You’ve seen the skis, now you need the kit to back them up. Here’s the best clothing, accessories and boots you’ll see on the mountain this winter
Accessory of the Year: Mons Royale
Baselayers aren’t new, and neither is merino. But what has popped from Kiwi brand Mons Royale is the first properly dual-purpose kit: baselayers you could wear out without looking like you’re on the way to a local triathlon. Because it’s still top notch merino and therefore properly non-stinky, you get a few days’ wear whatever activity you’ve put yourself through during the day, and can strip off in the bar and keep on going.
Style in skiing should come from functionality; and we’re not the only ones to say the most effective way to dress in the mountains is layering. So when the two mix, it’s a proper bonus.
Clothing of the year: Helly Hansen Elevation jacket & Elevate pants, £500 & £320
Helly Hansen have been experimenting with the down pocket insulation concept for years, and have finally got it spot on. The clincher is adding their technological expertise to rethinking the idea of insanely lightweight material versus what backcountry skiers actually do – namely bounce off abrasive surfaces on a regular basis. The robust material remains breathable, there are useful broad velcro fastenings, thoughtful pocket positions, and the hood and cut are spot on. Completely useable gear which should last decades. Well worth the investment.
Brand of the year: Arc’teryx
Here’s a brand that sits on the top branch of the aspirational tree for all the right reasons: innovation, materials, durability, cut and relentless development. Oh look, they’ve gone into ski boots (read all about the new Procline boot in our skis and boots guide next month), bringing all of the above into play to deliver a very interesting and viable first product to the backcountry market.
And, oh look, they’ve also headed into avalanche safety territory with an airbag (the 30L Voltair) that’s battery powered. So that’s two complex products brought to market in one season, indicating that Arc’teryx are on a serious roll. Who knows what’s coming next?
Boot of the year: Lange XT130 Freetour, £500
This has been an outstanding year for new boots, with most manufacturers delivering either significant upgrades or extremely interesting new models.
The Lange XT130 Freetour takes the winner’s tape by moving ever-onwards towards our goal of a true do-it-all boot. The guts include ever-decreasing weight thanks to liner weight reduction and a workable (and extremely luminous) Grilamid shell, a true stiff 130 flex plus a 110-flex option for lighter skiers, a women’s option and super-importantly, a lower-volume 97mm last option (as well as a 100 option). The walk mode is significantly more flexible than the piste-derived all-terrain boots, and the close fit and lightness on the foot gives a true ski-mountaineering feel.
Once locked up, the power from the stiff shell is strong and suits aggressive freeriding; even the 110 flex option is still a strong option for performance skiers. With real up and down ability and plenty of fit options, plus ping-out looks, we’re delighted to make the Lange XT130 Freetour our Boot of the the Year.