By: Alex Hanson
Athletes usually get all the glory when it comes to magazines, videos and cool gear to use. But on the other side of the lens is the other half of the backcountry media equation – the camera guy. Oddly enough, the nature of the job can sometimes be even more demanding on the body. Not only do you have be able to rip on a sled but you need to do so with a pile of delicate electronics, then usually stand around for hours in the snow waiting for something cool to happen. Keeping both warm and dry is critical to the survival of self and battery power.
Alex Hanson last season with a fully loaded F-Stop Tilopa BC bag, monopod, avalanche safety gear.
With the launch of Sledfarm this year both Logan and I knew we’d have to kick it up a notch on both sides of the lens. I was looking for something to wear that was both lightweight and loaded with deep pockets to fill with batteries. Cruising Instagram one day I came across the Montec feed. I knew instantly Montec’s new Zero Suit in Arctic Camo was something I had to try.
I quickly sent Montec a message inquiring about their product. Charlie from Ridestore in Sweden got back to me right away and decided to hook me up with some test gear. A couple weeks later a package arrived with the Montec Zero Suit, Fox V1 MX helmet, Dragon NFXS snowmobile goggles, and Dope Signet 2.0 snow gloves.
Fit and finish on the Montec suit was supreme. The stitching and taped zippers stood out right away, topped off with solid adjustable suspenders inside to keep things in place. The uninsulated shell material is quite thin – more so than all of the other manufacturers from Motorfist, Klim, and even the Tobe mono suits. I was amped to get the Montec suit into the snow to see how it performed.
The Fox V1 helmet was a step up for me this year. Although not full carbon it was significantly lighter than the Scott Rambler helmet I used last season. The Dragon NFXS goggles fit perfectly without any open space to let cold air in. The Dope Signet 2.0 gloves appeared well put together and I was even able to jam my new DJI Mavic Pro folding drone into most of the pockets on the Montec.
Early December provided the opportunity to test out the new setup. Plenty of snow followed by an arctic cold snap kept most riders indoors but the Sledfarm crew was itching to roll. Even though it was -17C and with the windchill factor more like -25C we decided to head out to one of our favourite zones. The Montec suit was so light and flexible it literally felt like I was wearing nothing at all. It ran a bit cooler than I was used to but I’m a fan of layers as opposed to heavy insulated gear. Perspiration is your enemy when standing in one spot waiting to get the perfect frame. The webbed venting meant I could thrash all day but when parked for the shot I could zip up and and stay dry. Even the reinforced high abrasion areas like the forearms, seat, and ankle areas stayed dry and did not build up with ice, making this one of the most comfortable rides to date.
Dragon NFXS goggles are a must have. Extreme wide angle field of view and absolutely no fogging. Visibility even in the poor lighting we had all day was very good. The seal around the face and helmet meant no frost bite. Being a visual artist concerned with optics I’ve ran almost every single brand of eyewear to protect my eyes and nothing else comes close. The Fox V1 helmet is the perfect match.
Alex tree banging on the turbo M8 in the ice fog
The only issue encountered so far was the Dope Signet 2.0 gloves. Although the grip was amazing they were simply too thin for riding in really cold conditions. I did manage to try them with my camera gear and was able to operate both my Sony A6300 and FS700R in the cold. Usually I have to use bare hands to operate the cams so the Dope gloves will remain in my kit, wearing thicker gloves to ride with and swapping out to the Dope gloves to shoot with. Cold camera hands suck so the Signet 2.0 will be the solution.
The riding day progressed well but shooting conditions were horrible so we packed it in early. A mechanical problem plagued one of our riders so we decided to egress a different way than we came in. It required navigation down an old avalanche chute and when we got to the bottom the snow was pretty thin, barely blanketing a debris field of ripped out gnarly stumps. Then came the alder thickets blocking our way on the old skidder trail. Out came the saws and we found ourselves slashing though a tangled mess broken only by caved in creek beds. The darkness came quickly as temperatures dropped another 10 degrees. Then the ice fog rolled in super thick to the valley floor eliminating satellite navigation. A frustrated crew continued to smash through alders, stumps, and creek beds for several hours. Survival overcame any concern for aesthetics and gear. Surprisingly the lightweight Montec suit held up very well with no rips and tears. An early season sobering reminder of how quickly things can go wrong in the backcountry. We eventually made it back to staging safe and sound. The Montec Zero arrived with hardly a scratch.
Alex Hanson and his Sony FS700R Cine Cam ready for action care of Ridestore
I look forward to testing the long term durability of the Montec suit for the 2016/17 film season. If you’re interested in any of these products head over to Ridestore and see all they have to offer. The Montec Zero Suit comes in at $399 EUR, which equals about $565 CAD making it a pretty good bargain compared to Tobe and Klim at the $1000+ range. I’m 5’11” and 200lbs and the large fits perfectly.
Special thanks to Charlie from Ridestore for hooking me up. Next stop is the mountain top for more Sledfarm media capture. Stay tuned for long term testing results…