Christmas Presents for Skiers and Snowboarders
8th December 2020 | Alf Alderson, Gear & Equipment Editor
Last modified on December 16th, 2020
We’ve dived into Santa’s sack to find the best on offer. We all want nothing more than to ski this Xmas, but for most of us that’s just not gonna happen, so here are some pressie ideas from ski jackets to ski books to keep you going until the lifts open again.
Finding it hard to get a present for a ski loving friend or family member?
Or you may just want to treat yourself.
Look no further.
From goggles, gear and gadgets through to books, bags and boot insoles….
Our Gear and Equipment editor, Alf Alderson, offers his advice:
SALOMON S/VIEW GOGGLES £95 www.salomon.com
I’m a fan of ski goggles with photochromic lenses, even though they’re generally a bit pricier than standard lenses, since they work in pretty much any conditions and as such can actually work out cheaper as you don’t need different goggles or lenses for differing conditions.
So, the Salomon S/View already ticked a box for me before I even put them on – and when I did, the combination of a sleek, close-to-the-face design and the minimalist frame ticked two more since they provide a brilliantly wide field of vision along with optimum comfort (also aided by the plush double layer face foam).
Other essential features include great fog management, a super-sticky silicone-backed strap, good helmet compatibility and 100 per cent UV filtration to prevent eye damage, all of which combine to make an excellent all-round, mid-priced pair of ski goggles.
VERDICT – Good looking, good value goggles with all the essential features including an excellent photochromic lens.
MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT EARTHRISE VEST £130 www.mountain-equipment.co.uk
Not only does the Mountain Equipment Earthrise vest look and feel great, it’s also good for you and the planet – Mountain Equipment’s Earthrise range uses 100 per cent recycled down and is part of a longer-term programme by the company to create a fully functioning closed loop recycling system, more of which below.
For now, back to the review.
This is a lightweight narrow baffled vest using 100 per cent recycled fabrics as well as 100 per cent recycled fill, and it’s absolutely ideal as that warm extra layer that you slip on during a break in your skiing, when you stop for lunch or, of course, when it starts to get extra chilly late in the day.
It packs away to the size of your fist and is super light, so you won’t even notice you’re carrying it, and features are, of course, minimal – a full front zip, two zippered hand pockets and an elasticated hem.
It’s one of those bits of kit any outdoor type should have as part of their wardrobe a matter of course.
As for its construction, the manufacturing and use of clothing and equipment is a significant contributor to carbon emissions, uses valuable natural resources, contributes to environmental pollution and degradation, and of course leads to waste, so this is a welcome initiative by Mountain Equipment; and unlike some outdoor products, down-filled garments can from a technical perspective be recycled very successfully – in fact up to 95 per cent of a down garment or sleeping bag can usually be recycled in one way or another.
The recycled down in the Earthrise range of down clothing comes entirely from post-consumer goods – unwanted clothing and bedding collected by waste recycling companies throughout Europe.
Mountain Equipment’s ultimate aim, as stated above, is to create a ‘closed-loop’ recycling scheme, which will actively ensure used outdoor products at the end of their life do not go to landfill or incineration and contribute to the production of newer, more sustainable products.
And it doesn’t end there, since the water saving with recycled down is over 70 per cent compared to the production of new down – so, the Earthrise vest results in a nice warm you and greener planet – what’s not to like?
VERDICT – Eco-friendly, warm and cosy, the Mountain Equipment Earthrise Vest ticks all the right boxes.
SALICE ELEMENT RWX OTG GOGGLES £135 www.salice.co.uk
The Element is a stylish, quite plain goggle from Italian brand Salice that offers an ‘OTG’ (Over the Glasses) fit but, unlike some OTG goggles, it isn’t bulky as a result – which means it will appeal to both spectacle and non-spectacle wearers alike.
A rimless frame and cylindrical lens combination allow for excellent peripheral vision, and best of all the RWX lens is photochromic, encompassing categories S1 to S3, so this is essentially one pair of goggles for pretty much all conditions.
The lens has a subtle gloss appearance when not activated and when activated the blue mirror surfacing becomes more intense, contributing to reduced glare and eye fatigue.
The lens also has mirrored optics and anti-fog treatment, whilst the low-profile frame has lovely soft triple-layer face foam and is compatible with most helmets.
I’d have liked a slightly wider strap, but other than that the Salice Element RWX has everything you need in a pair of goggles.
VERDICT – Versatile, low-key goggles that will appeal to a wide range of skiers.
DAINESE HP DIAMOND S+ JACKET £769.95 www.dainese.com
The big selling point of the pricey Dainese HP Diamond S+ is the integrated ‘Flexagon’ memory foam back protector, which as the name implies will protect your back in the event of a wipeout – so the jacket should particularly appeal if you like mucking about in terrain parks and the like.
It can be adjusted at the waist and is removable for those days when you don’t spend your time flying through the air.
You can’t help but notice both the weight and presence of the back protector when you’re wearing the jacket, although you do eventually get used to it.
Build quality is really solid, and the combination of waterproof and breathable Dermizax EZ stretchable membrane and Primaloft Silver insulation add comfort and warmth to the jacket.
Additional features include two zippered handwarmer pockets, two large internal stash pockets, removable insulated helmet-compatible hood, pit zips, snow skirt and hand gaiters, so you do get a lot with this jacket – but then it costs you a lot too.
But if you’re prone to big spills on the mountain it might be well worth the expense.
VERDICT – Loads of features, expensive, but may save you from serious injury…
PICTURE DEMAIN JACKET €499.99 www.picture-organic-clothing.com
Few outdoor companies don’t produce eco-friendly gear these days, but Picture continues to work harder than most to do so, and the Demain jacket – essentially a lightweight shell – is their highest performance and most sustainable jacket to date.
It features a bio-sourced hardshell and Xpore nano-porous sustainable membrane to create a highly breathable and waterproof shell that won’t weigh you down.
The addition of a PFC-free and solvent-free DWR treatment offers a minimum 25K mm of waterproofness and 20K grs of breathability, whilst three-layer stretch keeps you comfortable however strenuous your activity.
Features include fully-taped seams, helmet compatible hood, two handwarmer pockets and two chest pockets (all zippered of course) plus small internal security pocket and lift pass pocket on left sleeve, removable powder skirt, pit zips and hand gaiters – pretty much all you need other than an internal stash pocket.
VERDICT – Great looking, eco-friendly hard shell – shame it only comes in black or stone colourways though
PHONE NINJA £7.95 www.manbi.com
The Phone Ninja is a simple little device that fits most mobile phones and clips onto your belt or a jacket zip to allow you to use your phone without the risk of dropping and losing it.
The device is especially useful if you use your phone on chair lifts or when taking pics from a height – I’ve been using one for several seasons and it makes me feel far more confident about answering phone calls or taking pics when I’m sitting a hundred feet above the ground on a chair.
VERDICT – Ideal Christmas stocking filler
MOUNTAIN PAC WHEELY PRO SKI & SNOWBOARD BAG £120 www.manbi.com
It’s way easier to transport your skis in a wheely bag, and with its durable 600D polyester ripstop outer along with a protective 3mm tarpaulin lining this Mountain Pac bag offers good protection for up to two pairs of 180-cm long skis/boards as well as being easy to handle.
‘Easy roll’ wheels and a grab handle and central handle assist with lugging your kit about, and you also get a drawstring bag for extra gear and/or wet boots and a zippered document compartment, so as well as good protection against the dreaded baggage handlers there’s also a generous amount of storage space.
VERDICT – A good value and convenient way of getting your kit to the slopes.
SUPERFEET CARBON INSOLES £33.33 www.superfeet.com
If your ski boots are not as comfortable as they might be a pair of quality insoles such as these can make a big difference (and they can also be used in other footwear, of course).
And with these particular insoles the weight is reduced thanks to the combination of a carbon fibre cap, which improves structure and stability, and the fact that they’re Superfeet’s thinnest insoles.
They also use lightweight, durable foam which gives a better fit in tight fitting athletic footwear, whilst heel cups help your feet to naturally absorb impacts; and they even offer long-lasting odour control, no bad thing if used in ski boots!
VERDICT – A relatively inexpensive way of improving ski boot comfort and performance
JACK WOLFSKIN SNOW SKY LONGSLEEVE BASE/MID-LAYER £70 www.jackwolfskin.co.uk
This high-performance shirt was designed in collaboration with pro skier Felix Neureuther, and is made from fabric that is dyed in an environmentally friendly process that uses much less water and far fewer chemicals than conventional dyeing methods.
The fit is snug but still plenty comfortable whilst at the same time allowing good freedom of movement, and the fabric is fast wicking to keep you dry and warm even when working hard.
Flatlock stitching ensures no chafing, whilst a high collar adds to the insulation, and contrasting stitching and logos liven things up visually.
VERDICT – An eco-friendly but quite pricey base layer; the logoed sleeve won’t appeal to everyone.
THE MAN BEHIND THE MAPS: LEGENDARY SKI ARTIST JAMES NIEHUES £80.49 www.jamesniehues.com /Amazon Books
If you’ve been lucky enough to ski in North America, you’ll almost certainly have come across the work of ski artists James Niehues – he’s the man behind the piste maps (or ‘trail maps’ as they call them over the pond) for almost every major ski resort in the USA and Canada.
Most of us use these maps without any real consideration for the amazing work and skill that’s involved in putting the multitude of features that make up a ski hill down on paper, but this art-quality book examines what’s involved from the artist’s point of view and features more than 200 individual resort trail maps, each hand-painted by Niehues.
With eight geographically themed chapters, the hardcover coffee table book is the first and definitive collection of the art created by Niehues during his 30-year career and makes for perfect winter reading as you plan or dream about a North American ski trip.
In the modern digital age, Niehues may very well be one of the last of the great mapmakers.
The book showcases the exacting process by which he first captures aerial shots and then explores the mountain himself before painstakingly illustrating every run, chairlift, tree and cliff band by hand.
Niehaus has also created maps for resorts in other areas, although none in the Alps, so if you haven’t skied in North America ‘The Man Behind the Maps’ will be of limited interest – and even if you have some of the typically American hyperbole may grate slightly (the press release to accompany the book describes how it showcases ‘…the biggest ski mountains in the world’ for instance, despite the fact that almost all the world’s biggest ski hills are in Europe).
But that’s being picky – for any fan of North America skiing this book is a pure delight, and you’ll be entranced at the skills involved in creating the trail maps that are so essential to your skiing pleasure.
VERDICT – Absolutely lovely coffee table book that anyone who skis in North America will appreciate; expensive, mind.
ULTIMATE SKIING ADVENTURES: 100 EPIC EXPERIENCES IN THE SNOW: ALF ALDERSON www.fernhurstbooks.com
Penned by our own gear reviewer, Ultimate Skiing Adventures takes you on a skiing voyage around the planet’s biggest, best and most unusual ski destinations – from the huge mega-resorts of the French Alps to sailing along Iceland’s north coast in search of great snow or skiing down active volcanoes in Russia’s far east, there are exciting adventures that will appeal to everyone from novice to expert.
The inspirational descriptions of 100 wildly varied locations combine the authors personal experience with the input of experts in all aspects of skiing and mountain sports and are accompanied by stunning full-page photography from some of the world’s foremost ski photographers.
The book is perfect for escaping from lockdown onto the slopes, or for planning your next ski trip or indulging in some armchair skiing of slopes that only the most adventurous skiers are likely to tackle.
And it’s not just about skiing – the contents cover avalanche rescue techniques, snow science, road trips, the work of ski patrollers and resorts so remote and obscure that you may never have heard of them.
‘Ultimate Skiing Adventures’ is divided into sections on Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America, Scandinavia and the Rest of the World and can be bought as either a large-format paperback or an eBook. Get your copy here.
VERDICT – The perfect Christmas book for any keen skier.