Snowboarding and music go hand in hand – and no, we’re not talking about various pro-rider forays into tunesmithery, which range from mixed bag (Trevor Andrew) to downright tragic (Travis Kennedy). Most classic movie parts are remembered as much for the soundtrack as they are for the hammers. For example, anyone who’s seen //Vivid// can’t hear Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’ without picturing a pink-belted Romain Di Marchi charging in slo-mo towards a monster booter in Hemsedal. The arrival of MP3 players made it easy to take those same songs to the slopes and, while shredding with music isn’t for everyone, it definitely has its advantages when flying solo on a slow chairlift. At any rate, given the average length of flights and transfers required to get to the mountains, a good set of headphones is as essential to a snowboarder’s travel plans as their passport. Here’s our verdict on four choice pairs:
[part title="Nixon - Trooper"]
Pros: The Trooper is just that, having been built to last. With rubber and plastic construction they are both durable and sweat-proof. A dial goes all the way round the right ear cushion, so volume adjustment is easy. They’re collapsible, so good for frequent travellers.
Cons: There’s no phone compatibility on these, and you can only turn down your music, not pause it. To do that, or to skip songs, you’ll have to venture into your pocket.
[part title="Marley - Liberate"]
Pros: Sustainable wood, organic cotton and even recycled plastic bottles have been used to make these as eco-friendly as they are aesthetically pleasing. They’re also been specially designed for use with iPads and iPhones, so worth a look if you’ve got one of those. The hemp carry-bag is a nice touch, too.
Cons: There’s that price, of course. Also, while they probably will work with most non-Apple products, there’s no guarantee.
[part title="Skullcandy - Icon 3"]
SKULLCANDY ICON 3
Pros: These are truly snowboard-specific, claiming to take care of all your audio needs while you “tweak a classic trick off the next kicker". The convenient ear-cup button – one tap to pause, two to skip track – can be used even while wearing big gloves.
Cons: They don’t dim the background noise quite as well as the over-ear models. They’re not big on comfort either, and aren’t collapsible (although at that price you can’t really complain).
[part title="O'Neill - Construct"]
Pros: A collaboration with headphone heavyweights Philips, these have a good pedigree. Even though they’ve been designed to withstand a real beating, they’re don’t skimp on comfort, with padded headband and seriously soft ear cushions. They also do a great job of blocking out the outside din.
Cons: While you can pause and skip tracks on the go, you can’t adjust the volume. These are also by far the biggest pair we tried and, while clearly built to last, don’t come cheap.