| Outside magazine, January 1998|
In a winter sport that watches fashion as closely as tomorrow's forecast, you might not expect helmets to be a hit. But more and more, riders are starting to don headgear like the Leedom Limit ($115; 781-440-0633), a snowboard helmet built to keep heads — and pride — intact. The Limit's sleek polycarbonate shell is cut wide on the sides to accommodate the broadest of wraparound goggles, and a clip in back holds the strap in place. Contoured earflaps block out icy winds and protruding branches, but not, say, the banshee yowl of a flailing rookie from the Great Plains. Yet spring days on the slopes can be refreshingly cool, thanks to six vents which easily open and close. Inside, thick padding forms permanently to each cranial nook and cranny like your old wool ball cap. And unlike bicycle helmets, which must be replaced after a single impact, the 17.5-ounce Limit's foam core will withstand multiple hard knocks — great for those painful first three days of lessons. Nevertheless, the Limit is no emblem of beginnerhood: For the high-flying expert, protective headgear just instills that much more confidence. — Ron Charles
Lowe Alpine Voyageur Pack
Trouble deciding between a backpack and a duffel? No need to with Lowe Alpine's Voyageur APS Plus 65+10 (303-465-0522), an uncompromising hybrid that gives equal treatment to both incarnations. Peel back the zippered nylon outer cover and it's a serious, 4,500-cubic-inch backpack, complete with a compression panel for a sleeping bag, three internal pockets for organizing gear, and plenty of external clips and loops. The suspension employs two aluminum stays, a well-padded shoulder harness that adjusts for torso length, and a supportive waist belt — it will comfortably handle a couple of nights overland. Secure a pair of skis with the external compression straps and there's room enough for a weekend of snow camping provisions. When you return to civilization, the Voyageur turns into a relatively no-frills, standard-giant-potato duffel with a convenient V-shaped zipper that allows easy access to your stuff. The top carrying handle is thoughtfully angled so that the duffel is easier to haul, and a 610-cubic-inch half-day pack zips off to tote your in-flight essentials. And at $249, it does double duty for about the same price as many good backpacks. — Bob Howells
Above Ground Aerial Chair
With its latticework of nylon lines and balloon-festival color scheme, the Aerial Chair from Above Ground Designs ($149; 888-863-4057) looks something like a hang glider for loafing. In fact, it hails from a veteran designer of glider harnesses who's now applied his craft to more sedate pursuits. The 1,000-denier Cordura-nylon body cradles the contours of its idle occupant without sagging or squeezing as a hammock does, making it obscenely comfortable and especially welcome relief for the aching back. Climbing in requires no special coordination, and once you're settled, the apparatus naturally twists back and forth ever so slowly, to mesmerizing effect. Several stainless steel pulleys in the rigging let you adjust your angle of repose with nothing more than a shift in weight, and getting out — if you must — is simply a matter of putting your feet down. Fine-tune the headrest by reaching up and repositioning a couple slider knots. The chair also has a separate sling for a footrest — an ottoman in the sky. The whole thing comes rigged and with the requisite hardware for suspending from beam, branch, ceiling, or even the halyard on the mast of a sailboat. There's also a collapsible version of lighter-weight 500-denier Cordura and waterproof-breathable Ultrex ($169; two pounds, seven ounces) for taking your leisure afield. — B.H.
Photographs by Clay Ellis
Filed To: Snow Sports