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!
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.by
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!
One such ‘All-Terrain’ item is the Brixton Transport 20 Cargo Shorts. The shorts are made from 4.5 oz ripstop nylon (98%) and elastane (2%); and have a water-repellent coating. The cut is an athletic fit with a straight leg of 20”, and adjustable waistband. There are some nice features, and additions, which make these shorts stand out. A good number of pockets, which are zipped, is very practical; and they have even included a small ‘pocket size’ dry-bag to keep your wallet dry – however I’d be tempted just to have few notes and coins rather than a bulky wallet. Another nice addition is the ‘knot book’ (a handy, roped together, collection of cards). This simple practical guide takes you back to your scouting days; and makes you hunt out a piece of rope and practice figure-of-eights, clove hitches and more!
So it seemed appropriate to review the Transporter shorts whilst rock climbing; to see how ‘all-terrain’ they are!
First impressions, when you put them on, are ‘very comfortable’; partly thanks to the elastane but also the cut. The reinforced seat reiterates you are going to be active; so once the climbing harness, helmet and other equipment was on, I was ready to ascend the gritstone crag. Still comfortable under the harness; the shorts allowed unrestricted movement. The lightweight material keeps you cool, even when things get tricky on the tense crux of the climb. What goes up must come down; and the shorts were equally comfortable during the abseil!
Comfortable and unrestrictive the Transporter 20 shorts performed well on the gritty rock face; and I believe they will perform just as well behind the wheel of a speeding wakeboard boat, or leisurely paddling a stand-up-paddleboard. So are they All-Terrain, yes they are, both on land and on water!
The petunia colour and slim fit make these a favourite for my winter wardrobe, and the stretch material made them extremely flexible while still being snug. Not only are they breathable but also waterproof which made for a perfect piece of ski gear.
There are multiple pockets which I could use for my sun cream and lift pass, with a Velcro adjustable waistband which came in handy after a big lunch on the mountainside! The knees and heels are made with reinforced material which made sure they were durable and the material, although unusual, I really liked as opposed to the usual waterproof material.
Skiing around for a week made me fall in love with these trousers and I would definitely recommend them to anyone who loves to look stylish while being sporty!
Coming into my first extended period of skiing (a season’s vacation in Vail CO); checking all my gear was up-to-scratch was a massive part of my so called ‘pre flight checks’: new powder skis, new outer shells, base layers, mid layers, helmet and all the other usual bits a week at a time skier needs. It wasn’t until my mother made the point about my boots smelling rancid after a week’s skiing, that I thought “I could be in for a smelly few months”! With the plan to get as many days on the mountains both alpine skiing and touring; it was a problem I was keen to solve.
Having worked at Tallington Lakes as a boot fitter, I am not keen on using the normal boot dryers. Heating the boot even very lightly without my foot being in the boot to hold the foam in place seems a bit counter productive to the extensive moulding processes that is offered at the Pro Shop; in my opinion. So when I was introduced to the Drysure Boot Dryers, I was intrigued. The appeal of not adding heat to dry the boots perked my interest; and secondly the versatility of them, being able to throw them in a bag on hut trips and have dry boots in the morning after the previous days hiking is a nice concept. After using them for almost 50 days on the mountains I can’t believe how well they have worked at drying my boots over night, at room temperature, and most importantly the odour reduction of my boots. My boots smell fresher after 50 days skiing with Drysure than a week’s skiing with conventional drying.
Drysure works by absorbing the sweat and moisture into the Desiccant Silica Gel inside the boot dryers. This helps to, firstly, dry the boots but also, because the sweat is absorbed, bacteria doesn’t have chance to grow which is the cause of the rancid smell. The rancid smell does not come from the sweat itself, it actually comes from the bacteria breaking down the proteins in sweat. No bacterium also means cleaner and healthy boots, and feet because foot fungi are eliminated.
The dryers are easy to maintain. After 10 or so used you can easily remove the silica pouches from the hard shell and place them on a radiator, or in front of the fire, to dry the Silica Gel pellets inside and recharge the effectiveness of the dryers.
For a relatively inexpensive item, that will easily fit in your boots whilst travelling, I will never fly anywhere without my Drysure Boot Dryers again. The versatility of being able to take them on hut or camp trips, and the effectiveness of the technology, means that wet, smelly boots are pretty much a thing of the past; much to the appreciation of my mother!by
I work outdoors at a Watersports Centre, and I am an avid hill walker in my spare time, so I was interested to see if the Salomon Drifter mid-layer jacket would be a welcome addition to my assortment of gear.
The Drifter mid-layer is really light weight, weighing in at just 500g, and packs down really small, thanks to the Primaloft 60g insulation, consequently you can carry it anywhere.
The mid layer has a pretty cool reversible function which allows you to wear it inside out. This particular colour reverses from an Acid Green to a Purple. The two sides have very different uses: one is more windproof, whilst the other is more breathable, so you can regulate your temperature to the conditions. Or treat it as two jackets!
This mid layer jacket is also snow/water proof with Salomon’s AdvancedSkin Shield technology, and Pertex water repellent finish, which means you can wear it as an outer layer. I have found the jacket does not fare well to harsh rain conditions as the water does eventually seep through, but in light drizzle there are no problems.
The jacket was ideal for hill walking, and nipping down some caverns, in the peaks; because it is light and thanks to its breathability I did not overheat! It fits well and is consistent with all other Salomon clothing sizes.