Jones Higher 30L R.A.S.

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Bravo, Mr. Jones and crew. The tester crew was hard-pressed to find any faults with the Higher 30L R.A.S. backpack—and they’re tough to please. First off, the 30-liter size is a sweet spot for day tours. Extra layers, avy tools, skins, goggles, water and snacks fit with ease. Both the avalanche tool pocket and main pocket are accessible clamshell-style; the main pocket is also accessible via the back panel, which is especially clutch when you’ve got your board strapped to the pack.

In addition to those two pockets, there’s a fleece-lined goggle pocket, insulated hydration pocket, internal zip pocket for miscellaneous items, and two hip-belt pockets. Even when all these caches were fully stuffed, testers said the pack carries exceptionally well. Jones’s partnership with Mammut brings riders the Removable Airbag System 3.0 (R.A.S. sold separately). Mammut’s R.A.S. utilizes compressed air instead of nitrogen (air cartridge sold separately) so you can deploy the bag before a plane trip and then refill the canister at your destination (North American canisters only). Jones also utilizes two interior panels to display elements of avalanche education.

Testers called the vertical carry snowboard straps the best of the test: plenty of tacky material at the contact points, and wide enough to secure the biggest of boards. The Higher pack also features an A-Frame system of straps for carrying a splitboard in touring mode. The helmet-carry sling is sleek and subtle (except for the logo). New for 2017, the chest strap has a wider adjustment range for improved women’s fit.

Price: $239.00
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RAD: Fine-tuned specifically for snowboarders, unlike many airbag packs. BAD: Lack of a bright colorway has potential to hinder visibility in low light and storm conditions.

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RAD: Fine-tuned specifically for snowboarders, unlike many airbag packs. BAD: Lack of a bright colorway has potential to hinder visibility in low light and storm conditions.

Tested And Approved 2017 Presented by

Best snowboard gear of 2016-2017? We've got you covered. Going into winter, we want to know what gear can be trusted when put through the wringer. But testing over 500 boots, bindings, goggles, gloves, helmets, splitboards and powder boards, and other backcountry gear and accessories in every snowy corner of the country was a massive undertaking that the TransWorld staff couldn't handle alone. So we sent the latest developments in snowboarding goods to our team of testers spread across the country. With so many unique features in the lineup and different opinions from each tester—both compliments and complaints—there was plenty worth discussing. Some gear broke. Other pieces spoke volumes to functionality and durability. So here you have it: the most inclusive, all-encompassing gear test in snowboarding. If it's in here, it's been beat up and bent every which way – and tested, and approved.

Meet Our Testers:

Adam Broderick

As Gear Editor at TransWorld SNOWboarding, Broderick spent last season directing tests around the country when he wasn't testing gear himself. He administered the Good Wood board test, powder board test, and backcountry test, while leading the glove test and coordinating the others, plus editing all Gear Guide text. He is the point of contact for all things gear-related at TWSNOW.

Mike Horn

Mike Horn's first backcountry pack had bungee cords for snowboard straps. That's a far cry from the innovative gear he tested in his Crested Butte backyard this winter. Mike's been writing about snowboarding for a decade-plus, and he tends to get crusty when reviewing gear that's not quite up to snuff.

Devin Silverthorne-Lillie

A New Hampshire transplant, Devin's Ice Coast roots provide superior edge awareness, and with Breckenridge's Park Lane in her backyard, she practically falls from bed to her board. She put freestyle bindings on trial in and out of bounds—from frozen mornings to spring slush, backyard rail jams to sidecountry booter sessions.

Billy Brown

Billy Brown covered new tech for this year's guide. The California native grew up riding the terrain parks in South Lake Tahoe, but for the past few years his career as a freelance editor has allowed him to snowboard around the world—from heliboarding in Whistler to riding post-storm powder in Valle Nevado, Chile.

Alex Showerman

A freelance writer based in Vermont, Alex took his powder hunt on the road last winter. He schlepped freeride boots, backcountry boots—and enough shells, puffies, and base layers to open a small gear store—around the globe in search of snow in locales like Vermont, Wyoming, Colorado, and Iceland.

Morgan Tilton

Reared in the San Juans of Southwest Colorado, as soon as Morgan could walk her dad strapped her in, and Telluride Ski Resort became her babysitter. Over the past 13 years, snowboarding has taken her through Wolf Creek's whimsical powder days, USASA Slopestyle Nationals, and the cliff-riddled backcountry of Colorado and Wyoming.

Heather Hendricks

From the jagged peaks of Jackson Hole and the Canadian Rockies to the overt opulence of Aspen, the steeps of Alaska, and the striking faces of the La Sals, our contributing editor spent the season traveling to summits near and far. Heather toted along a bin full of boots and tested them all along the way.

Chris Brunstetter

From loitering shop kid to 22-year industry insider, Chris has spent most of his life in the snow and skate industries in Utah, even experiencing firsthand the rise and fall (and second rise and fall) of Forum. He tested freestyle boots and bindings in the man-made and natural parks at Brighton, Snowbird, and Jackson Hole.