Make sure your next road trip is dialed. Get up to date on all the key gear.
Resort town locals have it pretty easy, with the mountain at their doorstep for early laps before work and even a few runs on their lunch break. But they miss out on the stoke of the journey—loading up the night before, leaving pre-dawn with a greasy breakfast sandwich singeing your mouth, and ascending the access road through those first few snow flurries that welcome you to several unexpected inches of fresh. Once there, you ride hard all day with your friends, conditions be damned. The following is a regionally themed collection of gear that goes with the territory to get you there and back.
"Buy the ticket, take the ride."
–Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Photo: Jeff Brockmeyer
The left coast is dotted with volcanoes, mountain ranges, and long, wet roads cutting through dense pine forests. You have to put in some miles to get to the snow, but the juice is worth the squeeze as long as visibility stays clear and you're dry on the long ride home.
Ride Phantom Roller ($200)
There's a dying breed of dirtbags who can pack a whole week's worth of gear into their board coffin. For everyone else, there's this 100 liter trolley luggage on skate wheels with vented boot storage, a collapsible helmet pocket, and two lined goggle pockets.
Lib Tech Mayhem Rocket ($700)
When the West Coast pow hits, it hits hard, and all the surf-influenced riders get right to work boosting big rooster turns and laying down surfy slashes. The 657 square inches of planning surface make this stubby little fireplug a pow floater, designed in collaboration with surfboard shaper Matt Biolos.
Under Armour Nimbus Shell/Bibs ($600 each)
The ultra rugged and breathable Gore-Tex Pro 3-layer material in John Jackson's new kit, along with a high collar, wrist gaiters, and waterproof zippers, make this outwear combo/getup damn near bombproof. Big, j-shaped chest vents and inseam zippers dump heat when things get steamy.
Dragon X1 Verse Transitions ($270)
Quick-change lens systems are getting pretty dialed, but unlike the X1, most don't change themselves. These optically correct spherical lenses start out with a yellow base tint and automatically darken when exposed to UVA and UVB rays to increase contrast and keep your greasy fingerprints off the windshield.
Fugoo Sport ($200)
Seems like every week another oddly shaped, durable waterproof speaker falls from the sky farting out fuzzy, muffled noises over Bluetooth while getting beer dumped on them. Not only is the Fugoo Sport about the size of a tallboy, it plays for 40 hours and sounds better than the Bose SoundLink with six tweeter, mid, and bass radiator speakers, plus 360-degree sound.
Wend Performance Wax ($7.50)
Wet, heavy snow can get quite sticky in places like the Northwest. WEND wax sources their materials through an exclusive arrangement with a farm in central Oregon that produces special hydrogenated seed oil from the Meadowfoam flower, which contains less additives than standard fluorocarbon wax, and supposedly resists dirt quite well.
Photo: Jeff Brockmeyer
Driving through the Rockies feels like you're on an interplanetary sci-fi movie set as snow-capped mountain peaks float by and narrow roads drop off into steep scree fields. In no other American zone do you feel so in it, and the legal weed only serves to enhance that. The light, fluffy, dry snow is unbeatable, but it's also remarkably unstable.
BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 ($222)
As a revamp of the tried-and-true KOs, staggered shoulder blocks wrap further around the sidewalls of these new tires for added protection, traction, and maneuverability in the deep stuff. Not only do these lugs exceed the Rubber Manufacturer Association's (RMA) severe snow traction requirements, they'll get you through the gnarliest of roads when things dry up in the off-season.
ARVA EVO4 ($290)
Avalanche beacons need smart features that even stupid people can use. The EVO4 keeps it nice and simple for you with a revamped LCD screen showing a more intuitive display. The group-check function gets everyone on the same page and the beacon can even identify the number of victims in a search.
SOL Altitude Sunscreen ($16)
If you're facing the sun at 13,000 feet, you need a mineral-based skin barrier to hold the moisture in your skin cells, reducing the speed of frostbite. SOL puts on skin protection clinics for Everest climbers and International Mountain Guides and makes a burly sunscreen that won't sting your eyes or corrode the foam on your goggles.
Never Summer West ($570)
No company has a more loyal Rocky Mountain following than Never Summer. Their three-year warranty attests to the ruggedness of their boards' ability to hold up in gnarly terrain and variable conditions. The new West has a rocker camber profile with slightly set back stance and peppy mid flex for riding all over. Comes in a wide.
686 Ether 3-Ply Jacket ($350)
Some 686 garments have secret weed stash pockets for the ultra sneaky, but in Colorado, you don't have as much to worry about. The vented collar on the Ether lets you turtle up inside it without accumulating too much breath-flavored condensation while huffing that thin, crisp air.
The North Face Modulator ABS Pack ($999)
Giving you one less excuse to venture into the backcountry without an air bag, the interchangeable Modulator system attaches to any size backpack with shoulder straps, so you can throw it on a lightweight daypack or a multi-day expedition pack. Rise to the top.
Photo: Jeff Brockmeyer
There's no such thing as frost nibble, especially on the East Coast, where Old Man Winter sinks his fangs deep into every snowy glade and wind-scowled run on some of the oldest, smallest resorts in the country. Diehard locals know how to weather the storms, while road trippers from the entire Eastern seaboard best bundle up and gear up for the journey.
Rome Mountain Division ($600)
Designed to carve groomers just as well as it sneaks into trees on powdery glade runs, this board has a directional camber profile and two carbon rods milled into the core for a more concentrated pop and flex. For lightweight strength, Rome threw in a wide strip of Zylon, which can also be found in bulletproof vests!
BlackStrap The Hood Balaclava ($29)
Cold wind and snow hitting your face all day can really wear out more than just your skin; it makes you fatigued. The articulated jaw piece is comfortable to wear beneath the chin or pulled all the way up to your eyeballs. Made in the USA and doubleing as a goggle wipe, the antimicrobial material is rated UPF 55-plus.
Cyntur JumperPack Mini ($100)
When the cold kills your car battery, you'll be far better off with this weatherproof 12,000 milliampere hour (mAh) charger, which contains a powerful lithium-ion battery that jumpstarts engines up to eight cylinders. With a 200 lumen LED torch, an emergency strobe, and a USB charger, this magic pack can resurrect snowmobiles too.
DaKine Super Tune Kit ($125)
Keep your edges sharp and your base buffed when railing down those narrow, bulletproof, Ice Coast runs. This kit has it all, including an iron with adjustable temperature, scrapers, files and stones with a small pamphlet of few tuning tips. Without the right lovin', your board won't perform to its highest potential.
Volcom Bryan Iguchi Outlander ($165)
You may have some après dance moves dialed in your snowboard boots, but wet liners break down fast and smell awful. Give them a chance to dry out while kicking around in these nubuck leather dogs with a grippy rubber outsole. Bryan Iguchi's artwork lines the collars and logos.
The North Face Sherman Insulated Parka ($299)
On the most frigid days, breathable ventilation is less of a concern than sheer warmth in your layer system. The Sherman has a longer cut to keep your bum cheeks toasty and compressible synthetic insulation lining the shell as your first line of defense against the whipping winter.