Mons Royale is from Lake Wanaka, New Zealand. Lake Wanaka is one of the adventure capitals of New Zealand, with anything from winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding to summer activities such as mountain biking. And a good Merino wool thermal base layer is advisable with any of these sports.
However rather than just sticking to looking at just the performance of the thermals, like some of the other brands, Mons Royale wanted to create a base layer that, as well as having the performance, had a look and style for everyday use. Who’d have thought – cool thermals!
So why all the fuss about Merino Wool?
Mons Royale uses merino wool because it has many qualities, suitable for a baselayer:
It’s soft on your skin. Merino wool is finer than traditional wool which therefore makes it softer on your skin.
It keeps you warm, even when it’s wet, and breathable. The wool has a natural crimp which provides superior insulation and breathability.
It can help regulate your body temperature. Merino wool has the ability to ‘wick’ away moisture which will help regulate your temperature.
It dries quickly.
It doesn’t stink; you can wear it for longer before washing. The natural antibacterial properties of the wool means that it resists odour build up by locking the molecules in the fibre and releasing it when it’s washed.
How aware are you about the risk of avalanches? One of our guys jumped at the chance to improve his knowledge with Salomon Mountain Academy. Their website offers a theoretical course of eight modules for just €29, but they do the first introductory chapter for free. So it would be foolish not to check it out. Here’s his thoughts:
The chapter took around 15-20 mins to complete, and each subsection was a mixture of video, text and pictures. It gave me enough information to realize how ignorant I actually am when I go to a resort; and actually how lucky I have been in the past, blindly following better skiers than me around off the sides of runs etc. Its what we all do to get better and push ourselves right?
Some of the bits will be pretty self explanatory to people that have skied a few times, however there are some very interesting bits of information. One of the biggest statistics, that opened my eyes, was that 55% of Avalanche deaths happen with a Level 3 Avalanche Risk, and only 1% on Level 5. Basically most of us are sensible enough to know not to venture off the pistes in a Level 5 but a Level 3 seems to be an acceptable risk, being middle of the scale, despite it officially translating as “Considerable Risk“.
The chapter finished with a multiple choice quiz, which had some questions in which I guess are covered in other parts of the course. Again opening my eyes to how little I know. Consequently, I’ll be reading up on the whole course before heading off next week!
On a side note, Epic TV are doing an short video series on ‘off piste skiing’ with Graham Bell from Ski Sunday. Also worth a look! The series aims to explain how to prepare your gear and yourself before heading into the mountains for your backcountry adventure.
So what does a quinquagenarian, recreational skier think of the Volkl Kendo skis? Volkl kindly provided a pair for me to review on my annual ski holiday to La Rosierre, France.
Quinquagenarian Recreational Skier
I taught myself to ski at the Lecht, Scotland in the 80s and had a few lessons, in Austria, while the children were in ski school (the only way to convince them to go was to say we were all having lessons)! I go skiing once a year, and look forward to six days of fun sliding down a mountain. I’d class myself as an intermediate to advanced skier, but fully aware that purist would pull my technique to pieces. I’m happy that I can control my skiing, at speed (which means I think it’s fast, but my sons tell me otherwise), down red and some black runs! Historically I would hire what are considered piste or all-mountain skis. And when I say all mountain, they are 80% piste 20% off piste.
Fortunately most holidays have been groomed pistes (corduroy), until last year when knee-deep powder on the piste took a little fun out of the sliding down a mountain! I wasn’t very good in knee-deep powder; was it me or was it the skis. Whatever it made me think; I go skiing for six days a year, what type of skis should I buy? Piste or something suitable for powder? If money was no object, I’d have one of each.
The Kendo skis are a 50-50% piste off-piste ski, for an advanced to expert skier, so may be ‘punching above my weight’ with these skis!
The first thing I noticed was how much wider the skis felt, the waist was in fact 10mm wider at 90mm compared to my old skis. The ski also had a much larger rocker at the tip which helps push the ski up on to the powder rather than slicing through it. And the bindings were drilled onto the ski, rather than the usual rail system I was familiar with.
So it was in at the deep end (literary) because there had been plenty of snow in the resort! I would have like a few groomed pistes to find my ski legs, but that wasn’t an option, so the first morning wasn’t great. However after a stern talking to myself, and a few pointers from my son, the afternoon was better; and I began to embraces the conditions and what the Kendo skis offered!
During my week’s skiing we had over a metre of snow, and poor visibility, so not quite the conditions I had hoped for, but never-the-less ideal conditions to test the skis.
So what did I think? A bit like the skis 50-50. The skis were a lot stiffer than I am use too, because they are designed for someone of a higher ability, and turn radius was bigger than previous skis at 20.8m; so I found myself having to work extremely hard down the slope. The poor visibility didn’t help! I also struggled a little on the ice, but that may be more down to technique and not fully engaging with the ski. However, what I did find, is that the skis floated through the powder, which had hampered me before.
When the visibility improved, it was a different story. With greater confidence I carved with gusto down the piste. The skis just ploughed through the powdery ‘crud’, that had built up from other skiers, thanks to the ‘rocker’; and the large turning radius no longer hindered my progress, as I zig-zagged down the slope. I had fun!
I now understand where the guys in the Pro Shop were coming from; a ski for all conditions because the weather and snow conditions cannot be guaranteed for the six days I am in resort. And these Kendos certainly ‘cut-the-mustard’.
I think I had ‘bitten-off-more-than-I-can-chew’ with the Kendos, though, but I certainly like that style of ski. Perhaps a similar all-mountain ski that is more suitable for my ability, such as the Line SuperNatural skis would be my choice. And this is an important point to note when buying skis – be honest!
Epilogue: there isn’t a right or left ski, but I found I skied better when I could read ‘Volkl’ across the tips of the skis 🙂
Here’s our expert guide to this seasons best snow jackets and pants; for men and women.
Picture Dayton Jacket
Gone are the days of just 10K/10K jackets, today Picture have produced this awesome technical jacket with a rating of 20K/15K allowing defence against anything that the mountain may throw at you. What I love about the Dayton is the ability to add in a mid layer and connect it via a zip turning it into one continuous item and best of all is extremely warm perfect for those of you that feel the cold much more!
Generally I would pick a tailored fitting jacket despite the Dayton being a freestyle orientated fit it still felt great with the medium being the ideal size for me allowing more layers if needed. The material feels extremely hard wearing only time would tell how well it stands up to the rigours of riding through trees etc but my initial thought is it will be great, not only that but Picture have incorporated recycled polyester into the shell material giving you piece of mind that the lack of snow at the start of the season isn’t down to you.
Internal Atlas mid layer connects seamlessly
Good fitting adjustable hood
1 Large mesh pocket with 1 smaller zipped pocket
Durable hard wearing material
Extremely warm especially when combined with the Atlas mid layer
Fully waterproof taped seams
Soft lined chin area helps to prevent chaffing
Good waterproof rating 20K
Good breathability rating 15K
Thermal dry system
Wrist gaiter feels too tight around my hand
Not a tailored fit
Small non slip shoulder pads
Slightly too loose around the neck/chin area (for me)
Fit: Medium jacket was a good fit not too baggy despite not being a tailored fit, looks great especially when the Atlas mid layer is added. (My details 180cm Tall, 32” Waist, 37” Chest, 75kg)
Picture Books Pant
This is the ultimate addition to the Dayton Jacket in combination these Book pants look awesome! Unlike any other snow pant these come equipped with its own powder skirt that is extremely stretchy, fitting my waist perfectly just giving an extra layer of protection against the powder.
The inside has a super soft fleece liner that feels great and I found help wick some moisture away from my legs perfect for a long days riding. What I didn’t like was there were no reinforced cuffs to guard against sharp ski edges but if snowboarding this wouldn’t be a problem. As with fit I wasn’t a big fan of the baggy look but if you are after a freestyle look these would be perfect.
Warm and soft fleece liner
Large inside thigh vents with contrasting lime green netting
Extra stretchy waist powder skirt
Tags to attach the Drayton jacket
Metal boot hook
Good waterproof rating 20K
Good breathability rating 15K
False cargo pocket
Doesn’t have reinforced cuffs
Slightly baggy feel and look
Fit: Medium pant was a good fit around the hips and waist with a slightly baggy/freestyle look but some people may like this. (My details 180cm Tall, 32” Waist, 37” Chest, 75kg)
Helly Hansen Progress Jacket
First off Helly Hansen have really progressed their technology and design with this jacket, personally it is my favourite mid ranged jacket we sell not only is the price great but it has the tech to match with its 15K/15K waterproof and breathability ratings! Unlike others with the same ratings the Progress Jacket has a soft stretchy outer fabric which adds another dimension to this already awesome jacket.
Although not tested up in the mountains the added Primaloft makes this a very warm jacket in temperatures around 0 degrees with enough room for added mid/base layers for colder conditions. My only negatives with this jacket are that the zips aren’t taped only a real issue in extreme heavy rain and there are no wrist gaiters which would allow snow to get into the jacket sleeve when riding through deep powder.
Large cuff openings
Internal media pocket
Large fully adjustable hood
Soft external shell material (slightly stretchy)
Large side pockets
Good underarm mesh venting
Lightweight with Primaloft insulation
Good waterproof rating 15K
Good breathability rating 15K
No wrist gaiters
Slightly short in the length
Zips aren’t taped
Fit: Small jacket was a good tailored fit with good length in the arms yet comes up slightly short in the body but once combined with the pants shouldn’t be an issue. (My details 180cm Tall, 32” Waist, 37” Chest, 75kg)
Helly Hansen Legendary Pant
This is the perfect addition to the Progress Jacket, if I hadn’t already got a complete set up I would definitely get this pant after trying it on and the integrated tech it has! What I like about this Legendary Pant is 3 keys points; reinforced cuffs which perfect for skiers like myself helping to prevent unwanted cuts, 2 way stretch Helly performance fabric gives excellent levels of protection against the elements and finally the tapered fit around the knees helping minimise the bulky look you sometimes get with snow pants.
I forgot to mention the additional internal clip that helps stop the traditional single button from popping open when you sit down or are riding hard which has happened to me many times in the past. My only real concern with these pants is the small thigh vents which could cause you to get too hot during the warmer spring months.
Taped pocket zips
Soft external shell material (slightly stretchy)
Dual button clip waist closure
Good waterproof rating 15K
Good breathability rating 15K
Slightly small thigh vents
Single rear pocket
Fit: Medium pant was a good fit around the waist with a tailored fit that narrowed towards the knees. (My details 180cm Tall, 32” Waist, 37” Chest, 75kg)
Roxy Sassy Women’s Jacket
First off trying on this jacket it felt slightly baggy around the shoulders but a good fit around the waist despite this it was extremely comfortable and felt really warm in the zero degree conditions we tested it through. What was unusual with this Sassy jacket was the contrast between the textured grey material and the smooth yellow giving this an edge in the looks department.
For the brief time wearing this jacket we are confident it will meet and excel your expectations up in the mountains the only two negatives to consider are the button on hood rather than a zipped one and also no thumb hole in the wrist gaiter which can ride up when putting on gloves. Overall a great piece for the 2016 winter season with 10K/10K waterproof and breathability rating.
Mixture of hard wearing textured and smooth material
Fully adjustable hood
Good mesh lined venting
Fleece lined rear back pad
Jacket to pant attachment
Soft fleece lined chin guard
Button on hood rather than zip
No thumb hole in wrist gaiter
Fit: Medium jacket was a good fit around the waist but felt slightly baggy around the shoulders doesn’t feel like a slim fit more like a regular higher up. (My details 170cm Tall, 30” Waist, 36” Chest, 66kg)
Roxy Winter Break Women’s Pant
Heading away on the winter break of a lifetime? After testing this pant we think this is the one for you! Overall the pant felt amazing easily providing comfort for a whole days skiing or snowboarding. The velcro adjustable waist gave me the ability to fine tune the fit whether I had layers underneath or not it coped well.
When riding hard I have had previous pants pop open but I found the triple button/clip closure was bulletproof with the added ability to expand the cuffs to accommodate my ski boot with ease. A nice feature was the lift able cuffs helping to reduce the risk of getting covered in dirt when walking across car parks or roads. The only real negatives were the rear velcro pockets which could pick up snow and also this colour could show dirt fairly easy. Overall a great pant.
Adjustable velcro waist
Triple button clip waist closure
Heavy duty zips
Smooth hard wearing fabric
Button up cuffs when walking
Mesh lined venting
Velcro rear pockets
Colour could show dirt easily
Fit: Medium pant nice fit around the waist with a more relaxed fit and feel over the Salomon fantasy. (My details 170cm Tall, 30” Waist, 36” Chest, 66kg)
Salomon Fantasy Jacket
What an amazing jacket certainly covering all my desires and fantasy’s I would want from a ski jacket whilst up in the mountains! First off trying this jacket on sends me into another world the fit is perfect and also comes with a fleece lined back which is both soft and provides excellent levels of warmth.
On those snowy days the fully adjustable hood will be perfect giving an extra level of protection. Having this on for just a few minutes raised my body temp but no problem as it has large under arm vents which cooled me down in a matter of minutes. My only real negative is the tech specs are slightly low to what I’m use to but still perfectly adequate, with 10K/10K waterproof and breathability rating, and the wrist gaiter doesn’t come with a thumb hole which slides up when putting gloves on.
Fleece lined internal back
Lightly insulated hood with peak
Soft fleece chin guard
Fully adjustable hood
Hard wearing textured material
Large under arm vents
Internal media pocket + strap
No thumb hole in wrist gaiter
Couldn’t find any more
Fit: Medium jacket was the right length in both the arms and body with a tailored fit hugging the body. (My details 170cm Tall, 30” Waist, 36” Chest, 66kg)
Salomon Fantasy Pant
Shell pants are great but don’t offer the insulation many people want, whereas this Fantasy pant is fully insulated tested outside around 0 degrees these pants were extremely warm and felt great due to the soft internal fleece lining. The external twill material is extremely hard wearing standing up to branches and sharp ski edges with the reinforced cuffs.
With this pant there isn’t an expandable cuff but not a big issue due to being quite wide anyway but when it comes to spring or those warmer blue bird days there is no mesh venting to help cool you down so requires removing layers. Overall this is a great pant at a good price!
Adjustable velcro waist band
Dual button clip waist closure
Hard wearing textured material
Internal soft fleece liner
Multiple front pockets
No expandable cuffs for boots
No mesh vents
False rear pockets
Fit: Medium pant was a little tight around the waist but fits great everywhere else, the slim fit doesn’t feel too tight good movement overall. (My details 170cm Tall, 30” Waist, 36” Chest, 66kg)
Rusutsu is located on the other side of Mount Yotei and takes about 40 mins to get to from Hirafu where we are based. It is somewhere I have wanted to ski since seeing an article a few years ago about some locals who have built a side country park in the forest. It is built solely from fallen wood and was built in the summer season before the snow came in the winter. It has created a truly unique ski environment which fuses both elements of park and the backcountry. With all this in mind I was stoked to be on the bus heading towards Rusutsu.
When you arrive in Rusutsu it is a bizarre winter wonderland, the resort consists of just one large hotel and that is situated next to a huge closed theme park. It makes for an amazing scene with ferris wheels and roller coasters coated in deep pillows of snow with a serene almost eery ambiance created by the lack of people in the area. It is the biggest ski area in Hokkaido with three separate mountains but few people stay here and the only visitors seem to be the people day tripping on the bus. This makes for one of the most incredible resorts I have ever been to. We arrived to waste deep fresh powder and were doing lap after lap without seeing anyone.
The terrain is the best I have seen in Japan yet, with longer vertical and a really fun spacing in the trees making for an epic day. We found some good pillows early in the day just under the chairlift and spent the morning sessioning them, before moving over to the side country park.
The side country park is an incredible feat allowing you to ski features you could only dream of in back country terrain accessed by a chairlift. There are rainbow trees, tree gaps and man made pillows made from scaffolded platforms. I had a couple of hours checking out the features and can’t wait to return on a big powder day as there are endless options for progressing your skiing. By the end of the day it was hard to think of a better day skiing. We had ridden empty powder for the best part of eight hours without seeing anyone in some of the most playful terrain you could think of. I will no doubt be calling Rusutsu my second home now!
If you’ve not heard about Power Plate; its the ‘whole body vibration technology’ that helps fitness levels, including skiing!
The advantages that can be gained from vibration exercise has been known for many years, but what does it actually do? Our American cousins were the pioneers of vibration exercise during the space race. This period in history saw the US and USSR competing for dominance in space. As the periods of time in zero gravity got longer, so did the noticeable side effects on the human body. A loss of muscle tissue, balance and co-ordination. What was the answer? Conventional exercise equipment is useless in a zero gravity environment.
The introduction of vibration exercise by NASA saw an end to these side effects.
Around 2005, some `bright spark` thought, this would work well in the fitness industry! So it started. Now we have everyone from actors, singers, professional sports people and average Joes. The principle is simple. The vibration will activate three times more muscle fibre than conventional exercise. When done properly, this is a deceivingly hard training concept. It can be used effectively by sports people to enhance performance.
“During December, January and February we see a massive increase in the use of the gym by people going on skiing holidays, and we have used the Power Plate to assist in their preparation. You will still need to address your cardiovascular needs, for skiing, but the Power Plate will strengthen the lower body and core ready for those downhill slopes. Here are two of the many exercises you can do!
If you think this could be helpful to you, before going on your next skiing trip, why not book a free 50 minute Power Plate induction. Just call the Universal Fitness Centre, Bourne on 01778 422424 and quote TLPP16.
When you look for your next set of snow goggles; what do you consider: style, do they match my outfit, price, when am I going to wear them (all of the time or just in the low light), do they fit my helmet?
However, perhaps the biggest oversight is the use of goggles as a vital piece of protection! We protect our head (well we certainly advise you to do so), and some go that extra step and wear body protection. But I imagine few of us choose a set of snow goggles on the basis of eye protection.
Since working at Tallington Lakes Pro Shop my understanding and approach to eyewear has dramatically changed. During my first years skiing I had very standard snow goggles, no massive brand name, I just brought cheap with the mindset I only use them once a year. And truthfully I brought my first set of Oakley Crowbar goggles on style, with little thought for anything else, via the internet and I was lucky they fit me and my helmet well.
So after different goggle brand training, I purchased my second set of Oakley Splice goggles in store after trying numerous ones on with my helmet. I found they fit better than other brands, the peripheral vision was far superior, and the level of protect Oakley offer made them an obvious choice.
That being said I would like to point out that all goggles we sell online and in store are CE approved, and perfectly suitable for all your wintery needs. Oakley, like in their sunglasses, has taken that testing/certification one step further and as they put it: “this level of testing is absolutely unnecessary”. The standard test to CE approve a lens, whether it be goggles or sunglasses, is to resist the impact of ball bearing dropped on it. Oakley didn’t feel this was enough and with the leading cause of eye damage to the London Eye Hospital being sunglasses shattering into people eyes, as the result of car airbags, they looked to improve this. The answer, Plutonite, developed by Oakley not only to be optically pure but also much more durable than other lenses. Oakley lens test – fire a metal spike at their lenses and the lens must not crack, but absorb and resist the impact. What is considered unnecessary by others is mandatory to Oakley. You can read about Oakley’s eyewear impact test here.
This technology has been around for some time; so in store we do highlight the pros of using goggles as a piece of protection. So what has prompted this article?
I was lucky enough to be in the French Alps recently, when as many of you will know the powder conditions where amazing, however avalanche risks where high, so the powder was to be skied in the safety of the trees. Great for snow pack confidence, however, with trees come roots, fallen branches and uncertainty under the seeming flat smooth snow. After a great run through the trees I popped out into a little clearing and put a few turns in, and up to this point my poles where disappearing half way into the powder. However my next pole plant found something a few centimetres of snow: perhaps a branch or a rock. Needless to say my pole didn’t disappear as far as expected and I ended up head butting the top of the pole grip. Yes I felt the impact but I finished my run, and it wasn’t until the chairlift back to the top that I noticed the rather deep scratch running across the lens of my goggles.
It’s hard to say what might have happened if I was wearing sunglasses or a low specification pair of goggles. Certainly in the case of sunglasses I would have been looking at a broken nose and some fetching black eyes. In the case of a less durable lens, the lens could have cracked possibly causing eye damage.
All I can say definitively is that CE approved (or better) snow goggles, which ever brand you choose, should be a serious consideration and not a last minute ‘fashion’ pick up.
So take the time to come in store with your helmet and try on some snow goggles; or give us a call. Make sure they fit and are comfortable, including wearing your helmet. Make sure the lens tint is right for the conditions you except to ski in; so that when you walk out onto the slopes you have the peace of mind that whatever happens your eyes are well protected!
When you think of the brand DC, snowboards may not be the first item that jumps out to you. DC are more well known for, where their roots lie, the skateboarding industry. So what are the DC Focus and Mega snowboards like?
Damon Way and professional rally driver Ken Block, with the vision of creating a leading actions sport shoe and clothing brand started the company in 1994. In 2004, Quicksilver acquired the brand for just $87 million and since then it has gone from strength to strength. They sponsor some of the biggest names in the various industries including Travis Pastrana, Robbie Maddison, Torstein Horgmo and Travis Rice and in 2012 they released their first women’s range of products.
DC have been in the snowboard market for some time and have some quality products out their for all abilities. When our staff decided to go on their ski testing road trip, DC was at the top of the list of products to put through the paces. Thankfully, the guys at DC sent us the Mega and the Focus Snowboards.
DC Focus Snowboard
The DC Focus is a perfect soft and forgiving board and is ideal for any first timer snowboarder or if you’re looking for something to help you in the park. When we tested the board we found it quite responsive on edge however when the heat was turned up it did slightly chatter; something that is quite normal with softer boards. If you are the type of rider that is looking to increase your ability in the park then this board could also be a hit. It boasts a true twin shape that helps for riding regular and switch, an extruded base that will take impacts from rails and boxes and a poppy Astro core that will definitely get you riding to a higher level. Overall, an excellent value snowboard for money priced at only £224.99.
DC Mega Snowboard
The DC Mega was new for 2016 and is something else that stems from their roots of skateboarding. The first thing we noticed, before we had even ridden it, was the board comes with a pack of stencils and a blank top sheet allowing you to customize the board to your very own liking. When we took the board for a test, we were very surprised to say the least. The board had awesome response thanks to its ‘lock and load’ camber. This basically means the board is cambered between your bindings and has sweet spots on the nose and tail; altogether it helps with stability. DC has also added their radius to flat design to this board that helps with flotation and lift in the powder. All round, this board proved a hit but having a wooden top sheet may prove a negative if, like on our test, it continues to soak up water in the wetter conditions!
We are giving you the chance to win the DC Focus 157cm Snowboard, we reviewed. Yes it might have been used, and have a few scratches, but its in excellent condition and will be fully serviced.
All you have to do is ‘like’ or ‘follow’ us and share this article on either Facebook, Twitter or Google+, making sure you tag our username or #TallingtonLakes, and if we see it will enter you into the prize draw. Will pick one lucky winner on the 29th Feb 2016*.
Arguably the most well known of the resorts within the Portes Du Soleil (PDS), Morzine is located in a valley with ski areas either side, around one hour from Geneva airport or roughly eight hours from Calais. It was the venue of our ski test in December when unfortunately the snow wasn’t fantastic. Even though it sits at a lower altitude than other European resorts, it is still favored heavily with British skiers due to the extensive ski area. The PDS’s motto of 12 resorts one pass highlights the 600km of skiing available. I have stayed in a few different areas within the PDS and always prefer to stay in Morzine as it is roughly in the middle.
Morzine itself is a very picturesque ski town with a variety of activities to do whether skiing is your primary activity or not. The town itself has plenty of bars like Coyotes’ and restaurants like L’etale; and if lager is not your preferred beer, it also boasts the first real ale bar in the Alps. At Le Bec Juane, all the ales are brewed in house and a 4 pint pitcher and a very large plate of Nachos will cost €20.
Skiing wise there is plenty to do for everyone. Out of Morzine itself you have the Pleny Bubble, which takes you up the South side of the valley and connects you with the tree line runs of Les Gets, Nyon and Mont Chery. On the North face, you have the Super Morzine Bubble that takes you across the valley and up towards Avoriaz, which is the highest resort in the PDS and is part of the Helly Hansen Ski-Free campaign. A short bus ride away you have the L’ardent Bubble that will connect you up to the Linderet Goat Village where there are nursery slopes and several lifts connecting you with Avoriaz, Chatel and Switzerland. Off piste is incredible when it’s on in this area. Happy Valley and Hidden Valley are located around the Chatel side and offer perfect powder bowls. Switzerland also offers a vast area of off piste with Les Gets offering some real hidden tree runs.
Overall, the town of Morzine is a perfect base if your looking to explore the second largest ski area in the Alps. It literally offers something for everyone from complete beginner to top end skier or boarder through to powder bowls and tree runs to immaculate hard packed pistes.