The 50 Best winter sports gear
Whether you’re sticking to the blue runs or tackling something more adventurous, Jonathan Thompson chooses the kit that’s always high-performance
Friday 09 November 2012
Matt Barr is Author of Skiing Europe and Snowboarding The World (footprinttravelguides.com)
Claire Collins is Marketing manager of Snow+Rock, winter sports retailer (snowandrock.com)
Shona Tate is BASI Trainer and Director at the British Alpine Ski Schools (britishskischool.com)
Dan Grose is Outdoor sports and fitness buyer at online lifestyle store Surfdome (surfdome.com)
This does everything you need it to do and the fabric looks great. It also gives you licence to pair it with some seriously loud snowboard pants.
Two things Scandinavians do well are fashion and winter sports. Kjus have thought of everything – this even has a detachable balaclava.
“You can either wear the outer layer or the inner soft shell separately, or both together on cold days,” says Shona. “It fits your body snugly and comes in some great colours.”
Tartiflette, fondue – there’s a lot of cheese served up in the mountains. Luckily, this ladies jacket has been designed to give the illusion of a more flattering silhouette on the slopes.
A softshell women’s jacket with built-in heat elements: on demand warmth at the push of a button. Crucial if we’re facing a repeat of last season’s extreme cold conditions.
“The offset front zipper avoids that annoying, chin scratching pile up of zips,” says Matt. “The storm hood fits perfectly over a helmet too.”
At 170g (the same weight as a bar of Kendal Mint Cake) this is the lightest down jacket in the world, ideal for layering under an outer shell.
“The three-point adjustable hood, hand-warmer pockets and anchored bottom-hem adjustors show a real knowledge of what serious skiers really want,” says Matt.
If life is a box of chocolates, this is one of the soft centres: a carefully created shell on the outside, but lightness and comfort within. Highly recommended.
“A really versatile jacket, this is warm, waterproof, wind proof and well insulated,” says Matt. “It comes in a stuff sack so compresses right down for packing purposes too.”
“These are men’s snowboard pants but a lot of skiers will be wearing them,” says Matt. “The two-layer shell means waterproof, breathable protection, but the ergonomic fit gives freedom".
With waterproof-breathable construction and critical seam sealing, these insulated men’s pants will do the job in style. “The perfect amount of warmth, comfort and protection,” says Dan.
“These women’s pants are cut stylishly, but are still incredibly comfortable,” says Shona. “They move with you, which makes for smoother skiing too.” They come in a range of block colours.
“Cut well for optimum mobility and the stretch gaiters fit securely over boots, something many brands haven’t got right,” says Dan. They also have a ‘Chimney Venting system’.
“Classic, dependable women’s pants,” says Shona. Articulated knees are a bonus for snowboarding, plus plenty of pockets mean you can carry everything you need for the slopes without a backpack.
“Made from the merino wool of New Zealand’s finest Alpine sheep, this takes advantage of Mother Nature’s finest technical fabric,” says Shona.
“This keeps you warm in the right places,” says Shona. “Antibacterial fabric means you can wear it for a number of days without any nasty odours.”
This insulated mid-layer can sit under an outer shell, or be worn as a jacket. “If you like skiing, this is the best layer you’ll ever own,” says Matt.
“Surf brand Finisterre’s merino base layers are so good that I swear by them for snowboarding,” says Matt. “Its selection is extensive and will keep you warm and comfy.”
This high-performance compression set gives warmth, support and breathability. Well placed seams mean chafing is a thing of the past. “It’s like a second skin,” says Matt.
“These allow you to maximise peripheral and downward vision without compromise on fit, comfort or compatability with your helmet,” says Dan.
“These have magnets built into the frame, so the lenses are super easy to change,” says Claire. It’ll make the world of difference when you’re trying to change them in a blizzard.
These sit close to your head which, along with their flow tech venting system, means you rarely have any issues with them steaming up.
We know you’re a good skier – but you can’t rely on everybody else to be. Because they don’t have a frame, these offer extraordinary peripheral vision.
You don’t need to see an optician: this really is a pair of Oakley goggles at an unbelievable price. And if you do need to see an optician, these are over-the-glasses goggles.
You won’t feel like ironing a shirt after a hard day on the piste, but throw this woolly wingman on and you’ll look effortlessly stylish while sinking those well-earned drinks.
“Waterproof and extremely warm thanks to the PrimaLoft insulation,” says Shona. “I love the fur trim, and the temperature-sensitive rubber soles will give you great grip.”
“Gilets are going to be everywhere this season, and they’re perfect alpine bar wear,” says Matt. They’re best paired with a T-shirt, bobble hat and Jagerbomb for full seasonaire effect.
After a day on the slopes, the last thing you want to do is let your guard – or your balance – slip in the evening. The Chugalugs will chug you to and from the best bars in style.
This kind of ‘midlayer’ would have been worn in a time before ski lifts. The lambswool will keep you warm, while Alcantara elbow patches bring the look up to date nicely.
“The ideal way to stay connected without roaming charges,” says Claire. Because skiing is expensive enough, without a colossal phone bill.
These are what Michael Knight would have worn if Knight Rider had been set in a ski resort. “Bluetooth technology means you can use these as a handset on the go,” says Matt.
The Casio G-Shock is ideal for snow sports, and the Gravity Defier is special. Its solar battery lasts for months and it adjusts itself as you fly (or ski) across time zones.
The new iPod Nano features Bluetooth functionality, which means you can put it in your pocket and control tracks externally with a device like Burton’s Mix Master glove.
As you relax on the ski lifts you can be sure of one thing: your earphones won’t budge, thanks to Bowers & Wilkins’s ‘secure loop technology’.
“One of the best helmet designs on the market, Bern’s headgear always comes with a patented visor,” says Matt. “This one can double up as a bike helmet at home too.”
“A great hat in off-white, which means it will go with almost anything you wear,” says Shona. “I’ll wear a helmet to ski or board, but have this in my pocket for when we stop.”
No more pesky unclipping on the flat or cadging tows from grumpy skiers with one of these beauties strapped to your backpack.
Phones and snow aren’t natural partners, but the Insulator Case will extend your mobile’s battery life by up to 50 per cent in sub zero temperatures.
These self-heating gloves are a fantastic invention. Cold hands on the ski lift will be a distant memory as the batteries keep your digits nice and toasty for three hours.
Remember those Reebok trainers you could pump air into? This is a version for the opposite end of your body. “It’s often hard to find a helmet that fits, but this solves that instantly,” says Shona.
If you’re about to dip your toe into the world of winter sports, this is what you want on your feet. “Everything you want in a pair of ski socks,” says Shona. “An ergonomic fit, with support in the right places.”
Forget the pre-dawn luggage juggle – this is an ingenious product from the irreverent ski luggage brand. The rigid skeleton rolls up to correct ski length, with room for all your kit, then rolls away for storage.
“The furry inner is so nice that it feels like a comfort blanket while you’re skiing,” says Shona. “The leather palm gives a good feel against your ski pole, and there’s a pocket on the back for your lift pass.”
“Osprey are the Apple of the luggage world, and this is a great pack,” says Dan. “It’s spacious inside, with wet and dry gear divisions.”
This hat is perfect for protecting your head and fashion credentials while en route to the pub – whether it’s on your street or in the Alps.
“This will bring bling to any ski outfit,” says Shona. “It feels great against your skin and will keep you lovely and warm, as well as brightening up your look.”
Technical socks designed specifically for the female foot, these have elastic arches and ankles for perfect hold, and padding in key areas.
The Mix Master gloves allow you to throw your iPod Nano or iPhone into your jacket or pack, then control it by simply tapping on your glove.
Maui isn’t often linked with snow, but these are an exception. Matt says: “The design protects you from sidewinds, and the lenses are perfect for skiing.”
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