The following excerpts are from Arne Backstrom's biography at www.patagonia.com.
During my earlier ski days, my family rolled up to the mountains in a rusty brown 1954 GMC bookmobile. It was a grotesque machine in both looks and mechanics, but every Friday night from December to April, that neurotic old vehicle delivered our family of five the 100 miles from Seattle to Crystal Mountain and provided lodging for the weekend. My sister and brother and I would sit at the table/bed in the back and Mom gripped the dash from the co-pilot position while Dad worked the shifter and struggled to manage 26,000 lbs of momentum with less than adequate brakes. It was an eyesore, scary to drive, cold, and smelled funny, but when it snowed two feet we laughed and said it was paradise. It wasn't luxury living, but it brought the family together, and we skied hard. I probably wouldn't have wished it back then, but those days seem to have set the tone for my life thus far, at least in spirit. I still do whatever it takes to ski as much as I can.
After some years of tearing around the mountain finding secret trails and powder stashes, I began racing at 11. It was the logical next step and provided speed and adrenaline and taught me to push the limits. I enjoyed the competition, and the discipline was good, but I was still out freeskiing as much as possible, and I poached the snowboard park on occasion, too. I ski raced through college, and then with some hard-earned summer cash, took off to Europe and succeeded in spending a serious amount of time on snow, racking up lots of vertical in big terrain. Since then, the thought of a real job has been less and less attractive, and when winter comes around I put everything else aside.
Skiing is a beautiful way to travel in alpine terrain. It provides access to amazing places while leaving only a fleeting trail and allows one to interact with a huge amount of terrain in a short period of time. It allows effortless speed and grace over what would otherwise be scarcely navigable terrain. It's a simple game of resisting and manipulating gravity, and is made possible by the most vital of substances. I am continually amazed and always grateful that this crazy sport exists and has progressed to its current state.
It should be encouraging to all that the smoothest, best skiers on the mountain are almost always the older guys and gals who have perfected the art of matching speed and turn shape with snow and terrain. With the right amount of power and control, skiing is low impact, a great workout, and can be practiced for a lifetime. I plan to do so, but my biggest concern is rising temperatures and unpredictable weather patterns. Most skiers have already noticed that things are getting weird, with feast-or-famine snow years and wild weather. Though it may make for a great season here and there, it's disturbing and indicates that we need to change our ways so that our sport may continue in as many places as possible. Skiers have special incentive to do their part with responsible energy consumption and helping the environmental movement gain momentum.
I've tried a bunch of different ones and this is by far the most comfortable, and for that reason the only one I don't mind wearing. I can put this one on and pretty much forget about it, which is what i've been looking for in a back protector.