Last week Arc’teryx flew a select gang of European and US journalists to Vancouver to be the world’s first media to test two major new products. Will Robson was one of them
It was all very hush hush. What kit were Arc’teryx so excited about that they were flying journalists from all over the world to Canada for the big reveal? Fall-Line was the only UK media invited and I sat at Arc’teryx’s North Vancouver HQ in eager anticipation of what Arc’teryx management was calling “its biggest product launch year EVER”.
The new Arc’teryx Procline boot
Being Canadians they actually meant it and the big reveals didn’t disappoint. Drumroll please… yes, it’s here, the Procline – Arc’teryx first ski boot. Developed in partnership with Arc’teryx’s sister company, Salomon, the boot meshes top-flight climbing and ski boot characteristics into pretty much a whole new category. Then there is the Voltair, a new avalanche airbag pack (20 and 30L) – distinct because of its battery-powered re-useable centrifugal air blower system.
These are the most technical products Arc’teryx has ever made and there was much to take in. We toured the factory where highly-skilled workers (not robots) were busy sewing, taping, testing and experimenting away – a ski nerd’s delight.
We then headed north for two hours to Callaghan Country near Whistler in the heart of British Columbia’s Coast Mountain Range. An eight-mile skidoo ride up a vertebrae-rearranging track brought us to Journeyman Lodge, an upmarket backcountry hut complete with a sauna by the creek and a stuffed wildcat in the lobby.
We put the Procline and Voltair through some hoops in the mountains, a mile or two’s skinning away. It had rained for six straight days in Vancouver, but up here the (slightly heavy) snow lay many feet deep.
The Voltair mid-inflation
So I bounced, head planted and occasionally ripped my way through some trees and pillow fields in the company of (poorly) pro Christina Lustenberger and (wise-beyond-his-years) ski alpinist Jason Kruk.
First impressions? The Procline is light but stiff when you need it, flexible when you don’t; it’s tough, warm, waterproof and beautifully engineered.
The Voltair worked well and the attention to detail is top quality. The ability to practice and travel with the Voltair are significant advantages, although it will be interesting to see how the battery, zips etc. stand up to repeatedly more use in training over the course of a season than the ‘hail Mary’ one-time compressed gas system that hopefully stays packed and ready but never used.
Read full reviews of the Voltair and the Procline.
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