Wearable technology is very much a hot topic for 2015. Although it’s been around for some time, it’s now starting to become more affordable and accessible for the ordinary person, from high-end products like Google Glass to cheaper options.
You might be surprised to hear, though, that there are many pieces of wearable technology developed specifically for skiing and snowboarding – perfect accessories for a gap year ski season.
It all started with the helmet-mounted camera, but has now developed into an entire industry with new, exciting products being released all the time. Don’t be surprised, then, if on the slopes this season you see a few skiers who look like they’ve just stepped out of a science fiction movie, or are trying to be James Bond (more on him later).
To help keep you in the loop with all of the exciting developments in the world of ski-related wearable technology, I’ve pulled together a list of some of my favourite pieces, from heated gloves to HUD snow goggles.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First of all, let’s go back to basic and take a look at the most popular camera and helmet on the market for this season…
It’s no secret that GoPro lead the industry in developing affordable, high-quality sports cameras. And the new Hero 4 model strengthens their hold on the market.
GoPro cameras are notoriously reliable, strong, and shoot fantastic quality videos in all kinds of conditions. They’re definitely the way to go if you’re buying a camera for skiing photos and video.
If you’re looking to mount your GoPro Hero 4, they also sell a rather affordable helmet mount so that you can capture your ascent down the slopes in first person just like pro skier Candide Thovex in his latest viral video ‘One of Those Days 2’:
…just remember to edit out any of your tumbles! The mount will fit on most ski helmets and is designed to keep your Hero 4 safe and secure at all times.
If you’re looking to purchase a new helmet anyway, and like the sound of mounting a GoPro camera to it, you can do no better than the new Giro Edit series, which we’ll take a look at below.
Considering the popularity of GoPro cameras amongst skiers and snowboarders, it’s no surprise that helmet manufacturer Giro have released a model with a retractable camera mount designed to be compatible with the GoPro Hero 4. These sleek helmets offer head and neck protection whilst still being the lightest helmet ever made by the company, weighing in at only 375 grams.
Unlike many of the ski accessories available on the market, the Giro Edit has a very low profile and is designed as a sleek, sophisticated alternative to larger, bolder models.
Recon Instruments Snow 2 is one of the most advanced Heads Up Displays (HUDs) on the market. Essentially a virtual reality headset, the Snow 2 places data related to speed, distance travelled, altitude and navigation in front of the user’s eyes. It can also take telephone calls and display text messages due to its compatibility with the iPhone and other iOS devices.
All of this information appears to the user as if on a 14-inch display around five feet from their face, and doesn’t interfere with their vision of the real world around them.
Simply strap on the Recon Instruments goggles, turn on the watch adaptor, and you’re away. This really is one of the most advanced bits of ski-related wearable tech available on the market. Personally, I like to concentrate on what is in front of me in the mountains. But each to their own – just make sure you keep the full-screen display turned off when you’re flying down the hill!
Do you want to feel like James Bond in The World is Not Enough? Then this Ortovox Tour 32 +7 Avalanche Backpack is the ski accessory for you! You remember the scene; 007 inflating his backpack to protect himself from the oncoming avalanche (if you don’t, you can watch the video below).
Whilst not working in quite the same way, this is essentially what avalanche backpacks are designed to do – although instead of enclosing the user in a protective ball, they inflate to stop the user becoming buried in the snow. There are a lot of these on the market, but I’ve picked out the Ortovox Avalanche 32 +7 Backpack to have a look at here.
Awarded four stars by Outdoor Gear Lab on its release, the Avalanche 32 +7 is one of the most popular backpacks of its kind on the market. It comes with 32 litres of space, with an extra 7 if you unzip the bottom and turn it into a suitcase, and is compatible with any of Ortovox’s avalanche airbags.
If you happen to get caught in an avalanche, simply pull the cord and the airbag inflates – stopping you from getting buried under the oncoming snow (and making you look a little bit like James Bond).
Described in T3’s Best Ski Gear list for 2015 as the ‘techiest skiing accessory on the market’, the BearTek Bluetooth SnowSport Gloves really do make you feel like you’re in the future.
These gloves connect by Bluetooth to smartphones and other technological devices so that you can use them without the hassle of removing the gloves and getting the item from your bag. You can take phone calls, snap pictures and change music tracks all without actually touching your device and whilst your hands stay nice and warm.
Smartwatches were some of the first affordable wearable tech that appeared on the general market, and their popularity has even brought Apple to the party with their launch of the Apple Watch. The Fenix 2 is very similar, but is geared towards athletes instead of the everyday user. Since its release, the Fenix 2 has drawn the plaudits from the tech world, with Digital Trends’ review calling it ‘the athlete’s dream’. But what is it and what could it do for you this ski season?
The watch has a number of different modes, each designed for a different sport – but we’ll stick to looking at its ‘skiing mode’. This allows you to track both cross country and downhill skiing, counting the number of runs you complete, your speed, total distance, and the total vertical feet you travel. You can then use its highly customisable functions to analyse this data in a number of different ways, either on the watch itself or on your computer.
It will also sync seamlessly with your iOS or Android devices so you can upload and analyse the data from your session on the slopes, and take emails, calls and texts on it. Additionally, it also works with Connect and Basecamp, two of the most popular extreme sports apps for smartphones. Oh, and it also has a watch face so you can tell the time!
With its sleek, understated design and lightweight body, plus amazing water resistance up to 50 meters, it’s perfect for skiers and snowboarders who want to improve their technique and track their progress. It’s a good buy for learners too, who are just starting out and want to see where they’re going wrong and how much they can manage. As well as the standard wrist strap, it can also be worn attached to your jacket.
Although not strictly wearable technology, I felt that this list would be incomplete without this little lifesaver. The main issue with taking electronic equipment on your ski season or ski instructor course is that if you drop it in the snow, it’s game over.
Whilst you’re likely to be more careful with the more expensive equipment on this list, you may not show the same level of care to your smartphone – and that’s where these LifeProof smartphone cases come in. Specially designed for extreme sports enthusiasts (and clumsy people!), these phone cases are 100% water proof, so dropping your phone in the snow is longer such a big issue.
LifeProof cases can offer full water protection due to their innovative design and adherence to international protection guidelines. Their military standard cases undergo two water tests each before they are allowed outside the factory, and are rated at an Ingress Protection level of IP68 – that’s the highest there is. This means that whilst in the case, your phone could withstand up to two hours immersed in up to 6.6ft of water!
They look great, too, with a great range of colours to suit whatever look you’re going for whilst skiing in Whistler Blackcomb. Do your phone a favour and get yourself a LifeProof case for your ski season this year – you won’t regret it!
What Do You Think?
There you have it – my list of the best in ski-related wearable tech for 2015. What’s your favourite piece from our list? Was there anything we missed out? What wearable technology would you invent if you had the chance? We’d love to hear from you, so get in touch by commenting below!