PlanetSKI Gear Reviews #3: Winter 22/23

In the third of a sporadic series of gear reviews over the winter, our gear editor Alf Alderson reviews more skiing essentials.


The Charger is a lighter weight, shell-style ski jacket designed to offer maximum waterproofing, breathability and windproofing.

But you’ll need to layer up beneath it as it provides minimal insulation.

It’s ideal for freeriding since you don’t want a heavy, bulky insulated jacket when you’re potentially burning up lots of energy.

It’s engineered from recycled, two-way stretch fabric with a 20k/20k breathable membrane and fully-taped seams to keep water and wind at bay.

It comes packed with essential features, which we’ll cover from the top down.

So, the hood is helmet compatible and sits atop a high collar, great for keeping the weather out.

Two huge chest pockets provide storage for goggles and such, whilst there’s also two internal stash pockets.

An internal zipped security pocket plus zipped handwarmer pockets and a zipped lift pass pocket on the left sleeve – no shortage of storage space, then.

Internal stretch hand mitts and large Velcro fastenings on the cuffs help to retain hand warmth.

Whilst a detachable powder skirt keeps pow on the outside, where it belongs.

Venting zips are located on either side of the jacket (as opposed to pit zips).

The drop tail is a nice feature, helping to keep your rear warm and dry on chair lifts.

The fit of the Charger is nice and loose.

Allowing for easy layering, and it comes in a range of five cool, muted colours, and build quality appears excellent.

It should provide many seasons of service.

VERDICT Great looking freeride jacket with stacks of features – well worth checking out.

Planks Men’s Charger Three-Layer Jacket £380


British company Panda has developed the RS1 goggles .

They feature the company’s new ‘Eyeline’ technology, which offers a large field of vision both vertically and horizontally by reducing the inner frame size and using a larger lens.

You get two lenses.

An Ocean Blue mirrored UV400+ polarised lens for bright light and a Maize Yellow low light high-definition lens, so you’re covered for all conditions.

The lenses feature anti-fog technology.

Best of all, they can be changed quickly and easily thanks to an eight-point magnetic lens changing system, which snaps into place without any need to get greasy finger marks all over the lens.

Additional protection for the lens is provided by top and bottom ‘bumpers’ on the minimalist frame, which help to prevent scratches if they fall face down.

The frame is constructed from flexible TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) with triple density foam inners with a fleece finish to provide a comfortable, soft fit against your face.

And – something you don’t see that often – the straps (which have two silicone grip bands to prevent them sliding off your helmet) are detachable from the lens.

If you’re a spectacle wearer you’ll be pleased to know the RS1 have an OTG (over the glasses) frame, and to round everything off, you also get a storage box, cleaning cloth and microfibre carry bag.

VERDICT Well-made, good-looking snow goggles with easy-to-use snap on lenses.

Panda RS1 Goggles £131


Yes, £1,200 is a lot of money to spend on a backpack.

But since it has the potential to save your life you may justifiably think it worth the price.

And the new Alpride E2 Supercapacitor System used in the Dimension has many advantages over previous systems.

For a start, when the supercapacitor system is triggered, it drives a fan to inflate the airbag, with storage and release of energy being an electromechanical process rather than a chemical reaction as occurs in rechargeable batteries.

As a result, the supercapacitor’s performance remains extremely reliable even in very cold temperatures.

It’s approved for airline travel.

The release unit is 40 per cent smaller and 25 per cent lighter (140 g) than the previous Alpride E1 system, relative to the 162-liter airbag that it uses.

Thsi , making it easier to carry and easier to stash your gear (of which more later).

A built-in LCD display allows you to check the charging level of the super capacitors.

They are charged via a USB cable, and the system also has back-up in the form  of AA batteries, which can also be checked for charge levels.

Because the Dimension uses this system to release the airbag rather than gas cartridges, it makes it cheaper.

Plus more convenient to practice inflating the bag, since there’s no need to replace costly cartridges.

POC claim that you can inflate the airbag fifty times before the system is worn out, which allows you to practice with it at the start of the season.

Even if you discharged it once a month during the ski season, you’d get ten years use out of the Dimension.

Once the airbag has been released, it’s a simple matter to deflate it via an external deflation knob, whilst an automatic pressure relief valve also relieves airbag pressure three minutes after inflation.

It takes just a couple of minutes to deflate and pack the bag.

The review pack we were sent came in a vivid orange colour, which in itself has advantages in an emergency situation as it can be seen by rescuers from some distance.

You can set up the airbag release handle for left- or right-side deployment, and the build quality is excellent, although the webbing straps are not easily adjusted once you’re wearing the pack.

I found this a little annoying, although to be honest once I had the Dimension set up I had no real need to adjust it on the go.

I’ll go through the pack’s additional features in bullet points as there are so many:

  • Full-opening, easily accessible spacious main compartment
  • Fleece goggle zip-pocket, zip-pocket for valuables with key-clip, larger zip-pocket and pouch for first aid kit in the main compartment
  • Quick access avalanche safety kit compartment with extra durable face fabric and sleeves for shovel and probe
  • Front compartment with vertical zipper opening and water drainage for skins
  • Moulded VPD back plate reinforced with aluminum stays
  • VPD padded shoulder straps
  • Weight distribution straps
  • Height-adjustable sternum-strap
  • Diagonal or side ski carry and vertical snowboard carry
  • Pouch for safety leg-loop in hip belt
  • Glove friendly, sturdy aluminium safety buckles
  • Ice axe or pole fixations
  • Helmet carrying system and transport bag included

As with most airbag system you have to pack the Dimension carefully if you want to include stuff like spare clothing, skins etc.

As space is at a premium due to the airbag and super capacitor system taking up a good deal of space, and I was surprised to find that there’s no water bladder compartment despite the fact that there’s an outlet port for a drinking tube.

In use the fit of the Dimension was excellent.

It sits snug against your back and feels very stable whilst skiing.

At the time of writing I haven’t had the chance to actually do a practice pull of the handle whilst skiing.

Bbut when I do I’ll add that to the review as it will be interesting to see how easy it is to find the handle when you’re actually moving around.

And how easy it is to repack the bag in the field (needless to say I’m hoping I don’t actually need to release the airbag in a real-life avalanche situation!).

VERDICT Superbly built, easy-to-use and convenient avalanche airbag system, but at a price.

POC Dimension 25 Litre Avalanche Backpack £1200


Weighing in at just over a kilogram, these are the lightest boots I’ve ever skied in.

Amongst the most comfortable, whether skinning up or skiing down – indeed, I like them so much I’m using them for regular resort skiing as well as ski touring.

They have a huge range of motion when in ‘walk’ mode, and adjustment is super-quick and super-easy thanks to the micro-adjustable BOA fit system.

It not only saves faffing around with buckles but also retains your foot in a much more even hold, with no pressure points.

The BOA system is easy to adjust on the move, and with gloved hands, and micro-adjustments are simple, whether tightening the boots for skiing or loosening for skinning.

Above this is what Salomon call their ‘Touring Belt’.

A combined power strap and single buckle system that provides excellent stability and great heel hold, whilst the inner boots can be heat moulded for a precision fit.

A sticky rubber sole provides good grip when walking over rough ground, and you have the option of pin and downhill binding fit so whatever ski bindings you use the Summit Pro will be compatible.

VERDICT Super-light, super-comfy ski touring boots that are versatile enough to be used for regular skiing too.

Salomon MTN Summit Pro Boots with BOA Fit System £590

* Read PlanetSKI Gear Reviews #1: Winter 22/23 

* Read PlanetSKI Gear Reviews #2: Winter 22/23

Essential ski gear selected by Alf Alderson