Thoughts on safety during Action Sports

At GearLimits we love our outdoor and action sports. We love going out on a trail, hitting the slopes, going higher up in the mountains, walking further, camping in cooler places, steeper, further, higher; dropping into ever faster downhills…we stretch our limits and demand more of the limits of the gear we use; gear that should always contribute to more fun, beter performance and higher measure of safety.

Post foto's.011The past few weeks I’ve been testing an almost complete set of protective equipement, or body armour by the Swedish brand POC. I tested the Trabec helmet, VPD 2.0 DH Kneepads and the VPD 2.0 spine Vest. As I tested them, and thought about what I wanted to say about them in the review, my thoughts also turned to the principle of protection and of using safety gear in general.

In a number of sports I practice, specifically in snowboarding and mountainbiking, it is now normal normal to ride with a helmet. There still is some wisdom that could be added, particularly the difference between helmets of lesser quality (and price) and the good ones; if you do smack your head against a tree or a rock, would you want to regret not spending a bit more on a really good helmet? In my opinion you should never compromise on helmet safety,

10346378_10204269054437569_5503073418265563800_nSo that is a great thing. I always ride with a helmet now and having taken many a tumble the past two years, I fortunately never hit my head, but did damage my knee’s, elbows and back. So I was very happy last year when I got to test the VPD 2.0 kneepads by POC. Since than I have always worn kneepads, because they are just that comfortable and they have protected my knees on numerous occasions. Having worn a spine vest over the past weeks (one fall only, luckily) I have also decided to ride with one of these as well.

Because the thing is, shit can go wrong, and it will go wrong when you do not expect it. If you go prepared, go prepared. And moreover, the body armour of today is not as cumbersome as it used to be. The padding is flexibel, molded to your body, light and ventilates well. There is no added discomfort to wearing them. So why not wear them? It is expensive, but then again, a hospital bill or serious damage to your body will probably cost you more.

And let’s not kid ourselves and think that protection is only needed by the pro-MTB-demigods we see on youtube, bombing down steep and rocky downhills, jumping over canyons and stuff; sure they all wear it, and they should, going a kazillion kph. But even a fall at 20 kph can cause some serious damage; and let’s be honest, if skill level is any indication, we mere mortals will be more prone to accidents anyway.

Post foto's.010The protective gear I wear helps me relax more on the bike. I know that if I fall, I am well protected. When I relax more, I can get into my flow easier, my performance goes up, and I’m having more fun. Interestingly, just wearing the gear itself lessens the likeliness that I will need it. I have fallen less since wearing the gear.

Obviously there are limits to what this gear can handle, but for most spills it will really help. So I would advise anybody to spend a bit of that bike money on good body armour.

Added advantage by the way, is that the stuff I tested can be used for other sports as well: the spine vest and the kneepads are great voor snowsports, dirtbiking, skating or skateboarding. One investement can cover a number of sports. So there you go!

Hitting the trail will hurt less in the future 😉

Mark Stokmans
Mark Stokmans
Since I can remember I have been very active in many different sports: started with baseball, tennis and riding later hockey, football, running and aikido. In addition, since twelve years old I've been into actionports: at first windsurfing, later climbing, inline skating, snowboarding, mountain biking. With the first action cams coming onto the market I've been making action sports videos. Furthermore, I've worked in the sports industry since 1990, sports marketing, media and live TV and until the end of 2016 at the Dutch Olympic Committee. Besides being partner in GearLimits I work as a digital freelancer. Based in the Netherlands, Married with Children (11 and 13 years old)

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