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Debate: Gear Is Good

Inspired by the recent unveiling of 'augmented reality' goggles, we thought it would be appropriate to run this recent debate piece from the mag...

By now most of either know what new kit they want for this season, or have snapped it up already. As always there are plenty of new developments and supposed technological breakthroughs; are they worth getting excited about, or is it all just bells and whistles?

This first appeared in WL117.

For

Andy Malton reviews snowboard kit for thegemsstock.com, and is Whitelines’ resident gear guru. He knows more about the intricacies of jacket stitching than anyone need ever know.

My mates and I learned to snowboard at that well-known beginner’s resort – Chamonix. On one particular day it was snowing hard, and I remember it as being epic – even though we were probably just catching our edges on the mountain’s single flat green run. When we stopped for a baguette lunch my mate told us he was heading home. I was like “what?! You can’t go home, it’s dumping and we’re rippin’ it up here!” He pointed out that his thighs were soaking wet and numb due to the fact that his (pretty new) snowboard pants were leaking like a sieve. Fair do’s, then – sitting on a chairlift whilst a freezing cold wind blew snow onto his already wet legs can’t have been much fun.
Now I’m not advocating that more gear is necessarily the way to go, just better gear. My mate has since invested in some quality snowboard pants and hasn’t had to head home early since. Imagine if waterproof, breathable fabrics didn’t exist – we’d all be wet and cold on the mountain. While the basic tools of the snowboarder will always remain the same – snowboard, boots, bindings – incremental advancements in design and technology will continue to make them a little faster, safer and more comfortable to use than before.
Helmets are lighter and protect our heads better than ever, air bags increase the chances of surviving an avalanche and low profile body armour protects our ass in the park. Just three examples of how advancements in gear have had a positive effect on our sport.
Snowboarding is still snowboarding without carbon highbacks and reverse flat camber decks with a nose kick or whatever, but just as having the best gear doesn’t necessarily make you a better snowboarder, it doesn’t detract from the soul of the sport either. The most important thing is we all get out into the mountains and have fun, but having better stuff to do that with doesn’t detract from the experience – it adds to it.

Against

The guys at Illicitsnowboarding.com routinely sniff out bullshit snowboarding fads from right across the webisphere, before crushing them under their heel of logic.
Which toothpaste do you use?
The ingredients of all toothpastes are almost exactly the same. They all contain water, a foaming agent, an abrasive substance, flavouring and some colouring. The actual differences are so minimal they have practically no effect.
For 35 years the best-selling toothpaste brand in the UK was Crest, with its ‘stop cavities’ claims, but in 1992 Colgate launched Total which claimed to ‘fight plaque.’ Crest quickly fell to a distant second place; a huge change in fortunes for two almost -indistinguishable tubes of minty goo.
When this switch happened, cavities were a rapidly-reducing problem due to things like the fluoridation of our drinking water and NHS dentistry. The Colgate marketeers took advantage of this trend to produce a brand that targeted the next concern people had, at exactly the right time, and they took over the market. It’s a classic example of gimmick marketing.
The Oxford Dictionary defines a gimmick as, “a trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or trade”, and gimmick marketing works well. Fortunately snowboarding is a little bit more dynamic than the toothpaste market, so we have seen some significant revolutions over the years. There’s the invention of things like twin-tips and sidecuts, and most significantly the invention of snowboarding itself. But true game-changers happen infrequently and they happen less often as the sport continues to mature.

So instead of revolutions, today we get fed seasonal gimmicks: a slightly different snowboard tip or tail shape, a slightly different material, a slightly different construction technique, some new technical jargon bullshit or a helmet with a plastic facemask.
Gimmicks are rife in snowboarding and they add nothing. We don’t need to buy the latest ones, they don’t make us better at snowboarding and we should try and avoid being suckered in.

We use Colgate Total – how about you?

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