Top 9 products changing the way we ride – Part 1

Exclusive rider’s guide to the latest ski and snowboard innovations for 2016.
Compsite image featuing a Hexo+ auto drone, Dragon goggles and a Fatmap
Three products that will change how you ride © Jason Horton
By Jason Horton

While the feeling you get riding down a mountain never gets old, the equipment we take to the mountain sure does. Every year at SIA and ISPO trade shows, dozens of innovative new products make their debut, all hoping to become the Next Big Thing in mountain hardware and software. Here’s our pick of the 2015/16 crop.

Auto drones: your personal eye in the sky

Hexo+, auto drone
Hexo+, auto drone © Hexo+

There’s no denying the GoPro Revolution – personal action cams have changed the way we see our world, and created a whole new breed of filmmakers in the process. But things move quickly in the world of extreme-selfies: say goodbye to helmet cams and POV poles… and say hello to the personal drone.

Simply attach camera to drone, punch your framing preferences into the smartphone app, and boom – the drone will automatically track your every move down the mountain. That’s if the resort will allow it, of course... a few have already announced a no-drone policy.

Either way, there are a few brands currently rushing their version to market, but with POV king Xavier de le Rue as one of its founders, Hexo+ is the one we like the look of most.

Fatmap –The Ultimate Mountain (M)app

Fatmap, a GPS-enabled smartphone app
Fatmap, a GPS-enabled smartphone app © Jason Horton

The concept of virtual ski resort trail maps has been around for a while, but let’s face it, it takes a very nerdy kind of nerd to get excited about maps… until now.

Imagine: you’re strapped in at the top of a virgin powder-covered peak in Verbier – the snow is amazing, but you don’t know the mountain well… what to do? Normally, your only options are to risk it (bad idea) or stick to the piste. But with Fatmap, a GPS-enabled smartphone app, you can simply preview the terrain via a high-resolution 3D fly-through, and choose your line.

Add to this Fatmap’s detailed terrain intelligence that identifies avalanche risk zones, crevasse zones and slope gradients, and you’ve got an app that will revolutionise your backcountry freeriding experience*. The app has a tonne of other great features that help you track your runs and the location of your buddies on the mountain, but it’s all about the 3D fly-through!

Light sensitive goggles – finally!

Light Sensitive Goggles from Dragon
Dragon's Transitions® Adaptive Lens © Jason Horton

This has got to be the best (and most overdue) innovation in goggle technology in a long, long time. Light is awesome: it helps us see where we’re riding. The problem with light, especially light on the mountain, is it’s always changing, which means we usually need to take a couple of lens options onto the hill.

Up until now, goggle manufacturers have been putting all their effort into improving lens interchangeability, when they should have just made a lens that adjusts to the light – photochromic lenses have been around since the ‘60s, after all.

Well, Dragon have finally figured it out: their Transitions® Adaptive Lens starts out yellow for dim light, and gradually darkens when exposed to UV rays, so you’ll always have the right lens in, whatever the weather.

*Backcountry riding is dangerous. Always ride with a qualified guide.

Check back tomorrow for three more innovations that will change the way you ride.

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