Top 10 Products of 2014
Our Product Editor, Scott Yorko, picked out some products from the year that caught his attention. Be sure to check our our full Gear Guide, and Good Wood Board Test products also.
Anon M2 $240
Anticipating features is crucial for control at any speed, and Anon uses a double lens system on the M2 to separate the warm steam dumping off your face from the cold exterior. This "thermal barrier" of free flowing air aims to prevent condensation from forming inside, as does the wipe-resistant anti-fog coating. If and when a gnarly hike in cold temps does max out the M2's fog limit, or when the light shifts, swapping the magnetic lenses takes less than three seconds, even with mittens on. Now held in place at eight connection points with neodymium magnets (the strongest type commercially available), Anon claims the 2.75 pounds of pull force mean you can tomahawk down open faces all day without the lens popping off.
Jones Ultracraft Splitboard $1,200
It's one of the boards you look at skeptically, wondering how often you'll actually see the conditions to use it. Then you ride it—in deep powder, down a gnarly spine, through a mogul field, even on corduroy groomers—and the shorter, flat tail exceeds your expectations across the board, pun intended. A split that only weighs 5.5 pounds thanks to carbon stringers on the deck, it has just about everything you need in a board and nothing you don't.
Burton Splitboard Backpack [30L] $100
Whether you're on a long approach hike or a short, steep bootpack, the straps on this 30L pack carry boards vertically, both solid and split apart. The water-resistant front pocket stores your wet skins separately from your puffy while internal shovel and probe sleeves keep those important tools at the ready. This is a well-thought-out design.
Karakoram Prime System $880 (Carbon)
While most splitboard binding companies are still focused on making bindings lighter and stronger, Karakoram has gone a step farther, tackling the most pertinent obstacle: speed. Flip the Power-Link heel lever on their new Prime system to dismount the whole binding from tour mode without even unstrapping your boots. A wider heel riser that you can adjust with your pole basket adds more edge control on those uphill traverses and even locks the heel down for those awkward skate-skiing sections. While these features will streamline your hiking and transition times, the quiver-connector base plate makes the binding compatible with any standard insert solid board.
Capita X Spring Break Tree Hunter 61 $670
Bringing the surf concepts of buoyancy and planing to the snow, the thick yet light Surflite core and handcrafted rocker will have you frothing all season. One look at this shovel nose and arched swallow tail and you're immediately thinking powdery float, but it can actually lay down a pretty sweet carve on all kinds of terrain. The future is in the shape.
Black Diamond Eva 7 $80
If you find yourself buried in an avalanche, you better hope your buddy has a substantial shovel to move lots of snow, and fast. The Evac 7 has a sturdy D grip and deep scoop, but the interchangeable hoe function makes snow removal and pit digging significantly faster and more efficient. It seems a little big to fit in your pack, but it's actually quite light for its burliness at 1.75 pounds and can even be fashioned into a rescue sled.
Smith Vantage Helmet $250
Thousands of little tubes are thermo-molded together with layers of different strengths that allow the material to absorb smaller impacts elastically, while bigger hits buckle the tubes and transfer kinetic energy laterally. Smith claims this reduces 30 percent more energy transmission than standard EPS foam, which is used in pretty much all other snowboards helmets. The tubes' hollow cores reduce weight with less material that also aims to let air flow in and out more freely.
The North Face Thermoball Full Zip Jacket $200
For days when every layer counts, Thermoball is arguably the warmest synthetic insulation out there. Tiny polyester balls act like 600-fill goose down in loft and compressibility (the jacket packs down to the size of a burrito), but the material dries much quicker and stays warm when wet.
My Package Weekday First Layer $50
While layering several waistbands can get uncomfortable, so, too, can the unbridled flopping of your junk when bouncing down chattery mogul runs. For those who like their performance first layer to take the place of tighty whities, My Package drawers have a "keyhole" pouch that holds everything in place. A wise man once said, "It's like a new pair of underwear. At first, it's constrictive, but after a while it becomes a part of you."
Ass Armor Tailbone Short $90
When there's a lull in the snowfall and you get tired of lapping groomers, just about every mountain has a terrain park with a whole gang of cold, kinked rails to sample. These hits are getting bigger and more creative every season, which means bigger slams on your ass when styling out spins, presses and hammers. With thinner padding material absorbing more kinetic force than traditional foams, the molecular materials flex freely for comfort, but lock to absorb impact energy and reduce transmitted force. With the growing use of helmets and spine protectors, more pros rock these booty bumpers than you think.