Well, it is going to be personal choice...!!!
And, with practice, comes the ability, the problem is what pain do you actually need to suffer, and even when you have learnt, can you afford the hospital visits and time out if you do fall...
I always ride with protection, we have some very tight twisted tree runs, and i have a habit of hitting them, if i am running through them, or the park with mates etc, then i will always protect up, and for that i use this company, i have a FULL body protection and also impact shorts that cover thighs etc...
Forcefield Extreme Harness Adventure | Forcefield Body Armour
If i am out with Sneaky, then generally i am just running slower, doing much less, so i wear a simple carbon back protector from Sweet Protection. (Currently Not Available)
Sweet Protection | Ski and Snowboard
I always have some protection though, my history with a broken back and ongoing problems i just don't take the risk...
The difference is huge between the types available, the Forcefield has no memory, so never wears out, so for everyday use, is awesome if you are hitting stuff constantly like i do, but the carbon back, i know will wear out, but as i use in a different way will last me years... In fact i have only landed twice on a rail in 2 years while using this, saved me both times...
Height 5"11, Weight 200-210lbs, Born 1969
Regular Stance, Ability NOT GOOD
2012/13 114 days
2013/14 102 days
2014/15 57 days and counting
K2 Fastplant 154, Ride DH2 158, Endeavour Vice 155, Signal OG 155, NS Evo 157 (Stolen), Flow Quantum 155