For a more natural snowboard feel the Flex footbeds are softer and therefore more flexible and comfier underfoot. Plus, in the past I’ve found standard footbeds, and the green Superfeet footbeds, have an aggressive arch; so the Flex is ideal for foot support without any interference with my funny shaped feet. Unlike other footbeds, in the Superfeet line-up, the Flex liners only feature the rigid support in the heel which provides excellent support without being too tough underfoot – perfect for snowboarders.
As well as reducing foot fatigue, the Flex liners feature Moisturewick™ to ensure your feet don’t get swampy or smelly- ideal for those longer days of riding. One thing to bear in mind though, they do take a ‘pretty minute’ to break in! Stick with it though; once they’re worn in you won’t regret it.
So, in my opinion, the Superfeet Flex footbed is a perfect compromise for feel, comfort and support for snowboard boots.
Matt (Snowboard instructor)
Tallington Lakes Pro Shop offer a full ski and snowboard boot fitting service. Please call 01778 381154 to book an appointment.
Thinking of doing a ski/snowboard season this winter? Or have already signed up and getting super excited? This article will give you everything you need to know to help make the most of your time on the slopes.
Firstly ski seasons are for everyone, not just for experienced skiers. Whether you ski, snowboard or are completely new to snowy mountain sports, there is truly something for everyone. In resort there are endless ways to fill your free time, as well as skiing and snowboarding. Activities range from husky rides to paragliding; or wining and dining in town to simply catching some rays in a deck chair. Being surrounded by like minded people and stunning mountain views, you will be hooked to seasonaire life in no time.
Wondering what to take? Here is a winter season checklist with all the essentials you’ll need…
When planning a trip to the mountains for a whole winter it is essential to have the right gear. Getting cold or wet on the slopes can easily turn a super fun day into a shivering nightmare. So if you are going to spend money on only one thing I would definitely suggest treating yourself to some good technical outerwear. To keep yourself dry, it’s a good idea to buy snow jacket and pants which are minimum 10k waterproof and breathability. 20k is preferable to guarantee yourself a dry day even in really wet conditions, but this higher tech gear will no doubt have a higher price point. Keeping warm is also a necessity for mountain life. For this you can buy a highly insulated jacket and be super toasty year round. Although, the potential down side to only having a thick jacket is you could be too hot and sweaty riding in spring. For many seasonaires with limited funds, buying multiple jackets for different temperatures is not often an option. Therefore if you buy a thinner jacket you have the option to layer up in the depths of winter (mid layers and down jackets are great for this) or simply wear a t-shirt/baselayer underneath for warm spring days. This type of jacket will also be more suitable for when you are back in the UK, giving you more use out of it, therefore better value for money.
There are many snow brands which do great outerwear. A standout brand is Picture Organic Clothing. They have something for everyone, whether you ski or snowboard. Their bold asymmetrical designs perfectly match mountain life, their most technical wear ‘Expedition Line’ is mostly 20k waterproof and breathability, and more importantly they are eco-friendly. Incredibly their entire range is made from a minimum of 50% recycled plastic bottles, they have a mid layer which is completely biodegrable and all of their products are PFC free. They also have an ‘Adventure Line’ which has a lower price point and is perfectly suited for seasonaire life, with a more streetwear design. What more could you ask for?
When you have the potential to ski or snowboard most days of the week for five whole months, having your own equipment is a huge bonus. By working with knowledgable shop staff before you leave for the mountains you can find a ski or snowboard to suit your own personal needs. Whether that’s park riding, backcountry skiing, shredding powder or if you want something that’s perfect for carving on the pistes. Having good equipment can really help improve your skills, style and even take you to new places. If you are unsure what exactly you want, a good all-mountain variant will take you comfortably off-piste, in the park and glide nicely on groomed pistes.
If you do buy your own skis/board my advice would be to get a ski lock, especially in bigger more well-known resorts, theft unfortunately isn’t unheard of.
Goggles are essential if you want to ski or snowboard in all conditions. Most come with changeable lens to adapt for low-light snowy days and bright sunny days. It’s worth spending a bit more on a good pair to avoid misting up. A good tip is to try on your goggles and helmet together in the shop before purchase, as with all the different shapes and sizes around, its good to see if they fit or look good together.
A good quality pair of gloves or mitts again is a must. To keep going until the chairlift closes you will need warm and dry fingers. Mitts tend to be warmer if you are a cold person and gloves tend to have more dexterity. For snowboarders who tend to touch the snow a lot, highly waterproof gloves will be your friend.
Specifically designed ski snowboard socks are where it’s at. They may seem pricey at times but a cotton sock will be round your ankles in no time and blisters are no fun at all. For something you will wear everyday you will definitely get your money’s worth.
Durable Water Repellent (DWR) hoody. Great for park riding on sunny Spring days, the coating make them water-resistant (or hydrophobic). And you’ll look cool!
A sensible pair of footwear will be your everyday friend for town life i.e waterproof with good grip.
A beanie or bobble hat again will be an everyday item for walking between pubs or for lunch stops on the slopes.
When you are not wearing goggles you should be wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes (snowblindness is a real thing!).
Lastly you will want decent bags for all your gear. Ski snowboard bags with wheels are great for convenience but remember they add a lot of weight if you are ever thinking of taking them on a plane. They are also more bulky so will take up more space in your staff accommodation (which are not always the most spacious rooms). Dakine bags are perfect.
There are specialist items to think about. If you’re thinking lots of park time, some additional protection such as pads or back protectors; and if yo’re thinking back country avalanche kit – but know how to use it because its useless otherwise. We recommend attending practice courses!
Now is the time to get excited with winter on our doorstep!
So head to a professional ski snowboard shop, make sure to try on all the gear and get a feel for comfort and size. Remember to think practical as well as style. Then you will be well on your way to an incredible winter season.
As a ski instructor, I recommend that ski lessons should be factored into your ski holiday. Ski lessons aren’t just for beginners and can help everyone to get the most from their holiday, whatever their goals.
However, some things are even more fundamental than the technique or tactics that instructors can pass on – equipment.
Along with your physical capabilities, the equipment you use will determine what you can achieve on the slopes, and how much fun you will have whilst trying. Equipment includes clothing and protection, but in this piece we’ll just look at ski hardwear.
A good boot fitter will match your foot shape to a particular boot (not all boots are the same shape on the inside). If there are any further modifications needed to accommodate your feet, then the boot fitter will be able to re-shape the inside of the boot to make them comfortable, they may also recommend a footbed which can help to keep the foot comfortable. If you suffer from very cold feet, then heated insoles are possible.
A good boot fitter will also match your skiing ability and power to the flex of the boot. An off piste boot will have different forward flex, lateral flex, delta angle, forward lean and insulation levels to piste boots. Balancing all of this can be tricky, that’s why we use boot fitters.
Piste skis need to be stable on their edges. Fat skis don’t do this, and can create some awkward leverage on the boot and the lower leg.
Pure piste skis will be 70 mm wide underfoot, and off piste skis over about 100mm. Anything in between is a compromise. If you want skis to perform well in powder and grip hard on the piste, you need two pairs of skis.
Sadly it’s reached that time of the year where the sun sets far too early, and the wind chill sends shivers down your spine. Most sensible people are sipping on a hot chocolate, tucked up in their blanket, and enjoying being curled up with ‘Rover’ – the cuddly golden retriever. Unfortunately, I am not most people and I’m certainly not sensible. That’s why you’ll normally find me covered from head to toe in goosebumps, with dark blue lips, as the cold water slowly creeps over me wakeboarding.
Its time for a wetsuit! Or translated into water sport terms, it’s ‘Shorty Season’.
A shorty is a wetsuit which is exactly as it sounds – ‘a shortened wetsuit’. Short arm and short legs. But there is another, which has long arms and short legs; which is perfect in the Summer/Autumn months for all water sports including: kite-surfing, jet skiing, kayaking, sailing, water skiing and, my chosen sport of, wakeboarding.
Mystic Stone 3mm 2mm Long Arm Shorty Wetsuit
To our delight, Tallington Lakes Pro Shop kindly provided one of these wetsuits to the Water Ski and Wakeboard School to review; and this is what we think.
I’ve always been a keen fan of Mystic because I really admire the style of their products; and the Stone wetsuit certainly doesn’t disappoint. It is very aesthetically pleasing to the eye; the colours and patterns, of this wetsuit, blend extremely well together. If you were buying a wetsuit simply on fashion, you could easily strut this down the catwalk with pride. Remember, when you look good – you feel good!
According to Mystic it “creates products that push riders further, allowing them to break all existing boundaries and take action watersports to a whole new level”
If you’ve ever worn a wetsuit in the past, you will understand the pain and time consuming misery that can occur each, and every time, you have to put one on or take off. RIP to all the body hair that has been violently removed during this process. Thankfully the guys at Mystic must have heard our screams and have produced a neoprene which is highly flexible. They call it M-Flex which stands for “high quality neoprene with an awesome stretch ratio” Not only does this allow the wetsuit to fit like a glove, it also allows you to slip in and out of it with ease. But more importantly your body hair stays in tack.
As well as M-flex, the wetsuit comes fully equipped with Polar Lining Fabric. This inside layer provides the comfort and thermal insulation making sure you are nice and toasty – who needs ‘Rover’ anyway.
In terms of aiding performance, the flexibility of the neoprene acts as a heat blanket that boosts riders confidence. This is due to the extra layer of protection it provides. This wetsuit is suitable for all ranges of capability whether you are a complete novice or a seasoned professional.
The best thing about this wetsuit is the fact you’re not restricted in your movements- which is always considered a negative when wearing a wetsuit. I would highly recommend this wetsuit to anyone who fears the cold this Autumn.
As an passionate coffee drinker, and I mean espresso machine, cafetiere, moka pot etc – not insta.. (sorry can’t bring myself to type the word), I was intrigued to hear that Helly Hansen were adding coffee to their garments!
Personally I’ve used coffee grounds, from the spent puck of the portafilter, on my garden as a mulch. And I have heard, you can use coffee grounds to neutralise orders. But clothing? Consequently I spoke to Helly Hansen; and they kindly enlightend me about the use of used coffee grounds in clothing, and gave me a garment to try, so I shall enlighten you.
Odour Control. We knew that; and because the grounds are embedded in the yarn they do not wash out.
UV Protection. Didn’t know that! The numerous microscopic pores help reflect UV rays; giving UV protection.
Moister wicking. The garment moves moisture away from the skin to the outer surface of the fabric for faster drying process.
Helly Hansen Lifa Active Light T-Shirt
So what’s it like to wear? I was fortunate to be given a HH Lifa Active Light t-shirt to try; which is made from Helly Hansen’s legendary Lifa hydrophobic fibre and S.Cafe yarn. It’s categoriesed under ‘base-layer’ however I was going to wear it as a t-shirt. Consequently, it was an athletic, slim, snug, or some may say tight fit; because base-layers work best when they are touching the skin they are trying to wick moisture away from. I’m normally a size large, and the large was a comfortable ‘athletic’ fit – you may want to go up a size for a relax/baggy fit. I think the flat-lock seams and stretch, of the fabric, made the ‘athletic fit’ comfortable to wear; the crew neck was good and it was long in the body. It was a good fit for me! However, the first thing I noticed, putting the t-shirt on, was it felt cool! I don’t know if this was psychological, because Helly Hansen had said it would feel cool, but I did genuinely feel a little cooler when I first put the t-shirt on.
The recent hot weather presented idea testing conditions; so off I went climbing in the Derbyshire Peak District. The t-shirt performed well; even on the crux of the climbs I felt cool and the garment nonrestrictive – I was very impressed. The day’s climbing was in and out of the sun, so difficult to evaluate the UV protection, but I didn’t burn. However, I do know of some who have burnt their shoulders, because the garment they were wearing didn’t provide any UV protection, so it’s worth considering.
By the end of the day I had a good few routes in the bag, including a higher grade lead for me, so I was pleased with myself. But what did I smell like, after an arduous day at the crags? Not too good, I’m afraid to report. Now, how much you stink is subjective (“one man’s toxic waste is another man’s potpourri”, said the Grinch). So I didn’t smell fresh; but had I not been wearing this t-shirt I could have smelt worse, or perhaps I just need a ‘stronger roast’ coffee in my S.Cafe yarn!
Overall as an active t-shirt I was suitably impressed, and at £29.99 good value for money because it can be used as a summer t-shirt and a winter base-layer. This S.Cafe t-shirt, and other garments, will be available from Helly Hansen summer 2019.
Recently I purchased the O’Neill Re-Issue black and white bikini set; and I’m absolutely in love! Inspired by 90’s swimwear, the high waist and high fit leg made for an awesome design, and the chunky stripes are fun and funky!
This bikini top and pants (sold separately) features O’Neill’s Hyperdry, a DWR (Durable Water Repellency) coating to the fabric which speeds up dry time – hence ‘hyper-dry’, and a polyamide and elastane mix makes the fabric extra soft. The top has a snug fit which meant it was quite supportive; although the straps are quite thick – which isn’t usually the style I’d go for. I loved the snug fit of the pants.
Both the supportive top and snug fit pants made me think they would be good for wakeboarding, so I tried them out. And, yes, the top was very supportive, and comfortable, underneath my impact vest. The snug fit of the pants were great, too, because it meant that I wasn’t worried if I fell over. The neon logo at the back matched perfectly with my Glidesoul impact vest, too, sooo happy!
With the long withstanding heat wave that has hit the UK in May, and hasn’t left since, the idea of wearing a wetsuit for an after work wakeboarding sessions sounds like my idea of torture, to me!
Wearing just bikini bottoms is just a little bit too risqué for my liking, and I always find it hard to find shorts that fit me right, that’s when the ‘surf leggings’ seemed like the ideal solution.
Protest Surf Leggings
The first thing that caught my eye with these Protest surf leggings was the unmistakably loud pattern. Normally I would shy away from such a bold pattern on my lower half, as I have been cursed with stumpy legs, however because of the block of black on the thighs – it offers a flattering look.
The leggings are extremely comfortable; and thanks to the Elastane nonrestrictive.
Another added bonus, for all the fair skinned gals out there, is these leggings come with SPF 50+ protection; which is comforting to know that you will be protected from the sun’s UV rays all day on the water. It also means you won’t have to reapply/use sunscreen, which not only is annoying, but can often be harmful to the environment – especially if you are swimming in waters with coral reefs.
These leggings would be perfect for wakeboarding, SUPing, kayaking (saves getting a soggy bum!), snorkelling and any other water based activity! Plus the fast drying fabric means you can hop in and out of the water all summer long.
This isn’t a review of the classic Walt Disney film The Lion King; which by-the-way is excellent. No this is the nostalgic ramblings of someone who forty years ago, at the age of fifteen, travel to the Alps with the intent of climbing the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc!
Allegedly, at the time, my peers and I were potentially the youngest people to try this. But just as noteworthy; is that we all came from the outskirts of London, which is not renowned for its hills, let alone mountains!
How it all began
So how does a group of kids, more accustomed to playing in the streets, get to attempt such a feat! Well it’s all thanks to Rick Grice, and the London Borough of Havering (Havering)!
Consequently, two bus trips away from my house, was a disused gravel pit called Stubbards. Not the vast complex that is now Stubbards Adventure Centre; but a few lakes where you could learn to kayak and sail. Havering also ran a minibus to Harrisons Rocks, East Sussex to learn climbing. Unknown to me at the time, but these were the same rocks that were so influential to the legendary mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington!
Throughout the summer, for a small fee, I would spend many days at Stubbards and Harrison Rocks. Soon a merry band of climbers formed, and at the end of summer Rick asked if anyone was interested in doing more climbing. At this point I am not sure if Rick had the alpine expedition planned, but he was keen to provide an opportunity for those interested in more climbing. We travelled to other parts of the UK – Derbyshire, North Wales, Lake District, Cornwall and ultimately Scotland – in the familiar Havering minibus. The numbers dwindled; until a core group of young people were offered the chance to go to the Alps and attempt the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.
Intense training pursued. We travelled to the Highlands of Scotland in winter, and we improved our fitness by running up and down the stairs at the London Borough of Havering offices, before on the 21st July 1978 the expedition set off for the Alps – in two Havering minibuses!
We camped in the Chamonix valley; and our first objective was to acclimatise to the altitude and become familiar with ice. We had practiced ice-work in the Highlands of Scotland; but here we had massive glaciers. I understand these glaciers have now receded an astounding amount, since we were on them in the 70s, a result of ‘climate change’! We climbed the Aiguilles (needles), that overlooked the valley, and notch up many classic routes. All in preparation for the instantly recognisable Matterhorn (4,478), our first objective!
We slept on a small ledge, part way up the Hörnli ridge, ready for a sunrise attempt on the summit – in fact we would start in darkness. In summer the snow and ice will melt, on the mountain, which can instigate rock falls. Consequently time is your enemy! 400m from the summit a small team, including me, had run out of time. Rick knew we couldn’t make the summit, in time safely, so we had to turn back. Disappointed at being so close, we made our way back down. Later that same day we heard the news that a ‘handful’ of climbers had died, in a rock fall, on the Matterhorn!
After some rest, and a few more peaks, we focused on Mont Blanc (4,810m); the highest mountain in Europe. We spent the night in the Gouter Hut, ready for another early morning ascent. The hut was not as big, back then, but still extremely popular; as I remember sleeping curled up next to the u-bend under the kitchen sink. The following morning we climbed the Bosses ridge to the summit. Unfortunately no spectacular summit views, because we were in white-out conditions, but triumphant in our success!
Since that trip to the Alps, I have taken part in many outdoor pursuit activities with Rick, and fallen ‘in love’ with the great outdoors! Time spent in the mountains, rivers, lakes and sea; is time well spent. My family and I love the great outdoors!
Rick died the summer of 1986, I understand attempting to reach two other friends and colleagues who had fallen on a climb in the Alps. There is a memorial climbing wall at Stubbards Activity Centre dedicated to him. I do believe many people have, and will continue to be introduced to outdoor pursuits, thanks to Rick.
Circle of Life
So why ‘Circle of Life’? Presently I am the manager of Tallington Lakes Activities Ltd; a disused gravel pit in Lincolnshire where we introduce people to kayaking, sailing and climbing. We also offer other activities such as stand-up paddle boarding, open water swimming, skiing and snowboarding. And coincidently there are no notable mountains, or hills around us.
I am most-definitely not as competent as Rick, in climbing, mountaineering, kayaking etc; and although passionate about the great outdoors, nowhere near as infectious. But I do manage a team of young people who can show you a new activity; a new activity which, like me, may inspire you to #getoutside!
I chose the 10’8” stand-up paddle board, over the 10’6”, because I thought it would be more stable, for me, on the sea. And as for location, I decided upon the North Atlantic Ocean – Sennen. Sennen is on the North Cornish coast (just up from Land’s End) and is a celebrated surf location; so I may have bitten-off-more-than-I-can-chew for my first SUP outing on the sea!
With the car parked, overlooking the fabulous Sennen beach, I unpacked my SUP, grabbed the Titan pump, and proceeded to inflate! Twenty minutes later I was walking on the sand towards the sea – yes they really are that easy to inflate!
Fortunately the swell (waves) was small, at low tide, so out I paddled beyond the breaking waves – on my knees. Once ‘out back’ I proceeded to stand. As I bobbed between crest and trough, of the waves, I got myself stable and started to paddle. Momentum helped with the balance, but it wasn’t too long before I was in the sea – splash! Totally refreshed and invigorated by the cold sea I was back on my SUP, and began to paddle, looking ahead at the waves and trying to get into a rhythm. I began to feel confident and paddled along the beach – with the wind and against the wind. I was doing OK!
I returned to shore. The small breaking wave nearly had me off, but I managed to save myself in the shallow water. I may have been out for an hour, but it felt longer. My core, arms and legs felt they had had a workout, so a cream tea was in order!
Over the next few days, in slightly bigger swell, I paddled my stand up paddle board. Confidence grew, and I thoroughly enjoyed paddling to-and-throw on the North Atlantic Ocean. So now it was time to try surfing! Needless to say it was the rider not the SUP that struggle in the breaking waves, the Ride 10’ 8”performed well – however this is where the smaller 10’6” would have been a better choice.
So is the Red Paddle Co Ride the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of SUPs? I think so, however, a river trip needs to be completed to say for sure – I’ll let you know how I get on!
After four years of riding the Ronix One Timebomb wakeboard I decided that it was time for a change; and with so many new pro-models hitting the shelves this season it was a tough decision. The reason for grabbing Massi Pifferetti’s new pro model, the Ronix Happy Hour, was simply because the ‘Poolside Blue’ graphics stood out to me. The graphics have a super playful feel, replicating his incredible style and reminding us all that the board was designed by arguably one of the world’s greatest riders; who previously rode the One Timebomb. I was excited to see if he had taken all the great features from the One series that I love, and incorporated them in his new awesome looking board.
The 2018 Happy Hour was no let down and honestly I am taken aback by its performance on the water. I had always believed that the One Timebomb was untouchable! Well done Massi; this wakeboard really does do it all; it has given my wakeboarding a new feel and will definitely make this season a fun one.
The Happy Hour wakeboard costs nearly half the price of the One Timebomb and by no means does this inhibit its performance on the water.
The Happy Hour is the only board with a continuous rocker in the Ronix line of wakeboards. I would like to begin by clearing up the rumors; many people believe that wakeboards with continuous rockers lack ‘snap’ when leaving the wake and so are less ‘poppy.’ I do not believe that this is the case with this board; the take offs are really smooth. The continuous rocker simply allows the rider to take tricks further into the flat water, whilst still allowing for smooth landings. The first thing that I noticed was the speed of the board, due to the clean rocker-line, which enables a consistent release off the top of the wake. This is so helpful as I feel more confident on the approach to the trick because I know exactly what to expect. Having a defined rocker-line and a continuous rocker allows the board to lock in, and stays on its edge on approach to the wake, making going big easy. In conclusion, I believe that the continuous rocker gives the board a more mellow lift off the wake. However, this is definitely made up for by a faster more consistent glide on approach, leading to a more predictable, effortless take off.
The core of the board is ultra-stiff. I believe that this is great, because it allows for a takeoff that always feels the same, and enables the rider to easily point the board into a turn. Not only is this board lightweight, it also has the highest strength to weight ratio that has ever been tested by Ronix.
The more durable construction gives the wakeboard a stiffer ride, which I believe is preferable as it adds to the regularity and feels more stable. The flex rating of the board is 6.5/10 which means that the energy off the wake is closer to the instant end of the spectrum. Thus making jumping as effortless as it can be: and allowing for maximum pop whilst maintaining its free/fun feeling.
Beginner and advanced riders can ride this board, as I believe that it is perfect for all levels of riding. The board feels awesome on the water! It’s unlike any other wakeboard I have ridden, in that it has an incredibly fast glide speed allowing me to ride for longer periods of time because there is less stress on the body. Having two sets of fins (1.0” fiberglass fins and 0.7” ramp fins) allows for increased versatility and allows the rider to customise their set up.