Roland Primus is legend in the snowboarding industry in Europe. He first started skiing at the age of 3 and climbing by the time he was 11. Later, he would take up snowboarding, becoming a World Cup rider for Burton Snowboards before going on to found the oldest snowboarding school in all of Europe. He would also set up the Swiss Alpine and Freestyle Snowboard teams, the Snowboard School and Teacher association and the Skischool NOVA.
Under his leadership, the Swiss snowboard team won seven world championship titles between 1991 and 2007. Roland is also an award-winning aerobatic pilot and counts camping, windsurfing, surfing, fishing and trekking amongst his hobbies. A true mountain soul, Primus calls Lenzerheide, Switzerland home.
Recently we had the opportunity to sit down with Roland to find out what he’s been doing to keep himself busy. He also shared his thoughts on his favorite pieces of gear too.
Gear Institute: Hi Roland. How are you? Any upcoming plans for 2016?
Roland Primus: Last summer I hiked the Kungsleden Trail, which passes through a wild and beautiful part of northern Sweden. This year, my wife and I will be travelling to Finnmark in the far north of Norway, near the border with Finland. We’ll be ski-trekking the high plateau from north to south. We’ll camp, fish and enjoy life in the subarctic.
GI: That sounds like an amazing trip. Are there any pieces of gear that you always carry with you on an excursion like that one?
RP: I carry a Swiss army pocketknife with me of course. They’re small and lightweight, and very handy. I’ll also take my Helsport tent. It is equipped with a fly all the way to the ground, which is great for keeping dry in rainy, windy places like Scandanavia. It’s lightweight and has good ventilation too.
My Primus multifuel stove is perfect for cooking in the backcountry. It runs on gas or liquid fuel, so it is perfect for going to remote areas with no gas supply. It’s very reliable and I can use it in a tent without being afraid I’ll set the tent on fire!
I never leave my house without Ty-Raps (cable ties). It’s amazing what you can repair with them, I use the high grade ones with the metal stopper blade. I also carry Swedish waterproof matches because they never let me down. If your lighter breaks, that’s it. 100 matches weigh almost nothing, and if I have 100 matches, I have 100 chances to make a fire.
GI: That’s a great list of essential gear for sure. All of those items would definitely come in handy just about anywhere. What about some items from your sponsors? Any pieces of gear stand out?
RP: I love Kora yak wool base layers. They perform better than any other base layer I’ve experienced and are really comfortable too. They feel silky, they’re great for intense exercise, and have just the right amount of wicking. The odor resistance is also excellent, which comes in handy if you wear one shirt for 20 days in the same tent as your wife!
Kora’s Azog jacket is one of the most advanced technical mid layers in terms of shape and features. For example they use different layers of fabric in different body areas, which helps to keep me warm without overheating. I can wear it in a huge range of temperatures, from very cold nights to cold but sunny afternoons, without having to change.
GI: We’re big fans of Kora base layers too, so great choice. Do you have any picking tips that you can share with Gear Institute readers?
RP: I always have a trash bag with me to put inside by backpack. I never cover the outside of my backpack. I always keep the first layer I wear when sleeping in a dry bag and it never ever leaves the tent, except if I’m drying it in the sun.
GI: Interesting approach to keeping your clothing dry. I’ll have to give that a try. Are there any outdoor gear trends that you’re really excited about right now?
RP: A new berry and nuts mix that my wife is creating for us to snack on during the trip! But seriously, I’m also interested in outer layers that don’t have a membrane but are wind and weatherproof too.
GI: Those are two good things to be excited about for sure. Anything else you’d care to share?
RP: I think waterproof membranes are overrated. They seldom work very well in my opinion. In the Arctic you don’t really need them at all – if it’s very cold, there’s no wet precipitation so you don’t need waterproofing. A membrane makes you sweat more and the condensation can’t escape as well as it can with non-membrane clothing, so it is difficult to stay dry.
GI: Words of wisdom for sure. We’ll keep that in mind when picking out our next jacket for an Arctic expedition. Thanks for the tips and for sharing your time Roland. Good luck on the trip through Norway this year.