Misty-eyed nostalgia. You can’t beat it. Witness the rise of the talking head TV clip show (“It was Alright in the 70s", “Top of the Pops 2", etc.). Things were always better back in the day, fact. Or at least, they’re better now you don’t have to actually live there.
Snowboard kit is no different. Forget the realities of heel lift, cap construction, waterlogged jackets, shite fit, delams, welly-like support and so on, and cast your mind back to some of our favourite shred products; gone but not forgotten. Surely some of this stuff is worth a comeback?
Burton seem to think so – just this year they’ve released an updated version of their classic Viking boot from 1997, originally designed with input from Terje Haakonsen.
Sticking with the Big B, how about bringing back this memorable stick from 2002? Swiss shred Albin was a bit of a loose cannon (which might explain his departure from the brand soon after) and this board, with artwork by skating’s most legendary maverick Mark Gonzales, perfectly captured his spirit. The friendly ghost glows in the dark, while Burton is accidentally misspelled ‘Burtin’ – Michi liked the mistake so it stayed, ensuring this is now one of the most collectible snowboards out there. It rode well too – think Custom but with more street cred.
UPDATE: While we're still waiting on the full Albin reincarnation, there's a clear tip of the cap in the Burton Danny Davis' x Gonz Deep Thinker and Free Thinker boards coming next winter.
Sessions Jamie Lynn Jacket
At well over 200 quid, in the late 90s, this thing should really have been woven from Pamela Anderson’s recently shaved pubes, and yet blokes still flocked to buy it. Why? Because Jamie Lynn was the thinking snowboarder’s man crush; a quiet, almost mythical personality and an artist on snow and canvas. This was the coat he wore when he launched THAT cab 540 off a cliff and simultaneously took burly backcountry freestyle to the next level. Who cares if it was essentially a GoreTex sack with two stripes? Make mine the blue version.
This was Ride’s answer to the Custom, which had raised the bar for ‘all mountain’ snowboards and, as the millennium approached, was dominating the market. Year after year Ride fought back with some slick graphics (including some full-on fantasy artwork to give a Games Workshop guy a hard-on) and creative technology – not least multi-level cap construction that apparently sought to take the Gillette/Wilkinson Sword blade wars to the mountain. Who doesn’t want a staircase for an edge? Sadly, time caught up with the timeless and it was retired from the range, but with a name like that we think it’s high time (boom tish) they turned back the clock.
UnInc Cute Animal Series
Every Portland-based hater knows Burton lost the plot when they canned the UnInc range. Designed, with complete free reign, by Romain de Marchi, Gigi Rüf, JP Solberg, DCP and the late Jeffy Anderson, the five-model range was the height of millennial freestyle cool, and THIS animals edition – featuring the subversive work of art director Lance Violette – was its ultimate expression. Kittens, puppies, sugar, spice and all things nice were now beneath the feet of the baddest team in snowboarding, along with a massive pinch of salt. Want to win back the cool kids, Jake? Bring back UnInc.
Romain de Marchi Camo Outfit
So we all know that camouflage is never really out of fashion – see Kazu Kokubo – but it was never more in than when Romain de Marchi dropped into the Hemsedal kicker during filming for Absinthe’s Vivid.
Topping off his matching jacket and pant (British Armed Forces multi-terrain pattern, thanks wiki) with a bright pink belt, he looked like a Belfast-bound Katie Price with added park skills. Snowboarding needs more of this stupidity, so let’s see a re-release, or at least bring the military theme up to date with a jihadi onesie and tea towel-style Airhole mask. Point to remember: bring back UnInc.
Burton Love Playboy
You know you’re doing something right when a group of righteous American parents threatens to boycott your business, which is exactly what happened when Burton released this risqué Playboy colab back in 2008. Teenage boys were always going to buy this one in droves though, and I’m pretty sure their love for tits and ass hasn’t changed. Jake, it’s time to pick up the blower to Hugh Hefner again – my consulting bill is in the post yeah?
Another long-time challenger to the Custom’s dominance, but after 10 years this all-mountain favourite from K2 was unceremoniously dropped. No Zeppelin – denied! Surely it’s time for a reunion?
A modern classic of a snowboard, pretty much cambered perfection that was ubiquitous on dryslopes all over the country until only a few years ago. The base seemed to be able to take all manner of beatings and the edges held on like barnacles whilst lesser boards had given up the ghost long before. It's since been replaced by the excellent Ride Helix, but there's just something about a classic isn't there?
Vans Jamie Lynn Space Boots
The only proof these things ever existed is a tiny jpg on google images. All the more reason for them to return I say. Were they comfy? It didn’t matter, you looked like a fucking stormtrooper. Chewie, we’re getting a reboot.
A whole market exists for retro football shirts, so Burton’s refusal to re-issue this bad boy – Terje’s one and only official pro model from 1993 – is like Sports Direct deciding no one’s interested in 70s Brazil shirts with PELE 10 on the back. Sort it out guys, before we’re forced to buy a bootleg version from a guy at the market.
Etnies '23' Boots
When skate shoe giant Etnies decided to jump into the snow market in the mid 90s, they played on the popularity of their legendary Sal 23 model with a similarly-named boot line. Somewhere along the line '23' became 'ThirtyTwo' and the rest, as they say, is JP Walker’s do-rag. But the fact remains: while Michael Jordan and David Beckham have both also rocked the number 23, currently the most famous non-snowboarder to adopt '32' is former Tottenham Hotspur defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Time to release a retro boot with the old squad number?
UPDATE: Whaddya know, they’re listening. ThirtyTwo are releasing an old school model this year (see above!).
Special Blend Peaked Beanie
For a short period between 1998 and 2004 the peaked beanie reigned supreme. It combined the warmth of wool (or at least some Chinese fabric blend) with the sun-shielding properties of a 10-pack of fags. The latter wasn’t really a hindrance to its popularity since you were invariably wearing goggles anyway. Plus, the peak offered a wee bit of protection from falling snow during a January schlep to the pub. There’s a strong argument that this cap/beanie bastard child looks daft, but when all your mates are wearing them who’s to know? Like Father Christmas or monetary theory, it relies only on people to believe in it; a kind of Emperor’s New Beanie if you will. We hereby call on Jeremy Corbyn to rekindle the headwear revolution, preferably in a Special Blend number.
For too long recently function has played second fiddle to function (see the bucket hat). Nicolas Müller knows where it’s at, with some big ol’ furry flaps (stop sniggering at the back!) to keep his ears warm on powder days. Let’s all rock this Biggles look again, complete with Asterix and Obelix dangly bobble things… actually you can keep those Nico, they look shit.
Like the demise of hovercrafts and Concorde, humankind appears to have gone backwards in some ways. So it is with snowboards, where we’ve settled for building them out of bits of tree. How caveman is that? Once upon a time we experimented with super light foam cores, and in this realm Morrow were the trailblazers. The brand started by shred pioneer Rob Morrow were a genuine challenger to Burton in the early 90s, before losing their way in the cut-throat world of business (that’s some core cred right there) and getting sold to K2, who proceeded to do a Mike Ashley and turn this once proud manufacturer into the Muddy Fox of snowboarding. OK, so their foam-based boards had the flex of a ripe banana and snapped quicker than Dean Gaffney in the jungle, but by god they were reaching for the stars. Let’s give the whole idea another chance, and how about a fresh crack at a moon landing while we’re at it?
In hindsight, naming your board company after a city that time forgot was never going to end well, but there was much to like about Atlantis. 1. They were rider owned; 2. They had sidewalls, so were less likely to break than many of the popular cap construction boards at the time; and 3. Founder Ingemar Backman was riding one when he boosted the most famous method of all time – and if that’s not an advertisement for your product, nothing is. Send for James Cameron and let’s raise this core brand from its watery grave.
Division 23 Peter Line Rainbow
23, 32… for reasons that remain a mystery, snowboarders in the 1990s were obsessed with combinations of the numbers 2 and 3. Peter Line’s entry into the obscure mathematical debate came courtesy of this now-legendary pro model. The ‘girly’ pink topsheet and rainbow stuck two fingers up at the jocks and encapsulated his rebellious weirdo persona better than anything he later did with Forum – in fact he brought the graphic back for a tribute in 2006. Another decade gone and we say bring on the threepeat.
Every Portland-based hater knows Burton lost the plot when they canned Forum… no hang on, or was it UnInc? Either way, this thing was to snowboarders what the Toyota pickup was to the Top Gear team: Tough as nails. Which is exactly what you want out of a board designed for maximum abuse on jumps and rails. In fact WL took inspiration from Clarkson and once tried to destroy the destroyer. It proved very hard indeed. And yet, while it was stronger than a goat’s molars, it was also great fun to ride. They literally don’t make ‘em like they used to eh? Point to remember Jake: sod financial reality, bring back Forum. And UnInc.
Speaking of Forum... This isn't even a joke - these are the bindings that our video editor is dying to get his mitts on again, so much so that he ran them for four straight seasons (thanks in part to Burton taking up their warranty) until they couldn't even be held together with string and tape. For the love of God, if these never come back then please let someone else design a binding with a hinged baseplate!
Arnette 'The Goggle'
For riders of a certain age, Arnette will forever be associated with the frontside rodeo’ing skills of David Vincent and Daniel Franck. The height of wraparound 90s fashion but with a certain French flair and a name that recalls Samuel L Jackson saying ‘Le Big Mac’, these were the Citroën DS of goggles. Magnifique!
The name says it all. These were made in those innocent days when fat blokes in pubs made racist jokes and women weren’t allowed anywhere near a marketing department unless they were bringing the men tea. I like to imagine a secretary at Smith HQ raising her eyebrows behind a typewriter as the boss dictates the latest factory order and saying... nothing. Yes, better to let thousands of blokes across the world make complete tits of themselves by wandering the mountain with ‘period pain’ emblazoned across their foreheads. And yet the ‘Perforated Membrane Technology’ – to give it its full name – really worked; the goggles rarely fogged and (in the late 90s) came in at the bargain price of 27 quid. Who’s up for trying an erectile dysfunction-themed rebrand?
Controversial, we know. Corporate sports giant Nike were once the sworn enemy; then they signed Halldor and everyone agreed they were cool; then they unceremoniously pulled out of snowboarding when it proved less lucrative than flogging skate shoes, and pitchforks were sharpened. Nevertheless, peer past the prejudice and the Kaiju remains one of the comfiest snowboard boots ever made, with a sneaker-like fit right out of the box. Nike, then: the forbidden fruit you just can’t resist however many times you slam the door and throw their shit out the window.
What snowboard kit do you miss? Let us know below.