To be honest, after researching snowboarding clothes for women for the 1996-97 season, I lamented. At the expense of populism and fashion, many of the new “women’s snowboard companies” out on the trade show floors had clothes, not outerwear. But then, this stuff isn’t in this story. What did make it in are style-oriented, functioning women’s snowboard clothes to be worn on the snow. This season, style means motocross and ’70′s alpine ski suits with a combo of retro wool sweaters (with fat stripes) and flare hip-huggers with comic-book colors. But along with the fur collars and short coats, almost all of the more experienced women’s snowboard clothing companies have incorporated water-proof/breathable fabric, and things such as drop-seats, and pit zips.

Things to consider when choosing your snowboard wardrobe this winter include: local style (satin garments aren’t popular buys in mountain stores, for example), ability level, and affordability. If you’re a beginner or intermediate, you may be spending a lot of time on your butt, so chose pants with re-enforced seams, for example. If you’re into extreme terrain, but your local resort has its share of ice and hardpack, avoid the silky stuff or else you could end up taking the slide-for-life. And affordability: if you don’t need internal powder skirts and a detachable hood because, say, you mostly ride in Southern California, why pay for it?

Companies such as Belladonna, Roxy, Girls Rule, and Cold As Ice can outfit a warm-winter rider perfectly. Cold As Ice has a stylie satin motocross outfit and Pixie, a new line for fashion-conscious riders, while Roxy has similar style clothes but a little slimmer and more groovy ’70s look. Belladonna’s philosophy this season has been about “finding the woman on the mountain,” says Liz Esterces. In other words, in a Belladonna outfit, you’ll look like what you are rather than a baggy-grunge boy. The nylon/reflective motocross Stock Jacket ($150) looks cool and also has a trident fabric for water resistance.

Companies whose goals this season are to outfit every woman in every region of the country (the Everywomen companies) include Bombshell, Deep, Prom, Kurvz, and Yang. Bombshell’s probably got the most fashionable short coat this winter, called the Kali ($140 insulated or $130 as a shell). Bombshell’s using an Ultrex coating that makes garments waterproof/breathable and super durable. You’ll find the Ultrex in almost everything, including the their most technical jacket, the Rebel ($249). The Rebel’s got a tuckable hood, drop-tail polar fleece cuffs, removable powder skirt, and two-way zip, and ventilating mesh across the back, which is key when you’re hiking. Their Cosmos Jean-All ($198) kind of goes with the Rebel and offers a fitted waist, snap zip fly, full side zip, and a neat bungie cord with a small cord lock in the back to size your waist for added fit sort of like Marmot and The North Face alpine pants. The Spirit Jacket ($169.99) in the “Bubbalicious” line is a little more youthful, but has a nice dropped hem to cover your lower back and is made of a satin fabric with a Travtech system. What this means is, a satin cloth that looks hip, but is still waterproof and breathable (unlike regular satin fabric) because of a 3-layer alipahtic urethane with polymerization technique (hmmm). Topped with Teflon and you’ve got Bombshell’s Bubbalicious literally covered. There’s no doubt it’s a unique, motocross-looking line.

Deep has a new low-end line for price conscious consumers called Downtown. The stuff looks so street (like the Raglan jacket $120),t reminds me of back-to-school clothes. But, as owner Tracy Fong described the line this year, “We’re also trying to cover all territories and regions, from smaller Japanese women to the bigger European styles.”

According to Fong, Europeans like fashion and are a little more accepting than Americans when it comes to style. Americans, on the other hand like Deep Superpant ($200) with its reinforced, double fabric cuffs and butt lines and internal snap gaiters, and the internal fleece and powder skirts that come with the Up-Town Bruce Jacket ($220). (Deep also carries kids clothes this season.)

All geographical conditions were taken into consideration for this year’s Prom line, according to Joe Hudson. “Last year we had 5 pieces and it’s increased to 14, ” says Roger Sgarbossa, Prom’s owner. The Sooner ($110) uses a EcoTemp II fabric that’s waterproof breathable and the fit comes up high even on the sides so you’re guaranteed not to get snow inside. If you hike, the techy bib pants, the Bliss ($165) are also worth checking out because it has a half side-zip and double knee and butt fabrics. Circe Wallace’s influence helped the Super Vixon ($150) thigh-length jacket: It has the option of coming with insulation, a button-in hood, and inside powder skirt. Three bold additions to Prom is the use of a fuchsia-like berry color in many of their styles, the one-piece, red farmer johns for women ($64), and the tiny clothes for kids called Swag Kids.

Kurvz has always maintained a strong philosophy of who they are and where they’re going. Even their slogan: “We’re not jumping on the bandwagon, we’re driving it,” speaks volumes about themselves. Again, this season, Kurvz has set the pace in technical women’s snowboard gear. When I asked CEO Kristy Roach about Kurvz motocross clothes, she laughed and said “We’re trying to be basic among those fleeting trends and staying.” Sage advice. On the technical end, Kurvz has the Diana Bib ($240) and Parka ($240), which, according to Roach are “burly” using 4000 dpi of waterproofing. (Most snowboard manufacturers use 2000 dpi.) Even the price point items, such as the Medusa Jacket ($120) have 4000 dpi, which probably doesn’t mean the company’s making a ton of money, but does mean they’ve got quality. The Diana Parka comes with a detachable hood, fleece liner, waist gaiters, double storm guards on the zipper, and covered pit zips (so you can unzip for ventilation, but still not get snow inside). Even with all this burliness, they’ve managed to give the piece a more feminine feel and look with a vanilla satin liner next to the body and satin piping down the sides and under the arms and a flattering silhouette from its shapely fit. The butt zip and adjustable side suspenders (they’re off to the side to avoid hitting your boobs) are Kurvz signature items, but have been improved this season with an adjustable pant length and curves at the waist, to make the pants puff out slightly in your lower back to avoid getting all sweaty.

Yang is stoked on team riders’ influence– especially Wendy Powell who also sews for Yang in this season’s clothing. The most obvious look about Yang is the ’70s ski suit style complete with the “V” stripes, lemon and lime color schemes, and hip-length, retro fit. Cool thing is, it all has been tweaked to work for snowboarding: the fabrics are waterproof breathable, have recycled insulation called Earth Rep, interior mesh, pit zips, Micro Fleece chin guards, gripper elastic on the pants, you name it. The Wendy Cruisin’ Pant ($130) is a hip-hugger style pant that flares at the bottom, but surprisingly doesn’t give you that repairman crack-thing when you bend over because it stays up (the crotch-to-hip bone length is actually made long enough). The Leora Swish Jacket ($160) the kind that Wendy rides in has a shock cord and inside powder cuffs in the sleeves as well as a Walkman pocket. Yang’s signature Heart Pant ($120) the butt’s a reinforced heart of a different color) looks street, but works really well on in-bound terrain with its waterproof powder cuffs and security loop to hook your pants to your boots so they don’t pull up.

Swag, Sessions, Tuesday (by Twist), Minx (by Wave Rave), and Betty (by Ton-A-Wa-Wa) focused this season on better fabrics. Don’t let the fur collars and quilted fabrics in the Minx line fool you. Former President Trey Cook says Wave Rave is still using Gore-Tex (for the third year) in it’s fabrics which, if you know anything about fabric is costly because of it’s incredible water-wicking properties and breathability. Queen Betty, Janet Chapman, moved her production facilities to Thailand, which, she says, “made a huge difference in costs.” The result is a change in fabric to Polyurethane and a Hipora coating system which, when woven tougher, makes the garments more waterproof and breathable. Both the Betty Best Pant ($119) and Betty Tech Pant ($160) have fleece liners and ample fit in the butt, which Chapman says “makes girls butts look better, yet with room to layer.” As for the Mountain Jacket ($169.99), Chapman is right when she states flatly that “every woman needs this.” It has a roll-down hood, pit zips, longer tail, and a drawstring bungie inside for fit.

Tina and Shannon’s influence on Twist’s new Tuesday line are probably most obvious by the color schemes: Lime, turquoise, lemon, and soft pink predominate. The other obvious influence is the techy-ness (not tackiness). Tuesday’s 2-in-1 jackets ($210) come with an inner, removable vest and waist skirts, and their pants offer a knit inner cuffs and zip-down seat for peeing in the woods.

Session’s Joel Gomez admits to not having more technical lines (or any lines for women for that matter) from the get-go until this season: “We should have done this before, but then there’s always room for improvement.” The improvements are obvious this season with their first women’s line and the help of aggro rider Betsy Myer (recommended by Tina Basich and Shannon Dunn). Myer’s influence in the Biscuit tech pant ($159) comes through with it’s Jean-style fit, polar fleece in the butt and knees, and hardcore coating: it’s made of again Ultrex which, according to production manager Andy Wightman, “crosses the gap between a semi-functional technical coating and Gore-Tex forming micro pores in the coating so that vapor can pass through the pores but water cannot.” The Gravy jacket($189) as in Biscuits and Gravy also influenced by Myers, offers an inside body gaiter and a detachable microfleece hood and collar, and inside ribbed cuffs with outside Velcro adjusters.

Expensive, but worth the price if you’re into backcountry, steep terrain are Burton, bonfire, Patagonia, and The North Face. Burton, who has always been the leader in new technology including fabrics has even gone so far this season to make it’s own type of Gore-Tex, called Tri-Lite, according to Nancy Carlson. The three secret fabrics are woven together and supposedly are as good or better than Gore-Tex (and 5 times more waterproof). For women, though, the most technical outerwear is the Outland Jacket ($250) and Pants ($210), made with Duo-Lite (two fabrics rather than three). Cool aspect about the parprisingly doesn’t give you that repairman crack-thing when you bend over because it stays up (the crotch-to-hip bone length is actually made long enough). The Leora Swish Jacket ($160) the kind that Wendy rides in has a shock cord and inside powder cuffs in the sleeves as well as a Walkman pocket. Yang’s signature Heart Pant ($120) the butt’s a reinforced heart of a different color) looks street, but works really well on in-bound terrain with its waterproof powder cuffs and security loop to hook your pants to your boots so they don’t pull up.

Swag, Sessions, Tuesday (by Twist), Minx (by Wave Rave), and Betty (by Ton-A-Wa-Wa) focused this season on better fabrics. Don’t let the fur collars and quilted fabrics in the Minx line fool you. Former President Trey Cook says Wave Rave is still using Gore-Tex (for the third year) in it’s fabrics which, if you know anything about fabric is costly because of it’s incredible water-wicking properties and breathability. Queen Betty, Janet Chapman, moved her production facilities to Thailand, which, she says, “made a huge difference in costs.” The result is a change in fabric to Polyurethane and a Hipora coating system which, when woven tougher, makes the garments more waterproof and breathable. Both the Betty Best Pant ($119) and Betty Tech Pant ($160) have fleece liners and ample fit in the butt, which Chapman says “makes girls butts look better, yet with room to layer.” As for the Mountain Jacket ($169.99), Chapman is right when she states flatly that “every woman needs this.” It has a roll-down hood, pit zips, longer tail, and a drawstring bungie inside for fit.

Tina and Shannon’s influence on Twist’s new Tuesday line are probably most obvious by the color schemes: Lime, turquoise, lemon, and soft pink predominate. The other obvious influence is the techy-ness (not tackiness). Tuesday’s 2-in-1 jackets ($210) come with an inner, removable vest and waist skirts, and their pants offer a knit inner cuffs and zip-down seat for peeing in the woods.

Session’s Joel Gomez admits to not having more technical lines (or any lines for women for that matter) from the get-go until this season: “We should have done this before, but then there’s always room for improvement.” The improvements are obvious this season with their first women’s line and the help of aggro rider Betsy Myer (recommended by Tina Basich and Shannon Dunn). Myer’s influence in the Biscuit tech pant ($159) comes through with it’s Jean-style fit, polar fleece in the butt and knees, and hardcore coating: it’s made of again Ultrex which, according to production manager Andy Wightman, “crosses the gap between a semi-functional technical coating and Gore-Tex forming micro pores in the coating so that vapor can pass through the pores but water cannot.” The Gravy jacket($189) as in Biscuits and Gravy also influenced by Myers, offers an inside body gaiter and a detachable microfleece hood and collar, and inside ribbed cuffs with outside Velcro adjusters.

Expensive, but worth the price if you’re into backcountry, steep terrain are Burton, bonfire, Patagonia, and The North Face. Burton, who has always been the leader in new technology including fabrics has even gone so far this season to make it’s own type of Gore-Tex, called Tri-Lite, according to Nancy Carlson. The three secret fabrics are woven together and supposedly are as good or better than Gore-Tex (and 5 times more waterproof). For women, though, the most technical outerwear is the Outland Jacket ($250) and Pants ($210), made with Duo-Lite (two fabrics rather than three). Cool aspect about the pants (besides the anatomical fit, suspenders, and high waist) is the gathered, Backwarmer panel it makes for a nice and comfy warm lower back. Burton’s Universe line has what they call a “unisex function in a female cut.” For example, even though the Universe pants ($180) have side-zip venting, knee and butt reinforcements, and “sit-without-soak” droptail, you don’t look like you’re wearing your boyfriend’s jacket because it fits you. But perhaps it’s the Biolight line ($150) the most lightweight that makes women look their finest. They have this style-oriented, short jacket with a flare collar that not only fits a lady’s shape, but as Burton puts it, “has belly-dancing mobility.”

Maybe I’m more fashion conscious than I realized, but bonfire’s color choices (pea green, sky, rust, butterscotch) were so dull, it distracted me from the actual technical features of their first women’s line. And it is very technical. “Women were asking for their own clothes so we made garments that are as functional, technically, as the men’s this season,” says bonfire’s Abbey Guyer. They’re separated into a Bronze, Silver ($145 for pants or jacket), Gold ($185), and Platinum Series, which accordingly, have more technical features the higher up the scale you go. Unfortunately, the Bronze and Platinum Series for women were dropped this season. But the Gold jacket, although technical, has a little more style than the most technical line, Platinum, with its short waist and fitted body (looks very similar to Burton’s Biolight jacket), while the Gold Pants are jean-looking with its front zip, straight legs, and belted waist.

The thing about Patagonia’s Nitro II Jacket ($355) and Pants ($330) series is that you can hang out in big storms or just ride a deep winter in them forever. The bummer is that they’re unisex, so for example, the coat may zip up too high (covering you’re whole face and making you claustrophobic) and the pants may pull in the crotch if you are a tall woman. If you’re build is more athletic, say, and your hips are narrow, the pants would be great. Otherwise, it’s the old, fitting-a-feminine-figure-into-guys-outerwear sort of thing. On the other hand, if you don’t mind looking like a skier, Patagonia’s Drop Seat Pants ($245) for women are the ultimate, technically-speaking. They drop for peeing, have an anatomically fit shape in the butt and knees (and also come in short, regular, and tall) and have a taffeta lining in the lower leg so it won’t bunch up if you’ve layered. (Patagonia’s got a Drop Seat for kids, too, which will make mom and dad stoked.) Their Guide Parka ($300) for women again looks like you’re in an alpine ski coat but it’ super cozy and dry and has a really deep, removable hood (you can practically turn you whole face in it so that you’re looking at the inside of your hood, but it’s cool if you have a lot of hair).

Other companies worth mentioning include The North Face thanks to Bonnie Zellers influence in hardcore snowboarding design for women and an up-and-coming snowboard company Bilt, which has some of the most stylish silver and metallic blue clothing for women I’ve ever seen. Hopefully both companies will have more on women’s snowboard outwear in the future.

There you have it, so far. Clothes are a personal thing, and so is getting wet or sweating like a pig because it’s not breathable. So try on each garment before purchasing, (not necessarily ordering from a catalogue) keeping in mind the fit (Can you move your arms? Sit without the pants coming up over your boots? Does it pull on your crotch or come up above your belly-button ring when you put your hands in the air?), the places you ride most, and what you plan on doing with your snowboarding in the future. For example, a halfpipe rider might not be so stoked on a Patagonia set-up, but big mountain riders may like it. And as with anything, chose for yourself; not from the pros.

(besides the anatomical fit, suspenders, and high waist) is the gathered, Backwarmer panel it makes for a nice and comfy warm lower back. Burton’s Universe line has what they call a “unisex function in a female cut.” For example, even though the Universe pants ($180) have side-zip venting, knee and butt reinforcements, and “sit-without-soak” droptail, you don’t look like you’re wearing your boyfriend’s jacket because it fits you. But perhaps it’s the Biolight line ($150) the most lightweight that makes women look their finest. They have this style-oriented, short jacket with a flare collar that not only fits a lady’s shape, but as Burton puts it, “has belly-dancing mobility.”

Maybe I’m more fashion conscious than I realized, but bonfire’s color choices (pea green, sky, rust, butterscotch) were so dull, it distracted me from the actual technical features of their first women’s line. And it is very technical. “Women were asking for their own clothes so we made garments that are as functional, technically, as the men’s this season,” says bonfire’s Abbey Guyer. They’re separated into a Bronze, Silver ($145 for pants or jacket), Gold ($185), and Platinum Series, which accordingly, have more technical features the higher up the scale you go. Unfortunately, the Bronze and Platinum Series for women were dropped this season. But the Gold jacket, although technical, has a little more style than the most technical line, Platinum, with its short waist and fitted body (looks very similar to Burton’s Biolight jacket), while the Gold Pants are jean-looking with its front zip, straight legs, and belted waist.

The thing about Patagonia’s Nitro II Jacket ($355) and Pants ($330) series is that you can hang out in big storms or just ride a deep winter in them forever. The bummer is that they’re unisex, so for example, the coat may zip up too high (covering you’re whole face and making you claustrophobic) and the pants may pull in the crotch if you are a tall woman. If you’re build is more athletic, say, and your hips are narrow, the pants would be great. Otherwise, it’s the old, fitting-a-feminine-figure-into-guys-outerwear sort of thing. On the other hand, if you don’t mind looking like a skier, Patagonia’s Drop Seat Pants ($245) for women are the ultimate, technically-speaking. They drop for peeing, have an anatomically fit shape in the butt and knees (and also come in short, regular, and tall) and have a taffeta lining in the lower leg so it won’t bunch up if you’ve layered. (Patagonia’s got a Drop Seat for kids, too, which will make mom and dad stoked.) Their Guide Parka ($300) for women again looks like you’re in an alpine ski coat but it’ super cozy and dry and has a really deep, removable hood (you can practically turn you whole face in it so that you’re looking at the inside of your hood, but it’s cool if you have a lot of hair).

Other companies worth mentioning include The North Face thanks to Bonnie Zellers influence in hardcore snowboarding design for women and an up-and-coming snowboard company Bilt, which has some of the most stylish silver and metallic blue clothing for women I’ve ever seen. Hopefully both companies will have more on women’s snowboard outwear in the future.

There you have it, so far. Clothes are a personal thing, and so is getting wet or sweating like a pig because it’s not breathable. So try on each garment before purchasing, (not necessarily ordering from a catalogue) keeping in mind the fit (Can you move your arms? Sit without the pants coming up over your boots? Does it pull on your crotch or come up above your belly-button ring when you put your hands in the air?), the places you ride most, and what you plan on doing with your snowboarding in the future. For example, a halfpipe rider might not be so stoked on a Patagonia set-up, but big mountain riders may like it. And as with anything, chose for yourself; not from the pros.

ring when you put your hands in the air?), the places you ride most, and what you plan on doing with your snowboarding in the future. For example, a halfpipe rider might not be so stoked on a Patagonia set-up, but big mountain riders may like it. And as with anything, chose for yourself; not from the pros.