CKX – Season Long Evaluation – 2018
By Chris Tuck
Over the past several years, I’ve enjoyed contributing to the editorial line up of Sledworthy. So when I was approached by Sledworthy to do a gear test of the 2018 line up of CKX Snowmobile Gear, I jumped at that opportunity. Having had some experience with several of their products previously, I was curious to see how their product line had advanced. I agreed to put it through its paces for the 2017-18 riding season.
First off, the crew at CKX were amazing to deal with and shipping was incredibly fast, it was like Christmas came early as I opened my door to the many boxes. For the Season test I reviewed the following:
- SideHill One Piece (Onesie) Snowmobile Suit
- X-Trax Boots
- Apex Gloves, Delta Short Glove and Jack Beanie
- Fusion Liner
- Side Hill Titan Helmet and Goggle Combo
Sidehill Onesie Snowmobile Suit
I had watched with intrigue as the one piece began showing up in the market with great interest. Initially, I had flashbacks to growing up in the early 80’s, as you wrestled the dreaded one piece suit, typically equipped with the wool home-knit gloves with the connecting yarn string so they wouldn’t get lost. (OK, I just seriously aged myself) The kicker was when you finally got dressed, the overwhelming urge to pee would instantly kick in. Putting all those feelings back in the depths of dreaded childhood memories, I proceeded to order the Onesie to give it a good workout and am I ever glad I did!
This suit performed amazingly well on all counts. I initially thought it was quite big but realized there had to be enough movement to perform the sled aerobics needed to maneuver a mountain sled in the backcountry. CKX had it all figured out with multiple adjustments built in on the pant legs and an internal shoulder strap system. This thing fit like a comfortable pair of pyjamas. It was big enough to be able to wear my Tek-vest underneath and it didn’t feel too bulky. The venting was great and it stayed perfectly waterproof, even when riding in driving spring rain. The huge onesie bonus was no snow stuffed into your jacket to melt and get you cold after that unexpected dismount, or while doing snow angels with your Step-Daughter (A must do at our house!)
My biggest concern was that it would be too warm for spring riding, but that was never an issue. Less layers with the built in venting and the zipper down and it was good to go. The great news; I never once had the overwhelming urge to pee when I put it on. Oops, too much information again : )
These boots did everything right, they were light weight and provided great grip on the running boards. My previous boots would quite often slip causing me to unceremoniously dismount at the most inopportune times. They didn’t fit as snug as I was used to, initially I thought this was a negative feature, but as I wore them more, I realized that this was actually a good thing as it allowed me to wear different types of socks depending on the riding conditions. Yes, I even wore the matching hand-knit wool socks, thankfully this time without the mittens with the string! If you don’t notice the boots while walking through the snow, to me, that’s a great sign that the boot works well. These were comfortable as I tried on multiple occasions to walk to my riding buddies to return the many many favours I owed them from helping get me unstuck!
Apex Gloves, Delta Short Glove and Jack Beanie
If there was one area that needs improvement in the CKX line-up to me it would be the Apex Glove. It was light weight and fairly warm but the downside to me was the quality of materials. The adjustment buckle broke when sidehilling through some gnarly spruce trees after my first good backcountry ride. An internal adjustment mechanism would be more functional for my use, although they should be fine for trail riding. There should also be an expansion of the extra reinforced palm material to cover the complete grip surface as the leather flaked and wore quite a bit off of the finger area through the season. The Delta Short Gloves on the other hand, were great spring riding gloves. They had enough padding on the knuckles that they kept your hands warm, even after the warm spring sun has set while remaining nimble enough to get a good grip on the bars. The Jack Beanie was super warm and I found myself reaching for it in spring and late fall when there was no snow on the ground.
This down filled Jacket is sold first and foremost, as a mid-layer for other CKX snowmobile suits. It is so much more than that! It is lightweight and super warm and it has been my go to fall and winter casual jacket. It is not designed for it, but I even got caught in a late fall torrential down pour and I was still toasty warm and dry inside. I absolutely love this jacket!
Titan Sidehill Helmet
As good as some of the other CKX Gear is, and it is, the CKX Titan Helmet is bar none, the best helmet and goggle combo I have ever tried. To give this some context, Helmets are my collection item, I love them and try many different types and styles. On top of snowmobiling, I also ride my Adventure Motorcycle for thousands of Kilometres per summer and have an ATV where I use similar styles of helmets. At any point in time I could have up to seven helmets in my fleet, so I have a good context.
Anyone that rides sleds with me knows I have huge issues with goggles steaming up, to the point that I have been forced to ride without them on occasion. I have tried many of the major brands of goggle, but until now, I could not find anything that worked with the odd shape of my head. (Insert joke here) The Titan Helmet and 210 degree goggles were amazing! It didn’t steam up on me at all and the range of vision was quite impressive. I had the yellow lenses on the goggles and found it was the only yellow lens that I could also ride at night with. The helmet itself is super lightweight, so light weight that it blew off the sled and bounced off the ground by its visor. Oh, and did I mention that it’s tough too! Just one small scratch remained to tell the story. I also found myself reaching for the Titan on several of my adventure motorcycle rides. Winter or summer, the removable front mouth guard system that allows you to access your mouth either for food breaks or to get a huge mouthful of that crisp winter air as you are fighting to get your breath while digging out from the impossible stuck (Which I’m great at finding) is amazing! I can’t say enough about how great I find this helmet.
I have read many gear reviews in the past and thought, yeah right, of course they are going to say that. This one is my personal opinion and you may take it as you will. Can you find better gear then CKX? Perhaps, but I can guarantee, you would be hard pressed to find better gear at a comparable price point! I was more than impressed with my CKX Gear and would gladly entertain a conversation or answer any questions you might have about my experience!
See you on the snow!