Best snowboard gadgets and ski tech: Smart goggles, electro-osmosis jackets and more
Winter sports and tech gear go together like skis and snow. These smart gadgets make for a cutting-edge trip down the mountain.
Andrew LanxonEditor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Taking technology onto the mountain for a snowboarding session means more than just having the latest iPhone 11 Pro, Pixel 4 or Galaxy S10 Plus in your pocket. Amazing tech has found its way into snow sports clothing, protective wear and even the board beneath your feet, all of which aims to make your ride down the slopes better -- and more comfortable -- than ever.
I armed myself with the latest, greatest kit, from battery-powered jackets and self-heating boots to action cameras and, yes, an all-electric
(all on loan, of course) and headed out to the beautiful French ski resort of Chamonix to put it all to the test.
KJUS Hydrobot jacket ($1,300, £1,300)
The Hydrobot is the first ever jacket to use a technology called electro-osmosis that actively draws moisture away from the body when switched on. It's great for regulating your body temperature so you don't get overly warm and sweaty on the mountain. It's also the first jacket I've used that has both its own iPhone app and battery pack. Yet it was very comfortable to wear as the battery pack sits unnoticed in an inside pocket. It lasts for at least a couple of days between charges, so I only had to plug it into the USB charger every other night to keep it topped up.
Kjus BT 2.0 Bluetooth gloves ($399, £149)
With a speaker in the right thumb and a microphone in the right forefinger, these gloves are able to connect via Bluetooth to your phone, letting you make and receive calls through the gloves by simply holding your hand up to your face. An OLED panel shows who's calling and there's a big button that's easy to press with your other gloved hand. So even when you're hurtling down a mountain you don't have to miss that important call.
Sweet Protection Rooster II helmet ($450, £400)
Helmets should be mandatory on the slopes, and it's certainly foolish to go riding without one. With its full carbon fiber build, it's the strongest and lightest helmet on the market. The exposed carbon weave design looks badass and it's extremely comfortable to wear all day on the slopes.
Abom Heet goggles ($289, converts to £223)
These goggles have a heating element inside that eradicates any fog that might have gathered inside the lens at the touch of a button. For whatever reason, I've often struggled with fog inside goggles so I know just how off-putting it is when you're hurtling down a slope and your vision becomes steadily more obscured. I had no such problems with the Abom goggles, which remained fog-free all day.
Jones Project X snowboard ($1,600, £1,400)
The supercar of the snowboard world, the Project X is made from carbon fiber, making it one of the lightest, strongest snowboards money can buy. It's a dream to ride, being both lightning fast and extremely precise during turns, thanks to the natural rigidity of the carbon fiber. This isn't a board for beginners, but if you want the ultimate in performance on the slopes, it's the one for you.
Jones Apollo bindings ($450, £429)
Using recycled carbon and flax wood, these bindings are both lightweight and eco-friendly. They use a rocking bushing system -- much like trucks on a skateboard -- that allow for a more comfortable and precise ride by flexing slightly when you're leaning on your snowboard's edge. Paired with the Project X board, I could confidently carve into turns at speeds I wouldn't have dared to attempt on another setup. It felt like the equivalent of moving from a compact family hatchback to a track-focused McLaren supercar -- one is geared towards everyday steady cruising, the other designed for outright speed and performance.
Burton SLX snowboard boots ($420, £384)
Burton's SLX boots are already at the top of their range thanks to their advanced materials and secure lacing system, but I took them a step further by inserting Burton's heated inners($219 or £190), which, at the touch of a button, heat up to keep those toes nice and toasty. It was great to use on long chair lifts or when taking an extended break at a slope-side bar.
Tesla Model X ($84,990, £82,700, as reviewed)
No tech trip would be complete without arriving in one of the most technologically advanced cars in the world. The all-electric nature of my 600-mile drive from London to Chamonix meant my fuel costs -- and emissions -- were zero, and the huge number of CNET_CMP_MFR_AUTO: Tesla | Score: 285
These in-ear Bluetooth headphones are small enough to easily fit under your helmet straps while still producing a really punchy sound that'll keep you motivated on the slopes. They're water resistant too, so don't worry if they get a dusting of snow if you take a tumble.
With 4K recording, amazing in-camera stabilization and a sturdy, waterproof design, the seventh-generation GoPro action camera proved brilliant at recording my action on the slopes and didn't bat an eye when I repeatedly dropped it in the snow. The new Hero 8 Black, which promises even better stabilization and improved sound recording, is now available.
Watch this: GoPro Hero 8 Black is its most powerful, feature-filled camera ever
So many chargers
An important point I have to raise is battery charging. Between the coat, the boots, the gloves, the camera, the headphones, my phone and a few other things I'd brought, I had to charge at least 10 devices over USB almost every night. I had to bring a lot of cables (Micro-USB and USB-C) and I made sure to pack a USB charging hub to accommodate everything as easily as possible. It wasn't exactly difficult, but it did mean I had cables sprawled all over the floor of my small Airbnb each evening. If you're going high-tech on the slopes, make sure you go prepared.