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 some more picks of the 2015/16 crop.
StabCam: Bringing steadicam to the masses
Steady, stabilised action footage – the holy grail of snowboard filmmakers, there’s nothing quite like it for giving your footage the professional polish it deserves. Not so long ago, stabilisers (aka Gimbal) were way too big, heavy and expensive for regular Joes. But as cameras have shrunk in size and cost, so have the stabilisers.
These days, compact stabilisers with an under-hanging counterbalance are cheap and easy to use on foot, but they aren’t much use when you’re blasting down the mountain. Enter the StabCam. Using a series of tech motion sensors and motors, this lightweight motorised stabiliser attaches to any existing GoPro’s waterproof mount or accessory (helmet, suction cup, rod, etc.) to smooth out the bumpiest ride. Better still, it has a ‘follow me’ function that allows it to remotely lock onto the subject’s smartphone via GPS allowing the camera to pan and tilt to keep the subject centred within the frame.
Although it’s still in development mode (coming soon on Kickstarter) and there are already a couple of other motorised Gimbals on the market, its focus on on-mountain performance makes it worth waiting for.
The best camera is the one you’ve got with you
Quality vs convenience: every keen photographer wrestles with this at some point, especially when you’re shooting on the mountain. A good quality SLR with a bagful of lenses is the pro’s choice, but it’s bulky. Even a good quality compact is too large to slip into your pocket like today’s smartphones do – but, great as they are, smartphones aren’t real cameras, they’re, well… smartphones.
Which brings us to the DxO One: a tiny camera with an SLR-grade sensor that docks to your smartphone to operate it. It comes with a fast f/1.8 lens, full manual control via the phone app, a 20.2 megapixel, 1” sensor (currently the world’s smallest 1” sensor camera) and even shoots 240fps high-speed video – everything (and more) you would expect from a high-end compact camera, yet small enough to slip comfortably in your pocket.
It’s a genius concept: a high-quality camera that’s been stripped down to a tiny lens and big sensor, with everything else outsourced to your smartphone, which you’d be carrying around anyway.
Hearing Voices: The latest in-helmet audio
Bringing headphones and helmets together is nothing new, but there are a couple of new products set to take your on-mountain audio experience to the next level.
First up, we have Outdoor Technologies CHIPS®: these Bluetooth wireless audio drop-ins are simple to use, connect easily via Bluetooth to your device and are compatible with any helmet with an audio enabled liner. Besides freeing you from the tyranny of the cable, there’s a mitten-friendly button on each pod that allows you to play and pause, raise and lower volume, answer calls and skip tracks without once removing your gloves or reaching for your phone.
Poc’s Receptor BUG helmet doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity or the mitten-friendly buttons of CHIPS, but it does have the distinctive Beats By Dre logo on each ear, and for some, it's all about the Beats, right?