Essential kit: Gear up for the winter
Going skiing? Check out the latest clothing and gadgets that can help you get ahead on the slopes
Saturday 17 October 2009
Salomon Impact helmet
Snow is never quite as soft and fluffy as it looks – and high-speed collisions with trees or other skiers can be downright dangerous. This well-ventilated, half-shell helmet uses Salomon's new Custom Air technology to mould itself exactly to your head shape at the touch of a button, ensuring maximum protection. The adjustable pressure system was designed by a sports trauma specialist – although the styling seems to have taken a cue from the US military. Hence its availability in "battleship" grey or "stormtrooper" white.
North Face Etip gloves
The latest touch-sensitive technology (as found on iPhone screens and iPod click-wheels) needs the natural conductivity of an ungloved finger to work – which is not much fun when you want to change tunes in sub-zero conditions. These warm, tough gloves have a conducting pad on each index finger to let you flip through your music, check a map or surf online without exposing your hands. They also have grippy silicone palms, so you won't drop your precious gadget into a snowdrift either.
Silkbody base layer
Silk is light, strong and thermally efficient, and requires less energy to manufacture than artificial fibres. This Silkbody base layer mixes in 15 per cent merino wool and 15 per cent cotton to give a garment that fits well, feels luxuriously comfortable and absorbs up to a third of its weight in moisture without feeling damp. It's available in male and female fits, with a zip neck for ventilation and resilient stitching around the arms, sleeve and hem.
Atomic Renu 110 boots
This ski boot uses recycled textiles and foams throughout, with a strong bio-plastic shell (made from castor plants), bamboo lining and a cork insole. The translucent look is thanks to the lack of artificial pigments, which also means that the Renu (see how they even conserved letters!) is fully recyclable at the end of its life. It comes with a Recco avalanche reflector, plus easy release buckles and straps.
Motorola TLKR T5 radios
Mobile phone coverage is getting better at most ski resorts, but a week of texting and calling abroad can still mean a hefty bill when you get home. This pair of walkie-talkies has a range of 6km, rechargeable batteries that last up to 24 hours, and they don't cost a penny to use. They can be easily clipped to a jacket or backpack, offering hands-free voice-activated talking. The pair will even double up as a baby monitor at night. Each one weighs around 150g with batteries.
Anon Hawkeye goggles
It's the lenses that give these new goggles a clear advantage. The impact-tested, scratch-resistant polycarbonate optics are spherical rather than flat, giving clearer vision upwards and downwards, while a panoramic profile becomes thinner towards the edges to reduce distortion. You can choose from a bewildering variety of lenses to suit different weather conditions and activities – or settle for a silver mirror finish that is a safe all-rounder. Good airflow keeps fogging down, and a fleecy foam surround minimises those distinctive "goggle-face" marks.
Lib Tech Banana Magic board
Lib Tech monkeyed around with standard snowboard designs to come up with the "banana-rocker" concept – a pre-bent board that focuses edge pressure between your feet, giving an easier ride whether you're into pipes, powder, park or good old-fashioned piste. Riding more like a skateboard than a snowboard, the eco-friendly Banana Magic has a skin made from castor oil bio-plastic and a fibreglass construction that shuns toxic additives.
Snowpulse Freeride backpack
Around 150 people are killed by avalanches each year, 80 per cent of them in the European Alps. Think of this high-tech backpack as a life jacket for the piste – in the event of an avalanche, it contains an airbag that inflates in only three seconds, protecting your head and torso from the initial impact and then providing buoyancy to lift you out of the snow. The pressurised gas cylinder powering it is safe for air travel, and there's 10 litres of space for a snow shovel, probe and water bottles.
Rip Curl 3rd Rock pants
Look as though you're travelling 50mph even when you're standing still with the latest eye-melting prints from surf and ski specialists Rip Curl. These all-mountain trousers are made from polyester (55 per cent recycled) for superior breathability and durability. Taped seams ensure a good level of waterproofing and a nylon liner keeps you comfortable, even as the achingly hip design risks inducing epilepsy in passers-by.
GSI Personal Java Press
We're not sure exactly where you'll find boiling water halfway up a mountain, but there's something appealing about this go-anywhere cafetière. Made from shatter-proof polypropylene, the mug nests inside the carafe, where a split-ring plunger does its very best to brew your morning coffee without any gritty grounds. The insulated mug has a sipping lid – although watch out for any dribbles when pouring from the carafe.
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