Over the past few months and the upcoming winter season, we’ll have our hands on some sweet new pieces of gear. Some are high-tech, while others are purely functional. Here’s an overview of these new products. Look for full reviews of each in the coming months.

Granite Gear Sidecut OB Pack

This pack is a basic, yet higly functional pack built for day trips in the backcountry. Snowboarders will opt for the Sidecut Ride with snowboard-specific carrying abilities ($95). The Sidecut OB is nicely thought out and priced sensibly at $85. With bomber Cordura¬© construction, waterproof zippers and great core functionality, the Sidecut OB is sure to be one of our favorite packs in the backcountry this year. Don’t think that a solid backpacking company like Granite Gear would overlook all the perks either. This pack is decked out with “S” contoured shoulder straps, a hydration sleeve with port, center-carrying ski straps, an internal drawstring pocket and 950 cubic inches of carrying capacity. We’ll let you know how it fares.

More Info: Visit GraniteGear.com

Suunto S6 Watch

Our friends at Suunto continue to push the envelope in high-tech gadgets for skiers. The all-new S6 boasts new internals for 2004 and a stylish new black color with a reverse black face. The new Suunto S6 offers improved functionality like measuring ascent or descent rates in feet or meters per hour or per minute, improved versions of the PC software, upgraded electronics and more. This watch will be my backcountry companion for the year, so look for a detailed product review of the 2004 Suunto S6 in the near future.

More Info: Visit Suunto.com

THULE Expressway 4 Bike Carrier

With some great new products coming in Spring 2004, THULE is pushing rival Yakima to keep up with their innovative car-top boxes and innovative new bike rack designs. With the evolution of bikes and the proliferation of freeride bikes, traditional rooftop racks are becoming too combersome and too much of a pain in the butt. Think about it… if you’re lifting a 40-lb. bike on top of your Suburban after a long ride, you’re going to have troubles. That’s why THULE is introducing some new designs in upright bike carriers in Spring 2004. They also currently build the sturdiest hitch-mount bike carriers right now with innovative features found on the top-of-the-line TrailBlazer like the swing-away design built to get our of your way and give access to the rear of the vehicle.

Well, we’ve got our hands on the sturdy and innovative Expressway 4 Bike carrier and it’s pretty impressive. This rack is fairly light compared to many other hitch racks, yet it’s packed with the most features this side of a Mercedes SUV. The frame straps work perfectly with many frame types, but still won’t work with some of the monococque designs of the day–sorry! However, this rack holds up to 4 bikes with complete ease and to add piece of mind, there’s an integrated cable lock to keep everything safe. Stability is achieved using the included quick ties to the Zip Stick at the bottom of the rack. Overall, we’re impressed!

More Info: Visit THULERacks.com

THULE Flat Top 6 Ski Carrier

Ski racks are ski racks, right? Well, sorta… THULE has raised the bar over the years with their rack designs to emphasize ease of use. In the past, hitting the release button to open the rack was difficult with gloves on. Now, the large, grey button is easy to operate with or without gloves. The rack also attaches nicely to existing roofrack crossbars with the appropriate attachments. Ours attaches to the burly crossbars found on our 2003 Nissan Pathfinder with ease. Throw all the functionality with good looks and you’ve got a functional, stylish ski rack that will last for many winters.

More Info: Visit THULEracks.com

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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