PHOTO: Nate Weigle
When I was in grade school, I had braces—with headgear–for four years. I was not cool. Braces are not cool, but they are functional and I admit I didn’t totally hate wearing red, white and blue rubber bands in July, or going festive with red and green during Christmas. In Orthodontia, as in skiing, there are some things, no matter how well they work, people will tell you are dorky. To that I say, the only thing dorky is letting someone else tell you what’s cool. If the popularity of Gaper Day is any indication, skiers are just dying to give their egos a break and tone down the cool. These five pieces of gear will help you get there every other day of the season.
1. Boot bags.
There are two kinds of people in this world (or at least on our staff): those who use boot bags and those who instead carry their ski boots over their shoulder while boarding the plane, whacking every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the head and answering questions from the Texan in 17C about what the heck them rock climbin' shoes are for.
Boot bags have come a long way in the past five years and most just look like backpacks now. The best reason to use one is because it holds a lot more than just boots—I throw in my helmet, gloves, two pairs of goggles, a buff, a couple pair of ski socks and a flask—and you can check it all for free with your ski bag. I know I don't have to tell you free is cool. With 50 liters of storage space, the Dakine Boot Pack is a ski locker to go.
My dad used to make my brother and me wear Chums—or Croakies, "the original eyewear retainer," as they are called in some circles—anytime we were outdoors so as not to lose our sunglasses. At 13 years old, it was off-brand for me. I didn't think it jived my vibe and I fought it for years. But it turned out Dad was right about this one. No better place to hang your favorite sunnies during après than safely around your neck. Opt for the neoprene Chums for something lightweight and quick drying.
3. Fanny packs.
If you've ever thought to yourself, 'I wish I had a container that easily held a beer, some bacon, sunscreen, my phone, and a small speaker that I could access with gloves on while setting the bootpack or while seated on a chairlift or while moving in tandem with my powder 8’s partner,' you need to get yourself a fanny pack. Mom jeans are cool again—now so is her fanny pack.
4. Astis mittens.
I saw more ripping lady shredders rock these flashy mitts this winter than ever before—and I can't get enough (of the babes or the gloves). I see them as a way to spice up your kit with a little flavor that says, “Yes, I ski hard enough to need a 3L ultra-durable, ultra-light, ultra-woven-from-the-leg-hairs-of-Chris-Davenport jacket, but I like to drink champagne and dance, too.” These handmade works of art are hand-sewn in the USA and lined with Polartec Thermal Pro High Loft insulation because having cold hands is lame. The specially made suede leather is soft and moveable, plus decently waterproof. Yes, these mitts are totally over the top and ridiculous and beautiful—but isn't that skiing? If the large cuffs and eccentric beadwork of the Asher Mitten is too much for you, opt for a short cuff glove so you can still let your freak flag fly, just more discretely. Still not convinced? Take it from Macklemore. He’s wearing a pair in this award-winning music video.
Seriously, I can't believe I have to defend this one. It's 2017. We have science now. And science says buckle up with a brain bucket or get f—-d. If your helmet is uncomfortable, get a new one. If it doesn't fit, get a new one. If you don't like wearing one, get over it. Because you know what's not cool? Concussions, TBIs, and comas. The best helmets not only protect your noggin on the mountain, they keep you warm and comfortable without making you look like a bobble-head. Here are some we recommend.