Snowboard Gear Highlights from SIA and On-Snow 2017
We've spent the past week completely engulfed in new snowboarding gear. That may come as no surprise since our top priority is uncovering the latest news and trends in snowboarding, but what has surprised us is the many innovative advances brands have been incubating. We started with three consecutive days at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, immersed in a plethora of the hottest products coming down the pipes for the 2016-2017 winter season. We uncovered new technologies and talked our own ears off about snowboarding. Fortunately the second half of the week has been spent actually trying out many of those same products at the on-snow demo at Copper Mountain, Colorado. After all, that's what we'd much rather be doing.
The Snowsports Industries of America (SIA) trade show is the largest gathering of the winter sports industry. An on-snow demo follows it, and Mother Nature provided vendors and riders in attendance with enough flurries to find fresh patches to slash all day long. We've been tinkering with tech toys, lacing up new boots, and donning new helmets, goggles and outerwear. Some of the 2016-2017 gear has been impressive and is worth noting. And some simply hasn't. The following products are the most notable from both the trade show and the mountain.
Oakley’s New Mod 5 Helmet and Line Miner Goggle w/ Prizm Inferno Lens
The initial launch of Oakley snow helmets features the M5, a combination of the best helmet features today and the culmination of three years of research and development. It comes with a hybrid shell for extra protection, a BOA system to customize fit, a magnetic strap for easy on/off, concave inner ear pads to nix pressure (no more earbud-induced discomfort while jamming out, Oakley claims), a removable liner so a beanie fits underneath, and four adjustable ventilation ports. Two different brims will ship with each helmet, and ventilation holes where they connect should pull fog from goggles. Upgrade to MIPS technology to protect the dome from rotational impacts.
Oakley's new Line Miner Goggle has a cylindrical profile and when used with the Prizm Inferno heater lens it performs similar to a car's rear windshield. The heater attaches to the side of the goggle and is much more lightweight than it looks. One button powers it on for the day and another heats the inner lens for three minutes at a time to evaporate moisture and dissipate fog. The lithium ion battery shouldn't be affected by cold temperatures. oakley.com
Burton Genesis X Binding and Toasty Liner
The Burton crew is celebrating their 40th anniversary and set up shop for the second consecutive year at City Hall Events Venue, frequently shuttling visitors from the Convention Center. During the day, products were on display and they even brought out machines and tools from "Craig's" prototyping facility so visitors could build their own boards. One product highlight included the new Genesis X Binding, with a dual-layer footbed—one layer cushion, one layer carbon. The footbed is disconnected from the baseplate and the gap between allows the footbed to flex under foot.
Another Burton highlight was the Toasty Liner, a USB-powered boot liner that provides six- to eight-hours of toasty toes after an overnight charge. It will be sold as an accessory. Oh, and seven-percent of their outerwear was Blue Sign approved two years ago. Now they've reached 75-percent. Burton.com
Bent Metal Bindings
Yep, you read that correctly. Bent Metal Binding Works is making a comeback. They'll be available this fall in three models: The Logic is softest on the flex scale, the Transfer falls in the middle, and the Solution is stiffest. All feature a forward lean adjustment cube and a "flex control drive plate" with multiple baseplate layers comprised of super technical substances to optimize both power and control. They're made in the USA by Mervin Manufacturing, from eco-friendly materials, and the wizards involved in the design process as well as the top-tier athletes backing the bindings all believe the second coming of Bent Metal will be the final coming. bentmetal.com
K2 Taro Tamai Snowsurfer Boot
Gentemstick founder Taro Tamai partnered with K2 Snowboarding to combine the best of both worlds in the new Snowsurfer boot. As much as it may look like the average snowboard boot, the articulating cuff flexes better than a Bikram yogi. A neoprene cover was added to prevent snow buildup and frozen laces, and the Vibram outsole should keep you locked into both the bootpack track and your board's traction pad. For those who love the liberating feel of catching a wave, this boot could be the golden ticket into the white room. K2snowboarding.com
Volcom TD2 Jacket and Pants, Slack Vest
Bryan Iguchi worked with Volcom to design the TD2 outerwear kit and Slack Vest for backcountry shredders. The kit features four-way stretch in areas that need to move most while riding, like the chest and armpits, and there's also 30,000 mm of breathability in the armpits and in the crotch of the pants. The "storm zones," like the jacket's shoulders and hood, are most exposed to falling snow and (hopefully not) rain, so they feature 25,000 mm waterproofing. The tour-ready Slack Vest is loaded with pockets to stash a beacon, shovel, probe, snacks, and more. There's impact padding in the shoulders and back, it rides low beneath the waist and hangs comfortably with adjustable side straps. The zipper doubles as a whistle for those unforeseen and unfortunate moments. Volcom.com
VANS Infuse Boot
The new and improved Infuse was designed for versatile all-mountain shredding. This model definitely isn't new, but Pat Moore worked closely with VANS the past two years to even better design a customizable fit in a boot that can do it all— manage steep and demanding terrain one day, then send it big in the park the next. It's been the most requested boot in British Columbia and now has even more flex control with four customizable zones: BOA tightens the liner, not just the shell, to lock down the ankle; laces tighten the upper and lower outer shell; a powerstrap controls the upper shell; and Velcro on the back of the liner adds even more flex adjustability. Talk about one boot to suit multiple riding styles. Vans.com
Spark R&D Whammy Bar
When Spark R&D introduced the Surge and Arc splitboard bindings, they went from two climbing bars under each baseplate to just one. A common complaint since the crossover was that it was tough to engage the bar with a splitboard touring pole. Doing so was especially difficult on steep uphills and slick skin tracks because it meant leaning forward and either using a hand or having to be accurate with a pole tip instead of a much broader pole handle. Spark seems to have solved that issue with a new accessory they're calling the Whammy Bar. Simply pull it up to engage the bar, then push it back down to disengage. Whammy! Sparkrandd.com
Celtek Iron Maiden and Lisa Frank Collabs, Partnership with Gore-Tex, $1000 mitten
Not only is Celtek introducing a collection of gloves and masks with Iron Maiden graphics for the metal-minded and a Lisa Frank collection for ladies who loved her unicorn and rainbow artwork back in the 1980s, they've also partnered with Gore-Tex to provide ultimate waterproofing and breathability. Roughly 30-percent of all snow gloves sold use Gore-Tex technology, so Celtek founders Bjorn and Erik Leines are extra stoked to have joined the dry and cool crew. Oh, and they made a mitten with alpaca fur and cashmere lining, ostrich leather wrap and a goat leather palm. It will retail for 1,000 dollars. celtek.com
Arbor Hemlock and Cypress bindings
Arbor has been making snowboards since 1995 and this year their first bindings will release to the masses. Alex Warburton, the designer behind many other binding innovations with companies like NOW, Burton and others in past years, designed them. The Hemlock will offer more flex for freestyle riders and the Cypress, more rigidity for freeriders. They'll both come with adjustable aluminum heel cups as well as braided cables incorporated into the straps, on the ankle slider side, which should simplify stepping in and out as well as add durability for a longer lifespan. To increase power transfer from foot to board, Arbor put minimal plastic in the baseplates with discs much smaller than found in most other bindings on the market. arborcollective.com
DC Mountain Boots
Pull off your shred boots and slide into one of these bad hawks from DC's new winter streetwear boot collection. The Travis (left) is fully insulated with 200g of Thinsulate and features a rugged Vibram outsole, a medial side-zip for easy entry/exit, and steel toes for taking out aggression on drunk friends or snowmobiles that won't start. The SPT collab work boot (middle) maintains toasty toes with 100g of Thinsulate insulation and resists water leakage. The Torstein is ideal for city dwellers. It's not insulated, but still offers grippy rubber traction. All are après ready and will accurately display your rugged elegance. DCshoes.com