Competitive, expert and elite skiers wear spine protection. But nowadays, even recreational skiers are considering wearing one. Ski back protectors are just as common as helmets. But it’s only now that people are paying more attention to their importance.
Why should you? Because they can prevent broken vertebrae if you incurred a fall. A spine protector helps to disperse force and absorbs most of it too.
So, even if you are not a competitive skier, it should be a part of your ski gear. And here are several tips on how to choose the best ski back protector.
How to Pick Out the Best Ski Back Protector
Know the Different Spine Protectors On the Market
Whether you’re hitting the best slopes in Europe or Tahoe, you’ve got to be outfitted properly when it comes to getting the best ski back protector. It’s important to know that there are basically two types, a hard shell and a softshell.
A hard shell is often made from Polypropylene or Polycarbonate (hard plastic) and has side panels that act as the outer shell. This type of spine protector offers more protection for sharp rocks, twigs, or any abrasive objects that you can accidentally fall on.
In between this is a cushion that can absorb force and impact should a collision occur. Though considered more heavy-duty than softshells, some skiers don’t wear these because they can be heavy.
That’s why the best alternative is to wear a softshell spine protector. These are lighter than hard shells. But not all softshells can give an equal amount of protection to your spine.
The best type has to offer protection from multiple spine impacts. And often, those made with VPD foam can offer sufficient protection.
But take note that softshells may give you protection from abrasive objects since they are more likely to puncture than hard shells. So, if you’re going to ski along slopes with a lot of sharp rocks, a hard shell is going to be your best ski back protector.
Make Sure It Adheres to European Standard EN 1621-2
Ensure that you’re getting the best ski back protector and that it is legit. It should be made from reliable materials, make sure it is rated EN 1621-2 level 1 or level 2. This is also the same criteria used to measure the effectiveness of motorcycle back protectors.
This also includes the materials’ temperature stability. This ensures that it will not become too stiff in frigid temperatures. The best ski back protectors should meet these criteria easily.
Choose the Right Style
The best ski back protectors come in several styles- buckling type, protective vest, jacket type, and backpack type.
The buckling type comes with shoulder straps and a waist belt. This style can only offer protection for your back and not your torso.
The protective vest type is very easy to wear under your ski jacket. It is a great option if you do not want to wear armor and don’t want to fuss around with straps and belts. The vest type is also more breathable and lighter.
Jacket-type spine protectors are well worn as a jacket. This style can offer protection not just for your back. This can also give decent protection for your shoulders and upper torso.
Backpack style offers a combination of storage and back protection. You wear it as a backpack, but it can also be heavy depending on the load that you put in it. This is, however, a great alternative for those who do not want to wear anything over their ski outfit.
Get the Right Size
Getting the right size is very important. If you wear something too short then part of your back will be exposed. The best ski back protectors should cover your entire back, starting for the knobby area on your neck up to your tailbone.
The best way to get the exact size is to measure the length of your back from the C7 vertebrae (that knobby area) to the tailbone. You can have someone measure your back to get the right output.
It Must Fit Well
A good fit is relative to the right size. Anything too loose or too tight may not offer the best spine protection.
It should stay in place. And when you squat down, it should not push your helmet forward. The placement of the spine protector is very critical. Even when squatting or moving, it must not interfere with your helmet.
It should also be comfortable enough to be worn under your ski jacket. And you should still be able to wear your pants comfortably even with the ski back protector on.
Ensure it Has a Breathable Design
Your best ski back protector should be made from breathable materials and it should also have enough vents to let the heat escape.
Consider Storage Options
Among the spine protector styles we have mentioned above, the backpack type offers the most storage.
But if you don’t feel like wearing a backpack but need some storage for your goggles and keys, some jacket types and vest type spine protectors also have small compartments.
Make Sure You’re Getting a Good Price
There is such a thing considered as the right price. Even if you’re on a budget, don’t be tempted to buy anything too cheap. A cheap spine protector may not be able to give you ample protection since it can be made from substandard materials. Or they don’t have a breathable design that’s why the price is too good to be true.
A good price range for the best ski back protector brands starts at 60 dollars up to 200 dollars. Anything lower can be a rip-off. So you have to induce this number in your budget for your ski gear.
But you also have to balance everything. It does not make any sense if you buy very premium spine protectors and settle for a flimsy and very cheap helmet. You have to make sure that you have the complete gear, so all of your ski gears must be durable and legit.
A flimsy helmet, even with the most premium ski back protector can still put you at higher risk of debilitating accidents.
Even if you are just a recreational skier, you are not sure when you’ll encounter an unfortunate accident. That’s why having the complete ski gear can save your life.
The best ski back protector is the one that you feel very comfortable in. Thus, having the right size and fit are often deemed more important than the type and style of the spine protector. And if you’re uncomfortable in it, there’s a high probability that you’ll take it off.