Whether you're gearing up for the best winter ever, or shopping for the other powder addicts in your life, nothing makes for a cool purchase like new skiing gadgets and gear. Make life on the slopes a little more fun this season with any one of these technological marvels. Just imagine their face (or yours) when the wrapping paper is pulled off.
Garmin Rino 530 HCx
Information. Simply put, you need it. This is never truer than when you’re deep in the backcountry, storm on the fringe and buddies nowhere in sight. Be prepared. The Rino 530 HCx comes equipped with high-sensitivity GPS, altimeter, electronic compass and NOAA weather radio. An FRS/GMRS radio keeps you in contact with your crew with a range of up to 14 miles. The Rino also allows you to send your position out so that others can view exactly where you are. Think that will help out on your next trek up the Haute Route? You can bet on it. Retails around $535.
If you plan to meander into resort boundaries, you can download and view ski resort maps via SnowRanger, available in various geographic packages.
Since your need for information doesn’t reside solely in the backcountry, Satski packs a world of useful ski resort 411 onto your smart phone. Leave the annoying trail map folding behind and view the mountain right on your screen. Find amenities complete with contact info and mapping as well—restaurants, lodging, first aid, etc. Get weather and snow reports, too. In a pinch, send your coordinates out to ski patrol and activate your rescue. Finally, when the day’s over, get the scoop on your stats including top speed, average speed, altitude and distance covered—even view your entire day in 3-D on Google Earth. What the hell else could you possibly need to know? Downloads start at $54.
No smart phone? Satski also offers GPS units with built-in capabilities starting around $300. So far the technology is largely European, but some American resorts have jumped on including Whistler, Lake Louise, Jackson Hole and Big Sky.
Assuming you don’t have access to unlimited wealth, some of the aforementioned devices could mean cutting out a ski trip or two. No matter how cool a gadget is it’s not worth missing out on a powder morning for.
However, you are a bit of a narcissist. You don’t just want to assume that you’re the steeziest of the steeze, you want to prove it. And no one’s buying the story straight from your mouth.
That's where SlopeTracker can lend a hand. Available for rent at a number of resorts including Park City, Deer Valley, Telluride, Keystone, Copper, Winter Park and Sunshine Village, the 3-oz. Slope Tracker straps to your arm and spends the day logging your coordinates and calculating all kinds of interesting info--vertical feet, number of runs, distance ridden, top speed, average grade of the slopes and difficulty rating. You'll even get a full print sheet of your performance. If you become hooked, a version of the device STATS is available for purchase and currently operates at over 640 resorts. After a day on the slopes, take it home and download your information onto SlopeTracker's server and compare your stats with users all over the world.
Rossignol Harness Pants
To most recreational and even light backcountry skiers and riders, the thought of taking a descent and suddenly breaking out rappelling gear might sound a bit unlikely. However, serious ski mountaineers on the never-ending search for the next first descent will probably view it a bit differently. To make life easy, Rossignol in conjunction with Cilao, have integrated a harness right into your pants to allow for quick, seamless rope work. The harness won’t weigh you down either (3.3 oz. for size M). Make your full trip flow as tight as the line you just took.
Swany G.cell Gloves
Imagine this: you’re sitting in the gondola and your cell phone starts ringing incessantly. You’ve got the volume pumped up and the rest of the cabin isn’t digging your Party All the Time ringtone. After frantically clawing around, you answer just to find it’s your ass of a buddy calling to let you know that he’s on the lift behind you. Thanks.
Don’t slap your buddy around, he’s just needy. Instead, consider: rather than pulling your mittens off with your teeth, scrambling around every nook of your gear and elbowing the dude next to you in the ear, you click a button on your glove, talk into your hand and take care of that conversation in seconds. Sound good? Swany thought so, so they created the G.cell gloves. Sync your phone using blue tooth and the glove becomes your receiver. Of course, limited production, a lottery drawing and $495 may prove to be pretty large obstacles. But the gloves are still cool to look at.
Oregon Scientific ATC5K Waterproof Action Camera
No doubt there’s been many an evening in the lodge where you wish you had some film of your big day. Whether it was a gnarly cliff drop, or insane spin combo in the park, your words just don’t do it justice. Use the refined ATC5K to film your entire day (or at least the good parts) and use the LCD display to show off when it’s all said and done. The ATC5K is waterproof up to 10 feet, so even if you're snorkeling after an epic dump, you won’t lose function. It’s also shock resistant so don’t hesitate to put it through the ringer. Mounting hardware included, will easily fit helmets. This one seems quite affordable at $220 and, if not, OS also has a full line of other less expensive options.
C/O Black Diamond Equipment
Black Diamond Bandit AvaLung
Perfect for a light backcountry trip or afternoon in the sidecountry, the Bandit AvaLung is about as compact as a winter pack can get. The 690 cu in. pack is sized to fit your small shovel, probe and hydration with a little space left over for some spare gloves or shirt, while maintaining a featherlight weight of 2 lb. 5 oz. AvaLung is always a mind-easing feature to have—allowing for some extra breathing time should you get buried. Outside Magazine awarded it Gear of the Year. $170 or $70 without AvaLung.