Advances in ski & snowboard gear are rapidly improving the environment for even recreational visitors to the slopes. Here at travelpod.ie we‘ve made our picks from the latest gear to keep you safe and warm on the coldest of mountains.
Starting from the top down and first up is Smith Optics’ Voyage Helmet. Using a Hybrid In-Mold construction, the Voyage maintains a lightweight feel and a reduced volume so you can forget you’re even wearing it. The AirEvac 2 ventilates your head completely by pulling cool air under the brim and pushing warm air out through sixteen vents all over the helmet. If you get chilly, you can close the vents with a regulator switch found on top. Adjust this helmet precisely to fit your noggin using single-handed micro-adjustments on a dial system behind your head. A fleeced tricot lining provides plenty of warmth and cushioned comfort that feels like you were wearing a beanie. The removal Snapfit SL2 ear pads are also incredibly warm and comfortable, and headphone compatible.
Also from Smith comes the very stylish Virtue Goggles. We found these to be a comfortable fit, with excellent lateral visibility and a flattering profile on the face. These lenses come with a choice of lenses so check out the Smith Optics website for info on which lens suit which conditions. We used the Ignitor Mirror lens for a week of sunny skiing but think an alternate lens like the Blue Sensor would be a good option for low light skiing. Smith also do a photochromic lens which adjusts the amount of light hitting the eye according to conditions. Purists may say a photochromic lens can never perfectly fit all conditions but we have found for recreational skiing they work just fine.
Find out more at www.smithoptics.eu
For the snow fiend who wants it all (interchangeable goggle lenses for varied conditions,
without having to carry a backpack with a spare pair) we present to you the Uvex g.gl 300 Take Off polavision goggles. These have a unique magnetic snapping mechanism which allows one lens layer to be removed, revealing a lighter lens for overcast conditions beneath. The removable lens is made of a malleable non-rigid fabric so can easily be stored in a pocket. When the sun reappears just whip out the outer lens, and the magnets on each side of the goggles snap it back into place. We tried this out on a windy slope and it worked like a dream. The goggles have a slightly larger profile on the face so can be worn over regular glasses.
Find out more at www.uvex-sports.de/en/
For outer wear Helly Hansen provide a complete outfit in the Eclipse Jacket and matching Eclipse Pant. The Eclipse jacket has a feminine fit with waterproof and breathable construction. The Eclipse Pant is a form-fitting stretch trouser emphasizing style and good looks, but with solid construction like boot gaiters and reinforced hems.
The Helly Hansen Floria Jacket, inspired by ski racers features breathable, waterproof 2-way stretch Helly Tech Professional fabric and is insulated with PrimaLoft. It’s a great quality jacket complete with integrated Recco system, articulated arms and seam sealed. You can rely on this Helly Hansen jacket to keep you warm and looking both stylish and athletic on the mountain.
Find out more at www.hellyhansen.com
A gorgeous women’s ski pants is this season’s new Eider St.Anton Pants. These 2-layer and 4-way-Stretch Defender ski pants are feminine, comfortable and soft, for those who likes skiing with a neat look. A higher back gives a feeling of warmth and protection, while preshaped knees offer increased range of movement.
Eider have really thought about what the female skier needs and you won’t want to take these pants off at the end of a days skiing or riding.
See more at www.eider.com
Underneath the jacket we suggest a mid-layer like the SmartLoft Divide, a wool insulated jacket from Smartwool. It features their new SmartLoft Wool insulation around the core with the rest of the jacket made of thinner merino wool. This jacket doesn’t take up a lot of space since the core is the only thing that’s insulated while the sleeves and back are merino wool, giving you a wider range of motion. This clever fabric is machine washable and stain and water resistant, with scoop hand pockets and a zipped chest pocket. Smartwool products are durable and long-lasting – with a jacket this stylish you’ll want it to be.
Buy at www.smartwool.com
Let’s talk skins, the vital close-to-the skin layer essential for activity in cold climes. Sportswear brand Odlo have developed an interesting new technology called Muscle Force. Muscle Force provides zoned muscle support which is designed to help conserve energy through the reduction of muscle vibrations in key areas of the body. By minimising this extra energy usage, skiers and snowboarders will apparently be able to stay energised and on the piste for longer. We really like the idea of zoned tailored fabric and Odlo, a highly trusted brand, should be commended for trying this idea out. The fabric looks hi-tech and feels great. It certainly kept us warm though we couldn’t work out if our mid-afternoon energy spurt was due to Muscle Force or that laced hot chocolate. Find out more at www.odlo.com
Meanwhile German brand Falke offer their Ergonomic Sport System Underwear and Socks range. These provide thermal insulation, optimum moisture wicking and fast re-drying through a combination of seamless technology and innovative plush technology. Double-sided material supplies uncompromising comfort: climate-optimised, close-fitting, warm and soft. We think these Falke skins and socks provide excellent quality for their price.
Find out more at www.falke.com
Another sock provider are Teko, whose Medium weight organic, chlorine-free merino wool sock wicks moisture effortlessly. The Ski Medium Sock is for those who like a little extra cushion and warmth. They also do a Light and Ultralight Pro range for those who like to go a little faster and don’t need as much warmth. This great range of socks are machine washable, can be tumbled dryed and source their non-toxic merino wool from environmentally sound Argentine farms.
Find out more at www.teko.co.uk
When the light lowers and you are forced to admit that this really is the last run, it’s usually time to investigate some après-ski or shopping. We suggest doing so in the Merrell Decora Sonata Boots. Waterproof full grain and pig suede upper protects while a faux fur collar provides comfort. Waterproof construction keeps your feet while dry low bulk insulation keeps you warm down to -20C. Meanwhile a breathable mesh lining wicks moisture away and an air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability. The boot sole is slip resistant and provides great traction. We love these boots and can’t wait for it to get colder so we have an excuse to wear them.
Find out more from www.merrell.com
Another great boot comes in the form of the Hi-Tec St Anton Boot. Thinsulate insulation keeps you warm when the temperature drops. The CMEVA midsole keeps your feet cushioned, and the MDT rubber outsole provides superior grip in all conditions – dry, wet or snowy. These have a wider calf fit than the Merrell boot, so are perfect for tucking jeans into. The generous fur lining makes your feet feel like they’re sitting by the fire, even as all around you snow flakes fall.
Buy from www.hi-tec.com
Last but not least we think we have discovered the final word in ski backpacks. We’ve searched long and hard for a backpack to take out on a days’ skiing, one that will carry spare gloves, goggles, water and energy bars. One that might carry some more serious gear like a shovel and transceiver if we ventured on a day going off piste or side-country. Any pack that fulfilled all the above demands was usually large, bulky and most unsuitable for chairlifts. In other words there were serious packs for gnarly off-pisters who skinned up and never used lifts. And there were smaller packs which weren’t very well designed for the ski enthusiast. Now Osprey have provided us with the Reverb Pack (in 10 and 18 liter versions) and our problems are over.
Sewn from 420 Dobby poly and nylon, the Osprey Reverb is beefy yet carries all of your mountain essentials without feeling bulky. The Reverb has probes and handle sleeves and a blade sleeve in the back panel compartment for secure carry and quick access. On the front, skis or snowboards are attached via a series of configurable straps. To keep you hydrated, an internal pouch with a hanger holds your bladder of choice, and an insulated sleeve for the hose keeps your beverage from freezing. The pack’s shoulder straps are EVA lined for comfort, while the strap and waist buckles are glove-friendly. After a day using the pack we were hooked. The slim profile means you can jump on and off lifts with comfort and without ever needing to remove the bag. The ergonomic design means you don’t notice the bag during a day skiing, yet it contains everything you might need on the mountain. The good-looking Osprey Reverb adds style and provides freedom – we won’t be skiing without it.
Find out more at www.ospreyeurope.com