Cool ski gear has looks, comfort and performance

Skiing is supposed to be all about the powder, the mountain, the chilly thrill of zipping down the run.

So who cares if your gear is retro ski fashion from another era? You know, one-piece, multi-colored fluorescent rompers. Scratchy wool sweaters with snowflake prints. Skis so old you can’t find replacement bindings or boots.

But you should care. The newest gear doesn’t just look better, it makes skiing easier and you more comfortable. A sampling of some of the best of this season’s offerings:

K2 Xplorer

K2 gives a nod to its snow-breaking 1997 ski with the Xplorer, able to handle backcountry conditions and groomed runs. The ski offers a 84mm waist and generous sidecuts. The marketing gurus describe it as the ideal ski for Northwest skiers, designed to “float on powder, manhandle crud, carve on ice and storm down groomers or steeps.” Translation: a versatile ski that can handle soft and hard snow conditions.

Cost: $1,250

More information:

Full Tilt Sally Boot

Sally is definitely not the cheapest ski boot on the market. This is a high-­performance boot for a high-­performance woman. The Sally is a lightweight three-piece boot with a form fitting liner designed to fit a woman’s foot. The forward flex design allows precise turns without the binding the ankle. The boot can be heat molded by a shop to the shape of the foot for comfort, performance and warmth.

Cost: $550

More information:

Hustle Helmet

Smith Optics draws some of the best features from its earlier helmets and created the Hustle, a helmet that delivers style and noggin protection. The ad whizzes say this helmet eliminates “the paradox of either looking like an (International Ski Federation) racer or not protecting your gray matter.” The helmet features snap-fit ear pads and a removable goggle lock. If you need tunes, the helmet also comes in a version that offers phone-audio or Bluetooth.

Cost: $120 (no audio), $150 (phone-audio), $300 (Bluetooth)

More information:

Women’s HH Warm Ice Crew

A long-sleeve jersey made with Stay Dry technology, a fiber that pulls excess sweat away from the skin for warmth and comfort. The outside of the crew is made with merino wool for extra warmth. Makes for a snuggly base layer.

Cost: $65

More information:

Slytech Second Skin

Protective back gear designed to protect the spine, tailbone and shoulder blades. It also is designed to be comfortable, lightweight and still flexible enough for daredevils to try that next sick trick. There are no hard plastic components. The belt is made of super elastic material and the gear contains memory foam that contours to the body’s shape as it warms. The soft, pliable material is an effective shock absorber; the company said it immediately hardens on impact.

Cost: $175

More information:

Debra Smith


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