Once Shermen Poppen’s Snurfer had inspired the likes of Tom Sims, Dimitrije Milovich and Jake Burton Carpenter to manufacture and market snowboards, the three pioneers established the sport’s first brands - Sims, Winterstick and Burton respectively. Since these embryonic days in the 70s, the number of companies out there making snowboard-specific swag – or more broadly with a focus on us winter side-sliders – vying for your custom has mushroomed, and diversified from pure hardware to outerwear, eyewear, handwear and beyond. One ex-pro rider even started up a contraceptive brand by initially marketing his johnnies to party-loving shred rats. True story.
"Mention Atlantis, M3 or Forum to snowboarders of a certain vintage and watch their eyes glaze over with nostalgia"
Whilst many brands have come and gone through the course of snowboarding’s history, others have endured since day one and nowadays it’s not uncommon for snowboard brands to trumped double-decade figures or more (Burton is now past 40…), and be it new upstart shaking things up or established brand with a certain gravitas, everyone has their personal favourites. Even many the brands who’ve long since been shuttered are remembered fondly – mention Atlantis, M3 or Forum to snowboarders of a certain vintage and watch their eyes glaze over with nostalgia.
While the first wave of snowboard companies were ‘by snowboarders, for snowboarders’, once the sport became popular there was a rush by many whose roots lay beyond snowboarding to get in on the act, including ski companies, which caused a fair deal of consternation at the time. Especially in the case of the ski brands, who many riders perceived had been actively campaigning against snowboarding till it became financially necessary to jump on the bandwagon. That said, some came in with solid product and committed to snowboarding beyond a mere ‘get-rich-quick’ approach, which caused much of the initial skepticism to dissipate.
The best brands will, naturally, make great product, but in snowboarding that’s only part of the puzzle you need to complete to be successful. To do so you need to contribute to the sport’s culture, bring something new to the table and have a certain vibe that sets yourself apart from the reams of others making cookie-cutter product.
In the 2017/18 winter there’s certainly a tonne of brands out there making quality snowboarding goods; certainly fewer than there were when the sport was in its booming years of the 90s and 2000s, but equally more than enough for you to find product and an image that tallies with your own preferences. Here’s a brief rundown of some of them...
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686 | adidas | Airhole | Analog | Anon | Arbor | Atrip | Bataleon | Bent Metal | Billabong | Bonfire | Burton | CAPiTA | Coal | Crab Grab | DaKine | Dang | DC | Deeluxe | Dinosaurs Will Die | DJI | Dragon | Drake | Dupraz | Electric | Endeavor | Flow | Giro | Gnu | GoPro | Head | Holden | Homeschool | Horsefeathers | Jones | K2 | Korua | Lib Tech | Lifeproof | Lobster | Mammut | Mizu | Neff | Never Summer | Nidecker | Nikita | Nitro | Nixon | Northwave | NOW | O'Neill | Oakley | Patagonia | Picture | POW | Protest | Quiksilver | Ride | Rip Curl | Rome | Roxy | Salomon | Sessions | Skullcandy | Slash | Smith | SP Bindings | SP Gadgets | Spark R&D | Switchback | The North Face | ThirtyTwo | Transform | Union | Vans | Vimana | Volcom | WearColour | WEST | Westbeach | YES
686’s has been knocking out legit shredwear since 1992, and 25 years later this outerwear brand is still pushing a blend of fashion-conscious pieces that blend legendary skate/snow styles with modern fabric tech and design.
"Their line for 2017/2018 features a full spectrum of shred apparel"
More currently, their line for 2017/2018 features a full spectrum of shred apparel from Cosmic king Forest Bailey’s signature styles, to Tor Lundström’s all-terrain BYNDxMDLS endeavors, to Freeride World Tour boss Sammy Luebke charging lines in their top range technical GLCR range. If fashion and function bedded down for a night of unprotected passion, 686’s 2017/2018 line could well be the result.
adidas have one of the strongest teams in snowboarding on both their boots and apparel. They regularly send these dudes around the globe to shoot epic mini-series-after-mini-series, bringing back some of the slickest powder footage going, not to mention rad park-based fun and ultracore urban assaults.
"As you'd expect, they’ve focused on blending their skate, hip-hop and athletic heritage into their range of boots and outerwear"
As you'd expect, they’ve focused on blending their skate, hip-hop and athletic heritage into their range of boots and outerwear – you'll most definitely find items that recall some three-striped classics – but their gear is also full of cutting edge tech. Whether you're a park rat who wants to ride in tracksuit bottoms with boots looking like you've just snuck in a quick lap before your 1980s hip-hop set, or a natural terrain charger who demands pinnacle performance from your boots and threads, adidas have got you covered for the 2017/2018 winter.
As they're fond of saying, “Facemasks, you idiot!" This company, specialising in facewear, was established in 2006 by Canadian riders Kale Stephens and Chris Brown. What set them apart from other facemasks – and still does – is the airhole from which the brand takes its name: a cut-out and reinforced circle where your mouth is allows you to breath more freely, reduces fogging, permits drinking of G&Ts through a straw and the blessing of Jah – all without removing the facemask.
"What set them apart from other facemasks – and still does – is the airhole from which the brand takes its name"
For 2017-2018, Airhole continue to use the same technical fabrics to ensure they protect your face, wick your sweat and keep you comfortable. They have a host of styles – from the OG facemask to balaclavas, tubes and more – in an abundance of fabrics and weights (2-Layer, 3-Layer, Merino, Cashmere... the list goes on.) And as well as regular colours, they boast an array of prints that will appeal to the more out there among you, too.
Analog Clothing started back in 2001with a mission statement that read: 'Design Unlikely Futures'. The brand's attentions were initially focussed solely snowboarding, but quickly the company expanded to have a team of surfers, skateboarders and related product. However, in more recent times Analog have returned to their roots and once more snowboarding outerwear and lifestyle clothing are its only concern.
"In terms of its designs, its styles and the team riders who endorse the swag there's a definite aesthetic to Analog that's easy to identify"
One thing unchanged over the years is Analog's creative expression; in terms of its designs, its styles and the team riders who endorse the swag there's a definite aesthetic to Analog that's easy to identify. The outerwear has always had a collision of street-style-meets-futuristic-urban-military about it, and though the NASA-esque spacesuits they used to make are no more, you can still see this heritage of style in 2018's range. There's also something for every kind of rider – from Gore-Tex and down to park rat uniforms – but all bear that AG vibe that's unique to the brand.
Anon started out as an eyewear brand subsidiary of Burton, but when the B decided to discontinue its RED range of protection, the helmets were added to the Anon armoury. Today, the brand is well respected for both its goggle, helmet and associated accessories. As well as producing functional, comfortable eyewear for on-mountain shredding Anon also blazed a trail by being the first goggle company to incorporate magnets into their lenses and frames to make super quick, super easy lens changing possible. They followed this up by going even more magtastic, developing the MFI magnetic facemask integration to reduce fogging when you want to ride with a facemask.
"As well as producing functional, comfortable eyewear for on-mountain shredding Anon also blazed a trail by being the first goggle company to incorporate magnets into their lenses and frames"
This year’s new selection gets a big one-up in the form of their new collaboration with high-end lens crafters at Zeiss. Magnets continue to play a huge role, too, keeping the magnetic lens at the forefront of swapping with speed, and the fog-reducing MFI tech. Then there are new frames in the form of the Circuit (with outriggers for best possible helmet compatibility) and the ladies’ Tempest. Heaps of helmets are present as ever, including the kids Define model, with inbuilt goggles and clips to stop the little ’uns losing their lenses.
Arbor initially made their name by producing high-quality snowboards that had a much more sustainable mentality than the majority of other companies of the time – hey, it was 95, man! Things like using wood from sustainable sources, incorperating bamboo, and giving back by donating to preserve Hawaiian Koa forests and a tendency to have their snowboards look like old Hawaiian surfboards meant they established a definite niche in the more rootys, soul surfy types.
"Their boards are loaded with premium tech to guarantee epic performance no matter your length of beard"
More recently, though, they've been hooking up super talented freestylers and jibbers to the team and their board offerings evolved to reflect this – though you can still find the wooden topsheet models in the line till this day. Their boards are loaded with premium tech to guarantee epic performance no matter your length of beard, with Grip Tech, Parabolic Profiling and Power Ply Tops just some of the Arbor-specific features doing the business for team riders as diverse as Byran Iguchi, Mark Carter and Scotty Vine. Stay tuned for their full-length team film, Cosa Nostra, dropping autumn 2017.
Halldor Helgason teamed up with the guys at Stigma Distribution to launch this outerwear and lifestyle brand last season, and year two for Atrip sees them unveil another outerwear range that's understated, stylish and with a mission statement focussing on getting snowboarders in tidy threads at a decent price.
"Year two for atrip sees another outerwear range that's understated, stylish and focussed on getting snowboarders in tidy threads at a decent price"
The outerwear side of Atrip for 2017-2018 consists of jackets and pants designed to cater to the needs of predominantly in-bounds riders who want their clothing to perform on the hill and look slick while doing so. Snowboarders recruited to what Halldor calls the ‘Special Interest Club’ include Ulrik Badertscher and Teddy Koo, but there are also spots for a comedian or two, a rapper and a porn star. And you too can join the #specialinterestclub if you dare…
UPDATE: as of 2018/19, atrip will be relaunched as Halldor's signature line within Horsefeathers Outerwear.
Bataleon was born of a chance encounter between a mad scientist and a bunch of snowboarders who banded together with the innovative idea of producing boards with bases that are 'not flat'. 3BT (or Triple Base Technology) was born, and is the flagship technology upon which the brand is built – a three-dimensional base that works to reduce twitchiness, edge catches and the like while maintaining the reliable pop, power and response of camber.
"Bataleon now offers all manner of boards for different terrain with several tweaked versions of 3BT now available"
Since then the brand has grown significantly, and Bataleon now offers all manner of boards for different terrain with several tweaked versions of 3BT now available to give you the optimum ride depending on the model's intended use. From powder to park to carving to urban jibbing, Bataleon have got something in store for you, as you'll no doubt be aware from watching their varied team of shredders like Ethan Morgan, Shayne Pospisil, Tor Lundström and Shaun Murphy crushing all manner of terrain.
A long-time member of the Mervin Mfg family, Bent Metal were the binders affixed to a multitude of Lib Tech and Gnu snowboards back in the day and marketed in the classic irreverent Mervin style – they're (now mostly) metal bindings and they're called Bent Metal after all. Despite their self-mockery, the bindings were great and the unique forward lean 'Cube' adjustment was beautiful in its simplicity. But then they stopped making them.
"They re-launched with a host of cutting edge new tech, including the Flex Control Drive plates"
However, a couple of years back Bent Metal awoke from its slumber and Mervin are once again pushing these bindings out there. In the brand's downtime the product engineers clearly weren't resting on their laurels as they re-launched with a host of cutting edge new tech, including the Flex Control Drive plates. In the 2017-2018 season there will be a range of models catering for all budgets and riding preferences. And, yes, the Cube is still there.
Named for the Wiradjuri word “bilabaŋ" that means a “creek that runs only during the rainy season," over the years Billabong have expanded from a surf company into everything board sports – from skate to outerwear – showing that despite their name they’re a brand for all seasons.
"These are clothes – and a selection of accessories – for all conditions shredding"
Great news for the likes Wolle Nyvelt and Bode Merrill then, all known for bringing elements of our brother sports into their riding. With a signature line from Merrill too that boasts both performance and style, these are clothes – and a selection of accessories – for all conditions shredding.
Bonfire have been crafting technical outerwear in the Pacific Northwest for over 25 years, so you can be sure their gear is built to withstand the harshest conditions. Their focus is trained on providing quality, durable outerwear for the discerning all-mountain snowboarder – a fact that’s reinforced when you look at the team they assembled, which includes the likes of Dustin Craven, Johnny Brady and Beau Bishop.
"Their focus is trained on providing quality, durable outerwear for the discerning all-mountain snowboarder"
Bonfire offer three lines – a top-end Platinum range (20/15k waterproofness/breathability), a more price-conscious Gold range (still 15/10k) and a broad range of women’s specific outerwear that echoes the feature-laden tech specs of the men’s. All are wrapped up in the classic snowboard style synonymous with the brand. As they say, their outerwear is “Tried. Tested. True."
The biggest snowboard brand out there has been taking care of snowboarders' needs since 1977. Established in a garage by Jake Burton-Carpenter, 40-odd years later The B have quite possibly the biggest range of quality snowboard products out there for the 2017-2018 season. From boards, boots, bindings and outerwear to accessories, luggage and way more, Jake and his team offer something for everyone: rookie to pro; big mountain powder fiend to urban urchin; man, woman or child... all comers are catered for in their range this year.
"The B have quite possibly the biggest range of quality snowboard products out there for the 2017-2018 season"
The biggest news from Burton for 2018 is the launch of their 'Step On' system (a 21st Century reimagining of the step-in concept that actually seems to work) but beyond this you can rest assured that their hard- and soft goods feature some of the finest technologies out there – all put through their paces by a stellar team of shredders. And with their on-hill R&D lab 'Craig's' you can bet they'll only be pushing forwards from here on in.
Around the dawn of the new millennium, snowboarding was witnessing an influx of ski brands, soy sauce companies and other fat cats vying for a slice of the pie. Firmly believing that 'we own this sport, not them', a band of riders got together and formed an idea that would become CAPiTA Snowboards. Contrary to just hitting the bottom line, CAPiTA wanted to showcase their creativity through the team's riding, their sense of fun and their unique visual identity.
"CAPiTA wanted to showcase their creativity through the team's riding, their sense of fun and their unique visual identity"
Image is one thing, product another, but wisely CAPiTA have always placed as much emphasis on the latter as the former, and dived deeper down the rabbit hole with the establishment of The Mothership in 2015 – a factory/R&D facility with a minimised environmental footprint in Austria where they develop and build all their boards. And great boards they are too. For 2018 they offer perennial classics like the Black Snowboard of Death and Horrorscope alongside newer boards like the Navigator, pro models from the likes of Kazu Kokubo, Jess Kimura and Scott Stevens, and even a couple of kids boards for the next gen. Man, woman, child... if you're on a CAPiTA you'll happily devour everything.
Coal was founded in 2002 by a bunch of friends in Seattle who believed headwear is more than just an afterthought accessory. They had aspirations to move the humble beanie from a mere cookie cutter noggin warmer to something that took fit, fashion and function equally seriously. Design has been at the forefront of Coal's headwear ever since, as the brand shifted gears from making only beanies to the full spectrum of mountain headwear (and even into good old fashioned classic hats), it's been the constant they've adhered to throughout.
"They're still all about snowboarding as the broad spectrum of beanies, facemasks, hoods and clavas they produce attests"
Fundamentally, though, they're still all about snowboarding as the broad spectrum of beanies, facemasks, hoods and clavas they produce attests. And if you want to jazz yourself up for a night on the tiles while still respecting your shred roots, then their Considered range of classic hats is definitely worth a peek.
Thought stomp pads were for kooks? Think again! Realising that snowboarding was in fact just a mindless pastime to be simply enjoyed for the hell of it, rather than getting caught up in what's cool or not, Crab Grab started producing 'traction' in the shape of crab claws, grab rails, weed leaves and the like. Trends be damned! And then they blew it all by having some of the finest riders around gripping up their steeds, thus becoming inadvertent trendsetters.
"Now offering a range of traction options in all manner of shapes and sizes, they've branched out and are also making mittens"
Now offering a range of traction options in all manner of shapes and sizes, they've branched out and are also making mittens (their 5-fingered mitten is truly revolutionary) designed by some dudes with a long history of fine grabsmanship – Nicolas Müller, Bode Merrill, Scott Stevens, Josh Dirksen, Benny Millam and Mike Rav.
DaKine initially started out making leashes in Hawaii, but grew from such humble beginnings to produce a range of clothes, bags and accessories for a multitude of action sports. Perhaps most famously known for their luggage and backpacks, their outerwear and glove offerings are also definitely worth a look if you spend any time at all off piste – especially as they are one of the few brands that have a women’s’ range that’s both technical and stylish.
"It's no coincidence that their boadbags, gloves and backpacks are so popular – they're expertly built and bombproof too"
It's no coincidence that their boadbags, gloves and backpacks are so popular – they're expertly built and bombproof too, and they've carried over these traits to their outerwear. It's no nonsense, functional gear that you can depend on to get the job done, but in recent years the range has benefitted from having the legendary Peter Line as the lead designer. Kick ass Full Moon chicas Leanne Pelosi and Annie Boulanger rep for the women's international snow team, alongside Louif Paradis, Victor Daviet and Elias Elhardt – some of the very best snowboarders on the planet right now.
Dang quickly became well-known for making good-looking shades at a tasty price, backed by a team of established North American rippers like Bode Merrill, Chris Beresford and Jesse Burtner. The success of their sunnies enabled them to add a tight line of goggles to their offering, with several colourways (including a couple of pro model ones) available.
"The success of their sunnies enabled them to add a tight line of goggles to their offering"
If you're looking for eyewear that works, but that won't have you weeping if you sit on them at a party or lose them in a particularly violent tomahawk, then these will be up your alley.
DC's skate pedigree is well chronicled, and when they made their entrance into snowboarding they did so with the same aplomb. Offering boots, outerwear and snowboards, the gear is rigorously stress tested by the likes of Torstein Horgmo, Devun Walsh, Iikka Backstrom and Sebbe de Buck who rock the full neck-to-deck array of gear from the Huntington Beach-based brand.
"The outerwear designs for this season mix up classic in-your-face DC with some more subtle approaches"
Never shy of being bold, the outerwear designs for this season mix up classic in-your-face DC with some more subtle approaches, guaranteeing that DC outerwear will always remain a perennial favourite. They tap into their decades of experience in the footwear game to ensure their snowboard boots are as on point as can be, and the fact that some of the world's best riders strap a DC board to their feet should tell you that their snowboard game is on point.
With a rider roster that spans from Dan Brisse and his urban mega features, to the classic all mountain freestyle of Elias Elhardt, to the big mountain lunacy of Xavier De Le Rue, it's clear Deeluxe boots offer something for the full spectrum of snowboarding.
"Having been making boots since 1996, they know a thing or two about keeping snowboarders' feet happy"
Having been making boots since 1996, they know a thing or two about keeping snowboarders' feet happy and have been at the forefront of introducing technologies like customisable flex, speed lacing, and zonal tightening to their models. Deeluxe's 2017-2018 line is once again a comprehensive offering for men and women, covering all kinds of riding from loose playful jibbing to splitboard specific models. They even have a boot specifically for binding-free noboarding – the Footloose – which is a first from a major snowboard boot brand.
DINOSAURS WILL DIE
Snowboardings greatest underdogs hit their 14th year this winter – not bad going for a small brand with none of the resources the big boys regularly get to play with. It's a testament to the hard work and good nose for what core snowboarders dig that co-owners Sean Genovese and Jeff Keenan clearly have in spades. Not to mention one of the weirdest yet raddest company names in the game.
"Their 2017/18 selection has a bunch of guest graphics and pro models that pay tribute to the people that make things happen on the mountain"
Their 2017/18 selection has a bunch of guest graphics and pro models that pay tribute to the people that make things happen on the mountain. The Genovese in particular has six different guest pro model graphics assigned to the diggers that help keep parks prime throughout the winter – nice touch! Also look out for the unmistakeable Pow Reaper outline, a new shape for the Brewster, and the return plenty of favourites.
A scant few years ago you'd never have thought a Chinese tech company based in Shenzhen would require a mention in a snowboard gear guide, but those were the days before affordable digital cameras, drones, and handheld image stabilisers became accessible to the masses. Now, more and more riders and local crews are investing in drones and camera stabilisation systems to give their footage – be it holiday turning or an effort to break the internet – a more polished look. And when it comes to 'flying cameras' and gimbals to make your handheld shots more smooth, DJI offer up some of the best in the business, from consumer to pro levels.
"Now, more and more riders and local crews are investing in drones and camera stabilisation systems to give their footage a more polished look"
From the entry level Spark minidrone, through the Phantom and Mavic models that you've doubtless seen buzzing your local snowpark, their consumer drone offering is broad, reliable and used by many, while their Osmo handheld stabilisation now offers a version for your phone (the others have built-in cameras), though you'd need to be careful on the hill with them as they're not fully waterproof.
Since 1993 Dragon has been producing eyewear with a focus on snowboarding, surfing and riding dirt bikes – the passions of brand founder Will Howard. As snowboarding was starting define its own attitude, Dragon added goggles to their offerings, saved riders from having to wear some crappy ski ones, and hooked up legendary riders like Jamie Lynn and Chris Roach to rep them. In the intervening years they've pushed the technical envelope by introducing things like frameless goggles, Swiftlock Technology and using light-adapting Transitions lenses.
"Their winter 2017-2018 lineup consists of a wide range of models for all face sizes and preference"
Their winter 2017-2018 lineup consists of a wide range of models for all face sizes and preference, and an even wider assortment of colours and lens types to meet any stylistic or climate-dependent needs. Recognisable favourites like the X1, X2, NFX and NFX2 are present and correct, while for this season Dragon introduce a new Lumalens technology, for optimised colour correction. And as for riders, Jamie Lynn is still on the team, backed up by a diverse assemblage of bosses like Gigi Rüf, Danny Davis, Leanne Pelosi and Forest Bailey.
Drake have been making bindings for a good while but it was when they were acquired by Italian boot supremos Northwave back in 1997 that their distribution was an injection of nitrous; after this Drake bindings were soon widely available around the world, backed by riders like Daniel Franck. In the mid-2000s they also started making snowboards under the Venue moniker, before rebranding as Drake a while after. The current team lineup has a strong Euro focus, with guys like David Djite, Nejc Pucko and Lucian Koch representing the big D.
"The current team lineup has a strong Euro focus, with guys like David Djite, Nejc Pucko and Lucian Koch representing the big D"
The brand new range of Drake snowboards and bindings for 2017-2018 features highlights like perennial favourite binders the Supersport and Reload, as well as a tasty-looking powder gun, the Battle (featuring a colab with Pinetime Clothing), complementing classics like the DF2, Team, and Guerilla boards.
You've got to respect people who've been pushing something before it was embraced by the masses and identified as 'cool', and we certainly have a lot of respect for Serge Dupraz. After discovering snowboarding in 1984 and inspired by Winterstick, Serge decided to start making his own in Europe and called them Hot Snowboards. These helped pioneer the adoption of deep sidecuts which enabled carving to be possible. After a hiatus from snowboarding for a few years, Serge came back to the sport in 2003 with a new brand – Dupraz.
"At a time when the snowboard industry was solely focussed on street jibbing and throwing stunts off increasingly large wedges, to say he was going against the trent is putting it mildly"
He wanted to pour all his knowledge into making high performance boards that would encourage a feeling of surfing on snow – edge hold on hardpack, stability, powerful turns and powder performance. At a time when the snowboard industry was solely focussed on street jibbing and throwing stunts off increasingly large wedges, to say he was going against the trent is putting it mildly. But Serge was still carving. Then carving became cool, brands rushed to push out 'weird' shapes, and there was Serge, still carving. Today, the Dupraz line is refreshingly minimal – three lengths, three flex patterens – but if you like the beautiful simplicity of going fast and turning your snowboard you should make it your mission to try one of Serge's boards.
Founded in 2000 by a couple of dudes who'd been working in the action sports eyewear game previously, Electric quickly became established as a serious player in the shred goggle marketplace thanks to some killer frame designs – the OG EG and (at the time) revolutionarily huge EG2 models – supported by some of the strongest shredders around repping the merch.
"There are a ton of colour and lens options, with newer models like the widescreen Masher and ultralight Electrolite sitting alongside tried and tested classics"
The 2017-2018 range of Electric goggles is all about being 'fresh'. There are a ton of colour and lens options, with newer models like the widescreen Masher and ultralight Electrolite sitting alongside their tried and tested classics to offer a line that caters for all comers. Whether you're a fan of big frame spherical lensed goggles or retro cylindrical ones, full frame or frame free, Electric have something for you.
15 years is a significant time to have endured in a turbulent industry, and that's the milestone Canadian board brand Endeavor celebrate in the 2017-2018 winter. Brand honcho Max Jenke and the crew are based out of Vancouver and with their unique R&D facility, the Endeavor Lab, in house they're perfectly poised to tweak prototypes in that fresh BC pow. Bet the testing of the Powder line was a real bitch.
"With models available for freestyle, all mountain, freeride and powder, plus three women's-specific models, their offering for this season is big but not bloated"
With models available for freestyle, all mountain, freeride and powder, plus three women's-specific models, their offering for this season is big but not bloated. These high performance sticks increase the tech as the price point rises, but all the boards feature Endeavor's vibration-dampening Seamless Sidewalls for a strong, smooth ride, and their Channel insert system for infinite stance options with a natural flex.
Flow dropped into the snowboard market in 1996 with their revolutionary easy entry bindings. Inspired by windsurf footstraps, their concept involved a reclining highback that allowed your foot to slide in without having to fanny around with ratchetting. The system was successful and over the following years they amassed a significant pro team and went on to launch board and boot lines to complete the holy trinity of hardware.
"Inspired by windsurf footstraps, their concept involved a reclining highback that allowed your foot to slide in without having to fanny around with ratchetting"
Today, they count legend Mike Basich, selfie king Tim Humphries and Czech styler Sarka Pancochova on their pro team, with tasty Euro bosses like Cees Wille and Mario Wagner holding down for the old continent. Flow's boards for 2018 contains some models with headturning shapes, complimenting the good old fashioned double ended shred sleds, while the bindings are looking as easy, comfortable and responsive as ever. On the boots front they're all about fresh out the box fit and ease of use, with a lot of Boa options available.
Based out of Santa Cruz, Giro have been making and testing sports products for well over 30 years. The helmets, tested to destruction in their lab, are lightweight, comfortable and span the style spectrum from boardercross to freestyle – the Combyn and Ledge being tasty options for the latter. As far as their eyewear goes, the big news for 2017-2018 is their take on the current spectrum-enhancing revolution which they’ve entitled ‘Vivid’. They also have the unique selling point that their top-end lenses are designed by none other than Swiss optics masters, ZEISS.
"the big news for 2017-2018 is their take on the current spectrum-enhancing revolution which they’ve entitled ‘Vivid’"
Everything is designed to fit seamlessly with their helmet collection so you can comfortably protect your head as well as your eyes, as you'll see when you check out team riders like Christian Haller, Bryan Fox and Enni Rukajärvi rocking the combo. Giro have also got a few collabs underway for next year, including snowsports eco-warriors POW and our personal favourite, iconic Seattle record label Sub Pop!
Gnu is the oldest of Mervin Manufacturing's brands (they also run Lib Tech and Bent Metal). Their leftfield approach to product and marketing has been lighting up snowboarding since the 80s, and between co-owner Mike Olsen and Pete Saari they've been responsible for ushering in plenty of technical innovations, all wrapped up in classic Mervin light-hearted weirdness. They've also got a seriously strong women's range, fronted by living legend Barrett Christy.
"Their leftfield approach to product and marketing has been lighting up snowboarding since the 80s"
If you ever meet Mike, a guy whose photo should be in the dictionary under the entries for 'larger than life', 'raconteur', and 'mad scientist', ask him to tell you the story of why Mervin Mfg is called Mervin. The dude sure spins a good yarn.
As legend has it, in the early 2000s American surfer Nick Woodman had the idea for a wrist-mounted camera that would allow people to self-document their wave-riding exploits and capture photos that, previously, would only be possible if you were a pro with a photographer shooting you. The first GoPro hit the market in 2004, shooting 35mm film, and rapidly evolved into the water/shock proof digital video- and photo-capturing small box of tricks we've become familiar with today, with each successive iteration cramming more tech under the hood.
"They've recently built upon these solid foundations by diving into the world of drones and video stabilisation and unveiling the Karma drone/grip package"
Now on the fifth iteration of the Hero camera (with a couple of even smaller Hero Sessions available), the technology used and quality of footage and photos produced is pretty unparalleled in the 'action camera' marketplace, and they've recently built upon these solid foundations by diving into the world of drones and video stabilisation and unveiling the Karma drone/grip package.
Head's roots in snowboarding run deep. Klaus Thurner and Charly Messmer started working on Mistral Snowboards in 1990, which would evolve into Generics Snowboards and Blax boots before those companies were acquired by Head in 2000. The former employees were retained and set to work on the first range of Head-branded snowboard product, which debuted in 2001.
"Head have built a solid reputation of consistently delivering high-quality, performance boards loaded with innovative technologies"
Since then, Head have built a solid reputation of consistently delivering high-quality, performance boards loaded with innovative technologies, and having them available at a killer price. Most recently they've been trailblazing the use of ultra-light, ultra strong Graphene in their boards, combining it with Hexalight in the core for significant weight reduction, while their bindings and boot lines are designed with cornerstones of comfort, ease of use and performance front and centre. Matthias Weissenbacher, Tom Klocker and Sina Candrian are but three of the bosses sending it on Head gear.
Established in 2002 by former pro rider Mikey LeBlanc, Holden quickly found favour amongst a section of snowboarding who demand that their outerwear not only keeps the weather out, but looks damn fine too. Explained in terms of simple mathematics, fashion + function = Holden.
"Their range for 2017-2018 carries on their commitment to the aesthetic, without scrimping on on-hill performance"
Their range for 2017-2018 carries on their commitment to the aesthetic, without scrimping on on-hill performance. So what you’ll find is outerwear that’s built for harsh mountain environments but that has been designed with long-lasting style in mind, along with tailored fits, high-quality fabrics and a dedication to making the manufacturing process as eco-friendly as possible.
“Designed in the North West… If it works here, it works anywhere." That’s what Homeschool – a small, independent outerwear brand from Portland – have to say about their products, built to take whatever Mt Hood and Mt Baker have to throw at them during the deep, stormy winter months.
"Having handled the stuff, we can safely testify that this is kit designed for snowboarders, by snowboarders"
They’re also focused on ecological design, using materials like 37.5 Tech, which uses fibres derived from coconut husks that give natural wicking properties as well as a smaller environmental footprint. Having handled the stuff, we can safely testify that this is kit designed for snowboarders, by snowboarders.
Born in Canada but now based in the Czech Republic, Horsefeathers launched in 1989 to provide everything from tees for skating to jackets for the hill. This season sees them pulling in a whole bunch of designs and fabrics to create one of the most distinct collections with a unique colour pallette, with something for everyone: from hot lap park rats to backcountry explorers.
"You know the outerwear will have been fully stress-tested in all kinds of situations"
The team is getting stacked with heavy hitters, too. Eiki Helgason, Måns Hedberg and Antti Jussila hold it down for the Scands, while Michi Schatz, Klaudia Medlova and Tyler Chorlton are some of the Gs getting business done in mainland Europe. With the likes of Icelandic wizard Eiki Helgason and UK legend Tyler Chorlton joining the Horsefeathers family in recent years and regularly pulling back-to-back seasons, you know the outerwear will have been fully stress-tested in all kinds of situations.
After a succession of stellar appearances in Standard Films movies, Jeremy had the name to launch a self-titled snowboard brand in 2009, but as many riders have seen to their cost, a name is rarely enough to succeed. Jeremy did because he spotted an underrepresented backcountry freeride market begging to be spoken to, and designed a range of boards with chasing peaks and pow in mind. Jones was also one of the first brands to support the emerging splitboard market, as it continues to do to this day.
"New for this year is the Mind Expander which, along with the Sorm Chaser was crafted in collaboration with surf shaper Chris Christenson"
New for this year is the Mind Expander which, along with the Sorm Chaser was crafted in collaboration with surf shaper Chris Christenson, and then there's the established models like the Mountain Twin, Flagship, Solution and Hovercraft, which mostly come in beefed up and/or Carbon versions as well as splitboard variations. Women and kids loving a bit of all mountain pow are catered for too, meaning anyone who understands Jeremy's vision of snowboarding have the chance to send it on a Jones.
K2 were one of the first wave of manufacturers to produce snowboards (their first – the Gyrator – hit stores in 1988) which, when paired with their proximity to the sick mountains of Washington state, means they sure know how to build a good product. And they make the full shebang, too – boards, boots, bindings, goggles, helmets, hats, bags and more are available to suit a diverse range of riding preferences.
"All tastes are catered for, but the last couple of seasons have seen K2 heavily push their 'Enjoyers collection' – snowboards"
All tastes are catered for, but the last couple of seasons have seen K2 heavily push their 'Enjoyers collection' – snowboards “created with an open minded viewpoint of snowboarding. Seeking to create new turning experiences with a focus on clean, fluid style." For example, the new, surf-tastic Simple Pleasures or the well-received Cool Bean and Party Platter are all about letting you draw the funnest lines possible on the mountain. But if you're more wanting to tear up the park or BC, fear not. K2 still have plenty in their range for you in 2017-2018.
Inspired by the Japanese snow-surfing movement, longtime pro riders Stephan Maurer and Nicolas Wolken set about bringing unconventional shapes to the European market at a price that ensured quality components but wouldn't break the bank. In 2014, the unveiled their first line of Korua snowboards, characterised by an array of weird and wonderful shapes, minimalist Swiss design, and hyped by the first in a series of epic 'Yearning for Turning' edits..
"Since then they've kept the essentials – weird, fun shapes, good pricing, white topsheet, red base – and built on them"
Since then they've kept the essentials – weird, fun shapes, good pricing, white topsheet, red base – and built on them by introducing a few models (including the ISPO award-winning edgeless Tugboat and an all-black range), all of which are geared towards maximising the fun you can have going fast, getting low and turning – whether it's in pow or on hardpack.
Legend has it that when Lib honcho Mike Olsen pressed his first skateboard it came out all sparkly, so he wrote 'Liberace Technology' on it. Mike and Pete Saari were already producing snowboarders under the name of Gnu, but would also add Lib Tech snowboards to their portfolio of brands being built in the Pacific Northwest 'Near Canada!' Driven by art and the riders as much as they were committed to developing new technologies, it was the perfect fit when they hooked a young all-terrain crusher called Jamie Lynn to ride Lib early in his career – as he still does to this day.
"Still building the boards in their factory near Seattle, Lib may have grown since the 80s, but a lot remains the same"
Still building the boards in their factory near Seattle, Lib may have grown since the 80s, but a lot remains the same. Their commitment to sustainability in their environMENTAL factory, their passion for conceiving new, innovative technologies (Banana rocker and Magne-Traction are both theirs, and they were one of the first to re-introduce asym sidecuts to Millennial snowboarders), all these follow the blueprint of their early years, as does the team – Mark Landvik, Eric Jackson and a fella called Travis Rice are three of Lib's most recognisable riders today.
Those portable, multimedia communication devices that people wander aimlessly down the street staring at these days are marvels of modern day technology, but what they aren't so good at is being dropped on the floor, or snow, or sand. Or anything. That's where Lifeproof step in. They've taken phone cases to a whole other level of protection, making models that make your smartphone scratchproof, waterproof, dirtproof, snowproof and shock-resistant.
"They've taken phone cases to a whole other level of protection, making models that make your smartphone scratchproof, waterproof, dirtproof, snowproof and shock-resistant"
The two models (the FRĒ and the ultra-minimal NÜÜD) are available for some of the most popular phones out there, and let you still use full functionality despite all this protection. With one of these cladding your black mirror, you won't need to stress about follow-camming your homie through the rail line with your phone's camera, nor dropping it in the bar later that night as you celebrate getting the shot.
Back in 2011, Eiki and Halldor Helgason were arguably two of the hottest upcoming riders of the time, with video parts in the biggest movies, major contest wins racking up and media coverage aplenty. Just at that point in a snowboarder's career that you expect their sponsors to recognise their achievements and bump them up to the Global Team, however, word came through the wires that they'd ditched their board sponsors to set up their own brand. Lobster Snowboards was that brand, and since then it's been pushing the Helgasons' mischievous take on snowsliding, especially through its delightfully offensive 'Special Addition' graphics.
"As Lobster are made in partnership with the Low Pressure Studio guys, the boards all feature various flavours of the 3BT Triple Base Technology for catch-free ripping"
As Lobster are made in partnership with the Low Pressure Studio guys (the crew behind Bataleon Snowboards), the boards all feature various flavours of the 3BT Triple Base Technology for catch-free ripping with the pop and response of camber. For the 2017-2018 winter Lobster's line is made up of seven models, all of which are twin tips and so fall more into the all-mountain freestyle/park/jib bracket, though they'll certainly be all good for a spot of resort powder slashing.
Mammut was founded in 1862 when Kasper Tanner started making manufacturing ropes in Switzerland. In the 1950s they launch their first ever braided mountaineering rope, which helped Mammut become recognised in the mountain climbing world, and in the 70s and 80s they added outerwear and sleeping bags to their outdoor offerings, further establishing the brand as one catering for serious mountain users. In 2006 they launched their well-known PULSE Barryvox (an easy-to-use digital avalanche transciever) and further cemented their standing in mountain safety products when they unveiled the Ride Airbag Rucksack with its Removable Airbag System.
"In 2017/2018, snowboarders looking to head into the backcountry would do well to take a look at Mammut's range of Barryvox transcievers"
In 2017/2018, snowboarders looking to head into the backcountry would do well to take a look at Mammut's range of Barryvox transcievers, including the new Barryvox S, and Airbag system technology (the latter, now weighing less than two kilos, is in its third iteration now). They also make a variety of lightweight poles, shovels and backpacks, all of which anyone riding outside the marked areas of a ski resort should have with them. And, most importantly, know how to use!
Back in 2008 Jussi Oksanen – we shouldn't have to tell you who Jussi is, but in case you're new to this he's in the all-time snowboard legends category – and Brad Kremer of the latter MDP movies fame had the vision of creating a line of reusable stainless steel water bottles to encourage people to reduce their day-to-day use of plastics.
"Their offering has expanded to include a variety of standard bottles, insulated bottles, hot beverage cups, camping cups and more"
From the humble waterbottle (perhaps the most collabbed product in the history of snowboarding), their offering has expanded to include a variety of standard bottles, insulated bottles, hot beverage cups, camping cups and more in a bunch of shapes, sizes and styles. They also founded protectingwhereweplay.com in 2015 - a non-profit foundation tasked with providing free-to-use water stations in mountain resorts, beaches, skate parks and more. Nice one!
Neff are primarily a boardsports lifestyle brand, they reserve a special team for those that they regards as ‘icons’ – therefore putting the likes of Halldor Helgason, Kazu Kokubo, Tim and Humphreys in amongst a variety of stars such as Wiz Kahlifa, Damian Marley, Deadmau5 and Snoop Dogg.
"There are some banging designs (from in-your-face colour to more muted affairs), and perhaps most noteworthy is the DWRX range of beanies"
For 2017-2018 they have an extensive range of headwear – from caps to beanies to hooded facemasks – and handwear for all conditions, whichever side of the mitten/glove fence you sit on. There are some banging designs (from in-your-face colour to more muted affairs), and perhaps most noteworthy is the DWRX range of beanies, promising waterproof headwear. A bit of a no-brainer really, and one we’re keen to try out ASAP.
The Canaday brothers – the guys who started Never Summer – have been designing and building snowboards since 1983 and over this time they've amassed a huge amount of board-building knowhow and built an almost cult-like following of riders who swear by their high-quality materials, designs and construction methods. Each board is hand crafted in their factory in Denver, Colorado to exact specifications, and from the company's inception they've aimed to produce the strongest snowboards in the industry, hence their boards being backed by a two-year warranty.
"Each board is hand crafted in their factory to exact specifications, and from the company's inception they've aimed to produce the strongest snowboards in the industry"
From their regular twin tips to more directional carvers and pow chasers, all the boards feature one of their three flavours of patented Rocker-Camber hybrid, along with Vario Power Grip sidecut. They've consciously eschewed a high-profile team in order to channel as much resource as possible into materials and R&D.
Founded in 1887 by master woodcraftsman Henri Nidecker – yes, 1887! – the Nidecker company started making snowboards in 1984 from their base close to the shores of Lake Geneva. A stone's throw from the Alps, this is the perfect place for the Swiss brand to test prototypes and feed back direct to the factory, which lead to – amongst other things – one of the first asym boards in the early 90s, the featherweight 'Megalight' (weighing less than 3kg) in the early 2000s, and the glue-free cores used on the Ultralight – the lightest board in the world in 2009. Over a hundred years later, the Nidecker family are still running the show – including a fifth generation Henri Nidecker.
"For the 2017-2018 winter season, Nidecker are also offering up a 'snowsurf' line of carvetastic groomer- and pow hunting weapons"
Their snowboard product range includes boards, boots and bindings for men, women and children, and range from high-performance freeride boards like the Ultralight to all-mountain dominators like the Advanced. For the 2017-2018 winter season, in addition to their substantial line of snowboards, Nidecker are also offering up a 'snowsurf' line of carvetastic groomer- and pow hunting weapons. Get low, bro!
Nikita is a women’s activewear brand founded in Iceland in 1994 by Heida Brigisdottir, and whilst their headquarters have since shifted to Portland, Oregon, all their design still takes place in Reykjavik. That blend of Pacific Northwest style meeting the freezing winters of the North Atlantic is what gives Nikita clothing such a great mix of fashion and functionality, keeping women active on the hill without layering them up in garish mountaineering colours.
"That blend of Pacific Northwest style meeting the freezing winters of the North Atlantic is what gives Nikita clothing such a great mix of fashion and functionality"
For the coming winter, many of their designs have a fondness for the geometric to stay on point, mixing between pastel patterns and muted earth tones, whilst their fabric tech has also taken a huge leap forward.
Founded in Seattle in 1990 (though with strong European roots – the co-counders are German and the product development is done from Oberammergau, near Garmisch), Nitro Snowboards showcased their first line at that year's ISPO and walked away with an order for 7000 boards. 27 years later, they're still going strong and pump out one of the broadest ranges of snowboard product in the game, not to mention supporting a huge team of riders – from some of the best in the game at pulling stunts, to some of the best in the game at having a good time sliding sideways.
"Nitro pump out one of the broadest ranges of snowboard product in the game, not to mention supporting a huge team of riders"
Nitro now make boards, boots, bindings, outerwear (including both Nitro-branded and the more style-focussed L1 Outerwear), bags and a bunch of accessories. From backcountry splitboarding to your kid's first turns on the bunny hill, chances are you can kit yourself out head-to-toe in product made by this brand that are unashamedly 'Built For Good Times'.
Founded in Southern California in 1998, Nixon proceeded to take the snow, skate and surf industry by storm when they introduced their range of watches, sleekly designed and backed by an unprecedented team of A-list rippers from all three sports. The combination of product that looked slick and a strong marketing game (we still have fond memories of the Nixon Jib Fests back in the day) meant they quickly expanded to add bags, accessories and more to their offerings.
"These days Nixon still boast a huge range of watches – from classy to sporty – along with backpacks for every occasion, and some dope wallets too"
These days Nixon still boast a huge range of watches – from classy to sporty – along with backpacks for every occasion, and some dope wallets too. Most recently they made waves by producing the first smartwatch specifically designed for action sports – The Mission. For snowboarding, this will keep you updated on snow forecasts, track your movement and even lead you to the nearest watering hole for a post-shred bevvy.
Northwave's history begins in the 1980s when Gianni Piva started making shoes in Montebelluna, Italy. When snowboarding became more popular in the late 80s, Piva's footwear expertise was sought out by snowboard brands looking to incorporate decent footwear to their line and he was quickly contracted to manufacture them. With a bunch of R&D under his belt, Piva decided he had the ingredients needed to build he own brand, and so in 1991 Northwave boots was born and the first line debuted.
"Whatever your price point or riding preference you'll find a model for you in their 2017-2018 range, reflected by their diverse team of rippers"
As you'd expect of a company based in the boot making capital of the world, Northwave have the knack of making comfortable, performance enhancing footwear loaded with proprietary tech. Be it the liners, sole units, shell or lacing system, everything's been thought out to complement the boots' fit and functionality. Whatever your price point or riding preference you'll find a model for you in their 2017-2018 range, reflected by their diverse team of rippers – from powder hounds like Antti Autti to jibbers like Nejc Pucko. And this year they bolstered their team further with the swift swiping of Tor Lundström and Ethan Morgan
JF Pelchat, former pro rider (he's now over 40 but still KILLING it) and member of the notorious Wildcats crew, had the epiphany that bindings haven’t radically changed in terms of mechanics and function since they were first invented. He wanted to improve on the way they work, so huddled away in his garage he proceeded to prototype an unconventional approach: one inspired by skateboard trucks that uses a 'Hanger' and Kingpin to allow this to leverage heel to toe. This reduces foot fatigue and chatter, enhances control and hold, and allows you to customise response and dampening to your needs.
"Whether you're in to carving, charging lines or hurling yourself down street rails, there's a Now binding built for you"
Now Bindings launched in 2012 with one model, but now for 2017-2018 they, ahem, now have 12 different bindings, including women's and a YES colab. Whether you're in to carving, charging lines or hurling yourself down street rails, there's a Now binding built for you, as is clear from the diverse riders roster they keep these days – there's big mountain boss Jeremy Jones, Brisse-in-waiting Franck Bourgeois, a large portion of the YES Snowboards team, and many more holding it down for Now.
Back in 1952, Jack O’Neill (who recently passed away - RIP Jack) changed the surfing game by creating the first ever neoprene wetsuit, then decades later his son Pat developed the leash. It wasn’t long before they started looking to surf on snow, and have been producing snowboard outerwear for many a year. With riders like Sebastian Toutant, Jeremy Jones and Fredrik Evensen onboard the snow team these days, that sense of boundary pushing and innovation still runs deep.
"For 2017/18 their range includes just about everything"
For 2017/18 their range includes just about everything: from ‘entry level’ lines that boast friendly block colours at low price points, to bang-on-trend stylings complemented with 20K/20K fabrics. You’ll be sure to see a lot of their mid/park ranges this year too, as Toots is guaranteed to be battling it out over the course of the contest circuit this winter.
Pub fact: the element that features in James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar – Unobtanium – was actually invented by Oakley founder James Jannard in 1975, using it to create and sell unique motorcycle grips. He transferred this grippy-when-wet substance to sunglasses and the rest is history. Purely in snowboarding they now produce sunnies, goggles, helmets, outerwear and accessories, their goggles in particular being some of the most recognisable in the game thanks to the likes of Ståle Sandbech and Jamie Anderson tearing parks to pieces in them.
"From established classics like the A Frame 2.0 to newer models like the Airbrake and Flight Deck, their goggles all feature the brand's much respected optics"
From established classics like the A Frame 2.0 to newer models like the Airbrake and Flight Deck, their goggles all feature the brand's much respected optics, with lens options including their new PRIZM contrast enhancement. Their helmets have a neat modular brim system and enhanced airflow, while Oakley’s outerwear offering for this season encompasses everything from basic entry level gear that will get the job done, to top-end Gore-Tex pieces infused with their proprietary ‘Biozone’ insulation system.
Set up by Yvon Chouinard in 1973, Patagonia is much more than just another apparel brand – it’s a movement. Along with the aim of making some of the most technical and high-performance outerwear out there, all of their products are built with minimising environmental impact and are designed to last years. It’s not uncommon to meet Patagonia devotees who’ve been riding the same gear for over a decade!
"Basically, if you’re after no-nonsense outerwear that’s also ethical, look no further"
Basically, if you’re after no-nonsense outerwear that’s also ethical, look no further. And don’t let the price tag put you off either: an expensive jacket that lasts five seasons is cheaper than five that only last for one! Plus, a large percentage of all sales profits go towards environmental campaigns – since 1985 Patagonia has donated $46 million in cash and in-kind donations to domestic and international grassroots environmental groups.
PICTURE ORGANIC CLOTHING
Since 2009 Picture Organic Clothing has been on a mission to make technical mountainwear that is mindful of the planet on which we play on, while still keeping their pricing in check for the average punter. Founded by three amigos from different backgrounds but united by a passion for the mountains and a commitment to producing clothing and outerwear that would minimise the impact on the environment, they enjoyed rapid success thanks to their sustainable production and bold designs.
"They enjoyed rapid success thanks to their sustainable production and bold designs"
For 2017/18 they’ll be continuing much as before, the boldness with which they've made their name sure ain’t going anywhere, and you can mix and match pretty much the whole line with its variety of block colours and patterns. That said, there's a few more subtle designs in this year's line which is a nice addition. Picture also ensures a minimum of 50% recycled polyester in its products, plus next year for the first time their water repellent treatment will become 100% PFC-free, a huge step in waterproofing techniques.
Since 2002, Pow have been committed to designing and producing handwear that's 'Built to Last' from their HQ in the Pacific Northwest. They pride themselves on the durability, fit and comfort of their gloves and mittens, from the first lift of the season till the last, and use premium materials and design to achieve this. Their team's damn strong, too, with riders like John Jackson, Fredi Kalbermatten, Manuel Diaz and Hana Beaman putting the gloves through their paces all winter long.
"They pride themselves on the durability, fit and comfort of their gloves and mittens, from the first lift of the season till the last"
The stylings for 2017/2017 are on point as well, ranging from some bright patterns on the park mitts (plus an exclusive collab with Travis Rice’s Asymbol gallery) to good quality ‘work wear’ type leather on the upper end of the price points. Over- or underglove, glove or mitt, leather or synthetic, deep winter or summer slush... POW have a model for you. They've also got a pretty sweet line of kids' gloves, too.
This boardsports brand hailing from the Netherlands has been ‘Protesting To Get There’ since 1993, being founded by a small collective of snowboard-stoked flatlanders. Protest pride themselves as being a ‘design-led’ company with a team of 16 designers and a broad network of partners from the fashion and textile industry allowing them to work with cutting-edge technologies and trends, but equally important is ensuring their product is affordable for the masses yet performs for the core.
"Equally important is ensuring their product is affordable for the masses yet performs for the core"
Their team spans the likes of big mountain splitboard fanatic Miikka Hast to long-serving all-round ripper Aymeric Tonin, and a bunch of up-and-coming Euros who’ll road test their outerwear in all manner of conditions. “Our goal is to make our clothes accessible to as many boarders as possible," they say – an M.O. that’s represented in the price points and designs of their 2017/2018 range.
One of the most iconic logos in board sports, the Quiksilver mountain-and-wave inspired by The Great Wave off Kanawaga remains completely unchanged since it was introduced in 1969. Over the last 40 or so years the Australian-founded, American-based brand has done more than most to amalgamate the surfing and snowboarding worlds, bridging the gap between the two sister sports.
"With a good range of decent styles that won’t break the bank, Quiksilver is always a good shout for snowboarders of any ability"
Boasting a team with the likes of Bryan Fox and the little-known Travis Rice, their 2017/18 range aims to keep you warm and dry as well as comfortably stylish. With a good range of decent styles that won’t break the bank, Quiksilver is always a good shout for snowboarders of any ability.
Ride have ridden a long way since they dropped in on snowboarding in 1992. They quickly expanded from having a mere four boards in their range in year one, to launching bindings and outerwear (Preston and Cappel, which would later be incorporated under the Ride banner) and developing new technologies like Slimewalls, Cleave Edges and Carbon Array power distribution.
"Ride's riders reflect the brand's desire to represent the whole of snowboarding 'for the people'"
For 2017-2018, Ride have 22 board models, 18 boots, 15 bindings and a bunch of travel luggage to cart it all around in. The team is a diverse bunch of quality rippers: from contest slayer Yuki Kadono to big mountain freestyle boss Jake Blauvelt and the all round skills of Hana Beaman, Ride's riders reflect the brand's desire to represent the whole of snowboarding 'for the people'.
Originally a surfboard brand founded back in 1969, Rip Curl soon switched to producing wetsuits that used scuba-diving tech in a way that made it suitable for surfing. That cross-heritage design process is still alive in the company today; just check out the top-loading dive suit style one-piece they’ve produced for this season’s collection.
"Their top-of-the-range ‘Ultimate Gum’ collection all comes with 20K waterproofing as standard"
As well as Freeride World Tour champ Emilien Badoux, the winter team boasts names like Nils Arvidsson, Nate Johnstone and Carlos Gerber, a thirst for powder uniting them all. They’re obviously well catered for, as their top-of-the-range ‘Ultimate Gum’ collection all comes with 20K waterproofing as standard, as well as easy-pull zips and innovative venting systems.
In 2001 Josh Reid and Paul Maravetz, at the time working in Burton's marketing and product development teams, decided they wanted to shake things up, turn the focus back on to snowboarding and so conceived the Rome Snowboard Design Syndicate in Vermont. Initially debuting with a three-board line (the Agent, Anthem and Solution, which are still rolling to this day) and there was a strong desire to invite opinion from other snowboarders regarding all aspects of the brand – hence the 'Syndicate'.
"There was a strong desire to invite opinion from other snowboarders regarding all aspects of the brand"
They've moved on a bit since those days, and for 2017/2018 offer one of the larger ranges in snowboarding. For boards, there's something for everyone and a mix of established classics and new models like the National and Kashmir. Plus, of course, there is the popular RK1 collection with pro models for Ståle Sandbech, Len Jørgensen and Alek Østreng. There are also new boot models like the Libertine SRT and bindings such as the Guild introducing ever more tech into the products to improve performance.
One of the original female-only snowboard brands, Roxy has had an annual snow range since 1997 – as well as its hardware products (made by Mervin Mfg) which are now coming into their thirteenth winter. In addition to Olympic gold medalist favourite Torah Bright, the Roxy snow team also boasts double-dipping-and-flipping Brits Katie Ormerod and Aimee Fuller and is overall one of the strongest girls teams out there.
"Roxy outerwear is always easily recognisable thanks to the palettes and shapes that it brings in"
Roxy outerwear is always easily recognisable thanks to the palettes and shapes that it brings in from both the surf and highstreet worlds, while being made in the Mervin factory means the boards reap the benefits of Banana technology, Magne-Traction, and the rest of the crazy technologies developed by Mike Olsen and Pete Saari. If you’re after some swag that’ll make you look good and feel confident on the hill then their full range is well worth a look.
Salomon was established in Annecy, France in 1947, and started making snowboards, boots and bindings in 1997. They launched with Daniel Franck (one of the biggest names in the sport at the time) onboard, and since then have been as well-known for their progressive teams (from Franck and Michaelchuck to the era of David Benedek and Christophe Weber, to today's roster including Louif Paradis, Bode Merrill and Victor Daviet) as their progressive product.
"New for 2017/2018 in their boards line is a revamped Villain with a fresh shape and tech upgrades to give Louif even more of an edge"
New for 2017/2018 in their boards line is a revamped Villain with a fresh shape and tech upgrades to give Louif even more of an edge, and Wolle Nyvelt's Hillside Project of powder weapons amongst other things. The boots, now with Mutation Construction in the top-end HiFi, are as foot-focussed as ever and the bindings continue using their Shadowfit flexible heelcups for ultimate flex, response and comfort.
Established in 1983, Sessions have had a long and influential role in snowboarding for over 30 years. After establishing a snowboard shop of the same name, founder Joel Gomez quickly turned his hand to making outerwear, and before long his clothing had become a household name thanks to the likes of Jamie Lynn repping the Sessions threads.
"This year, there's even a colab with Metallica goddamit!"
Today, Sessions has been reinvigorated by a team – including Scotty Vine, Jesse Paul and Ryland West – to showcase their new range, which is predominantly made up of classic, functional freestyle snowboard mountainwear. This year, there's even a colab with Metallica goddamit! After a couple of years’ hiatus on this side of the pond, it’s sure good to see the iconic S star back. As they say, “Always have, always will!"
Skullcandy founder Rich Alden was sat on a chairlift between Park City pow laps, listening to some tunes, when his phone rang. Frustrated as ever at having to pull his 'phones out from his music player and plug them into his phone to answer the call (this was pre-smartphone days after all), he had the idea to make headphones that could seamlessly switch between music and calls, and add a splash of colour to proceedings, too. Skullcandy was born, and quickly set about building a team of heavy hitting action sports rippers who could benefit from such technology.
"New arrivals like a wireless version of the bass-boosting Crusher or the impact resistant Barricade XL BT speaker ensure that the tunes will keep blaring for Skullcandy"
Today, on the snow side of things, they have Eero Ettala, Mark McMorris and Travis Rice repping, and a product range of earbuds, headphones, Bluetooth speakers and accessories in a host of different styles, prints and colours. New arrivals like a wireless version of the bass-boosting Crusher or the impact resistant Barricade XL BT speaker ensure that the tunes will keep blaring for Skullcandy in 2017/2018.
Gigi Rüf is hands down one of the most iconic riders in snowboarding. The dude’s logged an obscene amount of insane movie parts in his long career and so when he debuted his own snowboard brand, Slash by Gigi, at tradeshows in 2012 it was clear that he had the hype to sustain a successful push into the board market. The fact that most of the Slash boards featured their distinctive double swallowtail shape helped them stand out from the crowd all the more.
"The fact that most of the Slash boards featured their distinctive double swallowtail shape helped them stand out from the crowd"
For 2018’s Slash line, Gigi’s produced seven models that range from the street and jib focus of the zero-cambered Spectrum to the beefed up backcountry power of the Straight Series. With the exception of the more directional Straight and Manuel Diaz’s Nahual, the double swallow remains to reinforce their all-terrain freestyle prowess, while the tech used within moves up the scale from mellow and reliable, to progressive and futuristic when you look at their top-end experimental steed, the Aurora.
In 1965, Dr. Bob Smith, orthodontist and OG ski bum, invented the first sealed thermal lens and breathable vent foam goggles to allow him to keep lapping powder while others would have to head for the lodge to defog or thaw out their eyeballs. Since then, Smith has been advancing the eyewear game, introducing interchangeable lenses, developing ventilation systems that work in conjunction with helmets, and more recently conjouring up their ChromaPop advanced polarized lens technology.
"New and of note for 2017/2018 is their biggest cylindrical lens model, the Squad XL"
New and of note for 2017/2018 is their biggest cylindrical lens model, the Squad XL, which comes with a larger-than-normal strap to help keep the whole thing in place. Of course the whole I/O line is still here, the I/O7, I/OS and I/OX are all firm favourites amongst who've tried them out, and also there are two new helmets for 2018: the Quantum and the Code, the latter providing protection with a minimalist skate-style design. With a team of heavy hitters like Xavier De Le Rue, Elias Elhardy and Scott Stevens, you know these things have been put through their paces by the best in the business.
SP was first unveiled in 2001, but the company's roots in the making of snowboard bindings extend back to 1987. Prior to 2001 they were called Snow Pro and built state-of-the-art hardboot carving bindings, but as the American freestyle wave crashed onto European shores they started producing two-strappers for soft boots, too. Sensing the need for a rebranding, they changed their name from Snow Pro to SP, hooked up a new roster of team riders and the rest is history.
"SP have an easy-entry system on all their models"
Determined to make riders' time on the hill as hassle-free as possible, SP have an easy-entry system on all their models – undoing a lever on the highback lets the highback down, which automatically engages the auto.RS system and cause the ankle strap to rise, allowing your foot in easier. Then fold the highback up, lock the lever, and lock the auto.RS back, and you're good to go. This system is on all their bindings, from kids models, to their splitboard bindings, to the top-of-the-range SLAB One.
A few years back, the guys at SP Bindings realised they could use their manufacturing expertise to craft much-needed accessories for action cameras and smartphones. SP Gadgets was born, bringing cutting edge products meshing the action sports and electronics markets.
"The guys at SP Bindings realised they could use their manufacturing expertise to craft much-needed accessories for action cameras and smartphones"
Their SP Connect system allows you to mount your smartphone pretty much anywhere in protective casings, while for action cams they offer a wide range of gear, including mounts, POV poles, cases and power banks.
Since 2006, the fully rider owned and operated Spark R&D has manufactured splitboard-specific bindings from their workshop in Bozeman, Montana. Their founder was blown away by how much easier accessing backcountry terrain was by splitboard than showshoes, but that it could be even better if there was a binding designed specifically for splitboarding. As a mechanical engineer, he set about the problem and the design he came up with was so well-received that Spark R&D was born.
"If you're thinking of investing in a splitboard setup for this coming winter, some split-specific binders are definitely worth considering"
For 2017/2018 they have five softboot models available (three for men, two for women), all designed with saving weight, comfort and performance in mind, and with the new Pillow Line straps on the high-end models now, they're even lighter than ever. If you're thinking of investing in a splitboard setup for this coming winter, or if you already have the gear but still use your regular bindings, some split-specific binders are definitely worth considering as they'll make the way up easier and the way down feel more like riding a regular setup.
The brainchild of Eiki and Halldor Helgason, Switchback was brought into the world in 2012 with the aim of offering the simplest, easiest to customise binding out there on the market. With the exception of screwing them to the board, every adjustment you'd need to make on these bindings is tool free – you can even take the highbacks off in a couple of seconds to give yourself a taste of noback surfiness.
"With the exception of screwing them to the board, every adjustment you'd need to make on these bindings is tool free"
New for 2017/2018 is their new AERON base, which overmolds forged aluminium to high-grade polyamide nylon, adding strength and reducing weight in the process. There are a bunch of different baseplate, highback and strap options for you to mix up like your favourite cocktail, or snag yourself complete pre-matched models like the Session, the Universe, or the women's Up. The Helgasons also get their own pro model combo and colourways, and riders like Ethan Morgan, Klaudia Medlova and Tor Lundström can be found tearing it up strapped in with the completes.
THE NORTH FACE
When you talk about proper freeriding – adventure, the tour, big mountains, Xavier De Le Rue – The North Face is more often than not one of the brands that will spring to mind. They have a long, proud history of making some damn fine technical outerwear for people that are serious about staying protected from the mountain elements.
"They have a long, proud history of making some damn fine technical outerwear for people that are serious about staying protected from the mountain elements"
But in recent years they’ve been making a push in to the less high-alpine areas of snowboarding, too, as the signings of Kaitlyn Farrington, Blake Paul and, recently, Victor De Le Rue attest. Featuring lightweight tech and heavy duty waterproofing, this season’s collection from TNF has been designed to have your back in almost any conditions. And the designs won't have you looking like a grizzled alpinist either – there's plenty of flare amongst the more sober designs for 2017/2018 too.
Founded in 1995 by the same brand that owns Etnies skate shoes, Thirty Two have now survived twenty years in the snowboarding industry – despite being mislabeled as “23" in the first ever issue of Whitelines! As well as working on the feted line of high-performance boots, they’ve still managed to come up with their usual stylish selection of outerwear ready for 2017/18.
"As well as working on the feted line of high-performance boots, they’ve still managed to come up with their usual stylish selection of outerwear ready for 2017/18"
The Thirty Two team is one of the broadest and deepest snowboarding teams out there, with backcountry legends like Jeremy Jones sitting right alongside the likes of the creativity fountain that is Scott Stevens, the street smarts of Toni Kerkelä. And that translates into the levels of boots and outerwear they offer up – there’s everything from Jones's splitboard/backcountry camping pro boot and 3-layer mountainwear, to the all-terrain goodness of the TM-Two boots, water-repellent streetwear and everything in between.
Transform Gloves was established in 2007 when founder Tom Kingsnorth decided he wasn't feeling the designs and styles of the handwear being offered up at that time, and decided to have a stab at designing his own. The response from his homies in and around the Zillertal was so positive that it spurred him to go all in and produce a range, which he then flowed out to an assortment of Euro pro homies. Today Transform boasts a pro team that includes Brage Richenberg, Sebbe De Buck and Niklas Mattsson.
"For the 2017/2018 winter, the Transform range focusses heavily on mitts (though they do offer a spring glove, The Watson)"
For the 2017/2018 winter, the Transform range focusses heavily on mitts (though they do offer a spring glove, The Watson), with a variety of styles, insulation levels and designs to cater for riders in the know. Highlights have to include the kebab shop-inspired, low profile K.O., the black arts of The Lucifer, and the leather clad cold weather beating Photo Incentive.
Backed by one of the strongest teams in snowboarding (see last year's team movie, STRONGER), Union have been building rad-riding, bombproof bindings since 2005. Started by two ex-Northwave/Drake employees who already had a firm grasp of binding development, the brand was a quick success thanks to their engineering precision, durability, and progressive innovations. Introducing technologies like Forged Carbon, the Contact Pro baseplate and Microfused Injection has enabled them to produce lighter, stronger, smoother riding bindings than ever before.
"The big news from Union for the 2017/2018 winter is the launch of their first splitboard specific models, the Expedition Series"
The big news from Union for the 2017/2018 winter is the launch of their first splitboard specific models, the Expedition Series. Both the Forged Carbon and regular versions feature a pin mechanism to switch between hike and ride modes in a flash, not to mention holding your splitboard together more securely for a performance in keeping with a regular board. Travis Rice's new Falcor model will also turn heads thanks to its future-facing engineering and beyond these flagship two-strappers there's still plenty of performance offered up by classics like the Force, the Atlas, and the Contact (this year with a dope Scott Stevens colourway available.)
Since 1966 Vans have been kitting out those of the sideways mentality with footwear featuring its distinctive waffle sole. In 1993 snowboarders were also able to get Off The Wall as they debuted their first line of snowboard boots, and it wasn't long before icons like Daniel Franck and Shaun Palmer were crushing it in their distinctive kicks. To celebrate their 20th year in snowboarding, they also introduced a Mountain Edition Apparal range of streetwear that's also comfortable in the snow, plus a retrospective movie. These days, the team is comprised of some of the most distinctive riders in the sport like Pat Moore, Arthur Longo, Cheryl Maas and Wolle Nyvelt just some of the brand's extensive roster.
"In 1993 snowboarders were also able to get Off The Wall as they debuted their first line of snowboard boots"
We snuck a glimpse at their 2017/2018 range back in January at the Vans Snow Day and spotted some highlights: Pat Moore’s signature Infuse boot taking in a tonne of tech, like the popular Hybrid BOA system, matching traditional laces with ankle-clamping wires. He and Aimee Fuller both get the star treatment, with their pro-colourways getting matching MTN-Edition trainers and slippers. Danimals also gets the signature treatment on the alternative Infuse colourway, whilst Vans give HOWL SUPPLY a full-on collab – they will provide the boots whilst gloves and outerwear will come from the Minnesota mitt crew.
Though only just entering their third season of selling snowboards, Vimana have quickly become renowned in the sport thanks to their iconic branding, expanding team of shredders and, importantly, a bunch of boards, boots and bindings that perform super well ripping all over the hill. Run by founder Tronna out of Norway, the team comprises of legends like Freddie Austbø and Markku Koski complemented by some of the finest of the current generation, cuck as Enni Rukajärvi and Werni Stock.
"Vimana have quickly become renowned in the sport thanks to their iconic branding, expanding team of shredders and a bunch of boards, boots and bindings that perform super well"
In the 2017-2018 winter season, Vimana will be introducing a directional version of their award-winning board, the Continental, as well as Enni Rukajärvi's first pro model – the Ennitime. These sit alongside established boards like their cambered freestyle machine the Vufo, and their updated boots and bindings range (the bingings have a new toestrap and are all urethane for bombproof weight-saving).
Volcom was founded by two surf/snow bums Richard ‘Wooly’ Woolcott and Tucker ‘T-Dawg’ Hall back in 1991, and despite multi-billion dollar success it still remains ‘True To This’. The recent tri-boardsports movie of the same name is one of our team’s favourite shred films of the last few years, which is unsurprising when you know their snow team is stacked full of some of our favourite riders – Terje Haakonsen, Jamie Lynn, Markus Keller, Arthur Longo and Pat Moore, to name a few.
"Their range this year is tailored to all styles and wallets"
One of the few brands that have somehow tamed tech materials into something that not only performs great but also looks sick, their range this year is tailored to all styles and wallets. From backcountry Gore-Tex to urban shirts and hoods, it’s no wonder that all-terrain destroyer Pat Moore has a signature line this winter, as does Bryan Iguchi which a backcountry-specific selection. And you still can't get their snowboarding unless you're on their team. Dang.
If there’s one nation that knows good design, it’s the Swedes. Formerly known as Colour Wear – or CLWR as it was often abbreviated – it became one of the most visible brands on the hill in Europe due to their bold-but-subtle block colours, white accenting and tasty pricing.
"There’s enough scope in their offerings to cater for your needs, budget and aesthetic preference demands"
With a two-tiered approach to the level of protection from the elements, there’s enough scope in their offerings to cater for your needs, budget and aesthetic preference demands. A bunch of ambassadors spread the WearColour word, including the likes of Mario Käppeli and Kjersti Buaas amongst what they refer to as their ‘family’.
Despite being fairly new on the scene, Swiss brand WEST caught everyone’s eye last year by producing one of the most expensive boards on the market, La Supreme, coming in at an eye-opening £1500. This was a handmade collab with legendary shaper Reto Neiger, and you can expect it to hit a few wallets again next year. Whilst the rest of the line isn’t quite the same spec, they’ve certainly impressed at recent tests and the WEST team – including Fred Couderc and Boris Mouton – certainly seem hyped.
"They’ve certainly impressed at recent tests and the WEST team – including Fred Couderc and Boris Mouton – certainly seem hyped"
New for the coming winter is an exclusive collab with French rap legends IAM, featured below, as well as another appearance by Lucas Beaufort’s critters on another collab with We Ride in Iran, a Swiss project to provide a snowboarding infrastructure in the Middle East. Once again it’s a small but exciting range from a small brand, so if you’re fed up with the big boys in the business it might be worth taking a look at WEST Snowboards for 2017/18.
Starting out in a humble shed in Calgary in 1979, Westbeach have evolved with snowboarding through its tight days, neon days, XXXL days and more to where they are now: producing a range of stylish yet functional outerwear and accessories for riders that are tested by its team in the challenging conditions of British Columbia. And it’s all 100% made for snowboarding.
"Westbeach have evolved with snowboarding through its tight days, neon days, XXXL days and more to where they are now"
Style-wise for the coming season, they offer everything from classic, clean silhouettes, military-inspired designs, street-look offerings and even a couple of ponchos (including a few retro numbers that will stoke your inner 90s fire). With a 30K BC Series for men, along with 20K and 10K ranges for men and women, there’s something for everyone in Westbeach’s 2016/2017 line.
After getting the boot by Burton, Romain de Marchi, DCP, Tadashi Fuse and JP Solberg set off to build their own snowboard company. Eight years later and YES Snowboards are still going strong, and they’re now producing some of the most innovative boards on the market. It was their 420, after all, that kicked off the recent trend for short and fat powder boards, and with some very minimal changes it’s still one of the best available.
"Eight years later and YES Snowboards are still going strong, and they’re now producing some of the most innovative boards on the market"
That and the ‘Powderhull’ version come with some of the boldest and most eye-catching graphics, while the TDF gets a re-entry into the catalogue and some sort of traveller’s tattoo flash book vibe going on graphically. New for 2018 is the ‘Libre’, an all-mountain directional twin that looks set to grapple with the Basic for simplistic dominance, but otherwise all the old favourites are present and correct, including another go at the uninc graphic on the YES Greats that is proving so popular this year. It’s another rad quiver of boards from YES, proving once again that refining a simple formula year after year really does get you close to perfection.