Your ski-movie heroes might be fearless, but they aren’t stupid. So don’t think for a second that they aren’t padding up underneath that cool outerwear before they go huge in the pipe or charge that steep, rock-studded line in Alaska. In the past, lots of pro athletes have adapted padded motocross apparel to their uses. Now companies like Scott USA (which happens to have a motocross line, too) are offering ski-specific body armor. Example: the Compression Reducer X.
The Rossignol Super Galactic Wheelie ($200) travels well in today’s world of strict baggage rules and fees: It’s big enough to consolidate his and her luggage into one bag for a week’s ski trip but not so oversized that it exceeds weight limits when fully packed. The bottom compartment keeps boots in their place, and the rugged construction scoffs at baggage handler abuse. An external zipped pocket for key paperwork, a cinched internal bag for valuables and large inline skate wheels make it a one-bag quiver for the ski traveler.
Wearable drinking systems were a giant leap for athletes. But hydration backpacks aren’t without shortcomings—like straps that can tangle with chairlifts and tree limbs, and drinking tubes that are prone to freezing. Designed for winter athletes, the new CamelBak ShredPak integrates a removable 72-ounce reservoir with a softshell vest, which prevents water from freezing and gives the system a low-bulk, strap-free fit.
Adjustable poles are just nice to have. If you’re regularly touring the backcountry to earn your turns, extra length is ideal for ascents. Or maybe you just like the idea of something that can be shortened for storage and transportation ease—or something that can be quickly adjusted to help out a friend who left his poles at home. The key is durability: Too often, an adjustment mechanism weakens a pole. One wrong move in those slushy spring bumps, and snap—time for new poles.
Snapping a ski pole during an epic day is downright frustrating—and, inevitably, a huge waste of time. Level’s new Freeride ski pole aims to keep you on the hill and out of the shop. The pole’s cloverleaf shaft design increases tensile strength while also maintaining the pole’s light swing-weight. In addition, the Freeride takes a new tack on adjustable ski poles: The soft plastic grip has two height positions, which comes in handy in the backcountry.
The Black Diamond First Strike is conceived as a junior trekking pole, but it strikes us as a no-brainer for parents of budding alpine skiers. It’s a two-section pole with an easy adjustment system that allows it to grow from 25.5 to 43 inches. As Black Diamond says, that ought to get your growing boy or girl through four seasons, easy.
Now that DSLRs are the cameras of choice, bringing it along on your vacation is the next order of business. Lowepro’s new Passport Sling does the job nicely, with a padded camera box that has room for a camera and two lenses, along with a built-in pocket for memory cards. The camera box is collapsible and removable for use without camera gear, and the sling also sports a roomy compartment for your other techy devices, a wallet, a light jacket, a book or whatever else you like to pack along. It’s available in the standard black, as well as in blue and brown.