Rossignol Soul 7HD Skis Review

Truly one of the best skis, wherever the mountain takes you, the Rossignol Soul 7HD. Although the Soul 7, with its 106mm waist, suggests its a big mountain ski; it is just as easy to ski on the piste as  85mm underfoot piste ski!

Taking the Soul 7’s away after two seasons out of skiing, and being use to a 85mm underfoot all mountain ski, it was safe to say that, even as a 23 year old confident chap, I thought I might of bitten off more than I can chew.

In my previous years skiing before my short break I would ski all of the mountain comfortably; including the odd hike to find some of the fresh snow in the untouched couloirs of the French/Italian Alps. Wanting to further my backcountry skiing the Rossignol Soul 7HD skis were highly recommended to me.

Rossignol Soul 7 Skis

The first day of my ski holiday came with the perfect conditions, lots of fresh snow, to throw me in the deep end with the new skis; the phrase ‘baptism by fire’ comes to mind. Although we are suggesting ‘fire’, myself and the Soul 7’s were in ‘heaven’. Instantly feeling so comfortable in the powder, strange noises of whoops of enjoyment were a regular occurrence. After each run through the trees or open couloirs I felt like my skiing had improved massively. The acknowledgement from my brother, a better powder skier than me (although I would never tell him), confirmed my thoughts. The family joke of ‘directional charging’ became much more of a reality as we were lapping the off piste sections.

As the week progressed unfortunately no more fresh snow was to come, no fresh powder but perfect corduroy piste with sunny conditions. This would be the real test on the hard pack piste with a 106mm waist. Again the Soul 7’s were unbelievably good. Carving made easy and edge hold with no chatter at all. Safe to say that I was highly impressed by the complete versatility of this ski. Towards the end of the week the snow became more hard pack, with some runs featuring ice patches. The best snow conditions were on the relatively untouched black runs which would prove to be the best test for the skis. The Soul 7’s is as easy to ski in the deep powder, and steep black runs, as it is on those leisurely blues and reds.

rossignol soul 7hd skis with bindings
The Soul 7’s is as easy to ski in the deep powder, and steep black runs, as it is on those leisurely blues and reds.

Therefore, for the advanced skier who wants to ski everything from deep powder to corduroy piste, with one ski, the Soul 7HD is the ski for you. But also for the more advanced intermediate who wants to get more into the big mountain skiing this is a great ski that makes life easier in all conditions.

Thanks Mark (skiing in January in the French/Italian Alps).

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Salomon XDR Skis Review

Salomon are replacing the X-Drive range of skis with the new range of Salomon XDR skis, next season, and let me tell you – its more than just a name change!

There will no doubt be plenty of articles explaining the technical merits of these skis; from the Snowsport Industries Great Britain (SIGB) Ski Test in March. This annual event is open to suppliers, retailers and the media; and provides them with an opportunity to thoroughly test next season’s skis. This year it’s in Kühtai, Austria.

They will no doubt explain the benefits of the full wood core, the single titanium laminate, the power zone, and the all terrain rocker – to name a few – and how these XDR skis meet Salomon’s desire to produce a ski that, in resort (or frontside as they like to call it) will handle a variety of snow conditions, such as carving groomed pistes, powering through crud or floating on fresh powder.

What I will say, “there isn’t an emoji with a big enough grin to express how much fun these skis are to ski”! I’m not going to explain the all mountain C/FX Shape; I’m going to say these are the best skis I have ever skied on; they are the skis for me!

So who am I? I’m the average recreational skier, who once a year travels to the mountains (Alps) to ski for six days. I like to ski on piste, and I’m extremely comfortable on red runs. I’m sure that ‘technically’ I could improve, but I’m on holiday, and my main focus is to have fun skiing in the mountains! I’m on the first lift and will ski all-day; so the ease with which I skied these skis, made them all the more delightful – and they look good too!

salomon xdr 80 Ti skis
I even ventured off-piste! Well a little area of ‘powder’ between the runs.

These skis took me where I wanted to go, on large carving turn, with excellent edge hold; even on the few ‘black’ runs these skis gave me the confidence to attack. The faster I went the more stable and confident I felt. I was having fun, run after run, and thanks to the lightweight construction I could – all day long!

I even ventured off-piste! Well a little area of ‘powder’ between the runs. I was awful, but the skis gave me plenty of float as I manoeuvred myself back to the haven of the neighbouring run. I tried it a few times, and marginally improved, however it only reinforced my love of the groomed ‘corduroy’ pistes – which is where I stayed!

So if reading this you’re thinking, “he sounds a bit like me”; there is a good chance that these Salomon XDR skis are the ones for you. Chad Blanc

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Fits Like A Glove (Or Mitt)! 

Whether you are cruising on corduroy, lapping the park or shredding powder, a decent pair of gloves or mittens is essential for keeping warm as your hands are usually the first thing to get cold on the hill. 

For many people, choosing between gloves or mittens is down to personal preference. Gloves will give you a bit more dexterity for picking up your poles or putting your goggles on, while mittens tend to be warmer than gloves as your fingers produce more body heat when next to each other. If you are unsure my advise would be to try both types on and if you are a skier hold a ski pole to see which feels more comfortable and gives you a nice grip. 

The key things to consider before purchasing either models are the specifications. Do they fit well? How waterproof are they? Are they windproof and breathable? 

To stop your fingers from freezing, it is important to get a pair which fits. If you go too small and your fingers are pressing on the end the cold will sooner seep into your finger tips and moisture is more likely to get inside the lining. If you go too big there will be a lot of space to fill with wasted body heat and you’ll lose some dexterity with the extra material. I would recommend trying a few on to get the best fitting pair. 

One of the most important features to look at is the waterproof rating because no matter how insulated your gloves are, if your hands get wet there is no stopping them getting cold. (This is even more important for snowboarders who tend to have more frequent hand contact with the snow). Most waterproof ratings for snow wear will range between 5,000ml and 20,000ml. I would advise an absolute minimum of 5K which will give you only some resistance to water. 10K plus for general conditions would be better but 20K plus is essential to keep you dry in wetter conditions. 

Many ski and snowboard brands including Patagonia and Salomon use Gore Tex technology which guarantees to keep your hands dry with an equivalent rating of 28K. Gore Tex is also breathable and windproof which enable temperature control of your hands in all conditions. This is just as important as the waterproofing as it helps prevent your gloves getting wet from the inside with sweat. You may find the use of Gore Tex adds a bit to the price tag however it is worth every penny. If you are looking for something more affordable, other brands have their own waterproofing and breathable technology including Dakine’s DK Dry which I am currently using and has held up strong in all conditions from +10C and sunny to -15C and snowy 

Then once you have narrowed it down to which specific features you want in a pair of gloves or mitts, the exciting part is choosing which design. Happy pickings!

Thanks Louise for the advice!

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Refuge de La Gramusset – France

With warm temperature and low snowfalls it hasn’t been the powder full winter we dreamt of but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out on the hill and have a great time. As Jeremy Jones said “if you need to have powder on the mountain to have fun then you are in the wrong sport”. So with that in mind we have been embracing the spring conditions and have been taking advantage of the low avalanche risk and pushing further into the backcountry than would usually be possible in January.

Refuges are one of the great traditions of the Alps and provide great opportunities to explore the mountains in winter. Usually allocated with a guardian to host walkers in the summer months and provide them with a warm meal and comfy bed; the winter experience is a bit more DIY. Usually only one room will be open with a log store, fire, gas stove and some blankets to keep the worst of winter away.

kettle on stove
Once the fire is lit and the refuge is heating up you must start to melt snow for water. With three of you this becomes a full-time job due to the small quantities of water that snow holds.

This week we planned to visit the Refuge Gramusset it sits at the north east end of the Aravis Chain and is located under the dominating Pont Percee peak. We started our tour below the tree line in the small hamlet of Troncs. The climb up is 1000m of vertical and the first 450m is a steep pitch up through the forest avoiding a large exposed cliff line over the ravine below. The forest trail had limited amounts of snow and we spent a fair bit of time trying to dodge tree roots and fallen branches. Once out of the forest and into the high alpine the conditions began to improve. The final 550m is a testing 40 degree slope all the way to the refuge. One of the most enjoyable aspects of ski touring is the continual puzzle of choosing the safest route up. This particular face had a variety of challenges with the constant steep gradient and multiple exposed cliff bands it was both a demanding and rewarding climb.

Having reached the Refuge just before sunset we had time to start cutting logs and getting the fire going before nightfall. Once the fire is lit and the refuge is heating up you must start to melt snow for water. With three of you this becomes a full-time job due to the small quantities of water that snow holds. Refuges tend not to have electricity and make for long evenings with the sun going down at 5.30 in winter and not showing itself till 7 in the morning. However this simple existence is the most magical part of the experience, how many opportunities in modern life provide you with such a chance to be in the present. Even one night living like this reaffirms the amount of distractions society has built for itself. It may not be everyone’s idea of a break but the simplicity of being in the mountains and providing for yourself is an incredible experience and offers true escapism.

stars at night in the mountains
Even one night living like this reaffirms the amount of distractions society has built for itself. It may not be everyone’s idea of a break but the simplicity of being in the mountains and providing for yourself is an incredible experience and offers true escapism.

Around 11pm the wind started to really pick up and the metal roof was chattering by this time you are torn between staying under your blankets or getting another log on the fire. You dose in and out of sleep for what seems like an eternity waiting for first light to have a glimpse at the conditions.

Unfortunately we woke to strong winds and the couloirs above the refuge looked ominous. We made the decision to head back down before conditions worsened. The ski down covered some great terrain however the snow wasn’t great with lots of exposed rocks. Sometimes things change in the mountain but you are always inspired by something when you venture into them. You make mental notes of possible lines to ski in the future or wonder what terrain lies over the next peak. It truly is never-ending and that is the greatest aspect of ski touring you are opening up opportunities for discovery all the time.

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Dakine Prospect Bib Snow Pants Review

As people back home have probably heard Europe has had a slow start to the season with unseasonably high temperatures throughout December. However when it has snowed this year it has been falling intensely with two 50 cm plus snow falls in 24 hour time periods. This has provided us with a wide variety of condition to test the Dakine Prospect Bib Snow Pants!

Dakine Prospect Bib Snow Pants

The first impression you get from the Prospects is how incredibly light they are compared to other winter pants. This lightness provides a fantastic feel when skiing and touring as you aren’t restricted by any heavy materials. They are built from 3 layer Gore-tex which provides the trousers with a formidable shell against all conditions. Despite being out on a few torrential ski days this year I am yet to see the trouser soak through even when sat on wet chairlifts. The bib design is  a great feature for any powder lovers as it ensures protection of your base layers even on the deepest of days and the occasional tumble!

dakine prospect bib snow pants
The bib design is a great feature for any powder lovers as it ensures protection of your base layers even on the deepest of days and the occasional tumble!

However it is not just in miserable conditions that the Prospect shines. I have been touring in them in +15 and there lightweight breathability means that they control your temperature very well. With multiple vents  featured on the trouser you are able to make quick adjustments whilst on the route up as well as insulating your warmth at the top.  

We have been skiing for eight weeks now and as stated the condition have been tricky with plenty of grass and rock on show. This has highlighted one of best features of the Prospect.The reinforced cuffs at the bottom of the legs have made them considerable more durable than other snow pants. Despite being scraped between rocks and ski boot on numerous occasion they are yet to show any sign of wear and the strong boot gators stay firmly attached to the boot.

Overall I would say that the Dakine Prospect Bib Snow Pants are a great piece of kit which when utilised with good base layers provides exceptional performance in the majority of condition a mountain can throw at you.

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Patagonia Outdoor Clothing

Tallington Lakes are proud to announce the arrival of Patagonia Outdoor Clothing to the Pro Shop. Patagonia’s ethos is to “build the best product” and “cause no unnecessary harm” to the environment; which is important to us too!

Firstly we are keen to provide our customers with products that are fit for purpose; products we know will perform in the extreme environments we call our playground. Whether skiing or snowboarding; we have a selection of Patagonia clothing that will enable you to remain comfortable on the mountain. By layering a mixture of the breathable, insulating and waterproofing garments you can regulate your body temperature to the surrounding weather conditions; ensuring you can perform to your best.

The ladies and men’s specific fit are both made to the highest standards, and should last you for years. However if it doesn’t Patagonia are keen to repair it for you; check out their ‘Ironclad Guarantee’.

Secondly, like us and our customers, Patagonia care about the environment. We all love the ‘great outdoors’, so it’s important we take care of it. Patagonia, and many of the other brands we stock, is looking at ways to produce products of an environmentally friendly nature. They have gone to great length to ensure the sourcing and production of the garments has the least impact on the environment. And because Patagonia products are built to last, the impact is reduced further!

So if you are looking for the ‘best product’ and ‘care about the environment’ why not pop in store, or go online, and check out our range Patagonia Outdoor Clothing – you won’t be disappointed!

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Basic Tools For The Backcountry

In the last decade there has been a revolution in ski and snowboard design that has enabled more and more participants to access the backcountry. With wider templates and more forgiving tip and tail shapes riding powder has never been so accessible. The joys of getting off the piste and into the mountains is the very essence of skiing’s (snowboarding’s) roots and for many has become a healthy addiction. However as more of us dream of escaping the lift queues and laying down first tracks, what are the risks involved and how can we minimise them.

This article will provide an introduction to some of the tools available to us and how they can benefit backcountry riding. However reading will never be able to replicate the experience of being in the mountain and I would recommend anyone who wants to start spending time in the backcountry to attend one of the many avalanche courses available and venture out with experienced riders or invest in guiding and instruction for your first couple of years.

Attending an avalanche course will provide you with an understanding of the snowpack and what avalanche danger ratings represent, how to avoid and recognise avalanche terrain and how to minimise risk when travelling across it and finally how to manage a rescue situation. Here we will be covering the equipment needed to access the backcountry and how each tool works.

skier hiking ridge
Hiking up Mount Yotei, Japan.

Backcountry Tools

The four key tools needed for backcountry travel will be a transceiver, probe, shovel and backpack. These are essential items and you will need all four in a rescue situation. We will now go through each item and discuss the part they play.

Transceivers

A transceiver is attached to your torso with a harness and sends out radio signals. As soon as you enter the backcountry it will need to be turned on so it is transmitting a signal. Every individual in the group will need one. In the event of an avalanche you are able to turn transceivers into a search mode and it is the tool used to find casualties under the snow. Transceivers can be digital or analog and it is critical you understand how the model you use works. This is where courses and search training exercises are vital. Practice in safe environments is the best way to get familiar with rescues and build trust amongst you fellow tourers.

Probe

A probe is essentially a long lightweight metal pole with a quick draw cord running through its length. Similar to a tent pole it collapses down into connecting parts to make carrying it easier. The cord through the middle means you can snap the pole together into one length by pulling the looped handle at the top. The other end of the probe has a rounded point for penetrating the snow. The probe is used when the transceiver has located the rescue site and probing is needed to locate the casualty under the snow.

Shovel

There is no ‘rocket science’ here the shovel is what is used to dig the casualty out once the search has been completed. Modern backcountry shovels are made from lightweight metals and the handle will be able to detach or compact in some way to reduce space and weight in your backpack. The shovel is also the most adaptable tool in your bag fantastic for shaping snow chairs for lunch, digging snow holes in desperate times, building booters for that go pro moment or tobogganing back from apres!

Backpack

A good touring backpack will have multiple designs to facilitate comfortable and practical backcountry travel. Common features will include secure ski/snowboard carriage, quick access safety pockets so you can get to the above equipment without wasting time, back support and customisable fit.

ABS Bags and Avalungs

The above equipment is the bare necessities for anyone who wants to explore beyond the resort slopes, however there have also been two developments in avalanche safety in the last decade which are worth noting. These are ABS bags and Avalungs neither will ever eliminate the danger of avalanches but do provide some form of preventative measure towards the risks. ABS bags are essentially a large inflatable within your backpack that can be triggered in an avalanche to increase your surface area to reduce the chances of being buried. Whilst Avalungs are a breathing tool that takes CO2 away from you when you are buried. This buys you and your rescuers more time which is hugely beneficial when you look at the statistics involved with drowning in Avalanches. These tools have made backcountry travel safer than ever however as a cautionary note I will say this. No piece of equipment will ever be 100% foolproof and to truly minimise the risks, educating yourself in when and how to travel in the backcountry is the most important factor.

avalung 2 from black diamond
Avalungs are a breathing tool that takes CO2 away from you when you are buried. This buys you and your rescuers more time which is hugely beneficial when you look at the statistics involved with drowning in Avalanches.

I hope this article helped people to get an idea of the basic equipment needed in the backcountry and look forward to everyone having a snowy winter wherever you are!

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Falke SK2 Ski Socks Review

Whether you are a skier or snowboarder, you know a full day in boots has the potential to get sore, and really ruin your holiday. Falke want you to enjoy skiing every day – all day, and their socks really show this. The Falke SK2 ski socks feature a medium level of padding in stress zones like your shins and instep for protection and comfort, along with an asymmetric right and left toe box.

I’ve worn my SK2 socks while both skiing and snowboarding on our own dry slope here at Tallington Lakes, and at two different indoor slopes, and I think they are fantastic! All the padded zones aren’t just for looks; I really felt the difference. The padded zones on the shins are really effective for reducing that pressure you can sometimes feel when pushing forward into your boots. With some socks, the padding can cause a bit of rubbing due to how they are knitted, but with Falke’s socks that’s reduced due to the thin terry style knit giving it a softer, less abrasive feel against the skin.

falke sk2 ski sock
All the padded zones aren’t just for looks; I really felt the difference.

I had my ankle reconstructed when I was younger which makes it a lot less flexible than it should be, and some days my ankle feels particularly stiff which mean I really have to force my foot into the boot which can really hurt. Now, I’m not saying these socks removed the issue but I did notice the reinforced instep helped to ease the pain which is really nice!

Once my feet get cold, there’s not really much I can do to save them. I’ve got quite a few different brands of ski/snowboard socks and considering these Falke socks are a merino wool blend, rather than 100% merino like some of my socks, I was pleasantly surprised as to how warm they kept my feet, and how breathable they actually felt! Not only do these ski socks feature the usual merino properties of heat retention, and moisture wicking properties they have merino’s natural odour control, which is ideal if you need to wear them more than once… ‘Cause honestly, whoever says they don’t try get multiple days out of a ski sock is probably lying to you…

Another cool thing about Falke socks is that they also do socks that are designed for snowboarding, with snowboard boots and bindings in mind. So, whether you are a skier or a snowboarder they have designed socks that’ll keep your piggies warm while protecting your shins, ankles and toes from pressure bruising, leaving you to enjoy the day from your morning on piste all the way through to après ski in the evening!

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Arbor Fish AC 39” Skateboard Review

As an avid skateboarder, as a kid, I was looking to reviewing the Arbor Fish AC 39” Skateboard.  Long gone are the days of kick flips and concrete half pipes, instead my board of choice is on the snow. However, in the summer months I need something to fill the gap left by the lack of snow on the hills, and I feel like I may have found that something.

Arbor Fish AC 39” Skateboard

The first difference between the Arbor Fish and my old trick skateboards is the length – measuring at 39”, in comparison with the 28” lengths of my old boards. Instantly the extra length gives a much more stable ride, and therefore an overall more enjoyable experience as I’m not in constant fear of falling onto concrete at high speeds.

The large Sucrose Initiative Mosh Series Wheels are super smooth, and give an effortless ride even on brick-laid pavements. They absorb all the small bumps and pebbles, and the bearings make one push last what seems forever. The wheels are softer than the trick skateboard’s, making your cruise silent, compared to the extremely loud trick wheels. This also means heads won’t be turning and pointing their annoyed expressions your way as you ride by.

arbor skateboard with lake in background
The Arbor Fish skateboards don’t have a nose or tail like a traditional skateboard, which can take some getting used to.

The Fish skateboards don’t have a nose or tail like a traditional skateboard, which can take some getting used to. Rather than using the tail to control direction, leaning from side to side changes the direction of the trucks and wheels. It gives your ride a much surfier, snowboarding feel, which would explain why I personally enjoy it so much.

The Arbor skateboards are available with a range of unique artwork – the Photo Collection, Artist Collection, and Bamboo Collection to name a few. A number of the boards have Lucid Grip in place of the traditional black grip tape. Lucid Grip is clear grip, made of crushed recycled glass which is sprayed on the board, giving a natural wood appearance. So basically they look awesome too, as well as being extremely well-made, solid skateboards.

Thanks Jake (Snowboard, Skiing and Climbing Instructor)

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Oakley Fuel Cell Prizm Deep Water Polarised Sunglasses Review

If you are wondering what the new Oakley Prizm Deep Blue Polarised lens is like then look no further. We were lucky enough to try a pair of Fuel Cell’s with the Prizm Deep Water Polarised lens out at the Waterski and Wakeboard School.

Oakley Fuel Cell Sunglasses

The Fuel Cell design has been around for a while. The frames have an wrap-around athletic feel, for full eye protection, whilst looking good for day-to-day wearing. The lightweight O Matter gives the glasses all day comfort and makes them durable. The unique Oakley Three-Point Fit ensures the glass frames only make contact with the bridge of your nose and behind the temple.

The Fuel Cell frame dimensions from Oakley are as follow:
Lens Width 60mm
Bridge Width 19mm
Lens Height 40mm
Temple Arm Length 130mm

So if you know your face dimensions you’ll know if they fit, if not why not pop in store to try them out?

Oakley Prizm Deep Water Polarised Lens

The  Prizm Deep Water Polarised Lenses are perfect for use out on the water as well as walking around on land; unlike the ‘Shallow Water’ version which assumes you are under a canopy and therefore not as dark. Deep Water Prizm technology provide superior control of light transmission; where colours are manipulated to maximise contrast and enhance visibility, for those on the water, by filtering out the blue and enhancing the greens and reds. The Oakley Polaroid technology filters out 99% of reflective glare and haze, which can be a problem when looking at water, to improve clarity further and reduce eye strain from squinting.

As I was wearing them driving the water ski slalom course the water became a dark grey colour with the buoy colours popping into the forefront of my vision. This function not only works when the sun is bright, but also when there is a grey sky overhead. Which is perfect for our ‘British Summers’.

Looking into calm, flat water you almost lose the surface completely; it’s like putting your face into the water with goggles on! When the water was choppy or frequent ripples you could still see colours and outlines of objects deep down.

I don’t usually wear sunglasses because I become aware I’m wearing them and they then feel uncomfortable. These glasses are the complete opposite. I found I could wear them all day and forget they are on my face because your vision isn’t impaired by them in any way.

Thanks Stephen (Water Ski & Wakeboard Boat Driver)

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