News & Previews

Best of Backcountry Snowboarding 2019-2020 Preview – ISPO 2019

Backcountry Snowboarding @ ISPO 2019

Backcountry riding is gaining popularity every season, and the reasons are tenfold. In this world of instant computerised everything, actually being able to go out and connect with Mama Nature for a bit of solitude is a gift we shouldn’t take for granted. Resorts get busier year after year, and if you’re sick to the back teeth of getting jostled in a packed lift queue while an angry punter thrusts his ski pole in your face then maybe venturing out into the backcountry is just what the doctor ordered. Speaking of doctors, your health will take a nice turn when you’re having to power your own body up the hill, a little bit of cardio paired with intensive leg day- who needs a wanky expensive gym membership?

“If you’re sick to the back teeth of getting jostled in a packed lift queue while an angry punter thrusts his ski pole in your face then maybe venturing out into the backcountry is just what the doctor ordered”

Being able to eschew the traditional routes up the hill means you can be more creative with your descents; and the whole mountain becomes your playground. Riding mad tracked out powder doesn’t have to be a thing anymore. There’s no feeling quite like walking for hours and finally making it to the top, tired and sore, but suddenly filled with energy envisioning painting your line back down.

With the prices of lift tickets going through the roof, taking to the backcountry is a more economically sound investment, and while it might be a bit of a financial hit initially, it’ll save you a few bucks in the long run for sure.

So whether you’re a grizzled mountain (wo)man who lives their life in refuge huts, a pure fitness freak trying to sculpt your tree trunk legs, a local trying to escape all the seasonaires’ vomiting on themselves in folie deuce, or just a curious individual who wants to get out there and experience what is actually OUT there, we’ve compiled a list of some of the coolest backcountry bits we saw at ISPO 2019.

Check out the rest of the brand previews from ISPO 2019

Arcade | Capita | Deeluxe | Drake/Northwave | Dragon | Giro | Gogglesoc | Holden | Jones | K2 | Karakoram | Nitro | NOW | Oakley | Patagonia | POW Gloves | Ride | Smith | Spark R&D | Stance | Telos | ThirtyTwo | Union | Weston | YES

Jones Strike 240 Probe

Weighing in at an impressive 226g the Strike is the weapon of choice for the man, Jeremy Jones, himself. With six 11cm aluminium sections, woven through with a kevlar cord, and held together with an all new Rack Locking system, this probe is not only super simple and easy to use, it is also insanely strong for its weight. Utilising an Ergonomic Thermoplastic Grip for your pleasure and comfort, it fits in the hand nicely and securely. Well played Jones Snowboarding.

Mammut Alugator Light

Mammut Alugator Light Shovel

Mammut have dug deep to come out with this ultra shovel. The lightest in their range, it steps off the scales at a lean 475g, which is less than those 2 cans of beer I know you sneak into your bag for a post skinning bev. Its blade is made of anodised, ultra robust aluminium and is tilt resistant and pre sharpened for cutting steps. The telescopic handle is has been updated to an oval shape, and is topped with a symmetrical T-Handle. Coming in 4 colours, it’s perfect for the fashionista who lives deep inside us all.

Spark Ibex Pro Crampon

Spark Ibex Pro

The Ibex Pro is the lightest split board crampon in the world, weighing in at a featherweight 130g a pop, thats less than a bag of Haribo Starmix. Made from premium 7075 aluminium, these badboys are stronger than a very scaled down ox. Avid splitboarders themselves, the Spark crew have literally thought of everything when it comes to the design of these, even going as far as making one crampon ever so slightly wider, so they nest together for easy handling and reduced size. Described as ‘four wheel drive for your splitboard’ these have flown up to the top of our to-buy list.

Karakoram Prime-X Carbon Binding

Karamorum SnowboardSplitboard Prime-X Bindings 2019-2020

The Prime-X Carbon is Karakoram’s top of the line splitboard binding, and also their lightest to date. Coming in at a measly 650g, you’ll barely even notice these stompers on your boots. With a Biaxial Weave Carbon Fibre in the highback, these puppies are pretty damn stiff and responsive, so they’ve put a slightly softer chassis on the binding. The chassis itself is open, allowing the board to flex more naturally underfoot.

Jones DSCNT 32l RAS

Jones DSCNT 32l RAS pack

When you’re spending a good chunk of your life in areas where avalanches are commonplace, you’re gonna wanna have your own back, right? What better way to do this than to have an airbag actually strapped to your back. Jones have come out with a new version of their wildly popular DSCNT series avi-pack, this one has all the features of the regular DSCNT 32l, but with the added compatibility to Mammut’s RAS 3.0 system. On the front of the bag is an easy access pocket for your shovel and probe, because if you’re ever unlucky enough to have to use them, every second counts. With vertical snowboard carry, and A-Frame split ski carry it’s versatile enough to use even when you’re not on an uphill mission. Internally it sports a separate pouch for your hydration bladder, and an insulated sleeve so your water doesn’t freeze when the temperature drops. It even has ice axe loops for all you extra gnarly mountaineers among us. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if it’s good enough for Jeremy, it’s good enough for me.

Union Expedition 2.0

Union Expedition Splitboard Bindings 2019-2020

Union have been manufacturing world class bindings for 15 years, and they’ve funnelled all these years of experience and knowledge into their Expedition Series. The Expedition 2.0 has had a complete re-design for this season, Union have given the Expedition a complete over haul and they’re looking pretty damn good. The Expedition is the first binding that Union have fully developed with their new HD 3D printer, it allows them to print prototypes overnight and actually test them on snow the next day, so their design process has been more thorough than ever. Union’s split system utilises a pin connection, reducing the amount of moving parts necessary to switch between walk and ride, and new for 19/20 the pin is now spring loaded to make our lives even easier. They’ve also made updates to the baseplate and high back, making sure that they actually feel like normal bindings when you’re snowboarding down. The ankle strap has been updated to their Hex Direct Connect, and the toe strap is Hexgrip Secure-Lock, both of which are super malleable and stop pinching across the foot. A binding that makes my life easier on the way up, and rips on the way down? I’ll take 2.

Stance Backcountry Sock

Stance’s backcountry range for 2019-2020. Perfect for touring and bootpacking through the backcountry.

Having a well crafted sock is more important than you’d think when it comes to riding, you think having your sock start to slip down and bunch up is annoying when snowboarding down? Try it while going up hill for hours. With ultra lightweight construction and Breathable Performance Mesh, these aren’t gonna overheat your feet on the long slog up. The Merino wool wicks sweat from the feet, and is a handy odour absorber, so if you’ve got a mad case of swamp foot, grab a pair of these bad boys to spare everyone the stench coming out of your boots at the end of a long day. Specifically engineered for a left and right foot, Stance backcountry are the height of comfort meets practicality.

Jones Discovery Split

The Jones Mini Mind Expander, Discovery, Discovery Split and Kid’s Prodigy Snowboards 2019-2020

The Jones Discovery is potentially the worlds first splitboard made specifically for kids or smaller riders, and its opened doors for a foray into the backcountry for scores of rippers. Utilising the tried and tested cam-rock profile, it combines response and edge hold with effortless float. The rockered nose keeps you on top on the snow and makes initiating turns easier, whilst the cambered section gives you power and drive in and out of turns. The Discovery has a directional volume, which keeps your weight more centred over the tail of the board, again making it easier to keep surfing the white wave. Traction Tech runs down the sides of both the inside and the outside of the board, making sure to offset the edge drift that often accompanies rockered boards. A sintered 7000 base is sure to keep you sliding and gliding no matter how heavy the snow is getting, and will have you flying along should you ever rip on piste with this thing.

ThirtyTwo Jones MTB Wmns

Having comfy feet is my top priority when riding normally, let alone when I’m having to actually drag my ass up the hill as well as down. The MTB really comes into its own one the way up the hill, it has a specialised ‘Walk Mode’ to allow you to lengthen your strides up to 30%. Not only is this an energy saving feature, it’s actually just a lot more comfortable, which is what I’m always on the prowl for. It’s fully crampon compatible, and comes with a beastly Vibram sole for added durability. With a full weatherproof zip gaiter you’ll be all dandy and dry even in the wildest conditions. With ThirtyTwo‘s Elite level liner and Evolution Foam cushioning footbed, you’re getting maximum comfort, customisation and durability.


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