8 must-haves for the slopes
This year’s hottest ski and snowboard gear ranges from hand-crafted products made of sustainable materials to high-tech equipment that can be folded, molded, or battery-powered. Here are a few top picks.
Goggles with gigabytes
Not many goggles come with a USB power cord and a hex wrench. Liquid Image’s new Apex HD+ goggles look like something James Bond might use on a mission: They have a small high-definition video camera that records your fun on the slopes. It captures 1080p video footage (at 30 frames per second) that you can stream live to your smartphone or tablet using the built-in Wi-Fi feature. It also takes 12-megapixel still shots. Just charge the lithium battery, hit the slopes, and start shooting with a push of the glove-friendly button on the goggle strap. Or select Continuous Photo Mode to take a hands-free shot every 2 seconds. The goggles come with amber and ionized lenses, and a 4GB micro SD card (expandable to 32GB). $399.99. 707-284-1585, www.
A sturdy point-and-shoot
Prefer a more traditional camera? Slip the Olympus Tough TG-1 in your ski jacket and go.
This durable point-and-shoot can withstand drops from 6.6 feet, temperatures to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, sweat, snow, and even an aprés-ski dip in the hot tub. What sets it apart from other rough-and-tumble cameras? It has a blazing-fast image processor that lets you take up to 60 shots a second, meaning you won’t miss a photo waiting for the camera to process and save an image. The 12-megapixel camera also has a 2.0 lens for low-light shooting, a built-in GPS that records the location and altitude of each shot, and Eye-Fi capability for wirelessly uploading images to your computer without Wi-Fi. Double locks on the battery and charging compartments prevent them from accidentally opening. $399. 800-622-6372, www
Boots made for walking
Toss out those four-buckle boots. Salomon’s new Quest Max 100 provide just as much power and stability with one less buckle,
thanks to their TwinFrame technology. They have a stiff polyurethane material on the sole and partial upper that gives you more power and control. The all-mountain boots also have a 360-degree heat-moldable Custom Shell that conforms to feet ranging from 98mm to 104mm wide. Go to East Coast Alpine, a Salomon dealer, on Commonwealth Avenue and they will bake your boot shells in a special oven, and then mold them to your feet for a perfect fit. Tweak the fit by adjusting the buckle above your ankle bone to three different positions to alleviate pressure (carry a hex wrench with you until it’s dialed in). The cool Ride and Hike feature provides lots of extra comfort, whether you are hiking from your car to the lodge or up to a fresh snow stash. Flip up the “backbone” switch so the boot comfortably flexes with each step. Size 24-29½. $690. 888-
Retro with bamboo poles
Soul Poles transports us back in time with its simple yet sturdy retro bamboo poles. These hand-crafted poles, designed by World Cup and Olympic competitors Bryon Friedman and Erik Schlopy, are made from sustainable bamboo that has been harvested by a Utah family for generations. The lightweight poles weigh only 2 ounces more than my high-end carbon fiber poles and have the tensile strength of steel. The grips, baskets, and straps are made from recycled plastics, and the tips are made with recycled aluminum. Buy the natural-colored bamboo Original Soul poles for $125, the Vibrant Soul poles with bands of orange, blue, or green for $175, or the Ltd Edition Soul poles with colorful designs by a California artist for $350. Available in 110cm to 135cm; customized sizes $25 extra. 888-612-7685, www
1 if by board, 2 if by ski
Riders who resist split boards will love the MTN Approach Skis, which have adjustable free-heel bindings with rubber straps that can accommodate snowboard boots. These clever skis also have permanent climbing skins and heel elevators for steep ascents. Their top feature: Each ski folds in two places, so you can stash them in a purpose-built daypack that also swallows spare clothes, snacks, and emergency gear. Lash your snowboard to the ski pack, skin up a hill on your approach skis, and then fold up and stash the skis for your snowboarding descent. Folded, each ski measures 21 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 2 inches thick. Unfolded, they run 138cm. Fiberglass locking hinges prevent the skis from folding up or flexing too much as you maneuver. The skis weigh eight pounds per pair, support up to 250 pounds, and fit women’s 5½ to men’s 13 feet. Skis $750, with backpack $795. 208-928-7628, www.mtn
A backpack for ski gear
Kulkea’s ingenious new bag, the Ski Trekker, was created by a Westwood dad who understands the challenge of carrying mounds of gear. It can haul one pair of adult skis, plus boots, clothes, and other equipment in an organized, civilized way. The backpack-style bag, with pockets galore, has a sleeve that extends through the main compartment and holds a pair of skis in place, a boot pocket on each side with air vents, a helmet sling, a snow cover, a microfiber-lined goggle pouch, and other handy pockets. The bag has adequate back and shoulder padding for hauling your load from car to base lodge. Kulkea’s Boot Trekker includes similar features, but has two large main compartments for storing gear. Buy the bags at the Ski Stop in Canton and Westwood, around ski areas up north, or through www.best
skibags.com. Ski Trekker $179, Boot Trekker $129. 781-366-
A multi-tasking ski jacket
Wrap yourself in down-like comfort while fending off wet weather with Scott’s new Drexler (men’s) and Zuri (women’s) jackets. These athletic-cut ski jackets offer hard-shell protection on one side, but when the clouds lift and the temperatures drop, you can turn the jacket inside-out and enjoy the puffy comfort of 540-fill synthetic down. Both jackets come with an adjustable helmet-compatible hood, hand-warmer pockets inside and out (and lined on the shell side), and a lower back to provide insulation while riding lifts. The Drexler has two vertical chest pockets, whereas the Zuri has one. Pick up these waterproof yet highly breathable jackets at Summit Ski and Sport in Framingham, or at other shops heading north. Drexler $275; Zuri $230. 208-622-1000,
Simplifying learning to ski
Hookease, made by Utah-based Launch Pad, is one of slickest and simplest learning tools for helping beginners of any age learn to ski. “It shortens the time it takes to learn, and it shortens the drama,” Picabo Street, Olympic gold medalist and Hookease spokesperson, recently told me. Attach your poles (using the provided hooks) to brackets on the back of the beginner’s skis to help steer and guide the person down the slopes. With a turn of your wrist, you can roll the beginner’s skis up on their edges and teach the skier, through repetition and muscle memory, how to maneuver through turns. “I taught two of my children the hard way, and it took five or six times of going to the mountain and a lot of tears,” said Street, who taught her next child using Hookease. “With my third, it literally took 30 seconds of skiing, no joke, and he pretty much had it.” $59.99. 888-774-1118, www