We are all encouraged to get outside more, and reap the benefits of the great outdoors – both physical and mental. Walking is one of the easiest ways to do this; whether a simple stroll in the park, a walk in the woods, or a hike up a mountain!
So when it comes to walking the first thing we think about is what walking shoes or hiking boots to put on our feet. We may even think about insoles to give support and comfort. But how much do we think about the interface between our feet and our footwear? Yes I’m talking socks!
An inadequate, poorly fitting sock will negate all the money spent on your hiking shoes/boots; making them uncomfortable, they may even give you blisters, and therefore unlikely to get you outdoors more!
So what about their walking socks? The ‘Adventure’ range from Stance consists of the following socks, for both men and women: the ‘Outdoor’, the ‘Hike’ and the ‘Trek’. The socks are made of an ‘uncommon blend’ of fibres to produce a sock which is durable, temperature-regulating, moisture-wicking, and comfortable. Price varies between the three, as the socks get a little more technical, but there is a sock for everyone.
But what are they like to wear? Well let me tell you about the ‘Hike’ socks I recently wore, in both walking shoes and hiking boots, on a resent walking holiday. The mountainous area presented a variety of terrain: dusty rocky trails, a few marshy bits, boulder fields, and snow; and the weather was predominantly warm and dry, mid twenties degrees C.
I’m a UK 9.5 and selected a size large (UK 8.5-11.5). The first thing you notice when putting the socks on is the fit. As you pull the ‘L’ sock onto your left foot you feel the sock securely encase your toes, support your arch, encase your heel and reach the base of your calf. It’s a snug comfortable fit, like a second skin. Once in your shoe or boot, and you start to tighten your laces, the sock interfaces between foot and footwear to give a secure and comfortable fit. Whilst walking the sock didn’t move, and my feet didn’t get too hot – keeping them dry – thanks to the breathable nature of the socks. And when the socks did get wet, through the occasional deep snow, they were still comfortable and dried out quickly!
Having camped out over night, I had to wear the socks for a second consecutive day, and was pleasantly surprised they maintained the comfort of the first day; and didn’t smell (too bad).
So if you’re wanting to get outside more by walking, ladies and gentlemen, you won’t be disappointed with a pair of these socks – whether a casual stroll in open park land in the ‘Outdoor’ socks or a full-on walking holiday in the ‘Hike’ or ‘Trek’ socks. Basically “these socks were made for walking”.
Note 1: the classic socks do not have a left and right indicator, like the more technical snow or adventure socks. However they are still ergonomically designed/manufactured; therefore there is a left and a right sock for you left and right foot. Although not essential to have the correct casual lifestyle sock on the appropriate foot; they will be even more comfortable if you do. So when wearing the classic Stance socks, remember the ‘Stance icons’ to the inside!
Start from the bottom up! That old saying “a house is only as good as the foundations” might not seem appropriate to skiing; but have you given your sock choice much thought recently?
Here in Colorado many of the mountain resorts have stopped the gondola wheels spinning, because Spring has sprung. For some of us the need for gondolas and chair lifts has long been gone, the deep powder days have come to an end, and the desire for ski touring has been getting stronger by the day. With clear skies, and an ever settling snow pack, the long days in the skin tracks are become a daily ritual – 4am trail head starts by head lamp and t-shirt hikes out; are how we spend the days.
With the Spring sun the days might start cold, but they soon warm up. And as for all the great things ski boots bring to the slopes, breathability certainly isn’t one of them. Consequently I was pretty excited to try out Stance’s new super light weight, super breathable Backountry Ultra-Light Sock, and see what they could do for my feet. Out of the pack these socks feel light and thin, very thin, and initially I thought Stance might have gone to far – and it would feel like I was putting my bare foot into my ski boot. That being said, and “you don’t know until you try”, I pulled them on and took them for a test on my pre-work skin up Vail Mountain. Straight away any concerns disappeared; because my feet felt great, and comfortable, in my Dalbello Lupo boots. My feet stayed warm, the arch support hugged my foot, and the gradual compression kept my legs feeling fresh – although I hope that was partly down to my fitness, not just the socks!
With the initial test out of the way, it was time to really put the socks through their paces. The planned route would be a twelve mile round trip, gaining a vertical height of 1400m (4600ft), and descending the south couloir of East Partner in the Gore Range, Colorado. Again, starting by headlamp in the early hours of the morning, the socks preformed excellently keeping my feet warm and comfortable for the first few miles of hiking. Once on the skis, and skins, everything still felt great. The thin slight compression-nature of the sock gives a great feeling that your foot is well held, and not moving around inside the sock or boot. The temperature regulation was good, which became more evident the longer the day went on and everything started to warm up. I have previously felt that once my feet get hot the socks can rub and create sores; this was not the case and I felt great all the way up and down. The trip, with its varied terrain, was more like an alpine ascent to the summit – including skinning, boot packing, and ice climbing in crampons – which took approximately eight hours; and I can truly say it’s the most comfortable my feet have felt all season. Don’t get me wrong I was super happy to get my ski boots off at the end!
However, as great as my sunnies are, they’re no match for alpine skiing conditions, which is why I’ve upgraded to the big guns. Tallington Lakes were kind enough to let me test out a pair of Smith I/OX snow goggles as I embarked on my adventure to the French Alps. When I first opened the box a bright smile was looking back at me, it was my own reflection cast from the pristine conditioned ‘ChromaPop’ lenses.
been skiing now for the best part of twenty years and I’ll be honest, I’ve
never really invested too much into my snow goggles. Comparing my old pair to
these I/OX goggles, it’s clear to see there’s no competition. It’s like trading
in your old banger of a car, that’s just about managed to get you from
point A to point B; for a souped up, all singing, all dancing teched out super
If I knew it wasn’t impossible, I would have placed a bet that Tallington Lakes had rigged the weather system in order to really allow me to test these goggles. In the one week I was there, I encountered harsh snow blizzards, gale force winds, torrential rain, depressingly overcast to extreme dazzling sunshine without a cloud in sight.
These I/OX goggles come equipped
with two different lenses in order to combat the diverse weather you can
clearly come across whilst in the mountains. Do not fear though, unlike other interchangeable
lenses where it feels as if you are solving a rubix cube for hours, the lens
swapping process here is very straight forward.
The first lens provided is the ‘ChromaPop Sun Platinum Mirror’ with a VLT (Visual Light Transmittance) of 13%. In English, it means only 13% of light passes through the lens. 13%?! I’ll do the maths for you, that means your eyes are shielded against a whopping 87% of all light particles trying to shine through. You will be correct in thinking, that’s an astronomical amount of light being blocked – however what you need to realise, is the UV rays from the sun are more powerful when you’re stood on top of a mountain. Those rays are then reflected from the snow which create the super annoying blinding-glare effect. Therefore a 13% VLT rating truly is a remarkable feat and not only does it work, it works brilliantly. I never once felt myself squinting from the sun glare. The goggles allowed me to easily pick out my turns in order to avoid the treacherous trees and murderous moguls.
For extreme low light
conditions, such as the total white out blizzard I unfortunately ended up in,
Smith have designed the ‘ChromaPop Storm Rose Flash’ with a VLT rating of 50%.
If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to ski in a white out, you will remember the
dreaded feeling of being lost, lonely and confused as you vision becomes
extremely impaired. You’ll remember trying to pick out those piste pole markers
you took for granted as you attempt to safely escape the mountain – the skiers
and snowboarders who were only a few feet away completely disappear and all you
end up saying on repeat is “I can’t see a thing in these goggles”. Sound
Without those low light lens on,
I think I’d still be stuck on that mountain top.
An important issue with snow
goggles is the potential fogging up of the lenses. This can be due to a number
of different reasons from the change in air temperature to difference in
altitude to simply the hot panting breath you produce when working your legs
overtime to get those turns in.
Thankfully Smith have countered
all these problems by installing an incredible feature called the ‘AirEvac’. It
allows for a constant air flow in order to reduce the risk of foggy goggles. On
top of this amazing feature, the Smith lenses are equipped with 5x anti-fog
inner lenses which provide five times the fog absorption compared to anything
else on the market!
I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold so I always wear my neck-warmer around my face and over my nose to stay warm. Therefore every time I breathe out, the hot air rises and attempts to pierce through my goggles defences. If I were in my ‘old banger’ goggles I surely would have fogged up and skied off a cliff. These goggles didn’t even slightly fog up once during my entire week!
The extra-large spherical lens
of the I/OX allows unparalleled peripheral vision which is absolutely vital
when you’re skiing on a busy slope surrounded by potential collisions.
To top everything off, the
goggles are perfectly designed to fit comfortably on your face whilst attaching
easily to the back of your helmet.
With the weather forecast ahead still predicting a huge amount of snow this season, it’s not too late to book another ski adventure. I cannot recommend these ski goggles enough – imagine a ski holiday in ultra coloured HD, it’s there and yours for the taking!
Check out our selection of Smith Optics snow goggles, here.
Adam (Ski Instructor and Water Ski/Wakeboard Boat Driver))
Our Chief Instructor Lotti had a chance to put some question to GB snowboarder Sam Turnbull:
Q1) What’s your perfect breakfast to set you up for a big day on the mountain?
My go to breakfast before a big day on the mountain is a sausage, bacon & egg sandwich, followed by fruit and some porridge if I’m really hungry.
Q2) What’s your favourite song to ride to?
Surprisingly I don’t actually listen to music while I ride. But If I need that little bit of motivation and drive my usual go to is AC/DC , Camo & Krooked or a cheeky bit of Jess Glynne on the way up the mountain.
Q3) What’s the most epic moment of your snowboarding career, so far?
There’s has been so many epic moments throughout my career from landing a trick for the first time to winning contests it’s hard to choose. I think the best thing about my career though is the opportunity I’ve had to travel the world and experience things not many people have had the chance to do.
Q4) How do you think dry-slopes influences the snow industry, and do they have a place on the ‘big scene’?
I think that the dry slope has massively influenced the snow industry and has helped the scene grow to what it is today, I believe it also gives the younger generation a platform to start from and to showcase their skills and not have to spend excessive amounts of money travelling to the mountains to train. It definitely has a place on the big scene, I mean some of the best UK skiers & snowboarders have all grow up riding the dry slope including myself.
Q5) What’s your favourite mountain day, hot park laps or powder days?
As much as I love Powder days it’s got to be Park Laps for me.
Q6) What’s your favourite set up: board, bindings and boots; and why?
My snowboard I ride is the Space Echo 154, it’s such a good all round board from smashing out park laps to cruising the deep powder of the back country. For my boots I ride the Judge boots because they do exactly what i need them to do, they are a super comfy for riding and hold my foot and heel down nicely when cruising around the mountain and doing what I do. And Salomon defender bindings as I’ve ridden these for years and have never faulted me yet, they seem to last forever.
The Picture Welcome Snow Jacket and Pant are designed for those wanting the best technical features with the lightest possible performance. Ideal for ski tourers and free-riders this is the ultimate technical outerwear for ups and downs.
The hood for the jacket
is helmet compatible and also has an adjustable 3D construction. This means
that when you move so does your hood, a simple but great feature giving you
better peripheral vision on the slopes.
The jacket comes with a detachable snow skirt and hand gaiters with adjustable cuffs. This means that when the best powder day of the season arrives you don’t have to worry about snow getting to your base layers and concentrate more on those rooster tail turns! The detach ability of the skirt is ideal for those trying to keep the weight down on multi day tours.
The design of the jacket is sharp with a performance fit. For those of you who have spent any time in the alps will be familiar with Pictures contemporary designs and bold colour ways. All zips are YKK, and come with a lifetime guarantee.
So that’s the performance features but what exactly does eco-friendly technical outerwear mean. Well Picture Organic Clothing strive to minimise the impact their clothes are having on the environment and here is how. The majority of the shell is made up from recycled polyester, which results in a large men’s jacket consisting roughly of 50 recycled bottles. If this isn’t enough Picture have invested heavily in developing a biodegradable water repellency across their whole line. Traditional DWRs (Durable Water Repellency) consist of contaminants such as PFC’s which when washed off your jacket stay in the environment and pollute the whole water system. There have been some terrible findings in water around some of the biggest ski resorts due to DWR’s washing off of outerwear. Picture’s new DWR Eco-Elite is totally biodegradable so after a greats days riding your conscience can rest knowing you haven’t had a negative impact on the environment.
I have been using the Welcome technical outerwear for the 2019 season and it has been highly adaptable in a variety of condition. From the powder days in January to one of the warmest February’s I can remember. It is definitely a great suit for those looking for the higher end technical features and performance whilst maintaining fantastic environmental principals.
If you have read it; you’ll know how important your first
layer of clothing is, in maintaining your core-body temperature, while skiing
or snowboarding in the mountains.
However, what about ‘compression’ base-layers? I think most of us have heard about the benefits of ‘compression’ clothing:
Reduce injury by keeping muscles warm
Improved blood flow
Aid recovery from muscle stiffness and soreness
And we’ve seen athletes using them, even people on long-haul flights wearing them, but are they any good for skiing or snowboarding?
This winter I tried some ‘compression’ base-layers from Skins, both the Skins DNAmic long sleeve base-layer and three-quarter tights. I chose the three-quarter tights, over long-johns, because these would not affect the fit of my ski boots – less crease points! I have invested in quality socks and a custom boot fit, so why would I add another layer inside my boot to mess things up?
First thing first; these are
‘compression’ garments – so they are a very snug fit, if not a little difficult
to get on. At first you could feel the ‘tightness’ or ‘support’ the garment gives
you – it felt quite good, ‘superhero-like’!
I donned my other layers,
and quickly headed out into the cold, because I was starting to get hot in the
As a base-layer they did
their job; keeping me at a comfortable temperature all-day long. Moisture
(sweat) generated on the exhilarating decent was wicked away, helping maintain
a warm core-body temperature on the cold chairlift ascent. Early morning ski
touring was cosy, without overheating.
As the days, and week of skiing, progressed I was pleased with my fitness/endurance. Yes I had prepared for the holiday, by going to the gym beforehand; but I do believe the ‘compression’ of my leg muscles, by the three-quarter tights, had made a difference. Also, after a few stretches and enjoying tea and cakes, sitting around in the ‘compression’ tights helped recovery for the following day’s skiing. I generally suffer with lower back pain; but once again because my hamstrings, glutes etc were ‘supported’ this was eased too.
As for the torso; I felt
more stable. Yes I had done some core exercises at the gym, but once again the
So, what about ‘compression’ base-layers? I think they are good, and as a quinquagenarian I will certainly wear them (especially the three-quarter tights) when skiing.
PS The wearing of ‘compression’ clothing does NOT negate the need for exercise/fitness training for your chosen sport!
Ski touring can mean different things to different people – depending on the desires of those participating. According to Google dictionary, the defining features include ‘skiing across open country, walking uphill on skis as well as skiing downhill’. With this in mind; there are multiple options of how you can spend your day ski touring – depending on your own priorities. Many people use ski touring as a means of fitness. Some are captivated by the ability ski touring gives you to escape the crowded slopes and travel into the wilderness. Meanwhile, others use ski touring as an effective method of transport on the snow, ultimately to get to a destination. This destination could be anything from a mountain hut, to a line you have been dreaming about skiing for years, or even the finish line of a race. Therefore, to answer your questions of what gear is best; first you will need to prioritise your own ski touring desires.
There are two extremes within the ski touring world. At one end of the spectrum you have the lightest skis and minimal pin bindings, combined with extremely lightweight, soft boots. And at the other end there is the freeride setup, which uses heavier and fatter powder skis, with a more performance binding and stiffer boots. The lightweight setup is perfect for those hungry to push their limits on the ascent; by beating time records, increasing their distances, or simply for anyone wanting to make walking uphill on snow as effortless as possible. This is a good option for endurance ski tours, such as multi-day or hut-to-hut trips where you need to save your energy. Plus, for ski tour racing the lighter the gear the better. On the contrary, the heavier setup is designed for those really prioritising the decent and wanting to charge down a line with the best equipment for exactly that. This freeride setup tends to be used for shorter ski tours due to its weight, but what it does best is allow you to ‘earn your turns’ in most snow conditions, especially fresh powder. Also this setup is perfect for side country access skiing, where you may need a short walk to get to a line or even just to skin out from the bottom.
However great each of these setups are for their purpose, choosing between them will subsequently mean compromising the ascent or decent. For example, super lightweight skis with pin bindings are not going to give you as much control or float in powder as a fatter, stiffer setup. On the other hand, climbing up with heavy gear will naturally slow you down and use up more energy. This limits the distance you can travel in a certain amount of time, and time is a critical factor when travelling in the mountains. Therefore, if you are looking to enjoy all aspects of ski touring, you may want something a bit more ‘middle ground’.
When choosing what gear to buy, there will always be compromises to make, but with technology constantly improving, those compromises seem to keep getting smaller and smaller. In fact Atomic (and Salomon) have released a brand-new binding, which is the ‘first compromise-free binding’. Whereas before you had to make a big decision of pin or freeride touring bindings, now the Atomic Shift binding perfectly combines the two systems. The many benefits include being lighter under foot for each step you climb, being securely locked in for charging the decent and importantly being able to release if you crash. Plus having brakes make transitions slightly less worrying when taking your skis off; unlike many pin setups which do not have such luxuries. These bindings are compatible with all Multi Norm Certified soles on the market today: Gripwalk ISO 9523, WTR ISO 9523 and Touring Norm ISO 9523 ski boots when in ski mode, as well as most ‘pin binding’ touring boots. The only sole not compatible with the Shift binding is the Non Touring Norm sole. Fundamentally, this makes tehn the ultimate all-round ski touring binding currently on the market.
Touring skis are also closing the gap between what’s good going up and what’s good skiing down. The Atomic Backland skis are a great example of a versatile, lightweight ski, which can handle a range of conditions and terrain. Their ultra-light wood core and carbon backbone make climbing a doddle, while their HRZN tech tips, cap sidewall and all-mountain rocker increase float and give great edge control for ripping through the powder, crud or on piste. Furthermore, Atomic have an extensive range of their Backland skis, which include women specific models, and range from 65 to 107 under foot to cater for everyone’s needs. For the ultimate balance of up-and-down the women’s Backland 85 and the men’s Backland 95 are perfect. Combine these skis with the Atomic Shift binding and you will be well on your way to the perfect all-mountain touring setup.
So, hopefully you will have a broader understanding of the different meanings of ski touring, and have a better idea of what will ‘tickle-your-fancy’ in the mountains. If you are at each end of the spectrum and want to push yourself in either the ascent or the decent, then size and weight are both critical factors when buying gear. If you see yourself as an all-mountain ski tourer, you will seek the perfect balance with the least compromises. The aforementioned Atomic setup (Backland skis, Shift bindings and Hawx Ultra XTD boots) will provide you with comfort, control and enjoyment in all aspects of ski touring.
Also this set-up is perfect for those new to ski touring, because it’s very user friendly and great value for money. So, if you are looking for one pair of boots and one pair of skis with bindings that you can truly take anywhere and have a good time, this is for you!
Finally, when ski touring in the backcountry, choosing your gear is only the beginning of all the important decisions to be made. Take no unnecessary risks and be snow avalanche aware; but most importantly have fun and enjoy the freedom!
This review will let you know what’s great about this CAPiTA snowboard, what’s not so good about this snowboard and everything in between. Stick with me as I explain what riding this snowboard feels like and how it performs when compared to other snowboards I’ve ridden.
Since I have started riding this snowboard, I have instantly gained confidence and have been able to complete/learn new tricks. In addition this snowboard is absolutely amazing for Ollys and Nollys. It has made it so much easier to do spins and tricks over little bumps and kickers in the park. The slight camber structure makes me pop like a boss plus I feel more stable in the air and when I land.
It might just be that it is brand new but I feel the edges and side cut work better than previous snowboards; which makes it easier to carve and get low. With this factor I am now hugging the snow while I do a mahoosive ‘Euro Carves’ across the slope. The edge to edge transition feels so much easier and I end up going as fast as a mouse trying to escape a cat.
When you are jibbing, you can really see how good the board actually is. It is so easy to pop up onto the rail or box. The snowboard feels solid and stable on rails but the best part of the jibbing factor is the amount of height you can get on the features; so not only can you pop with ease but you can get tons of height with ease as well.
The graphics on this board are proper gnarly. All sizes have the same sort of design on the top sheet and all of them are super rad. I love the skulls on the base best. The black on the top sheet makes it hard for my stickers to stand out though 😊.
My Snowboard Set-Up
I ride with Burton Cartel bindings on my CAPiTA board. The flex is just right to get the most out of the board and they are super comfy too. Overall I’d rate this board as a 4.5 out of 5, and I’d definitely recommend it for young riders wanting to progress their game. It’s totally rad! I’ve rated the board in different aspects so I’ll take the best and worst factors from each area:
Pop Jumps: Best – plenty of pop and height you get from this snowboard. Worst – none. 5 out of 5
Carving Best – stability through aggressive turns. Worst – none. 5 out of 5
Jibbing Best – solid feel over features. Worst – none. 5 out of 5
Graphics: Best – proper gnarly. Worst – can’t see some of my stickers. 4 out of 5
So you may have seen or know how to trim skins by cutting one side, then move the skin over – guessing the amount of edge to reveal – then cut again. I don’t know about you but I feel this a rather inaccurate method!
What G3 have created is a trimming tool that lifts the skin off the base, spaces the cutting blade just the right depth in from the edge, and trims the skin all in one pass. So with this process there is no need to move the skin and try match up the edges; simply attach the skin centred on the ski and cut both edges – brilliant!
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. Please note people’s feet are different; so the time the benefits are felt may vary.
Matt (Snowboard instructor)
Tallington Lakes Pro Shop offer a full ski and snowboard boot fitting service. Please call 01778 381154 to book an appointment.by