The thing that struck me upon first visiting their site was the novel idea of selling light weight ski gear packages at a slight discount to the price one would have paid if you purchased all that gear separately. Of course, this stuff is pricey and maybe seeing it all at once is too much sticker shock. I dont know. I DO know Im a cheapskate and saving money is cool so I checked it out and think that there are some good options there for us mere mortals.
First, can I digress for a second? My first skimo race was last year at Wolf Creek Pass, my home mountain!!! I showed up with my Voile Carbon Surfs with Silveretta 404 bindings (cause thats how I roll...). It was my go to setup for the only "skimo" I did till that point which consisted of approaches to remote ice climbs in the area. I used my ice climbing boots which made this a character building experience on the descents. So I got the lightest AT boots Black Diamond makes and showed up at the race. When I registered, I asked the guy signing us up if I could enter the Race class instead of the Rec class since you got twice the course for the same entry fee (this logic is why I will probably never amount to much in life...). As a skimo gumbi it puzzled me that instead of quizzing me on my fitness level, he started asking me about what gear I owned, when I started with the 404 bindings, he very gently suggested the Rec class. My Scotch-Irish heritage is a curse that I have not yet come to terms with so I stubbornly held out even while acknowledging that he obviously knew what he was talking about and I did not. I suggested that since the Race course was going to be 2 laps on the Rec course, could I just make up my mind at the lap/finish point? He graciously didnt laugh in my face and agreed. BTW, that laid back attitude is what makes the lower key COSMIC races the BEST ones to go to IMHO. And they have free Upslope beer at the end of them! But I digress.
Anyway, at the end of the first ascent, I was sucking. At the end of the second I was destroyed. The final stretch is a 300 ft ascent from the Alberta lift base to the base area. I transitioned with the only other guy in the rec class and, taking advantage of the advantages of my afore mentioned heritage, sucked it up and punched it. As I almost crawled across the finish line I think I gasped something to the guy Id registered with that the Rec course would do just fine today. Im not sure he heard me but it was obvious I was done.
What did I learn? Well, when EVERYONE except one guy blew by me in the first minutes of the race I realized that there was something more than being in mediocre physical shape going on. My daughter still thinks its cool that every girl beat me. Maybe she will be inspired to be a skimo phenom? THe sacrifices we make as parents. The missing factor was definitely the gear. The "light" boots I had were 3 lbs 9oz each while the Dynafit PDG, one of two "entry" level race boots weighs 1 lb 12 oz. Bindings are about the same. Skis are an even bigger spread. My daughter is in 2nd grade and an adult skimo setup weighs LESS than her downhill setup!
Anyway, I dont know why but that suckfest totally got me psyched. As a sometimes alpine climber who loves going fast and light it opened my eyes to what is possible to access on skis and still have energy for climbing not to mention a safe and fun descent. Anyway, I started collecting the gear and the price was not cheap. It cost less than a good mountain bike, an analogy I saw somewhere and that made me feel better! Skiing the gear was awesome and I have not looked back. I skied some Dynafit PDG race skis (161cm) almost the entire winter in everything from powder to crust, slush, ice, you name it. They did amazingly well and Im 6'4". This setup can take you far.
All of this takes me full circle to the original point of this post which is package deals. Ive never seen them anywhere else and it seems the most affordable way to upgrade to a light setup. If you get psyched for this kind of stuff whether its racing or just backcountry stuff, check it out. I really like the Speed Touring Package. The skis are wide enough to be great all around back country skis and super light at the 1000 gram level, a goal for the most modern light weight touring skis. The bindings are somewhat adjustable so should fit slightly different boots if you change out at some point. The mohair skins GLIDE! They are all you should ever think about purchasing. Trust me. The one down side to this package is you still have to buy the boots.
On the other hand, the Dynafit PDG Speed Package comes with everything but the skins. Different but I guess it keeps the price under $2k (by a nickle). This gear is a similar setup to what I have and I LOVE it. I use it everywhere in the backcountry unless my friends get ticked that Im talking too much and want to keep skiing after they are exhausted in which case I SOMETIMES put my wide "heavy" stuff on. But, since all that speedy touring gets me in amazingly good shape, I usually still crush on the uphills and distance. Downhill Im fine but no phenom. Still, since Ive got energy to spare I hang fine there! For racing, this is a great setup too. Super light and the skis bindings and boots are as affordable as race weight gear gets with the exception of Scarpa Aliens, another fine light boot from what I hear (if someone donates a mondo 28 pair Im happy to confirm/deny that statement??!!??). Pathetic begging. Sorry. Better yet for a more tour-centric approach, the new Scarpa Alien Alpine Touring boot which is apparently snow infiltration proof at a weight slightly greater than the PDG boot. I have not even heard of this boot till I saw it while Goggleing weights of boots just a minute ago. Looks like a pretty cool option. Once again, if you are rich and want to see what a true punter thinks, donate a pair! I think I digressed there but the bottom line is the PDG Speed Package might be a great all around touring package for almost all conditions. It is fun, so light it should be illegal and more affordable than almost anything else in its class. A great package to buy and a fair deal.
OK, back to being serious. Seriously. The one package Im not sure Im down with on the Skimo Co website is the Women's Package. The reason is that it will weigh more than the other packages I mentioned due to wider skis. Since most women are actually a bit smaller and lighter than us guys, if the lighter packages work for us, Id recommend the ladies go light too. That way they can crush us guys like my daughter likes to point out. However, the setup is a nice example of women-specific gear and for powder hounds, probably a good light setup compared to traditional backcountry setups.
Well there you have it. My half baked opinion as an average guy on yet another skimo topic. I hope it at least gets you thinking about some of the benefits of light gear for us mortals as well as how you might go about acquiring it.
So, if you are thinking of going light and I think you are crazy not to, these packages are probably a great way to get set up and save a little money in the process. There is still time to do it and get entered in the COSMIC Wolf Creek Skimo race planned for 23 November so you too can enjoy that hard earned Upslope brew at the end of the suckfest!
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Skimo Co other than coming across them on the web and getting a super nice email through the blog here from the Skimo Co founder Jason Borro which was inquiring why I was such a slacker and didnt post anything all summer (he was much nicer than that). Im also not affiliated with Upslope (but Id be happy to be sponsored by them if anyone has any pull there... I do however own a race suit like the one in the link above and will post up as to why a punter like me has one and what I think at some point (to include snowboarder ridicule). Just want to be honest here!
End note: The Skimo.co site has another great feature, the ski comparison page that is very interesting to look at when comparing skis and includes recommended uses. A great decision matrix!