seasons. The jacket is offered in a traditional one-color way, or in a bi- or tri- pattern for added flash. I chose to ride in the grey. Highly functional, the jacket offers fully tapered seams, snow gaiter with jacket-to-pant interface, micro fleece for neck and hands, and enough pockets to carry all your soft goods and gadgets. For a shell, the coat provided plenty of warmth and waterproofing, but breathed incredibly well in part because of its zippered ventilation system (in crucial areas like your stink pits and back). Incorporating the “Team Fit,” the jacket offers a longer length while remaining truly proportioned in chest width, thus eliminating the box factor. The pants are designed in a straight leg fashion. The tech is pretty much the same as the jacket and also performed well in our extremely dismal conditions (currently).

In addition to the best selling Anomie, Saga also sells the On Deck and Shutout coats. The OD offers fashion for the transition from mountaintop to barstool. The coat offers a fresh varsity feel with enough functional ability to lap the park. The Shutout is designed more for those warm spring days when style and shred collide. New this year, Saga has also introduced a slim fit pant, balaclavas and neck gaiters. And for those that didn’t already know, their beanies are borderline amazing, fit and comfort to a T!

What stands out about this company more than anything else is their attention to the customer. For a relatively small company, Saga has setup a showroom in front of their warehouse (to be taken loosely), where the customer can interact with the staff and try on their products. It seems today that most business is done online, and to have the option to meet the guys behind the scene, see where they work and get an accurate fit, is an option most companies don’t offer. Not to mention, if there is a problem with an order, these guys will literally give you the shirt off their back (or jacket in the car) until the problem is solved. Saga has the design quality and relations to make a name for themselves. I suggest you act fast and hop on the wagon before the band does. –Shawn Mayer

Soulra XL
Solar Powered Sound System
The Soulra XL is the modern version of the ghetto blaster.  Updated with eco-friendly solar technology and a fresh triangular design, this boom box is only compatible with iPods or iPhones. One feature I particularly liked on the Soulra XL is its ability to simultaneously charge an apple device while playing it.  It will also continue charging it after the power on the Soulra XL has been turned off. However, I don’t like remembering to turn off the Soulra XL once my playlist ends in order to avoid the solar power draining twice as fast. I also don’t like that the charging mode code (made up of various combinations of blinking battery lights) must either be memorized or referenced in the 72-page instruction manual. I prefer technology that doesn’t require a brief course in operation before the fun can start. There is an AC adaptor included with purchase, which was handy when I wanted to use the device after dark. Despite my complaints, the Soulra XL is a kick-ass product that I use almost daily. I love its mobility, and the ability to broadcast my playlists and podcasts anywhere, anytime. It boasts high quality speakers (with a bass boost option) and the carrying strap is comfortable to wear. I have a feeling this sucker is going to accompany me on many future outdoor excursions and backyard summer parties. –Ann Eliza Webb