Oakley Top To Bottom | Ståle Sandbech

A closer look at the Norseman’s freshest collection

Part of the reason you’ll see a pro rider’s name on some shred gear is to give you an idea of what to expect from it. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the latest Oakley Stale Sandbech collection.

When you picture the Norwegian legend (who, frighteningly, is still only 28) at his best, he’s probably in a park. While he’s a true jack-of-all-trades – just watch his entry in last year’s X Games Real Snow for the proof – there’s simply no-one out there that bags better footy on an immaculately groomed booter. Edits featuring the RK1 crew, of which he was talisman, were almost enough to make you pawn your avy gear and buy a flight to your nearest freestyle Mecca.

“His gear, it follows, is tailor made for this mindset: bold, brash, pretension-free, and downright joyous”

Stale’s secret recipe is about more than just quality though, or even style; he always projects a healthy sense of not taking things, or himself, too seriously. Take this decade-old footage of him using his board to land a world-first triple underflip one minute, and flick a can of energy drink into his hand the next. And who else would overshadow their own Olympic silver medal by breaking out the best mohawk since Heikki Sorsa?

His gear, it follows, is tailor made for this mindset: bold, brash, pretension-free, and downright joyous. While his signature collection with Oakley has been pared back a little for 2022, there’s still a lot to get excited about.

His signature Oakley Line Miner goggles set the tone. We’ve rated these ever since they first appeared a few years back, thanks to their comprehensive field of vision that doesn’t also lumber you with the dreaded ‘goldfish bowl’ look. Oh, and Oakley’s Prizm remains the best lens in the game.

All that lovely modern tech is wrapped up in a design that harks back to the pre-Stale era (yes, it exists). As well as a retro logo, there’s the skull that was gracing the O’s output decades ago. Then there’s the print, which Stale says was “inspired by some older Oakleys, with the old crackle print. We made our own new version of it; I really love that print, and I’m super excited on how the goggles turned out.”

“In any case, both jacket and pants are pretty bomb-proof without tipping the tech levels”

Next up is his battle armour of choice: the Oakley TC Gun Shell 2L jacket and Oakley Evocative RC Shell pants. The pandemic may have scuttled Stale’s usual Milan missions to fine-tune things at Oakley HQ, but given that the team had already nailed the fit and function, his main task for this year has been to update the visuals. In a move that’ll shock absolutely no-one familiar with his track record, there’s a lot of camo print on display. When you stop to think about it, a snowy mountain is possibly the weirdest place to see such a design – well, the second-weirdest, anyway. So why does he keep picking it? It’s easy, he says: “I guess camo is just really damn sick! Timeless!”

It’s a bold, bold rider that attempts the ‘double camo’ pairing, as modelled by Stale in this particularly hammer-filled section of Rumble. We can count the number of other riders that have pulled off double-camo on one finger, so mere mortals may wish to opt for the all-black pants. In any case, both jacket and pants are pretty bomb-proof without tipping the tech levels – and therefore price – too high.

It’s not designed for massive backcountry missions, but you’ll still have everything you need for a healthy allocation of pow days, whatever the time of year. As well as 10,000ml waterproofing and 10,000g breathability, it’s all finished with a durable water-repellent coating to prevent your gear getting heavy with moisture. Unlike a lot of outerwear in this range, both Stale’s jacket and pants are fully taped for better performance and longevity.

As ‘shell’ pieces with no built-in insulation, you can ride this outerwear right up into springtime, layering up as needed for the colder months. When it’s really toasty, mesh-backed vents let you cool off, while the wrist gaiters and a powder skirt keep you dry when you’re in the deep stuff.

The new-look Oakley Evocative RC Shell pants replace the bib version that Stale used to favour. Slightly baggier than before without going full 90s jibber, they offer great freedom of movement, particularly around the knees. The pièce de resistance, according to Stale, is the elastic cuff: “I’ve been having this on all my snow pants lately, and honestly don’t see why not all pants have this. It looks good style-wise, but also makes so much sense not stepping on your pants!”

“The moisture-wicking fabric will ensure you don’t stink up the bar”

Indeed, Stale’s collection has given consideration to what happens after the day’s riding is done. With his gear you’ll be able to prop up the bar without looking like you’ve just returned from a polar expedition, especially if you’ve layered up with the Oakley Niseko technical flannel shirt. The moisture-wicking fabric will ensure you don’t stink up the bar, and Oakley’s own water-repellant finish makes it great for late-season slush fests.

Plans are already in the works to expand the ‘lifestyle’ side of his collection for future years, but he’s adamant that the functionality comes first. It’s something, he says, that he won’t ever take for granted. “It’s such an honour to be able to have a say in how the outerwear I’m riding in looks, and feels, and works,” he says. “But man, the craziest part is when you see people around the resort riding in the gear that has your design and name to it. I never really fully get used to that, it’s always such a kick to see.”

In recent days Stale’s been spotted on the splitboard trail, and we can expect more of that in the future: “I’ll be stepping away more from the contest scene, and will start exploring the mountains more, and not just dip my toes in a bit of powder from time to time. I want to fully dive in there and really explore that side of snowboarding. I think it’s about time.”

Perhaps he’ll soon be following Oakley team-mate and fellow Sochi medallist Sage Kotsenburg into the world of Gore-Tex. But for now, this’ll do nicely.


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