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Whitelines Test Team 2017-2018

WL Tester Neil McNair. Photo: Sam McMahon

In the search for the best snowboard gear, it’s important to ask those who know. That’s why every snowboard, binding and goggle in this guide has been tested on the mountain by our Whitelines Test Team. From January right through to May, they got their hands on several hundred new products, before passing on their verdicts to help you make the most informed choice.

“Our 2017/18 Test Team is bigger and better than ever, with a collective 285 years of shred experience”


Our 2017/18 Test Team is bigger and better than ever, with a collective 285 years of shred experience. We’ve mined the worlds of snowboard media, retail, coaching and mountain guiding to gather the most authoritative group of testers around. Every one of them lives and breathes snowboarding, and knows a good thing when they ride it.

For the first time we’ve also roped in some hard-ripping groms to put the best kids’ snowboards and bindings to the test. If you’re looking to get your offspring off the skis, or are looking to upgrade their entry-level setup to something that can charge as hard as they can, here’s where to start.

Scroll down to meet our full Whitelines Test Team, and find out what makes them tick.

Jon Bird | Ed Blomfield | Mike Brindley | Tom CopseyJoy Dutch Andrew Duthie | Tammy Esten | Sarah Fish | John Marrion | Sam McMahon | Neil McNair | Sam Oetiker | Pinga | Pingo | Punki Michael Read | James Stentiford | Charlotte Strachan | Darren Williams

Jon Bird

Deputy Manager, LD Mountain Centre

  • Snowboarding since: 1996
  • Height: 6’2” (188cm)
  • Weight: 12st 7lb (79kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 10
  • ldmountaincentre.com

Favourite rider: Jeremy Jones – a real adventure snowboarder.

First ever board: Burton A board, with a faded red top sheet and frog graphic. I bought it at the start of my first season in the Milky Way at Intersport in Montgenevre, for 1500 Francs in old money. I sold it the next season in Meribel and bought the Custom.

Board preference: A splitboard, or something twin shaped and cambered that needs some aggression.
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Ed Blomfield

Head Of Snowboard Content, Factory Media

  • Snowboarding since: 1993
  • Height: 5’11” (181cm)
  • Weight: 13st (82kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 9.5
  • whitelines.com

Favourite rider: David Benedek. In his pomp he slayed it all – powder, pipe, park, piste, street – and still found time to push the creative envelope. Plus, he’s just a super nice guy.

First ever board: 1996/7 Lib Tech Jamie Lynn 153 – the one with the girl and the guitar on the tail. I bought it from Rollersnakes in the spring sales and was soooo stoked on it. Only trouble was the fragile cap construction, and I managed to delam it at some point. I swung a new one via the warranty which I was well chuffed with at the time, but now I wish I’d just kept it for posterity and bought a new one instead.

Board preference: Something mid-flexing and stable that I can take from park to pow – basically, your classic ‘all mountain’ board.
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Mike Brindley

Contributing Editor, Whitelines

  • Snowboarding since: 2001
  • Height: 5’11” (181cm)
  • Weight: 11st 3lb (71kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 8
  • whitelines.com

Favourite rider: Too tough to call, but Arthur Longo is up there smashing it at the moment. Ridiculously tough riding and super-chill guy too.

First ever board: Burton Dominant – an eBay classic that I had a love/hate relationship with, but it took a battering! It was never perfect for me, but handled a lot more than its skate-style design would suggest.

Board preference: I tend to ride fairly flat-based boards, but it’s not a decision I’ve consciously made – they just seem to hit that sweet spot that means you can take them everywhere, and they aren’t too overpowering or unresponsive either.
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Tom Copsey

Editor, Onboard

  • Snowboarding since: 1992
  • Height: 6’1” (187cm)
  • Weight: 12stones and some pebbles (76kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 8.5
  • onboardmag.com

Favourite rider: Having been snowboarding since before yer mam met yer dad that’s impossible to answer. Back in the day it was Iguchi, Daniel Franck, Jamie Lynn, Johan Olofsson and Michi Albin that had me frothing, then it was Nico, Darius, Gigi, Benedek and Fredi, whereas of today’s crop it fluctuates with the seasons: Max Buri, Roope, Sebbe, Werni, Koski, Ethan, Elias, Halldor… Anyone who has their own, good style and looks like they’re having a blast.

First ever board: Hammer somethingorother. Maybe it was called the Juice?

Board preference: Something directional twin or just directional. Mid-to-stiff flex so can dick around but still go fast. Basically I just want to ride powder but will settle for slashing around, minishredding or laying out Eurocarves.
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Joy Dutch

Sales Assistant, The Snowboard Asylum

  • Snowboarding since: 2008
  • Height: 5’4” (163cm)
  • Weight: 7st 12lb (50kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 4
  • snowboard-asylum.com

Favourite rider: Jess Kimura. Her creativity, crazy energy and total badass approach to riding is what its all about for me.

First ever board: 156 Salmon Drift. The shop guys convinced me I’d grow into it, and I’m still waiting for the day…

Board preference: A short, soft flexing, true twin always does it for me.
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Andrew Duthie

Gear Editor, Whitelines

  • Snowboarding since: 1999
  • Height: 6’3” (190cm)
  • Weight: 13st 13lb (88kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 12
  • whitelines.com

Favourite rider: Keijiro Kasahara, aka Doggy. If snowboarding had a voice, it would be in Japanese with wonky subtitles.

First ever board: Generics Special, bought ex-hire from an Aviemore shop in May 1999. Currently propping up a wobbly bookcase beside my desk.

Board preference: Freestyle twin boards, sometimes with directional elements but usually true twin – and always wide. It’s good to have something to take to dry slope once its snow life is over.
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Tammy Esten

Founder & Owner, Mint Snowboarding

  • Snowboarding since: 1995
  • Height: 5’9″ (175cm)
  • Weight: 8st 13lb (57kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 6.5
  • mintsnowboarding.com

Favourite rider: Jenny Jones, because she has made huge steps to push the UK snowboard scene on an international level.

First ever board: Airwalk 150. It was the first year they made boards, and was the stiffest board known to man!

Board preference: Something fun and playful, but that will also allow me to charge off piste at full pelt.
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Sarah Fish

Co-Owner, Gypsy Snowboarding

  • Snowboarding since: 2008
  • Height: 5’6″ (170cm)
  • Weight: 8st 13lb (57kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 5.5
  • gypsy-snowboarding.com

Favourite rider: Marie-France Roy was the first chick that I saw when I started riding. Her part in Any Means was what inspired me the most – I loved that she wasn’t just riding park, she killed it everywhere.

First ever board: A Rome Vinyl directional twin/camber – it was my most prized possession. I bought it in Subvert in Manchester and they gave me a copy of Any Means.

Board preference: All mountain freestyle, mid flex, true twin or directional twin. Definitely camber, but I don’t mind some rise on the nose and tail.
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John Marrion

Snowboard Instructor

Favourite rider: It’s hard to decide, but Johnny O’Connor’s street section in Stronger was so full of effortless steeze it blew my mind! And of course the Simpson brothers!

First ever board: K2 Anagram – It was a good beginner board but it soon became too skiddy as I progressed.

Board preference: I like to have one board that I can ride everywhere. Even if I did want a quiver, when I finally get enough money to think about buying a second board I have to replace my only board because I’ve snapped it or ripped the edges out!

I like to have all the pop and for it to be really responsive and bit edgy too, so it’s still good for instructor courses. Hybrid camber boards seem to make the most sense for me.
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Sam McMahon

Video Editor, Whitelines

  • Snowboarding since: 2009
  • Height: 5’11” (181cm)
  • Weight: 12st 9lb (80kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 10.5
  • whitelines.com

Favourite rider: Tim Eddy – powder, backflips and fun. For me, he epitomises what snowboarding should be all about.

First ever board: Burton Farm 157 with graphics by one of the dudes from Weezer. Sadly ripped the stupid three-hole binding inserts out in a tumble!

Board preference: Set-back but short powder board, more often with a camber/hybrid profile.
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Neil McNair

Owner, McNair Snowsports

  • Snowboarding since: 1987
  • Height: 5’7” (170cm)
  • Weight: 10st 10lb (68kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 7
  • mcnairsnowsports.com

Favourite rider: Terje Haakonsen – his combined section with Daniel Frank in TB2 gave me the most amount of inspiration when I was a young rider.

First ever board: Sims Noah Salasnek 148 with baseless bindings, bought from TSA in Manchester. I loved that board as it was the first time I got to ride soft boots after years of renting Mistral boards with rear-entry ski boots. Still stored in a garage, minus the edge that ripped out.

Board preference: An all-mountain freestyle board. Directional twin with camber, stiffer tail and softer nose.
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Sam Oetiker

Contributing Editor, Onboard

  • Snowboarding since: 2006
  • Height: 5’8″ (173cm)
  • Weight: 10st 8lbs (67kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 8
  • onboardmag.com

Favourite rider: Really tough one. I’d probably go with Halldor Helgason – I’ve always been a big fan of his style, creativity and general super loose attitude. His web edits from back in the day had a big impact on me when I was really getting into snowboarding.

First ever board: Option Signature 154 – It was day one of my snowboard instructor course in Whistler and I didn’t have my own board yet, so I had to go to the shop with my instructor to pick one out. I’d only done a week of snowboarding before that so didn’t really know anything about snowboards… The Signature turned out to be a really solid choice though!

Board preference: I’m a firm believer of traditional positive camber, although I like it best on relatively short, twin tip boards – soft enough for rails but with enough pop for kickers and all-mountain cruising.
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Pinga

Whitelines Grom Team

  • Age: 13
  • Snowboarding since: 2009
  • Height: 54″ (163cm)
  • UK Shoe Size: 3
  • whitelines.com

Favourite rider: Aimee Fuller, because she takes big risks with the tricks she does and always believes in herself.

First ever board: Burton Chopper 100. It had super cool graphics and was really easy to learn on. I loved that board.

Board preference: Anything that is both bendy and fast, but the graphics need to be imaginative and colourful as well.
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Pingo

Whitelines Grom Team

  • Age: 11
  • Snowboarding since:  2010
  • Height: 4’9″ (145cm)
  • UK Shoe Size: 
  • whitelines.com

Favourite rider: Jenny Jones, because she was the first British person to win an Olympic medal on snow. She is my hero. I’ve met her too and she was really nice.

First ever board: Burton Chopper 100. It had really cool graffiti graphics, but it wasn’t brand new as it was a hand-me-down from my sister.

Board preference: Fast. No, really fast. Stiff boards are best. Not too long either. And I like them to have really crazy and detailed graphics.
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Punki

Whitelines Grom Team

  • Age: 9
  • Snowboarding since: 2012
  • Height: 4’7″ (140cm)
  • UK Shoe Size: 2
  • whitelines.com

Favourite rider: Billy Morgan, because he was the first person to do loads of spins, like… err… four quadruple cork things.

First ever board: Burton Chopper 90. I was four years old and didn’t want to do any skiing, so went straight to snowboarding. The board was teeny.

Board preference: Something that is flexy and really speedy. Also a board with doodly graphics.
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Michael Read

Sales Assistant, Snowfit & Revolutionz

  • Snowboarding since: 2012
  • Height: 6’4″ (194cm)
  • Weight: 11st 9lb (74kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 11
  • snowfit.co.uk

Favourite rider: Too tricky to call. I don’t really have a favourite, but if I want to get that buzz before I go riding I love watching the Rusty Toothbrush crew. For me they’re the epitome of what snowboarding should be – getting creative and having fun with your mates. Their new film will feature Tyler Chorlton. His riding is so smooth and stylish. Watching him always makes me want to go try something new.

First ever board: A Weekend Comfort cruiser, 148. Super easy to ride and the perfect board to learn on. It held up incredibly well on the dry slope until it finally tasted snow. A little small for me now but fortunately the graphics are wicked, so it now takes pride of place upon my bedroom wall.

Board preference: I like my boards true twin with positive camber between the feet and a bit of rocker in the tip and tail. I like a medium flex, nothing too stiff, as I spend a lot of time messing around pressing and buttering. Ive also got on really well with the asymmetric boards I’ve ridden this year.
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James Stentiford

Owner/Instructor, Stentiford Snowboarding

Favourite rider: Nicolas Müller – he makes snowboarding look fun and effortless.

First ever board: One of the very first Gnu boards, a 161 with soft bindings but no high backs, so I had to use ski boots. I rented it in Tignes back in 1988 and I ended up smashing the edge up. The shop owner told my dad he had to buy it, I think he ended up giving the guy £100. It sat at my parents’ house until they moved and took it to the tip.

Board preference: I like the feel of a freestyle orientated board but with a bit of rocker to help in the powder. I go for a medium flex, not too soft or stiff; it’s all about the right pop. I’ve been riding rocker boards for a while now but have got an old faithful 165 camber board that comes out on big powder days.
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Charlotte Strachan

Manager, Hideout Hostel

  • Snowboarding since: 2007
  • Height: 5’8″ (173cm)
  • Weight: 9st 6lb (60kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 5
  • hideout-hostel.com

Favourite rider: For a few years it’s always been Danny Davis, for effortless style and always having fun. However the first ever snowboard film I watched was DC Mtn.Lab, so the likes of Devun Walsh, Travis Parker and Iikka Backstrom got me stoked from the start! And Jenny Jones, for pushing the UK scene.

First ever board: Bataleon Distortia with Burton Lexa bindings. I bought it after the rental shop gave me what could only be described as a door for my season. A couple of weeks with persevering on said door, I tested the new Bataleon Evil Twin at the local shop, (The Park in Morzine) and couldn’t believe the difference, so bought the girls’ version that very day. I still remember the excitement of setting it up and riding it that first day.

Board preference: My go-to board is mid-flexing, with camber in the middle and rocker at the ends for all-mountain fun. But if it’s a powder day, something stiffer with lots of power that is super stable.
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Darren Williams

Boss, The Snowboard Shop

  • Snowboarding since: 1997
  • Height: 5’8″ (173cm)
  • Weight: 10st 8lb (67kg)
  • UK Shoe Size: 10
  • thesnowboardshop.co.uk

Favourite rider: Too tricky to narrow down to just one rider, but I guess Nicolas Müller has got to be up there as he has so much style when he rides.

First ever board: K2 Zeppelin bought from an old shop at Wycombe Summit.  I used it for about 18 months on dry slopes until the base melted away.  I still have it in the shop and at some point it will end up on the wall.

Board preference: I normally ride freestyle snowboards.  I don’t like them too soft though as I usually take just one board on my trips, so I need something that doesn’t wash out at speed but remains playful enough for jibbing about.
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Emily Williams

Owner, Emily Ruth Yoga

  • Snowboarding since:
  • Height: ‘” (cm)
  • Weight: st lb (kg)
  • UK Shoe Size:
  • EmilyRuthYoga

Profile coming soon
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