You can't hope to compile a definitive guide to 2016/17's snowboard gear without taking the testing process seriously. You can learn a lot by reading the catalogues and speaking top the manufacturers, but only once you've put a product through its paces on the mountain can you really see how it measures up.
That's why we've done extensive practical testing of as many items as we can get hold of. It's a big job, and one that runs alls season long.
"We’ve had our hands on absolutely everything in this year's guide"
Even as the 2016 winter was only just getting started, we were already scoping out the following season’s gear at the Avant Premier event in La Clusaz, France. Thanks to a much-needed mid-test dump, the conditions changed enough to allow us to put the gear to its intended use. So good was the snow that we stuck around for a few days afterwards, visiting nearby Arêche Beaufort with a quiver of powder boards.
Next stop was a similar trip to Shops 1st Try in Austria, followed by a few days at the bespoke mountain testing facilities of the likes of Burton and Rome. Once spring arrived, we headed to the TSA x Treeline Shred Week in Morzine for some slush-bashing.
Last but certainly not least was Snowboard Spring Break in Kaunertal, Austria. The UK industry’s premier board test is a prime opportunity to tick off the final few decks, binders and goggles on our hit list, and also serves nicely as a wrap party for the season.
Our experienced Test Team joins us at many of the stops throughout the season. After finding out what works best for them, a gargantuan longlist is compiled. The favourites are then narrowed down into our top products for 2016/17, and the ones that really stand out are selected for The Snowboard 100.
We’ve had our hands on absolutely everything in this year's guide, identifying its strengths and weaknesses as well as making sure the key functions do what they’re supposed to. Even the stuff that is impossible to practically test (ABS avalanche backpacks, for example, as well as boots) have been thoroughly scrutinised.
We cast the net as wide as we can, but at the same time we know that we'll never manage to cover everything; there's always an outside chance that something truly sensational has fallen through the cracks. If so, tell us - we'll definitely get it on our 2017/18 hit-list.
One thing's for sure, though - no matter what kind of rider you are, there's something in our 2016/17 Buyer's Guide for you.