Suppose you have ever been riding with a person that is not quite as fast as you or a group that tends to go off all over the place; staying together can be rough. Herding cats just got a whole lot easier with the Sena Latitude S1 helmet line, which allows you to talk to your cats, errr, friends, when you all have the helmet. If you don't have this helmet, they also make a mic/speaker system that you can put into your current helmet to work with the system.
So let's talk about the helmet first. The S1 consists of a rock-solid ABS shell with an EPS liner. It is certified by both the European Committee for Standardization (EN 1077B) and the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM F2040-18) for impact rating. So your noggin is in good hands. Aside from the world-class safety ratings, you get an adjustable sizing ring to dial in the fit and an air ventilation system to keep out or let in the wind as you rip down the hill. There is also a nice little latching goggle security strap that will help keep your very expensive KOO goggles stay on your head in case you have a yard sale (that's a wipe-out newb). The interior liner and black velvety padding keep you warm and comfortable but might get a bit hot in Spring conditions - so heads up.
So now, for the cool part, the built-in intercom system. Now you can talk with your friends as they meander down the hill and talk smack, and no one can hear you except your crew. You can connect up to four helmets on the intercom system with standard audio quality, which is a lot of fun and keeps everyone together. If you are going solo, you can just connect to your phone via Bluetooth and listen to some tunes. The audio quality is meh, but it's good enough for cruising down the hills and allows you to hear your environment to avoid any accidents. Aka, that Texan screaming at you as they plummet out of control in your direction, kidding, not really.
You can also use the intercom to make calls!
So har far is the range? The Bluetooth® 4.1-powered intercom works over a 1-kilometer range, which is pretty solid. We tested various distances and never had a problem, even when we lost line of sight with our friend. The helmet is controlled by using a large, glove-friendly jog dial positioned on the left ear-pad. Despite being rather large, it does require a little practice when using thick gloves, and we often had to take our gloves off to turn just it correctly. If you are only using it in pairs, you can jump up the sound quality to HD.
Battery life is roughly 8 hours of talk time, and a full charge takes 3 hours, so don't forget to plug it in before you ride. Several times we hit the mountain only to realize that our helmet was dead.
As we edge into Spring conditions and face longer days with brighter lighting conditions, it's clutch to have goggles that can bring out every detail. The Koo Eclipse goggle brings maximum performance in these often harsh, extremely bright conditions with a Zeiss lens that pulls out every detail and protects from UV rays (100% UVA, UVB, and UVC protection). You lose the distortion and get a razor-sharp quality of panoramic vision. The dual-lens tech help prevents fogging and even worked well when we were wearing our masks due to COVID. We got the chance to test these goggles several times this year in a variety of conditions, and they excelled. Icey patches popped out, shadows were less harsh, and the overall terrain was just easier to make out in notoriously difficult light, such as late afternoon shade. Props to KOO; these are now bolted to our helmet.
We got the chance to get our hands on some of the first products coming from the new apparel brand ARTILECT. Based in one of our favorite towns, Boulder, CO, this new brand is tackling outdoor clothing with a promise of sustainability, style, and function. ARTILECT was founded by Trent Bush and Corry Taylor, both industry veterans in the OR space.
Their focus is on elevating human performance in any environment and creating apparel systems for just about any sport you can imagine, from boarding to hiking to camping.
Boulder Leggings - Can you say buttery, buttery, buttery? Yeah, the A/SYS-1 base layer line is just that, created by some kind of mad fabric scientists. They call their material Nuyarn 125, an ultralight merino fabric that is featherweight and keeps you warm, ultra-comfy, and dry. The fit is lean and mean, perfect for wearing under your outerwear or even something like the Foehn Brise pants, which we love for hiking, biking, music festivals (when they come back), and apres ski. The weight is perfect for winter and early spring conditions, we put the AYS/1 leggings and crew to the test at Vail, Keystone, and Breck, and they delivered. These are our new go-to base layers for colder conditions.
Boulder Crew - The crew uses the same Nuyarn 125 and brings the same comfort and performance as the leggings. A sleek fit goes nicely under a sweater or hoodie and can even be worn as a single layer in warmer conditions. There are also eyelet knit panels, almost like a mesh, that allow for more breathability under the arms to keep you comfortable when working hard.
Keep an eye on this brand, lots of exciting products on the way. You can check out more here and get a feel for what's coming down the pipeline.