Gear Feature

Gaper 69 | Ethan Morgan Tells Us About His Weird and Wonderful Signature Boot

We sat down with Ethan Morgan to hear about the inspiration behind his pro model snowboard boot from Northwave, the Gaper 69

Above: Ethan Morgan and the ol’ reliable Gaper 69 (Credit: Alex Stewart)

When it’s six o’clock in the morning, you’d maybe expect a conversation with Ethan Morgan to be taking place towards the end of a night out – not when he’s just waking up. But the Northwave team rider had the alarm set and was on his way to the airport, headed for Serbia, where he was set to compete in a Europa Cup event, as part of his quest to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Olympics Slopestyle.

“It’s sound very random,” he says, down the phone line, “but it’s going to be pretty funny.”

Morgan doesn’t exactly scream ‘Olympics poster boy’. He is the epitome of a snowboarder who has largely swerved the comp scene in recent years, instead, favouring the kind of pro-snowboarder lifestyle we all dream of: filming in amazing locations around the world, riding with a tight crew of likeminded riders, and doing so largely from the comfort of his old reliable, and wildly garish VW campervan.

Pic: Sebi Madlener.

Which leads us on to his brand new signature snowboard boot from Northwave, the Gaper 69 Decade. Inspired by four-wheeled workhorse, Ethan’s first pro-model boots are equally as loud and sturdy, designed to clock up mile after mile and take you to new places.

Check out our video review below, as well as our conversation with Ethan where he gives us the lowdown on his new boots, the inspiration behind them, and some of the most memorable stories of life on the road, in the Gaper 69.

Congrats on your signature boots Ethan. Are you stoked on how they came out?
Thank you! I love them, they’re amazing. They’re super cosy. It’s the Decades, which are one of the stiffer boots in the line, but then I added a little extra strap to the top to give a little bit of extra support and that really gives it a little bit of extra.

I’m really hyped on how the boots turned out. Not much changed on the boots themselves but, obviously, the colourway is what it comes down too. It’s a piece of art, it’s beautiful, it’s the Gaper 69 – you can’t say much more to it. There’s a lot of history to it, a lot of great expeditions and journeys behind it and I got to put that into the boot in the end.

Pic: Alex Stewart.

Were you given complete freedom with designing them? Or was there an even more intense version before the final product?
Actually, I was designing a different kind of boot at first. We fully finished the design of that boot and it was going to be a party boot with a bunch of gadgets to it and stuff.

“It’s a piece of art, it’s beautiful, it’s the Gaper 69”

But then, we got a call from Northwave who said that I should get the Gaper as my pro model, so, we just cancelled the whole plan. All the designs that we had made, all the work we put into it and went like “let’s make a yellow boot and put my license plate on”, and there we go.

It was way more fitting, so I’m really happy about that and that they were willing to switch it last minute too. That’s how it kind of came about and it makes more sense because the boot, and the car, means a lot to me.

Pic: Alex Stewart.

The Decade’s been a best selling snowboard boot for a long time. And apart from the power strap addition, the Gaper 69 is the same boot right?
Exactly. It’s the same boot as the Decade, so it’s a bit more of a stiffer boot. And on top of that, it has the strap so it just holds longer as well.

Why’s it such a popular choice? Is it the only boot you ride for everything?
Yeah. I mean, I don’t ride any other boots as of now. I tried the Prophecies before, and I like those, too, but the Decade is the solid all-rounder boot. I ride it in street, I ride it in the park, I ride it in powder.

Any exciting stuff coming up for Northwave this season?
I feel like a lot of things have been put on hold for now. We filmed last year, last minute, for my movie, and included that with the Gaper shoot. So we kind of got all the footage we needed for the boot as of now. It’s really hard to get things together this year so, we’re not planning too much. But hopefully next year we’ll get some things going.

Pic: Igor Swieczak.

The inspiration for the boot obviously came from your van. What are some of the most memorable times you’ve been through with that van?
Ooof okey… I’ve got a pretty good story that really describes me with the Gaper. So, I drove all the way to Portugal and was surfing there for a while. Then the waves went flat so I went “fuck it” and went on a solo trip to Morocco.

“If I would have fallen over on that road, which could have happened easily because it was very slippery, I would have rolled straight into a historic town”

I took a ferry over to Morocco. I was driving around and decided to go to Casablanca. Then I wanted to check out this historic Spanish town, a blue city where everything’s blue. It’s very very beautiful and it’s called Chefchaouen.

So, I was driving all night to get there. Every time I’m driving at night I put on google maps to see if I can find a camping park where I can wake up and be really hyped on the view. There’s a bed in the back of the Gaper, so I always sleep in the back. So, this place, I kind of just checked before I left, and there was a road that was going like kind of up above the town and I just hit a marker there on the map and went for it.

Pic: Igor Swieczak.

As soon as I got to the crossing that would get me up there, I realised that this is not a road anymore, more like a hiking road. But I was like ‘fuck it’, let’s do it anyway and continued driving and driving and the road just kept on getting worse and worse, bu I kept on driving. I don’t know why. Then, eventually, I was almost there, and on the right side of the ‘road’ there was a cliff and on the left side, there was a wall. So, I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t turn around, I just had to keep on driving.

“Got stuck on a Moroccan beach as well and the military had to pull me out, that was also fun”

The road got so steep at the end that my wheels started to skid. I couldn’t make it up and had to start going backwards. It was super dark and there was a cliff on my right side… Then this dude came up with a motorcycle and tried to explain to me in Spanish that ‘this is not good’ I was like ‘of course it’s not, this is really fucked’. Then this guy called somebody who would speak about five words of English who told me as well that ‘this is not good’ like ‘thanks man, thanks for calling your friend to tell me that this is not good’ and then this guy just helped me to back out.

It took me about 20 minutes to go backwards. We found a spot for me to turn around and then, the guy gave me 5grams of hash. I don’t know why but that was pretty alright.

Pic: Igor Swieczak.

Then, the next day, I hiked up to the same spot to check it out. If I would have fallen over on that road, which could have happened easily because it was very slippery, I would have rolled straight into a historic town. My car would have rolled over a bunch of houses, there was this massive cliff drop right into the city. I’m pretty glad nothing happened. It was a funny experience though.

Funny to think back at but probably not so fun right then?
No, not so fun at the moment but in the end, I was pretty hyped on how it turned out. But yeah, that’s a classic Gaper Mission, one of many. Got stuck on a Moroccan beach as well and the military had to pull me out, that was also fun.

Sounds like you’ve had a great time with that van in Morocco. How long have you had the Gaper?
2 and a half years now.

It doubles up as a jib feature, right?
100%, works really well. Recently I’ve been jibbing it more just parking it in the streets somewhere and putting a little jump onto it. It comes in handy a lot of times. And every scratch is a nice little memory as well so… Adding onto the story.

Pic: Igor Swieczak.

What’s the best trick someone’s thrown down off the van?
I think it was Dusan, boardslide tap flip out on the left side of the van. That was pretty cool. We had the van parked out in Kaunertal for 3 days for a session. It was fun, in general, just camping up and waking up inside a feature.

Do you driving between resorts and camp up for the night a lot?
I recently did a full week together with Sparrow [Knox] in the van, in pre-season, so it was quite cold actually. We went to Switzerland because all of the resorts were closed here [Austria] so we just cruised around in Switzerland. Went to like Glacier 300, and LAAX… We did a little round-tour.

How was sharing the van with Sparrow?
It was amazing. It gets really cosy in there, so a little cuddling going on is nice. It’s warmer with somebody else in there so, it’s not as cold then. The organisation of the van… you have to be on point with that shit for sure. You got to know where every little container or spoon, or whatever, is. You have to be organised. It’s good.

Pic: Igor Swieczak.

Have you got any specific things you never travel without in your van?
Soundbox. That’s my speaker system so that’s in the van. It’s the number one thing I always have to have. I make sure that I always charge the batteries before I go on long road trips. If the battery dies after a couple of days, I got to sign to myself or… Well, I guess that’s kind of it, sing for myself.

“This season is very very different for me because I’m actually trying to go for the Olympics”

What else do I need in there? I think if I’ve got my soundbox it’s all I good. It’s pretty naked in there, especially in the wintertime.

Any specific go-to food?
Yes, soaked oats. Inspired by Sparrow. Really got into that. Just do that overnight and your breakfast is ready to go.

In 3 words, how would you describe both your boot and your van?
Cosy, yellow and steezy.

Pic: Igor Swieczak.

Have you got any good film projects in the pipeline? What’s this season looking like for you?
This season is very very different for me because I’m actually trying to go for the Olympics. It’s a long long way to go. That’s why I’m doing all the world cups and euro cups, I got to start from scratch.

When did you compete the last time?
Well, this year I’ve been competing, but before that, despite rail jams and stuff, I’d say last time I properly did a slopestyle was 10 years ago or something like that.

That’s exiting.
Yeah, it’s definitely a game-changer for me. Going back to the roots again in one way. I’m documenting it all as well, so there’s going to be something coming out of it. So, if I do get in or not, then whatever. We’ll just have to see what happens. It’s really hard these days, the kids are so fucking good.

Pic: Igor Swieczak.

What got you back into it?
I kind of wanted to get a project going with Annika [his younger sister] and she’s kind of busy with the Olympics right now. After finishing filming my movie, I thought to maybe take a break from filming full parts and just got hyped on going for the Olympics and getting the jitters on the drop in again. And also, just to help me push my riding again and trying to learn new tricks. It kind of forces me to ride park again, which is nice for a change. I mean I love pow, I love street, but I just wanted to change it up a little bit and do something else.

Sounds like a good plan for the next year. Keep us posted on how it goes.
Haha, will do!

Northwave Decade SL 2020-2021 Snowboard Boots Review

A real Jack of all trades, the Decade’s versatile mid-flex and long-term comfort make it a real contender for your boot of choice. This season the Decade comes in its classic form or the vibrant Ethan Morgan version. Introducing Ethan’s very first pro-model boot, the Northwave DECADE GAPER-69. Taking many of its features from the ever-popular Decade but with a little Monsieur Morgan panache to boot.

Check out the full review on the boots here.

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