As usual the world of winter sports has a ridiculous array of new gear on offer for the coming season, each with seemingly impeccable reviews. To help you cut through the noise, here are some of our favourites that’ll make your next ski holiday that little bit better.
Best to keep you warm: The Buff Thermonet
Admittedly it could be argued that a new Buff isn’t the most exciting winter product on the market. But the new Buff Thermonet looks like it is going to take huge steps forward in keeping us warm on the slopes. The range features a new fabric, developed with Primaloft, that the brand claims will have four times the insulation value of their standard microfiber products and it won’t freeze, even in the coldest conditions. It’s even made using 70% recycled materials and features quick-dry properties.
Best Jacket: Helly Hansen - The Elevation Shell Jacket with Life Pocket+
The Helly Hansen Elevation jacket was developed by professional free skiers. It does everything that you would expect from a high-end ski jacket - providing extra protection and breathability, a Recco system and hi-vis accents for safety, and an ingenious venting system to keep you either warm or cool. However, it also has a very clever pocket…
We didn’t think we’d be extolling the virtues of a pocket in a winter gear guide but we do love tech and the Life Pocket+ preserves the battery for your all-important smartphone. How, you ask? Well, it’s engineered with Prima Loft Gold Insulation Aerogel, developed by NASA to protect electronics in space. This keeps your pocket three times warmer than a normal pocket (amazing!) stopping your battery from quickly draining due to the cold weather.
Best for Juice: FosPower - PowerActive Power Bank
If you’re not lucky enough to own a ski jacket with a pocket designed by NASA (see above), your smartphone battery is likely to drain quickly in cold conditions so it is always worth throwing a waterproof portable charger into your day bag on the mountain. The FosPower PowerActive Power Bank is designed to be snow proof, dirt proof, drop proof and waterproof, it has a large 10200mAh power bank and even includes a torch, compass and a carabiner.
Best for Keeping You Safe: POC SPIN Helmet or Smith Quantum MIPS Helmet
Buying a helmet can be tricky. Two points are non-negotiable - it has to fit, and it has to keep you safe. Given you can buy a helmet for £20, is it worth shelling out £200 for the latest in helmet technology? Does spending more give you greater levels of safety? In short, yes. But it all depends on your situation – your budget and the levels of danger that you expose yourself to on the mountain.
If you’re looking for something top end, look no further than the POC Spin Helmet or the Smith Quantum MIPS Helmet. Although POC call it SPIN and Smith call it MIPS, it’s basically the same technology; a helmet with an inner and an outer shell so that the force of an impact on the outer is directed around the inner, and not onto your head.
Best for Beats: Outdoor Tech - Chips 2.0 Wireless Bluetooth Helmet Audio (with in-built walkie-talkie)
The market for Bluetooth headphones that slip into your helmet is still small – the main two options come from Outdoor Tech and Skullcandy but we prefer the Outdoor Tech option. You charge the ‘Chips’ and slide them into the earflaps on your helmet. The Chips 2.0 have a new walkie-talkie feature that allows you to communicate with friends who are also using Chips 2.0 headphones. You create a group using the ODT Walkie-Talkie app on your phone and talk over the phone network, which means the only limit on distance is whether you're getting phone signal. Each earpiece has a button allowing you to answer and end calls as well as pausing and playing music at a touch. You can even access Siri without taking out your phone and use voice commands to call people or play music.
Best Smart Watch: Nixon Mission
The market for smartwatches is a competitive one but the Nixon comes fully loaded. It’s built smart and it’s built tough, the Mission can withstand the elements so you can take it with you anywhere: in the water, on the mountain, off road and beyond.
Powered by Android Wear (although also compatible with iPhone) and working hand in hand with Surfline, the world’s largest source for surf conditions reporting, and Snocountry, the authority on mountain conditions, the Mission is equipped with a preloaded app and streamlines real-time surf and snow shred alerts to your wrist, so you’ll never miss a powder day. The watch includes GPS to record all of your ski data including top speed and distance skied but that is far from all this piece of kit has up its sleeve… you can use it as a remote control to take photos on your camera or phone, it has weather integrations, google maps and traffic updates, you can control your music and even measure your heart rate.
Best Snowboard Hardware: The Burton Step On System
The Step On System is what Burton claim to be “snowboarding’s next evolution”. However, step in bindings have been a regular feature on the slopes for some time now and these will no doubt divide opinion. This system is essentially a boot-to-board binding which the company claims is by far the quickest ever made for boarders. It includes both boots and bindings; the boots have five cleats that clip directly into the base of the binding, with no straps involved, and are then released using a lever on the bindings highback.
If you’d like to learn more, or you’re planning a trip - your free travel concierge is available on WhatsApp (07427840541) or Facebook Messenger (@myswft) and can help you plan and book the whole trip.