Winter is just around the corner and with it the ski and snowboard season. Resorts have already opened in much of North America and Europe, where skiers and boarders will turn out this year with iPods in tow. No matter if your winter plans include snowshoeing, skiing, boarding or skating, Playlist has you covered with everything you’ll need to take your iPod out into this season’s winter wonderland.
Nothing is more important than a durable case that can take a beating for anyone planning to take their iPod out on the mountain. High altitudes (Apple lists the iPod’s maximum operation altitude at 10,000 feet), soggy conditions and the impact from a late-afternoon wipeout all pose threats to your iPod. But before you leave your music at home, consider a hard-shell, water-resistant or waterproof case.
For protection as solid as the mountain itself, hard shell cases for the iPod mini, 3G, and 4G, from H2O Audio ($150) will protect your iPod from impacts while allowing access to all the controls. Better yet, thanks to waterproof housing and earbuds, a wet landing on the snowy slopes need not be the ruination of your expensive gadgetry.
If you don’t need the waterproof earbuds, Otter Box ($30 - $40) also makes a line of waterproof cases to protect your iPod from impacts and the elements. Otterbox waterproof cases are designed for the iPod photo, 4G and shuffle, with cases on the way for the nano and 5G (video) models.
Yet waterproofing isn’t a necessity for everyone. Perhaps you’re more into the blues than the double-diamonds, and need more protection from apres-ski Irish coffee spills at the lodge than backcountry avalanches. Tunewear’s Waterwear ($25) line of water-resistant cases will provide all the protection most powder bums will need. The company offers cases for the iPod mini, 4G and shuffle with water-resistance and impact protection. Still, it’s probably best not to soak your shuffle in your hot cocoa.
In addition to keeping your iPod out of harm’s way, you really ought to protect your noggin as well. And what better way to protect it than with a helmet with integrated speakers. Giro’s line of snowboarding helmets with audio connections and built-in speakers ($60 - $180) feature the company’s Tuneups system that allow users to jack into an iPod and cell phone at the same time. Burton’s R.E.D. Hi Fi Audio helmet ($130) also comes with integrated speakers that allow you to seamlessly connect to an iPod. And coming soon from Burton is the Tantrum Audex helmet ($250), with built-in Bluetooth, that will allow users to swap between music and phone calls.
Remember the days when you had to stow your iPod in, gosh, your pocket? That era seems to be over, thanks to outerwear designed specifically with the iPod in mind.
When it comes to iPod outerwear, Burton helped define the space in 2003 with its original Burton Amp jacket. The spirit lives on in the Burton iPod Shield Jacket ($380). This machine washable jacket has iPod controls built into the sleeve to let you access all your tunes, while your player stays stowed safely away in an EVA-molded chest pocket. The company also has another highly-anticipated jacket, dubbed Audex ($600), on the way. The jacket, developed with Motorola, has an integrated microphone and speakers plus Bluetooth technology, letting you jack in not only your favorite music player, but also your mobile phone.
For the ultimate in winterized iPod accessories, check out the Spyder 1000 Limited Edition ($2,200). Sure this jacket (matching pants sold separately) has weatherproofing, insulation, taped seams, underarm vents and all the extras you’d expect in a high-end ski jacket. But what you might not expect is the included iPod Photo that’s seamlessly integrated with the jacket. Plug in the iPod, and high-tech fabric controls woven into the jacket’s sleeve allow you to access your playlists without ever slowing down.
The clickwheel on your iPod functions by detecting the minute electrical charge in your body and tracking it as it moves from point-to-point. When you put gloves on, it adds a layer of insulation between your fingers and the clickwheel’s surface, thwarting the electronic sensors. These new gloves, from Tävo, sport capacitive fingertips, allowing charge to pass through the gloves from your fingers to your iPod’s clickwheel; no more frosty fingers.
What good is a long day in the backcountry if your music stops at lunchtime? Solar chargers will keep you from missing a beat all day long.
Perhaps the best-known solar charger, and the original to be designed with an iPod in mind, is the Solio ($100). Solio will suck up the sunshine and pump out the power to your iPod. At 5.8 ounces, with a convenient collapsible design, it will also fit handily into your daypack. Even lighter at 3 ounces, the Soldius 1 Universal Charger ($100) will charge just about any iPod — including the shuffle — via a USB adapter tip.
For a roomier solution that won’t require you to stop and charge, consider a daypack with built-in solar panels. The Voltaic Backpack ($239) delivers 4 watts of power from three small solar panels integrated into the bag’s outer pocket. Connect your iPod via any car charger and power up while you ski or board your way down the mountain. An included battery pack will store a charge for later, so the music doesn’t need to stop when the lights go out.