Snow gear has come a long way since the era recalled in Hot Tub Time Machine (or, for slightly older readers, Better Off Dead). In the mid-80s, all you really needed were some sweet straight skis, a pair of Frogskins and the neon-est jacket you could find. Twenty-five years later, more and more companies are incorporating mind-blowing innovation and style. With that in mind, here are 13 killer app’ed items that’ll cover you from head to toe, significantly up your mountain game…and score more points with the bunnies than skiing on one ski!
Helmet: POC Receptor Backcountry
Killer app: All helmets protect against direct impacts, but not the more common glancing blows you absorb when crashing and rolling. This brain bucket, which POC quality-checks by dropping onto a conveyor belt, features a liner that rotates within the outer shell to keep you un-concussed when you almost land that 720.
Get it: $250, pocsports.com
Goggles: Zeal Transcend SPPX
Killer app: GP-freakin’-S. The Transcend tracks metrics like location, elevation, speed and jump height with a tiny GPS-enabled monitor visible in the lower right corner of the lens. You can later upload data to a laptop to prove you really did bomb that triple black diamond.
Get it: $499, zealoptics.com
Headphones: Frends Classic
Killer app: Started by a crew of top snowboard pros—including Olympic halfpipe bronze medalist Scotty Lago—Frends knows audio matters. That’s why the Classic boasts a fabric-wrapped multi-function mic. Plug it into your iPhone or Blackberry and you can pause music, skip to the next tune, and even take calls mid-run.
Get it: $60, wearefrends.com
Helmet camera: Contour GPS
Killer app: This hand-free cam shoots HD video while tracking your location using, yes, GPS. This essentially means that you can shoot video, upload, and view your descent side-by-side with a map that shows exactly where on the mountain you were skiing or riding. Not recommended if that “where” is the bunny slope.
Get it: $350, contour.com
Hat: Outdoor Research Frostline
Killer app: Not only does it help you loosely channel National Lampoon’s Cousin Eddie, the fleece-lined Frostline has yer back, er, face in frigid conditions. A zip-out mask instantly protects you from brutal wind and snow. Or from the aroma emerging from a camper when, as Eddie would say, “sh**er was full.”
Get it: $50, outdoorresearch.com
First layer: Polarmax Mountain Skins Fitted Zip Mock
Killer app: Yes, it’s rather stylish and slimming for a first layer and is the warmest one Polarmax makes. But what really stands out is how quickly the polyester/spandex mix wicks moisture while its proprietary anti-odor tech, Scent Prevent, keeps you from standing out…for being the really smelly guy at the bar.
Get it: $70, polarmax.com
Jacket: Norrona Narvik Powershield Pro Softshell
Killer app: Sometimes an active ingredient makes all the difference. Such is the case with this Norwegian-born garment, featuring Polartec’s new Powershield Pro. The ingredient? A “proprietary hydrophobic, microporous polyurethane membrane” that gives it the strength of a hardshell and the comfort of a softshell. All we know is, it works.
Get it: $399, backcountry.com
Gloves: Flylow Tough Guy
Killer app: Triple-baked-ness. Rippin’ skier/Flylow founder Dan Abrams and his crew bake rugged pigskin work gloves and apply Astko’s SnoSeal Bees Wax treatment. Then they bake them again, coat them again and bake them…again. Presto! Cozy, waterproof mitts at a price that leaves your wallet free for après pints.
Get it: $28, flylowgear.com
Pants: Foursquare Zino
Killer app: Two pairs of pants in one. On a bluebird day, the Zino’s outer pant helps you ride in style. Back in the lodge, the removable fleece pant keeps you cozy by the fire. And when temps drop, combine them like Voltron and shred through the fiercest blizzard.
Get it: $210, foursquareouterwear.com
Ski boots: Black Diamond Quadrant
Killer app: Boa. What’s Boa, you say? It’s a first-of-its-kind-for-ski-boots dial on the Quadrant’s liner that keeps things so tight you can actually unclip your buckles when skinning up a mountain—or dancing on the bar—without risk of blisters. Bonus: A smooth walk-mode and the range to rip both backcountry and groomers.
Get it: $620, blackdiamondequipment.com
Snowboard boots: Salomon Synapse
Killer app: “Mystic footbeds,” funky, reflexology-friendly soles that keep air circulating, prevent cramps, and keep your dogs so relaxed you’ll want to wear ’em all night. Though we do suggest removing them before giving your date the ol’ backside rodeo, if you know what we mean.
Get it: $270, salomonsnowboard.com
Skis: K2 Sidestash
Killer app: Versatility. Not everyone wants to buy—and store—all sorts of skis for different conditions. This hybrid is rockered enough to cruise over soft stuff, yet sturdy stable enough to rip through crud. In other words, it takes you from the resort to the sidecountry to the backcountry with ease.
Get it: $750, k2skis.com
Snowboard: Jones Snowboards Mountain Twin
Killer app: Cred. After winning Snowboarder mag’s Big Mountain Rider of the Year award eight times, Jeremy Jones started a board company and rolled out this shred stick. A rockered tip and tail float in powder while subtle Magne-Traction (surface-area-boosting ridges on the sides) give you grip on ice. Eight times, people.
Get it: $449, jonessnowboards.com
(Steve Mazzucchi is Managing Editor of Made Man. Email him at smazzucchi[at]breakmedia.com.)