The Winter season had finally started after what had felt like a long, long summer and it was time to look at some of my equipment! My parents originally strapped skis to my feet pretty much as soon as I could walk, and being the 70s helmets had not been invented yet, so everything I did from riding a BMX, to skinny skateboards and skiing did not require a helmet. Suffice to say I grew up never wearing a helmet for anything, partly because I was just used to not wearing one and also they were usually pretty uncomfortable and pretty hot to boot. However, times are a’changing… It seems to be pretty rare to see anyone on the ski slopes without a helmet, even most instructors are wearing them. In fact there can be a bit of no-helmet hatred on the mountain as those with helmets are starting to persecute those without helmets! What has changed? I suppose people are more safety conscious than they were during the 70s, 80s and 90s and not wanting to sound pessimistic, but perhaps it has become a fashion item as well for some.
Having survived over over 40 years without a helmet, other than when I was in the snowpark throwing myself off jumps, or speeding down the GS course, it was perhaps time to see what all of this was about. For me there are two key reason to wear a helmet, firstly If I am going off piste then it probably a very good idea, what with the rocks that can hide just below the surface. The biggest reason sadly is other slope users… The popularity of the sport has grown significantly, and the modern equipment means that people can reach very fast speeds but not necessarily with the control that should go along with it. So really the biggest threat for me is from other people, and that is a good enough reason to don a helmet if ever there was one.
Enter Salomon; started in France in 1947 and with a long history of making skiing equipment this brand has always been on my radar. It was time to pick a helmet from their range and a pair of goggles that would sit along with them. I opted for the QST Helmet accompanied with the X-MAX Photochromic lens. The Helmet weighs in at only 380 grams with the bulk of the helmet being made of EPS 4D- Expanded PolyStyrene to disperse and absorb oblique and vertical shocks. The helmet has an active ventilation system which can be opened or closed depending on the temperature. I like that fact that Salomon have use Merinod in the liner; I prefer wool when it comes to keeping cool or warm even when damp; In my experience nothing can quite beat wool and still smell good too, and if it does one can remove the liner and give it a wash. The ear pads are pretty good too, keeping my ears warm without reducing my hearing. So how did it feel sitting on my head after 40 years with helmet, well I have to say it fitted really well and I forgot it was on my bonce which is saying something. Plus it kept my head super warm when the winds in Val Thorens were plummeting the temperatures down to -18°C and the winds blew.
Next up was the X-Max Photochromic lens goggles. Well these integrated with the helmet very well. They fitted my face pretty well too and did not constrict breathing through my nose either, always a plus at high altitude. They are designed to provide maximum vision, with a tri-layer foam with Active Dry technology and an air flow system to keep them clear which worked very well in the conditions I experienced, whilst others around me were struggling with fogging and wet snow sticking to the lens. However, I was blown away with the Photochromic technology. The conditions changed from am to pm and from day to day, from white out and blizzards to blue skies and very low temperatures and constant changes in the light conditions. I hear that some photochromic lenses don’t work so well at low temperatures but not these goggles though! Like the helmet It felt like I was not wearing anything, the lenses were so clear and would adapt quickly to the surrounding light, letting me get on with what I am meant to be doing; shredding around the mountain and enjoying life to the max. So If you are looking for a helmet and goggle combo then look no further than the QST Charger and Xmax Photochromic. They not only perform but also look good doing it! Traditionally I look like a twerp in any sort of headgear, flat caps, hard hats, ladies wigs (only on Sundays) but this set up looked pretty good if I do say so myself.