For a jacket that lets you tackle the toughest off-piste terrain, you can’t beat the Arc’teryx GORE-TEX Sidewinder jacket (1). It’s totally waterproof, breathable, and scuff resistant, with a helmet compatible storm hood and allows plenty of movement for big mountain riding. Like most top of the range jackets, it has a Recco avalanche detector and its offset front zipper avoids having zips scratching under your chin when you’re belting down a couloir.
For a truly James Bond day on the piste, try the Recon MOD Live (£320, snowandrock.com), for use with a pair of Recon compatible ski goggles (2). The Android-powered device beams a HUD (head up display) into your goggles – a system originally developed for fighter pilots, which shows everything from trail maps to real-time speed. You can view text messages, speed, altitude and calls via the remote control on your wrist. It’s even compatible with your iPhone. The vital stats are shown on a tiny window in the corner of the goggle so it doesn’t obscure your vision or distract you while checking your speed. Playlist mode puts all your music on your phone/MP3 player at your disposal and the Recon App centre allows you to download further apps so you can control additional devices such as HD Action cameras (PVR’s) and heart rate monitors via Bluetooth.
If you’re looking for a great GPS, try the Suunto Ambit watch (3). This cool gadget gives you all the tricks — heart rate function for training, barometer for weather forecasting, altimeter for navigation and logging vertical gain and a GPS for location and an accurate trace. The battery lasts 15 hours in full exercise mode and it is water resistant up to 100m. Upload data for analysis and sharing on movescount.com.
Salomon’s Guardian binding (£320, ellis-brigham.com) will change the way skiers approach and enjoy off piste skiing by providing the ski tourer with the benefits of a very convenient hiking system. The binding’s low profile chassis features a lower stand height for greater stability, and the oversized platform enables maximum power transmission and responsiveness for quick and more precise turns. A hike and ride switch, which is easily engaged with a ski pole, means it is no longer necessary to remove skis when switching between hiking and riding modes. After climbing, simply use the ski pole to flip the climbing bar to skiing position, step down with your heel until the binding locks securely into place, and you’re ready for the turns you’ve just earned.
If you are heading off piste, you would be mad not to carry a transceiver in case you get caught in an avalanche or you need to find others who are buried. The Ortovox Zoom + transceiver (4) is one of the easiest and most intuitive Avalanche transceivers produced to date. Reduced to two function buttons and with a simple easy to read display, it offers even the novice a fast and efficient way to search for any avalanche victim. If you are unfortunate enough to be buried, the onboard smart antenna technology analyses its position in the avalanche and automatically switches to the best transmission antenna, so you are found by your friends as quickly as possible.
If you’re caught in an avalanche, airbag technology can boost your survival chances. Yank the rip cord on your arm strap and an air bag will burst out of your backpack, giving you vital buoyancy to stop you being buried in the snow. There are two main systems; the ABS (£699, abs-airbag.de) and Snowpulse (5).
With more winter sports insurers insisting on helmets, you may as well turn one into a useful tool to record your best jump of the season. Attach a GoPro Hero3 Silver edition camera (6) to your bonce. It’s got built-in wi-fi and is smaller and lighter than previous models. The camera is waterproof to 197ft (60m), and is capable of capturing ultra-wide 1080p 30 frames per second (fps) and 720p 60 fps video.
There’s apps for almost everything these days, but it’s worth shelling out for the Ski School Intermediate (£2.99, Apple App Store), which gives handy tips and demonstrations from instructor Darren Turner. Or for in the bar afterwards, you can play Touch Ski 3D (free or £1.99 for a full version) and let your fingers do the skiing. Also useful is the Ski Webcams app (free, Apple App Store), which provides footage from more than 1,500 webcams in more than 400 resorts, and the Ski Tracks app (69p, Apple App Store), which tracks your runs so you can mull over your fastest run, distance travelled and average speed at the end of the day.
And if you’re looking to tap your smart phone without having to remove your gloves, you’d better get your hands on the Dakine Raptor Touch Tec glove (7), which has touch technology to work on touch screen devices. Or you can talk to the hand – literally – with the KJUS GSM glove (£199.99, snowandrock.com). It has Bluetooth technology for answering calls and ear and mouth pieces set into the glove.
You may look hot stuff blasting down a black run, but if your toes are freezing you’ll be whimpering for a hot chocolate by 11am while your mates laugh at you. Ski longer by keeping your toes warm with a Hotronic E4 footwarmer pack (8). The set includes two battery packs, heating elements, insoles: no more chilblains.
1 Arc’teryx GORE-TEX Sidewinder Jacket
2 Uvex Recon 9
3 Suunto Ambit Watch
4 Ortovox Zoom
6 GoPro Hero3 Silver Edition Camera
7 Dakine Raptor
Touch Tec Glove