In an effort to learn what gear could be trusted when put through the wringer and what would please the most riders ’round the world, last season we rounded up over 500 products slated for release this year and sent them to our team of testers spread across the country. They rode them hard and critiqued them even harder, and the 115 items that rose to the top were featured in our Gear Guide. Anything that makes the final cut is worth discussing, and there has been a lot of talk about the following ten products. In fact, data shows that these boots, bindings, and accessories received the most views and comments on our site in 2016.
ThirtyTwo took all the things that testers loved about last year’s TM-Two—the ultra-cush heat-moldable Intuition liners, the mid-stiff flex with a playful side, and the no-frills traditional laces—and added a badass Vibram sole. It welcomes all-mountain destroyers with open arms and will even give aggressive freestylers something to write home about. It’s now quite clear why this is Jeremy Jones’ signature boot on inbounds days.
Looking to develop the ultimate goggle-helmet integration, the Mod 5 (and the Mod 3) represents Oakley’s big splash into the helmet game. The Modular Brim System helps achieve that goal, the “No Pressure Ear Cups” offer great comfort, and the dual material outer shell—ABS in front, In-Mold in rear—is designed to provide a lightweight feel and durability in key locations.
Testers didn’t call the T. Rice bindings overbuilt by any means, but they raved over the bombproof hybrid forged carbon/nylon highback and stealth-yet-powerful ankle straps. They said that with such stout highbacks, the bindings performed best when you’re in the driver’s seat versus the backseat—as in, it takes an aggressive rider to make the most of these.
The Bent Metal Transfer, a highlight of the brand’s re-entry into the binding market, earned a top spot in the all-mountain category for its responsiveness, comfort, versatility, and style. Testers railed turns through chop and refrozen snow, praising the binding’s precise, smooth heel-to-toe response even in the nastiest conditions. For all its durable features, you’d expect the Transfer to be heavyweight, but it rode surprisingly light underfoot.
With the Infuse, Pat Moore’s do-it-all boot, Vans puts on a clinic of snowboard boot technology. A combination of Boa lacing, traditional lacing, and power straps offers ultimate control over boot fit and performance. With four different ways to customize support levels, it’s happy to spin park laps one day, then charge steep lines in no-fall zones the next.
The playfully responsive adidas Samba is for the rider who wants a forgiving, skate-inspired fit and styling. A heat-moldable liner is reinforced with ankle support, and the 3D-molded tongue envelops the leg, offering substantial support and response on toe-side turns, something this boot does better than most—surprising, given its shoe-like flex with a sole that feels almost as ready to crack a kickflip as slash a windlip.
The K2 Ender lives up to its name as a favorite freestyle boot for 2017. Testers said it laid the competition to rest. The ability to adjust the internal lacing from outside the boot is one of those functions that seems so simple, yet until this point hasn’t been properly executed. Foot fatigue? Forget about it. The park-oriented Vibram outsole and Harshmellow midsole combine forces to dampen impacts and power up bootpacks with trusting traction.
Even without any major updates, the DC Travis Rice once again found its way into our testers’ top picks, a testament to what an awesome boot it is. Testers enjoyed the natural, effortless flex that let them show their true styles, yet provided much-needed support and stability for managing bumpy terrain and straight-lining down the mountain. You may feel like T. Rice when you’re lacing up, but please check yourself before dropping into gnarly lines or foreign AK spines.
Hands down the most comfortable men’s freeride boot we tested, the adidas Tactical ADV offers super-cush support that had feet feeling like they were still in a cozy bed, not waiting in line for first chair on a powder day. This would be the perfect boot for riders who value comfort above all, but are looking for a ride that is a little more aggressive than found in most freestyle boots.
Not every rider–or tour–calls for a backpack. Bryan Iguchi helped design this backcountry vest that rides below the waist for deep powder days with pockets for splitboard necessities, and then some. Avalanche gear, snacks, two-way radio, smartphone or point-and-shoot—if you require it out there, it’ll fit in here.
Those were the most popular boot, binding, and accessory stories on TWSNOW.com in 2016.
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