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