Pack your bag for Paradiski (French Alps)
The Supermodel has a characteristic tapered shape, is a long-time staple of Burton's line-up, and this year's model has an ultra-light Superfly II wood core, Carbon I-Beam stiffening and plenty of carve-friendly camber. Most of the off-piste was well tracked in Les Arcs’ rolling pistes, but the board's slightly wider nose helped float in the small pockets of fresh we found. On-piste, it was a real speed demon and rock-solid through fast, hard carves, but forgiving enough to ride switch (backwards) and have fun with in the snowpark. The board also features 'The Channel', which is a slot in the top sheet that lets you micro-adjust your stance and supposedly gives the board better flex. It seems to work well enough, but it also restricts you to a small choice of compatible bindings. Even so, it deservedly turned heads in La Plagne’s snow park, not to mention during the journey there on the Vanoise Express, the world's largest (and double-decker) cable car.
Our man packed the Oregon 450, Dakota 20 and Foretrex 401 GPS units. The first two are pocket-sized, rugged, touchscreen-equipped units that offer detailed topographic mapping, as well as routing and tracking. They were loaded with SnowRanger maps, which show the piste and lift positions and names and were occasionally useful for figuring out exactly where we were (the Paradiski ski area has 425km of piste), but ultimately it was easier to plan a route using a regular ski map – at 3in (Oregon) and 2.6in (Dakota), the screens aren't that big and legibility proved tricky in bright sunshine. The Foretrex is very different to the other GPSs as it's wrist-mounted and has no on-unit mapping. You can use it to navigate to waypoints, but it's more about tracking where you go. The best bit, though, is that you can wear it over your jacket sleeve and set it up as an instantly accessible wrist-top dashboard showing stats such as elevation, elapsed time, heart rate and max speed. Of course, if you were planning to venture away from the marked ski area, the Oregon or Dakota would be a safer bet.
Osprey Manta 20
The Osprey Manta 20 hydration pack, although aimed more at walkers and mountain bikers (Osprey also does snow-specific packs) proved comfy, secure and a good size for carrying a spare layer, some food and some gadgets.
Motorola TLKR T5
Besides the GPSs, our intrepid field tester used Motorola's TLKR T5s, which in theory offer a range of up to 6km and are a rugged, cheaper alternative to using your mobile to stay in touch with mates. In practice, while they're good for communicating across pistes and lining up action photos, getting hold of anyone was hit-and-miss unless you had line-of-sight.
Pisten Bully Polar 300
Fancy checking out some XXXL-sized mountain tech? Then track down Team Vaudey in La Plagne who, for a few Euros, will let you try your skills at piste-bashing in a mighty nine-tonne Pisten Bully Polar 300, or do your best to get a four-wheel-drive quad bike sideways in the snow. Both are awesome fun.
Stuff rode its ‘board in Paradiski, a ski area made up of three main resorts: Les Arcs, Peisey-Vallandry and La Plagne. We stayed in Arc 1950, the newest and smartest of the four Arc villages, which is both beautiful and, at 1950m high, virtually guaranteed great snow.