Wearables are standard devices for fitness fanatics wanting to track their progress at the gym or on a run, but one area they are growing is in winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding.
According to luxury winter holiday brand Club Med’s latest report – entitled The Changing Landscape of the Ski Market 2018/19 – there’s a substantial growth of skiers and snowboarders that are taking at least one piece of wearable tech to the slopes with them, whether that’s to track their performance, or for vanity reasons.
Club Med’s research revealed that more than one in five Brits took an action camera such as a GoPro (23%) or an activity tracker such as a Fitbit (21%) on their last ski holiday.
I skied at Les Arcs Panorama in the French Alps over the Christmas holiday period to test out some of the latest innovations in winter sports on Club Med’s fresh slopes, to find out.
So if you’re going on a ski adventure before the snow melts to give way for spring, here is a rundown of the best essential ski tech to enhance your winter sports adventure…
Stay dry while keeping warm: KJUS 7SPHERE Hydro_Bot connected ski jacket
Swiss sports apparel company KJUS announced a new jacket earlier this year that claimed to solve the issue of getting sweaty while skiing.
That jacket is the Hydro_Bot, and it’s perhaps the most high-tech piece of clothing you’ll have ever laid your eyes on. The jacket works via a process called electro-osmosis. This is said to be the first electronic, user-controlled membrane integrated into a sports jacket and works by actively pumping out sweat from the wearer’s inner garments. This is done via a Bluetooth-enabled iPhone or Android app, where – at the touch of a button – the electrical pulse is applied and sweat is pulled away, freeing it from inside the skier’s clothing system and avoiding the post-activity chill that results from having saturated undergarments.
While skiing in the Alps, I used both the Hydro_Bot and a regular ski jacket at intervals to see if I could tell the difference, and I have to say I really could. I’m not completely sure if it was psychosomatic or not, but when using the Hydro_Bot, I definitely felt more fresh and less moist after a good few hours of skiing around my upper torso area. Operation of the jacket and accompanying app is fuss free, too. Just launch the app, it finds the jacket and you slide the control button to on, and you’re ready to take on the slopes.
Improve your ski technique: Carv
If you’re looking for a gadget that’s more dedicated to helping you with the art of skiing itself and improving your technique, then there’s only one wearable out there that can do that, and that’s Carv.
The latest version of this ski wearable (Carv 2.0) claims to be the world’s first digital ski coach, using a smart boot insert to capture motion and pressure as you plummet down the snowy mountain and giving you feedback on your technique along the way. Inspired by the technology used by Olympic athletes, Carv is all about giving you access to the feedback and knowledge that only elite skiers have had access to so far; highlighting your weaknesses and helping you to become a better skier generally. It really is unique.
And not only does it offer lots of insightful data, but it also tells you where you’re going wrong, and coaches you where to improve. Based on my experience using Carv in the Alps, I found it does an excellent job of this, proving to be a solid companion for both amateur and more experienced skiers. It’s hands down the best piece of ski tech you can get your mitts on.
Track your runs: Garmin Fenix 5X smartwatch
The Garmin Fenix 5X is the ultra multisport GPS smartwatch, coming absolutely loaded with features, such as full-colour TOPO mapping and wearable navigation tools. It also feels super robust, thanks to its steel grip design that boasts stainless steel EXO-Antenna as a bezel, forged steel back and sapphire crystal, all of which prove to withstand any demanding environment. Best of all though is its ski tracking feature, which automatically records new ski runs based on your movement and pauses when you stop moving downhill or when you’re in a chairlift. Clever, huh?
It also boasts a ridiculous 12 days battery life when in standard smartwatch mode and up to 20 hours in GPS mode or a massive 50 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode.
Ski frost-bite free: Blaze Wear heated glove liners
These bad boys are the most effective against the harsh environments of a snowy mountain ski slope. They feature a rechargeable battery which provides instant heat of up to 55-degrees centigrade to the perimeter of each finger. To switch them on, you just need to activate them via the button, which is located on the wrist portion of the glove. You can then even select the grade of heat you want, from warm to very warm to hot. Best of all, they are touch-screen senstive, so you can still work your phone without needing to take them off.
Re-live your bails again and again: GoPro Hero 7
Another ski essential, especially if you’re lucky enough to get some great clear blue sky weather for skiing in, is the GoPro. This piece of tech is a staple for the adventurer, and you’ll really wish you had one if you do any kind of activities during your time on the slopes. As you can see above, I took the latest edition, the GoPro Hero 7 away with me, which offers ultra smooth footage at a resolution up to 4K.
There’s really no other way to capture special holiday moments. A perfect ski cam.
See and track everything: Oakley Airwave 1.5 connected goggles with Heads-Up Display
Oakley’s Airwave 1.5 snow goggles combine a built-in, heads-up display (HUD) and integrate Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth along with a host of onboard sensors. This means users can access a full range of info transmitted directly to the eyes through Oakley’s high-performance lenses. Integrated into the goggles is a device called MOD live – an augmented display which is perceived as a 14-inch screen that appears to be five feet away. But best of all, the GPS feature accurately measures how fast you are moving down the slope, tracking the distance, height and airtime of your jumps with analytic software.
Never lose your ski pass: UAG Trooper phone case
If you don’t really feel all too comfortable taking your phone skiing with you in case you smash it to bits while hurtling down a mountain, then have a gander at the UAG Trooper protective phone case, which is military-tested to ensure it can withstand quite the bashing.
Compatible with iPhones 6, 6S, 7 and 8, I used the Trooper case while skiing (and falling) in the Alps and because its snapback holds up to four credit cards, I used it to keep my Ski Pass safe, too. The phrase “two birds” comes to mind.