In the late '70s, Steve and Phil Mahre wore padded Demetre sweaters to protect themselves from whacking slalom gates. Today it's freeskiers who are strapping on the pads, only now it's to protect against things like rocks, trees, stumps, icy pipe landings, and the errant elbow in a skiercross. Freeskiing superwoman Darian Boyle wears souped-up long underwear from Crash Pads -- with padding at the hips, tailbone, butt, and knees -- whenever she skis. "I live by them," Boyle says, "though they don't do much for your figure."
Dainese has a Back Shield ($90) that covers the low back and a full-on Back Protector Space that protects the spinal column, tailbone, and kidneys ($179, shown above). 612-561-5221; www.palmerusa.com
Crash Pads offers a full line of padded shorts, pants, and long underwear. $50-$110. 800-964-5993; www.crash-pads.com
RED has Impact Shorts ($70) made of a breathable, moisture-wicking material to alleviate "sweatybuttitis," the company says. 800-881-3138; www.red-corp.com