Accessories We Use and Recommend
The HERO3: White Edition boasts the same high performance specs as the Original HD HERO camera it replaces, yet it has built-in Wi-Fi, new UI and is 30% smaller and 25% lighter. The HERO3: White Edition is wearable and gear mountable, waterproof to 197' (60m), and is capable of capturing 1080p 30 fps and 720p 60 fps video plus 5MP photos at a rate of 3 photos per second.
We remain big fans of POC helmets and goggles, especially Skull helmets—and if you've got the dough and are looking for a helmet so light that it almost feels like a wool hat yet still retains FIS speed-event certification, the Super Skull Comp is maybe the only solution to date and and the goggles are outstanding. Available in sizes to fit most faces, they mesh perfectly with any POC helmet and possess superb race-quality lenses that are easy to interchange.
Ted Ligety appears not only to be on his way toward legendary icon status, he, along with partner Carlo Salmini, is developing a company dedicated to safety, protection and performance at the pinnacle of skiing (a position to which he is becoming accustomed!)
We skied the original generation of Shred helmets and found the fit problematic, especially with respect to ear comfort. That was 4 seasons ago and those issues now are m ere memory. Current Shred helmets not only fit better, the fit is exceptional and can be modified in a myriad of ways using Shred's fit kits and accessory parts.
In fact, Mega Brain Bucket fit is very like the fit of a plug race boot, never mind the fiction that race boots cannot be made comfortable. Like plugs, a Shred MBB can require some work to get exactly right, but it can be gotten exactly right. This may be unique among helmets, absent the services of World Cup technicians.
Mega Brains and Half Brain Slalom helmets meet all FIS certification standards.
Shred goggles, like the helmets, incorporate subtle advances that add up to top-tier excellence: field of vision, clarity and versatility in handling changing light conditions all rank near the head of the class. Fit with helmets is perfect, wind curl, anti-fogging and comfort level are first class.
The OSBE allows wider peripheral vision than any goggle we know of. The visor is pour-molded, as opposed to heat-shaped, resulting in exceptional clarity of vision. We found no distortion, although it is possible to scratch the visor; keep it in the bag.
The visor opens with a simple flip and is equally easy to close in the right position with no need to position, adjust or fumble with goggle straps.
No goggle means no "nose-pinch." We find it easier to breath with the OSBE. No small thing!
The shield is available in 4 different colors—clear, mirror, orange, smoke—for varying light conditions.
Protection from the elements is among the best. While the visor does not contact the face and nose directly, it employs an air dam that reduces—but does not totally eliminate—wind curl. The managed curl neither irritates eyes nor causes them to water, but does help keep the visor fog-free.
Fit is first-class. Helmet fit, like boot fit, is a personal thing, but the OSBE accommodates a wide range of head shapes.
Available in specialty shops and direct.
The HOT GEAR BAG is an insulated boot bag with an electric heating pad that runs on both household and direct current, warming and drying your boots overnight.
In the morning, plug the 12 volt accessory cord into your car, and the HOT GEAR BAG keeps your boots toasty on the trip to the hill and will render stiff boots easy to put on.
After boots, skis, bindings and poles, the Hot Gear Bag may just be the most important piece of gear that Bode Miller (and hundreds of other skiers) relies upon. The HGB, available in single and multiple pair configurations, holds virtually all a skier's gear, heats and dries boots overnight and every user we've ever met simply can't imagine getting along without it.
Top specialty shops and and direct.
Sven Coomer's Zip Fit custom inner boots are used by some of the world's top skiers, including athletes and pros. No matter what shell you use, Zip Fits increase comfort, warmth and performance, for any level skier. We never ski without using this wonder product.
Many of the best skiers in the world know about ZipFit; the inner boot pictured is the Gara. Only at top boot specialty shops.
Few elements of gear offer as much performance improvement per dollar as DownUnder off-the-shelf orthotics, also designed by Comer. DownUnders are flexible aftermarket insoles that enhance foot performance and balance capabilities.
Skiers using OEM insoles or who have become dissatisfied with the failure of rigid custom orthotics to fulfill comfort and performance promises, often find a solution in ridiculously under-priced DownUnders.
Available at top specialty shops for about $35. More information: downunders.us
Hotronics are the most effective, least bulky, easiest-to-install reasonably priced boot heater.
There's nothing macho about cold feet! In fact, cold feet are inefficient feet, incapable of providing maximum balance for maximum performance. Skiers with cold feet tire more easily, too.
Available in most specialty and full-service ski shops..
Orthopedic surgeon Richard Steadman, of NFL, NBA and U.S. Ski Team fame, has commented that it is better to prevent knee strain than to repair knee damage. Opedix agrees. Working with Steadman's own research facility, Opedix has developed and tested a support system— long johns—that is designed to reduce stress on knees, back and shoulders. We have tested Opedix and can report that it appears to work. One of our testers who suffers from chronic knee discomfort reports that Opedix definitely reduces his pain. Another noticed marked improvement in shoulder stress. At about $400 for both bottoms and tops, Opedix is fairly pricey, but effective—and warm.
Euro Ski Socks are offered in styles ranging from an ultra-light-weight technical Ski Liner to a beefier, padded Ski Zone and use the technical fibers of MicroSupreme™ and Thermolite™ (no wool). These are superb socks, especially for plug boot wearers.
The Booster Strap replaces stock straps with an engineered elastic device that aids boot flex and rebound. The end result is like adding extra muscle to tired legs. Edge hold, rebound and carving power are all enhanced. Bode Miller and Ted Ligety, among others, find this enhancement indispensable. As do we . . .
Booster straps, Leki poles and Bode Miller at Alta Badia
Leki Poles are, in our opinion, the best ski poles available, a sentiment shared by a host of top-tier World Cup athletes.
Of particular interest are the releasable-grip models (Vario shown), to which a special glove or harness is clipped in lieu of traditional straps and which makes the pole very easy to "put on".
The poles are light, flexible enough to absorb shock and vibration yet stiff enough to provide rock-steady support as needed. Our favorite model, the Vision Venom Vario (shown above), employs an adjustable shaft to allow milimetrically-precise length adjustment.
The "V3" is not unique; Leki offers a large collection of adjustable and fixed-length poles, including poles identical to those in use on the World Cup and a variety of less stratospherically priced models.
Don't overlook Leki gloves, specifically designed to mate with Trigger poles. They offer leather gloves, spring gloves, down gloves and down mittens and they are all absolute top-of-line—warm, ultra-warm, durable, easy to use and although they can induce sticker shock, one day with a Leki pole/glove combination is usually all it takes!
Few mishaps are more aggravating than getting caught on the hill with a minor technical problem, like a loose binding screw, settings that have slipped, a protruding-lipped P-tex gouge, or broken edge. In dire cases, these can lead to a long slog down the slope. Avoid getting stuck—get a Leatherman.
As valuable as Leatherman's "ski shop in a pocket" tool—and certain to see far more use—are chamois, for drying goggles in snow, rain or after a face plant, and the most indispensable tool, a diamond/gummy stone. Both available at most specialty shops.
Although we seldom use testimonials in service of recommended accesories (or anything else)—and given the stratospheric cost of high-end race wax—we thought we could do no better in describing Green Ice Wax than has USST downhill ace Travis Ganong:
"As an Olympic and World Cup Downhill ski racer, going fast is of the utmost importance to me. Every piece of my equipment is tested and tweaked to make sure I gain every extra hundredth of a second on race day. Green Ice 2000 Race Series works; it is fast and it is also safe for our fragile mountain environments and their watersheds! It's rare to find a product like Green Ice Wax that performs to my standards and that is also a game changer for the environment!"