Ski season in the Pacific Northwest is still in full swing. Now that our experts have a few months of skiing and snowboarding under their powder skirts, they are ready to talk about the gear that’s got them stoked. For part two of our annual Cold-Weather Gear Guide, they reported back to us about the best in skis, snowboards and much more.
Tracy Gibbons, co-owner of Sturtevant’s, says the days of painful ski boots are long gone. “For so long people thought ski boots should hurt,” she says. “But they shouldn’t. They might not feel like bedroom slippers. They might be snug and tight. But they shouldn’t hurt anymore.” Much of the advancement in comfort comes from the industry’s ability to customize nearly every component of the boot. Using a variety of heating methods, many companies now offer moldable shells and liners. “So if you’ve got a hammer toe, a protruding ankle bone or whatever, it forms 100 percent to your foot,” Gibbon says. However, some of the leading brands just depend on good materials and design and say their products are perfect right out of the box.
“The two biggest trends in terms of poles are either in glove-pole systems or adjustable poles,” says Gibbons. “In the terrain parks, people like them shorter. Then they go out and ski and extend them out,” she says. She also cites their convenience when traveling as to why they are trending right now.
Swix Sonic R4
Gibbons points toward Swix as a good adjustable pole choice. Their R4 series is constructed of aluminum to make the poles extremely lightweight, while not compromising on the durability. They also feature thermoplastic rubber-coated handles for easy gripping and straps with adjustable padding.
“Skis just keep getting better,” Gibbons says. “There are not a lot of huge changes but a lot of tweaking and fine-tuning. If people haven’t bought skis in the last five years, they will notice a big difference.” Gibbons adds that because skis have advanced in terms of design, more and more snow boarders are returning to skis.
1. Men’s Rossignol S7 Freeride Skis, $480 “The S7 series of skis uses a whole new technology. The skis are lighter and offer greater performance,” says Gibbons. “They are wider than average, but it doesn’t feel like it. They are good for skiing in sloppy weather as well as groomed runs. They’ve got great versatility.” These skis boast a balanced rock–camber combination for great control, all while maintaining a playful spirit. Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, rossignol.com
2. WOMEN’S ROSSIGNOL sassy 7 SKI 2013, $399.95 Rossignol also created a highly successful and versatile ski for women that features a 50-percent rocker and 50-percent camber combination, perfect for the freestyle athlete who wants to get the most out of her time on the mountain. Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, rossignol.com
3. Men’s K2 Annex 118 (Seth) Skis, $799.95 “Rocker technology is in skis as well. Again, that’s what K2 has been fine-tuning over the years,” says Gibbons. “We’ve gone to skis with some rocker in the tip and a more traditional, more universal shape in the back.” These skis are the perfect example of how the company has taken the sport to the next level. Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, k2skis.com
4. Women’s K2 Superglide 80 Skis, $799.95 Designed specifically to be able to maneuver and perform in a variety of conditions, K2 claims to have made the ultimate progressive ski for women athletes on the mountain. Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, k2skis.com
“Talking about snowboard technology is a little tricky because they are packed with all kinds of new technology, but visibly, it’s harder to see,” Gibbons says. Noting everything from the materials used to make the board, to the design and shape, here are a few of this year’s standouts.
1. Men’s Burton Custom Flying V Snowboard, $549.95 “Burton has now put almost their entire line on a channel mounting system, with a channel down the middle of board, versus the traditional three or four binding pattern,” says Gibbons. “The channel gives you umpteen ways to adjust your boots— just a ton of ways to adjust—letting the board flex more consistently.” The all-terrain Flying V is a great example of this technology that also has a number of other features. Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, burton.com
2. Women’s Burton Lyric Snowboard, $399.95 “There are a lot of technological changes to snowboards especially in terms of rocker and camber,” says Gibbons. “Rocker is when they actually raise the nose and tail of the board a little, to help with turn initiation. It makes turns more forgiving.” Burton’s Lyric snowboard is their product geared toward perfecting the rocker for complete control on the mountain. This snowboard also comes with the channel binding technology. Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, burton.com
3. Men’s K2 Happy Hour Snowboard, $479.95 With one of the most unique shapes on the market, the K2 Happy Hour board is crafted to provide the best spring for riders who want to get the most out of their ride in all conditions, types of terrain and times of year. With their Lifted Technology, K2 has designed a board that allows for the fun of a cambered board with the control of a board that has stable contact points. Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, k2snowboarding.com
4. Women’s K2 Lime Lite Snowboard, $399.95 Using a technology called Tweekend, this snowboard was created for women who specifically love freestyle riding. The concept behind the design is to extend the rocker to the very farthest point possible, allowing for maximum stability when lifting off and landing. “K2 has definitely been leader in rocker,” says Gibbons. Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, k2snowboarding.com
Giro Edit Helmet After an awesome day on the mountain, you can tell your friends and family about what you did—or you can show them. The Giro Edit Hemet, one of lightest options weighing in at 375 grams, now has a GoPro camera mount that is ready to capture every jump, turn and hill. The mount, however, doesn’t compromise its ability to keep you safe while attempting film-worthy stunts.