The Minnesota Ski & Snowboard Expo held recently at the Minneapolis Convention Center revved up snow-sports enthusiasts from throughout the region. It also provided a great venue for snooping trends in the upcoming season, from advancements in ski boots to a peek at the apparel you'll soon see on the slopes. Here are eight trends and a dozen corresponding new products from the expo, including an audio-equipped helmet, high-tech skis and a snowboarding boot with a built-in heater.1. Cold no longer
Battery-powered heat radiating from embedded conductors is a theme this year from boot, jacket and glove manufacturers. The women's Burton Sapphire snowboarding boot ($220, www.burton.com) has a liner laced with heating elements powered by a clip-on power pack.
Rossignol's Hit Jacket, also for women, goes for a hefty $700 but comes with four warming panels stitched into its lining and a rechargeable battery pack in a pocket. Outdoor Research's PrimoVolta Gloves ($259, www.outdoorresearch.com) have a switch to initiate warmth that spreads from hand to fingertips.2. Clear vision
Good goggles have long enhanced performance on the slopes by letting skiers see better. But the upgrades continue. Zeal Optics' Detonator goggles ($200, www.zealoptics.com) are one innovative example, with polarized lenses that change tint automatically to available light -- dark when the sun is bright to almost clear at night. Smith's I/O goggles ($160, www.smithoptics.com) have an interchangeable lens and a rimless design, letting you switch out lens style and type in an instant.3. Tech-wear
Electronics embedded in outerwear is a trend, from jackets to headphone-equipped helmets now ubiquitous in terrain parks around the country. Rossignol adds a high-tech altimeter watch into the cuff of its Chrona Meteo Jacket, an $800 shell with a watertight insert made to fit the watch face. Users can click and adjust the watch, which has an oversized display for easy reading, to track altitude and vertical drop skied over the course of a day.4. Freestyle resurgence
Todd Brewer, president of the St. Louis Park ski shop Hoigaard's, said teens now rebel against their snowboarding parents by becoming skiers -- freestyle skiers, that is. Indeed, the rail-sliding, halfpipe-riding discipline of freestyle skiing has taken off like no other trend in the sport. Skis such as the Volkl Wall ($650, www.volklusa.com) -- a twin-tip model with a symmetrical sidecut for switch (backward) riding -- are representative of the boards used by the baggy-pants-wearing set.5. Custom-fit footwear
Boots molded to mimic the anatomical idiosyncrasies of human feet are a common upgrade offered at ski shops, including customizable foot beds and boot liners that form to fit from calves to toes. But Salomon takes it a step further with the Falcon Custom Shell Pro Boot, a $925 top-end boot that has a moldable outer shell, allowing a shop to create a personalized fit by shaping the boots' hard outer plastic to best fit your foot.6. Fashion forward
Surfing, skateboarding and lifestyle footwear and clothing brands including Roxy, DC Shoes and Quiksilver are making inroads to the ski and snowboarding scenes. The men's Quik- silver Last Mission Jacket ($200, www.quiksilver.com), for example, is a fashion-forward waterproof and breathable shell with touches such as a multimedia controller and an inside pocket with headphone port.7. Alpinist influence
Backcountry terrain -- that steep and deep dreamland beyond boundary lines -- is a big trend at mountain resorts in the West, where dozens of areas have opened gates to give lift access to unpatrolled acres.
Gear has evolved to cater to this new set of adventurers, from jackets with built-in avalanche beacons to bindings that convert for uphill travel. Rossignol's $295 Harness Pant, a breathable and waterproof bottom shell, adds the ultimate alpinist touch by incorporating a climbing harness stitched around the belt area in case a skier needs to rope up while accessing steep and secluded outback terrain.8. The do-all ski
Serious skiers of yore often kept a quiver of different skis ready to use depending on the conditions of the day. But companies such as Salomon offer planks that tout complete versatility in any type of snow, including the Lord ($850, www.salomonsports.com), an all-mountain ski with an hourglass shape and a reverse camber in the forebody to accommodate powder, crud or groomed trails. Volkl ups the ante with its do-all Tigershark 12-foot Power Switch, a $1,525 pair with embedded carbon-fiber rods running the length of the ski. A switch compresses or decompresses the rods with springs, changing the skis' grip and power on snow.
Stephen Regenold writes a daily blog on outdoor gear at www.gearjunkie.com.