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Back Protectors - Need Help!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I'm in the market for a back protector for use in racing.

 

Last year I was lucky enough to avoid any major crashes last season and went through the season with no back protector. That was, until spring training where I had an 'exit stage right' moment. It didn't do any damage worthy of a hospital but I was sore the next morning and I don't want anything worse to happen.

 

The first issue I need help with is vest or straps only. When fitting with the straps only version, my suit moves the protector out of place or too far up my back. Once the suit is in place it stays but getting the suit over the back protector without pushing the protector too far up takes about 5 minutes by itself. Would I sacrifice much mobility by getting a vest version?

 

The second issue is brand. I really only have friends that use Slytech protectors so I know how those fit. Are there any variances in fit between manufacturers or are they all relatively the same?

post #2 of 15

When I was working at a shop that sold back protectors I spent some time learning how to fit them.  We sold Slytech and POC, both vest and strap style.

  A lot of the difference in fit depends on your body.  I can't remember the price difference but I do recall we ran out of POC before we ran out of Slytech.  

 

Vest versions were not as popular, I'm guessing because the strap style stays put better when you get it sorted out.  

We have a few racers who have more experience with fit and function than I do.  

Good luck!

post #3 of 15

Back protectors are like everything else, they all fit a bit differently. It does take some practice, but usually you get it set in place and sort of roll your suit into place around the lower portion of then stretch it over. Usually stays in place but might shift a bit, depending on how tight your suit is and how much you have to wriggle to get into. Nature of the beast. I have seen some, can't think of which brand or if they even exist anymore that have an elastic waist band and straps instead of a full vest.

post #4 of 15
Normally the race ones don't use straps. (Straps were banned in competition previously, don't think the rules have changed). Provided you have the waist belt properly tightened (good also for slimming us old fat guys 😄) it should not move when you pull your suit on. Think about it. If it moves doing that then what is it going to do in a crash????

I have used several different ones and you will find that they all fit a bit differently. Just like helmets.
Edited by ScotsSkier - 6/18/15 at 8:55pm
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotsSkier View Post

Normally the race ones don't use straps. (Straps were banned in competition previously, don't think the rules have changed). Provided you have the waist belt properly tightened (good also for slimming us old fat guys 😄) it should not move when you pull your suit on. Think about it. If it moves doing that then what is it going to do in a crash????

I have used several different ones and you will find that they all fit a bit differently. Just like helmets.

 

I've been poking around and even the Komperdell FIS protector has straps. Going through other forums this seems to have changed in about 2011? Either way, straps or no straps, at my level the coordinators don't mind either.

 

About the movement, I'm in a really awkward position with fittings. I'm in the zone of medium but it is always a tad too big for me and small is always a tad too small. If I go medium, I'll get full coverage but some wiggle room. If I go small, I'll barely latch and have reduced coverage. 

 

I also have the sam problem for race suits. Too small for a large but a tad too big for mediums. I wear medium because I don't like the bulk.

 

Looking at the sizing chart of POC, I seem to be right in the sweet spot of medium. Whereas Slytech I am on the line of small and medium. I might have a better chance at a solid fit with POC. I'll snoop around some shops and see if they have any I can try on (doubt it).

 

For reference: 170cm / 65kg

                        5' 7"  /   ~145lbs

post #6 of 15


Yes, the rule on straps could have changed, I need to dig my referee rule book out again to check. 

 

If you are looking at the POC ones, they tend to run quite large.  I am similar height (but with another 20# :(  ) and i found that the Small worked best for me in POC when I had the hard shell.  I think in the current soft version I may have used the Medium.  I have had a couple of Slytechs in small and medium but didn't really like the way they fit.

 

I am currently using an Ortema, as used by a lot of the WC DH guys.  I believe these are normally custom made and I have not seen them anywhere in retail but it is by far the best one I have used.  Molds much better than the Slytech.  And it does not have (or need) shoulder straps, just a heavy duty waist belt 

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

Interesting, I had never heard of Ortema until now. I never knew much about the safety aspect of racing gear outside of helmets.

 

For now I'll give POC a try and then if that doesnt work I'll try Ortema. I know for sure the Slytech isn't the best solution for me.

 

Thanks for all the help!

post #8 of 15

Im a local Masters racer so I dont have to comply with any FIS rules. As of a few years back I have totally switched to using the POC west including shoulder, upper arm and chest protection in combination with the back protector. In order to fit it under my suit I have sitched to a bigger size that is easy to streach into and out of. That has in fact improved overall comfort and has made the speed suit enjoyable to wear. Also, the shoulder protectors have saved me a couple of times from big injury even if I have two bad crashes that put me into surgery. But much worse could have happened. I only know two other guys weraring this kind of west so its not common by any means.

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post
 

Im a local Masters racer so I dont have to comply with any FIS rules. As of a few years back I have totally switched to using the POC west including shoulder, upper arm and chest protection in combination with the back protector. In order to fit it under my suit I have sitched to a bigger size that is easy to streach into and out of. That has in fact improved overall comfort and has made the speed suit enjoyable to wear. Also, the shoulder protectors have saved me a couple of times from big injury even if I have two bad crashes that put me into surgery. But much worse could have happened. I only know two other guys weraring this kind of west so its not common by any means.

 

I've seen those on the websites. Never seen them in person on skis but I've seen them a lot of bike riders.

post #10 of 15


POC full protectors are very good. Bought one in 2009 since I tore my rotator cuff and bicep tendon (right and critical side) and had a major ski trip still to come, and season ending skiing to be done. Fell a lot on ice, crud and so on, this thing was solid, really bounced off, good absorption of impact energy and believe me, it was often enough, without it, Heli-Evac probably would have been invoked. Season ended, got surgery (brutally painful recovery) and then post surgery, following 4 seasons, wore it without fail, and of course have had some nasty spills, been hit by skier going full tilt from behind, and that protector with the shoulder pads, arm pads has worked like a charm, shoulder never hurt from such impact. Worth every penny. Note I detached the back protector, just my preference as I was not about to bounce around a terrain park.

 

Basically this thing with elbow protection which came with it then :

 

Now POC has newer and presumably better versions of this. Dainese makes nice protection gear, geared for serious impact. The above worked for me but I believe no longer available in the above form. 

post #11 of 15

This was discussed in a thread from this past winter:

http://www.epicski.com/t/129845/is-a-spine-back-protector-worth-it-for-racing

 

I recommend the Dainese Ultimate Vest. It moves with you and is unobtrusive, and after a season of use I won't ski without it. There are no straps and the bottom of the vest snaps into a belt so it doesn't ride up on chairlifts or in deeply flexed transitions. It works well with normal freeski clothes, but under a GS suit it feels like a second skin of armor. 

 

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

I've been happy with how my POC Spine VPD 2.0 is fitting. I had no problems putting it on unlike the Slytech and the straps are placed much better. Once I started doing stuff I didn't feel it at all. I am pleasantly surprised. POC gets a giant +1 in my book! Will be buying more form them in the future.

 

post #13 of 15

My understanding is that the FIS rules have changed and shoulder straps ARE allowed.

I ran the full length, minimalist Slytech backprotector last year. For me the shoulder straps were just too much stuff, so I took them off and ran with the waist belt only.  Conforms well and very comfortable.  Fit on any back protector depends on your build vs the design of the protector, also on the cut/drape of your clothing.  Athletic, trim fit clothing will have a tendency to shape and hold the protector more than loose clothing will. 

 

Ortema is really good stuff, there are shops in Europe that stock it or you can order direct from Ortema in Germany.

post #14 of 15

Back protectors got to be tight to work. This totally flys in the face of the need for extreme mobility in freestyle sports including big mountain skiing.

 

Most of the "vest" or "jacket" ones that are any good, have velcro straps anyway. My son Jasper used a POC VPD 2.0 sm/x-sm for big mountain skiing and freeskiing. I started to notice him leaving it in the car during comps & called him out on it. He even cut off the sleeves. Apparently, if it's tight enough that the plate/pad won't move in a crash, it's then too tight to allow "extreme" mobility. This may be less of an issue in Alpine Racing.

 

Jasper has since switched to "Pro tech" shirts & pants with the VPD pads built into the clothing. These looser fitting pads still provide good protection on first impacts, but tend to move and become less effective in multi-impact crashes. It's going to be a compromise either way. Better protection vs. mobility. Sometimes the pads save you completely. Sometimes a rock will go right through armor like it wasn't even there.

 

I just torched a $200 Bell Full-Face Mt. Bike Helmet, Full-armor Fox Knee/Shin pads & a pair of shades in a mt. bike crash at Crested Butte. A rock still got through my helmet, smashing my shades, & a sharp rock got through my kneecap, just missing the armor plate, & cutting through the reinforced padding like butter. If I had the velcro strap tight enough to stay in place completely in a big crash, it would be too tight to peddle. You gotta compromise. Still, I'd probably be getting thrown in the trash instead of my equipment if I didn't have it, tight or loose

 

. I would recommend the lightest, loosest fitting pads you can get. If FIS is picking the list of acceptable models, the one with the least amount of protection will still probably be highly rated & extremely uncomfortable for freestyle sports.

 

Sometimes, lack of mobility can cause you to crash just as bad or worse than if you didn't even have the armor.

 

If you know any "little" racers needing a back/chest protector, we have a POC VPD 2.0 sm/x-sm for sale super cheap. Good luck. I hope FIS picks a wide variety of armor that fits well for everyone.

 

I'll be very interested to see where they go with this. FIS is starting to get heavily involved in safety issues in Freeskiing/Snowboarding too, now that pro freestyle sports are falling under FIS rules more and more. What they do in Alpine tends to bleed over into other disciplines eventually.

post #15 of 15

Glad to hear that FIS is actively modifying the "back-protector" policy as time goes forward. Testing and reviewing their policy is going to lead to better, lighter, more mobile tech.

 

Got some photos of back protectors but none of them will load since the site's photo limit is only 10MB. Sorry.

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