Pick of the best: snowboard equipment
Anton Renshawe-Strack checks out the snowboard equipment that'll ensure you look pristine on the piste
Saturday 14 October 2006
On the blink
Mountains are wildly temperamental places. One minute you can be stranded in a white-out, only to find yourself in scorching sunshine the next. Getting your eyewear right is, therefore, essential. Goggles or sunglasses? Lenses for glare or for dense fog? Such a dilemma could be a thing of the past with Elevation Climacool, a pair of sunglasses-cum-goggles. They work like sunglasses with the arms, and goggles by switching to the strap. The NASA-approved lenses are interchangeable, with tints to cover all light conditions.
Adidas Elevation Climacool, £128, 0870 4445555; www.adidas.com/eyewear
The boarder wears Prada
Snowboard purists are quick to slate wintersport collections by the catwalk powerhouses as big on bling, small on specs. Prada's Military Jacket has a technical armoury that will silence the cynics. It includes removable linings, a Gore-Tex shell, taped seams and, most notably, a Recco reflector built into the sleeve. Recco is a passive avalanche system used by over 400 mountain-rescue services worldwide to locate burial victims. (Bear in mind, though, that Recco is only an additional avalanche safety tool, not a substitute to carrying a transceiver, shovel and probe if venturing off-piste.)
You'd be forgiven for thinking that snowboard fashion designers spend their entire lives traipsing around army surplus stores, given the omnipresence of camouflage print. This winter, however, many brands are looking for inspiration on civvie street. Burton is getting down with the tweed look. Its roasted brown colour scheme is rather dapper, proving that just because you're a snowboarder doesn't mean you need to look scruffy.
Burton Women's Cargo Elite Pant, 00 800 2878 6613; www.ellis-brigham.com
Hills, thrills and costly spills
Travel insurance may not sit comfortably with snowboarding's carefree attitude, but if you have a spill on the hill without cover, it'll be your bank balance, not just your body, that could take a battering. In the US, for example, merely having a dislocated shoulder popped back into place will cost upwards of £1,000. Dogtag is an insurance that specialises in action sports. Simply wear the dogtag round your neck whenever you're heading up the hill and you'll be able to prove that you're insured, get medical bills paid and allow medics to access your vital information online.
Dogtag Insurance, worldwide sport annual multi-trip from £99, www.dogtag.co.uk
Looking good off the slopes is as important as looking good on them, particularly if you have the wedge to do so. This season's essential après item, particularly for Victoria Beckham wannabes, is the Snowboot from Chanel. Spicing up the original Moon Boot with inimitable Chanel twists, it features black quilted-leather uppers, Teddy Boy chains and, just in case the trottoirs of St. Moritz haven't been snow-cleared, is also fully waterproof. As with the original Moon Boot, the left and right boots are the same - perfect if your co-ordination is wanting after one too many Krugs.
Chanel Snowboot, £540, 020-7493 5040; www.chanel.com
The sound of Swiss music
It is quaintly reassuring that the Swiss army is still best known for a knife which was first used in the late 19th century and which includes among its basic features a can opener, tweezers and a toothpick. Times are changing, however: Victorinox, maker of the original Swiss Army Knife, has now added a 21st-century twist to the newest model of its bushcraft stalwart. This new knife includes one of the smallest MP3 players on the market, the s.beat. It is USB compatible, has a rechargeable battery and even boasts an FM radio so you can keep abreast of what's going on in the real world as you pick pebbles from horses' hooves.
Victoriox s.beat MP3 player, £150, 0116 234 4646; www.victorinox.com
Day-glo by night
Hot new technology from Canada could do for snowboarding apparel what fluorescent paint has done for wristwatches. Energlo is a chemical made of crystals that absorb light by day and glow by night. Phenom from Westbeach is the first snowboarding jacket to incorporate this technology. So if you're ever caught out on the slopes after dark, you'll be easily spotted by others. The jacket is also fully-seamed, waterproof and breathable. Clubbers take note: it also turns you into a giant glowstick, just in case you feel the urge to turn your chalet into an old skool rave - whistle and white gloves not included.
Westbeach Phenom Jacket, £260, www.westbeach.com
There's nothing more irritating than lugging a water bladder halfway up a mountain only to find your precious supplies have frozen solid. The North Face has developed a battery-powered heating system that aims to prevent this. A thermostat in the drinking tub signals the system to heat when it approaches freezing. An LED display provides information about its status: heating on or off, as well as a battery indicator. The pack also boasts a moulded back panel for comfort, a nifty goggle pocket and a 3-litre nalgene bladder with a micro reservoir and a whistle.
The North Face Snowday: £100, 01539 738882; www.ellis-brigham.com
Sharing a chairlift with someone who's got the same snowboard as you can be embarassing. To avoid such style clashes, Elan has devised the ultimate in customised kit: a snowboard you design yourself. Simply sketch your own masterpiece, upload it to the Elan website, place your order, and your board will be ready for collection from your local snowboard store within the month. Artec Blueprint comes in three sizes and features a woodcore made from sustainable resources.
Elan Artec Blueprint Snowboard, £390, 01306 501550; www.elansnowboards.com.
Now that wearing a lid is compulsory at most UK dry slopes, chances are you'll end up renting an ill-fitting piece that has been used by some soap-dodger with terminal head lice. As well as protecting your grey matter, R.E.D.'s Tantrum Helmet will also keep you at the communication helm. Bluetooth wireless wizardry from Motorola connects to a mobile phone so you can annoy the crew back home with your tales of powder glory. The built-in headphones are also iPod-compatible. The music automatically mutes for incoming calls, ending all that fumbling in your pockets hunting for a phone.
R.E.D. Tantrum Audex Helmet, £160, www.snowboard-asylum.com
Gadget overkill is ruling our lives. From sat-navs so complicated you end up driving in circles to phones that do everything other than let you make calls, you're left wondering: would life really be any worse without them? One of those rare gadgets that will make life better, for snowboard movie-makers at least, is Rip Curl's Third Eye: a goggle equipped with a Sony minicam that hooks up to your camcorder. So if there are any piste pile-ups you'll capture footage worthy of sending to You've Been Framed in the hope of bagging £250.
Rip Curl Third Eye goggle, www.ripcurl.com
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