Backpacker - - NEWS -

OUR TAKE Spark’s Tesla T1 puck-and-chan­nel sys­tem has been di­aled for a few years now. The sim­ple de­sign—in which the bind­ings slide along grooves in the pucks and snap into ride mode, rather than us­ing pins— elim­i­nates ice ob­struc­tions and finicky tran­si­tions. Spark still found room for im­prove­ment on the orig­i­nal Surge, though: “It rides just as well as pre­vi­ous ver­sions, but now it’s much lighter and more durable,” says our Alaska tester. The rea­son? New one-piece plas­tic straps don’t ab­sorb mois­ture or wear down like tra­di­tional fab­ric straps. Al­though flex­i­ble, they locked our feet se­curely into place and pro­vided quick re­sponse on com­mit­ting lines in the Chugach Range.

THE DE­TAILS The Bur­ton­made buck­les don’t slip when you’re crank­ing them down tight, and Spark’s Tesla-com­pat­i­ble Ibex split­board cram­pons ($100) are easy to slip on.

TRAIL CRED “I’m glad the ‘whammy bar’ ex­tended side tabs are now stan­dard on the heel­riser sys­tem,” says one tester who guided in the Surge on Mt. Rainier in late spring. “They’re a snap to de­ploy with your poles on steep, awk­ward slopes.” $415; 3 lbs. (m’s M); m’s S-L, w’s XS/S, M/L;

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