Having taken delivery on a pair of Flex-Force Pro Armored Shorts from Demon United last week, I’ve finally had a chance to properly evaluate them after a few runs in varied conditions and a few falls flat on my ass.
Before reading, you should really check out the Open Box Impression video below, to get an idea of the product itself and how it’s presented by Demon.
As you saw, I found the build quality, fitment and style to be most agreeable straight away. Solid stitching, great elasticity and a high level of comfort that you need in an undergarment.
The pads are light enough to keep on all day but beefy enough to remind you of their presence thanks to utilization of a material called “D3O”. For those of you who don’t usually ski or board in body armor it is an inspiring experience- even if you don’t crash.
Confidence burbles from the pads up your spine and into your brain, making you feel like some kind of snowboarding superhero.
This of course is not the goal of armor manufacturers and is in fact an extremely dangerous phenomenon.
Wearing armor is not an excuse to be an idiot. But let’s face it- how do you get better? You go bigger, that’s how. And although it doesn’t make you invincible, light armor like the Flex-Force Pro shorts allow you to walk away from bigger falls without injury.
And that, I can attest to.
While butt-region injuries are relatively infrequent on skis, thwacks to the tailbone are all too common when riding a snowboard. Especially if you’re new to the sport like myself.
In order to truly test the Flex-Force shorts, I had to have a go on a board. I rented a basic Burton 160 from the demo shop at Mammoth Mountain and set out for some intermediate trails.
As I rode the chairlift I thought about my career as a crash-test dummy. Would I really be able to throw myself into the snow on purpose for the sake of science?
Who was I kidding- I’m not a good enough snowboarder to go a whole day without falling on my keister.
It only took four runs before I had my chance to properly evaluate the shorts.
Coming down Stump Alley, a moderately steep but surprisingly fast run under Mammoth Mountain’s Chair Two, I built up way more speed than I knew what to do with an overconfidently tried to initiate a heel-edge turn to scrub down.
In less time than I could yell my butt was barreling into the snow, making contact with enough force to toss me around and cream the left thigh as well.
I looked up to make sure my board and body were visible to descending traffic and began to assess my injuries.
I’m not gonna lie- the crash was not a painless experience. I felt some undeniably tenderness where the impact had first taken place, but the sensation secondary impact had already faded.
I righted myself and headed for the lift, half speed this time, and compared this crash to my last nasty tailbone tag.
My first day on a snowboard had only taken place a few weeks ago, but the pain in my tailbone from one low-speed direct hit had lingered like the last party guest still desperate to bring someone to bed.
I estimate the crash I just had in the shorts was roughly equal to that which had haunted me for so many days, and I’m delighted to report that the pain from the former had faded almost completely by the time I reached the bottom of the run.
These things saved my ass from a week’s worth of pain and hampered performance; you can’t put a price on that.
Actually, you can. The Demon Flex-Force Pro Shorts retail for about $70, and can be purchased directly from their website or through any major online sports gear retailer.
The only caveats I’d send you to the store with is that the shorts do get quite hot, even on cooler days. Makes me think they’d be pretty tough to spring ski in, and nearly unbearable on jungle mountain biking runs.
What’s this “D3O” business anyway? It’s not a Star Wars character (I know, that’s what I thought at first too). D3O is actually a synthetic polymer that’s coming up as the new word in sports body protection.
The geniuses over at the D3O Lab in England have finally put down the teakettle and developed a material that’s lightweight like foam when moved slowly, but hardens instantly on impact to disperse the blow over a larger area of your body and reduce the risk of injury.
This material is ideal for sports protection applications where low weight and high maneuverability are critical features.
This material is tough, that fact made itself apparent right away to me when they absorbed most of the ouch from my spill. But don’t take my word for it, watch the maniacs at GizMag.com beat the crap out of each other to prove my point.
As you can see, D3O may not withstand repeated trauma as well as thick foam CE armor. But when’s the last time you didn’t take a few second breather after a nasty impact? In all but the highest-speed crashes you might wrap yourself up in on a motorcycle, snowmobile or quad, the lightweight and malleability of D3O renders it the superior tool for personal sports protection.
Wanna get a little more nerdy with it?