Let’s face it snowboarding isn’t free of injury and if you do this sport long enough you will encounter a few sneaker falls that cause damage. So over the years I have tried many upper body armor jackets. Some are low profile but offer little real protection. Others offer a lot of protection but make you look like you are going to play hockey. Xion is one the only low profile jacket that also doesn’t compromise on protection.
2015 Xion Long Sleeve Jacket
The Xion Long Sleeve Jacket is expensive but about the best low profile body armor you can find for snowboarding. Think about what the hospitals charge and then this price is pretty reasonable. This is a tremendous amount less than your insurance max out of pocket so you have to think of it that way.
New For the 2012/2013 Model
Xion’s older model did not have removable pads except for the back protector. The 2013 offers removable pads everywhere which make this the much better choice. For example I like to remove all the pads except the shoulder, back and sometimes elbows. If you are new to the sport, or really pushing it you might want everything in. Regardless Xion now lets you choose which is a huge improvement. I’d like to see them have an a la carte offer where you buy the jacket without pads or just the back protector and then buy the pads separately. It would be better for snowboarders and people who aren’t stuntmen to save a little cash on this jacket.
Usually when you have low profile body armor it skimps significantly on protection. Some provide some thin EVA foam pads that offer some protection from minor falls but you are fk’d if you have a major to even medium fall. I even encountered one company that actually thought that memory foam and a little plastic could protect your spine. This is tragically funny but that is where the industry is right now when it comes to fitting protection under a snowboard jacket without making it look like a hockey jersey. With the addition of d3o technology we are getting very close to having body armor that is almost unnoticeable under a jacket and offers a significant amount more protection. The Old and New model have the same low profile.
D3o is pretty new tech to the industry. D3o is soft to the touch, thin and molds to your body but when hit d3o stiffens up almost instantly creating a hard shell on your body like an exoskeleton. This is being used in motorcycle protection and from what the experts say it’s arguably the best out there. It is also a lot thinner than conventional protective padding like EVA foam and other plastic/foam combos that offer the same protection.
Here is a little break down from d3o. Their are varying levels of protection but here is an example in the T5 Shoulder pad.
The T5 EVO ST limb components range offers good protection and a low profile, whilst being extremely comfortable and lightweight. The components are CE certified and ideal for the motorcycle and sports markets.
• CE certified prEN1621-1:2011
• Thickness 10mm
In snowboarding the #1 cause of injury is the wrist and the #2 cause of injury is the shoulder. Most body armor companies don’t have much or any shoulder protection like this so that really gives the Xion Protective Gear a big advantage. Most seem to only have shoulder protection on the side but this works it’s way up over the shoulder and over the AC joint. I don’t know if this protects the AC joint but its nice to have something over it for once. I have fallen on my shoulder giving myself a stage 5/6 ac separation. After 2 surgery’s and a tendon removed from wrist to replace the tendon that was obliterated it’s nice to see to see something on that. Another very important part is the spine/back protection that covers a majority of the back. The other day I hit an ice patch in flat light trying to stop at about 20mph. My heel edge washed out sending me right to my lower back. Normally a hit like that would leave a massive bruise, jack up my back and keep me on Advil for a few days. I might even miss a few. After the fall I sat there for a few minutes expecting something to be wrong but instead I was completely fine. All the other d3o protection in the chest, ribs and elbow is nice to have as well because it’s amazing how many places you can hurt yourself snowboarding….especially in the jib park. What I have learned over the years is you don’t have to go big to break yourself big. Both old and new protect the same. I loved letting beginner friends borrow this and it seemed to make a big difference for the ones that pushed it and fell a lot.
The Xion Long Sleeve Jacket is not designed specifically for snowboarders. Its original intent was for stunt men but the 2 worlds have similar needs. This does a great job fitting inconspicuously under even a thin shell. After a few days on the hill with the Long Sleeve protection under my jacket I really didn’t notice. The only minor complaint was the strong elastic wrist bands. It’s not terrible but I think snowboarders would like to have a thumb loop instead of this. Other than that the fit is excellent and very snug which is important for d3o to work. There is also some added warmth but not soo much that you need to change your layering too much. Xion added different and far more breathable material in areas like the arm pits for where you sweat a lot. The other material that houses the padding is strong and stitched well. At the same time it’s very thin and pretty breathable. D3o does mold to your body pretty well so all in all the whole experience is comfy and uninhibited. It can be a little hard in the colder weather but once you have it next to your body it becomes more soft. I wouldn’t leave it in your car overnight. It’s better to put it on in the warm house so it stays loose. On days that I left it in the car it took a little time to get it to warm up and mold to your body.
Lets face it. Even with protection there are still so many ways you can break yourself. Sometimes just the angle of the fall can jack your back or hips or ?? I have found that the xion protective gear can help keep me out there after what should of been a day ender fall. In the very near future helmets will be mandatory to get your lift ticket and many of the Pro’s are getting into body armor. Maybe one day everyone will be using something like Xion Protective Gear on the hill and in the park. This isn’t snowboard specific body armor but we haven’t found something yet that works as well as Xion does for our industry. Hopefully Xion Protective Gear will grow and be a household protection name for snowboarding.