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10 ways to tech out your ski and snowboard gear before the snow flies

best ways to upgrade your ski or snowboard setup tech 55
When the snow starts falling, it’s time to start hauling your gear out of the attic or the basement for the season. When you revisit your old friends from seasons before, it may be tempting to think about ditching them and investing in a new ski or snow setup — until you think about the cost involved. Ouch.

Instead, why not augment or upgrade the gear you have and set the stage for an epic season on the snow at a fraction of the cost? From tweaks to your existing rig to technological advances that’ll keep you warm, fog-free and jammin’ on the slopes, here are 10 ways to update your ski and snowboard outfit without going overboard.

Go pro – GoPro HERO5 Black ($400)


If it’s not captured on video, it didn’t happen, right? Your winter shenanigans may be sweet, but unless you have proof, no one’s gonna believe you. For anyone looking to document and share their best powder days, a GoPro is the way to go. The mobile camera company has implanted itself thoroughly into the ski and snowboard scene not only with its array of cameras, but also with its helmet mounts, chest harnesses and other contraptions that enable almost anyone to capture the day. Read our full review here.

Hands on – Volt Heat Maxima 7V heated snow gloves ($200)


It used to be that gloves were gloves. They’d kind of keep your hands warm and dry, and that’s about it. Not anymore. Nowadays, the best ski and snowboard gloves will not only keep your hands toasty, but let you easily swipe your screen to post your latest poses from the lift line or high up on the mountain. Some gloves will keep you warm with the latest in insulation technology, others, like Volts, do it with electronically heated technology. For bluebird spring days, opt for a pair that’s touchscreen friendly, which just about everyone’s after these days.

Heads up – POC Receptor Bug ($240)

Helmets have come a long way since back in the day. They’re still about protection, sure, but these days, there’s plenty more form and function on hand. While piping your tunes through earbuds gets the job done, the POC Receptor Bug is a skate-style helmet that has Beats by Dr. Dre headphones built into the neck roll. With a remote control, you can take calls, switch tunes and adjust volume without taking your phone out of your pocket.

Suit up – Oros Orion ($38 – $299)


Technical gear continues to advance with the development of new materials that keep you warmer, dryer longer. Down is an excellent insulator except when it gets wet, so you may want to consider something a little more out-of-this-world, such as the Oros Orion line of jackets, pants, gloves, and beanie, which packs SolarCore Aerogel, the same technology found in NASA’s space suits! Read more here.

See clearly – Abominable Labs Abom goggles ($250)


Everything else is good for the upcoming snow season—  skis, board, helmet, clothes, tunes — but you can’t see a thing out of your worn out, scratched up, fogged over goggles? Time for a new pair. Portland, Oregon’s ABOM goggles work like the defroster in your car, using a heat-conductive film in between a two-part lens to keep the view clear all day long. Even better? The goggles look sweet with almost any alpine getup.

Jam out – Outdoor Technology Chips 2.0 ($130)


Your skis and boots are rockin’, maybe your board is, too. But is your sound system? If not, maybe it’s time to pump it up with something new. A range of manufacturers have made innovative Bluetooth wireless speakers that are little more than quarter-size chips that tuck under the earflaps of a helmet — and sound sweet. Check out Outdoor Tech’s offerings, as well as those from Smith Optics or UCLEAR.

App it up


You don’t necessarily have to invest in spendy gear or gadgets to enhance your turns on the slopes this season. Instead, grab a few low-cost or free apps for your phone to get a leg up on everything from powder conditions and topography to simply tracking your runs. Trace by AlpineReplay measures everything from distance and vertical to speed, airtime and more, while Liftopia offers up discounted lift passes, snow conditions and details on resorts all over the country. REALSKI uses the compass, camera and GPS in a phone to map your runs and help you navigate, and Peaks USA will identify most far-off peaks with the point of your camera phone.

Tune in – REI ski and snowboard services


Short of investing in new gear, there may be nothing better for a killer snow season than tuning up the gear you already own — or having someone quipped with the latest innovations do it for you. The best ski and board shops and techs have access these days to high-tech tools for edging and waxing that can spruce up your rig for another go on the hills. Want to give it a try yourself? The basics aren’t exactly rocket science. REI offers a great primer on do-it-yourself base repair, edge work and waxing that will have your setup in fine shape in no time.

Partial fix – Apex MC•X ($895)


OK, so you’re not up for investing in an entirely new ski or snowboard setup for the season. No worries. Thinking about a new pair of ski boots or bindings, maybe a new board but using last year’s boots? Go for it. Just make sure to have a qualified tech give your rig a once-over before you head for the slopes. Most boots and bindings will work together with the right amount of adjustment and tweaking.

Get back(country) – Black Diamond AvaLung II ($130)


Been skiing on gear that could get you into the fresh powder of the backcountry but haven’t yet made the leap? Maybe this is the year to broaden your horizons. But remember: getting into the backcountry takes a little more know-how, some navigational smarts and even some stepped-up gear. Consider an avalanche transceiver, an emergency breathing apparatus like the Black Diamond AvaLung II, which lets you breathe air directly out of the snowpack, or a pack like the Arc’teryx Voltair, which features a fully electric airbag that deploys and helps you stay on top of an avalanche just in case you find yourself in such a situation.

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