November, 2009

Buy a boot, be the brand

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

With all those boot buying basics out of the way, let’s talk shop, real shop. Brands.

Let’s start with Thirty-Two’s. Generally a great boot for those of you with a wider foot. They boast the lightest boot on the market, and even their low end stuff is light weight. You’ll find these boots a bit more airy, meaning there’s more space inside, which is great if you need it, and not so great if you’ve got a relatively small boot. Personally, I find that their heelcups don’t grab my heel as tightly as they should, but try them on, feel for yourself. Your heel is probably shaped differently than mine. One awesome feature of the 32 boots is they are heat-moldable. No more walking around the house or breaking your boots in on the mountain. Take em to a shop that can heat mold your liners and 30 minutes later you’re ready to ride.

Speaking of heels. That’s something I forgot to mention in the basics. You will probably get a bit of heel lift in every boot, that’s just the nature of shoes and trying to makes boots that fit everyone of every size. With that said, you want as little heel lift as possible. If you have heel lift 1.5 inches or more, check out a different boot. The less heel lift the more responsive the boot, you won’t have to lean so far forward to turn toeside.

Burton boots. They boast the speed zone lacing. A quick pull to either side and your lower and upper zone laces are tightened down and ready to go. Burton’s fit a pretty medium foot, average width, but not too bulky, which is nice. They’ve definitely slimmed down their profile in the past few years making their boots more compatible with other bindings.

Vans and DC. Can’t go wrong with boots made by skate companies who’ve made a living selling shoes. Both of these companies did an excellent job of bringing their skate style to snow. Vans are a little more high volume without adding too much weight. DC’s run about a half size small, a good thing to remember when ordering online.

Salomon. Honestly, probably the leader when it comes to boot fit. The most true to size boot company with a low profile will fit into any binding with ease. They do slightly cater to a narrower foot, but it’s surprising at how much space is inside. With the pull lace lock system, getting in and out is a breeze.

Boot buying basics

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

If you remember nothing else, remember this: boots are the MOST important part of your snowboard package. Think about it. You could be on the best, most expensive, sick looking board with the bindings to match, but if your feet hurt or are sliding around in your boot, you WILL have a miserable time.

First things first. Try on a bunch of boots, don’t just think the first one you try on is the right one. The only way to know is to compare one boot to the fit of the next. I recommend at least 4-6 pairs of boots, from different companies. Also, be sure to try on a boot with the actual sock you’ll be riding with. This will give you the most accurate sizing for your boot.

Generally, you want your toes to be brushing the edge of the boot. You definitely don’t want them jammed or curled under, but too far away from the edge and you’ll slip and slide. The padding will pack out (compress) a bit as you wear them, so get those feet as close to brushing as possible.

Lacing systems. It’s all personal preference, especially with all the new systems out there. You’ve got your traditional lacing, pull, cross, tie. Can never go wrong with that. It’s been tested and tried for decades. You’ve also got the speed zone/pull lacing from both Burton and Salomon. The comfort of laces without the hassle. Just a quick pull and your ready to hit the hill. Finally the BOA titanium lacing, just a few cranks and you’re ready to go. Both of these make for an easy-in easy-out boot system, and you don’t have to take your gloves off to loosen or tighten your boots. For the non-traditional lacing there are replacement parts available at most mountains, so don’t let that deter you from trying out the new technology. But remember, it is just another way to keep your foot in the boot, the boot has to fit.

Stiff or soft? Again personal preference. With the binding technology becoming ever more innovating, all the support is now offered in the binding, which means you don’t have to ride with a plank on your calf to get any response. Park riders make sure your boot offers some cushioning for hitting your landings. Free riders look into getting a bit more of a stiffer boot, it’ll provide a better response. Again, bindings are becoming more specific to your riding style, so grab a boot that is comfortable and fits your foot and your wallet. Splurge a little more on the bindings that are built for your riding.

Just a few things to keep in mind when buying boots. Coming up next time we’ll take a closer look at some specific boots.

Basics to board buying

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Here’s a quick breakdown of boards and how to buy a board that suits you.

Beginner boards. Most will be cap construction (that’s when the top sheet wraps over the the edge onto the side). These boards will have a soft, forgiving flex. Your beginner boards will be the least responsive(meaning you’ll have to use a bit more energy to maneuver the board), which is great because you’ll spend more time on your feet rather than on your hands or knees. For you first, second, third, even fourth timers this is the type of board that will be the easiest to learn on. It’s also great for those of you who go maybe 3-6 times per year. Beginner boards will be all-mountain and slightly directional, meant to go straight down the hill. Nothing too fancy and generally you don’t have to drop a lot of benjamins to get a decent cap board.

Intermediate boards. Taking a step up in construction, these boards will typically have the sidewall construction. This allows a much better response from heel to toe and will also provide a smoother ride as you take those S-turns down the mountain. Intermediate boards will also be a hair stiffer than the beginner boards, but not super stiff. This allows for a better response to your weight shifts, but not so dramatic that you fall with every toe or heel movement. You’ll also get a more twinish shape with these boards, which allows you to start hitting the little jumps and rails with confidence, learning and progressing to the next level.

Intermediate/advanced. Yes, there is a middle ground here. These will pretty much consist of your base level go anywhere do anything boards. You’ll find they are stiffer than the straight intermediate boards and responsive enough, whether you take them backcountry or into the park. It’s a great medium type board for doing anything and everything, without having to make up your mind before you leave the car or cabin. These are great for riders hitting up the slopes 15-25 days a year. You’ll get some of the cool features implanted into the advanced boards, just not all in one board. They’ll keep their flex and maintain their pop without sacrificing performance or your wallet.

Advanced board. Very specific. True park. True freeride. Or both. These are your high end boards, climbing anywhere between $400 and $1000. This is the board you’ll get if you want to turn just by thinking it. That’s right, it’s just that responsive. This is where the your cutting edge technology lies. Whether in the base, core, or sidewall construction, what you get is a better response, a smoother ride, and super performance.

When buying a board consider these few things: your riding level, weight, height, and foot size. Don’t get a board that’s way out of your riding level. Trust me, if you end up on an advanced board your second day, you will hate snowboarding and never look back. It’s important to ride on a board that is geared to how you can and will ride. It’s alright to look ahead to the future, and I understand wanting to save a few bucks by not having to buy another board in 2 years. But if you’ll get better in those two years riding a board meant for you versus getting frustrated for 2 years riding a board too advanced, I’ll take having a good time any day.

Your height and weight. Generally speaking, you want the board to hit between your chin and nose. The shorter the board the easier it is to learn on, and easier to throw tricks in the park. (Less board means less weight to swing on those 360’s and 720’s.) The longer the board the faster you’ll go. Longer boards are also great for powder days as they will float better than shorter boards. Weight. Basically, if you’re above average weight for your height, you gotta go a little longer, but just by a few centimeters. Under average weight, you can go a bit shorter.

Feet! Look for a wide board if you’ve got feet size 13 and above. Nowadays companies are making their longer boards a bit wider. Try to stay off the wides if you can, as the narrower the board the easier it will be to maneuver. You do want a bit of overhang, ideally an inch to two inches on both sides. Again, this will help with the response of your board. Too wide and you can’t turn it, too narrow and your feet will drag and you’ll have a miserable time.

A quick note for ladies. Women’s boards are made a little narrower and softer. Why, you ask? Because generally inch for inch, women weigh less than men and their feet are smaller. This isn’t to say you can’t buy a men’s board, but just make sure you have that little bit of overhang and you can flex the board with your weight.

Any questions? Ask a shop employee, they know what they are talking about. Have fun on the slopes!!!

Gooooooooooggles

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

Goggles. Eye protection. When choosing a goggle you wanna look at a few things: lens color, frame fit, and does it rock with the rest of your gear. Okay, maybe that last one isn’t as important, but it definitely doesn’t hurt. Honestly, having the right lens color on any given day is key. I mean, you don’t want to be stuck in the blazing sun with yellow lenses or be looking through a dark lens on a cloudy day. That’s just asking to eat the snow with your face, not willingly might I add.

Take the orange lens, your most versatile lens. This lens is built to be used for those sunny or partly cloudy days on the hill, when you’re whipping up speeds so fast that sunglasses would fly off your face. The rose lens is another popular choice for lens. Ladies, check this one out as it is softer on the eyes than the orange. This lens is primarily geared toward those overcast days where the sun is trying hard to poke through, but can also be used on sunny days. Just be aware that the rose lens will let in more sunlight than the orange lens, so make sure it’s not too bright when you put them on. Now onto our less familiar lenses, the yellow and clear. Yellow for white-out. If you’re one of those riders taking in every possible day in any condition, make sure you have a pair of yellow lenses. Built for snowy, dark, and night riding, this lens will allow you to see in some of the darkest places on the earth. And for you night riders out there, snag a pair of clear lenses. The high fluorescent lights do well enough to light up the run, so these clear lenses will assure that your eyes won’t tear as you rip past everyone else.

Don’t forget about fit. You don’t want any space between the goggle and your face. You want the goggle to make a nice seal around your face, including your nose. Also make sure that the goggle doesn’t cut off too much of your peripheral vision. You’ve got to be able to see the other folks coming up alongside of you.

Goggles can show off your fashion sense, too. With a variety of frame colors and designs, you can still be unique and give your look a little bit of color. Just don’t sacrifice the lens color or fit to look good. Otherwise you might not be seeing anything.

Remember, having the right lens in the right conditions will make all the difference. Even if it means you have two or three pairs of goggles, it’s best to be prepared before you get to the hill. Otherwise you’ll be spending an arm, a leg, and maybe a rib to get another pair of goggles.

Anon Helix Anon Majestic Anon Figment

Toe Cap Straps bleh

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Toe cap bindings, you either love ’em, hate em’ or are pretty indifferent about ’em. I think that covers it all. Burton. The pioneer of all pioneers. Or so they like to think. I will say that Burton was pretty innovative with their toe cap technology. I mean, who else could have thought of putting a strap over the front of your boot instead of on top. Talk about minimizing pressure. With Burton being at the forefront of binding tech here’s a quick look at a few of the models we carry. We’ll start at the base. The Freestyle binding, great product at a great price. It’s your entry level when it comes to Burton, which they state as the next level. Can’t decide if you wanna do park riding or free-riding? Then strap into the Custom. This one is gonna be a bit more responsive than the Freestyle and prepped to go all over the mountain. The Mission. Head into the park to throw some 1260’s down on this binding with the padding to make sure your feet don’t fall off when you stomp the landing. Moving onto the Cartel, this is your Custom with a higher bankroll. It’s lightweight, super strong, and provides some nice cushioning and gel to absorb all the force you throw down on the hill. Burton can say that they are the leaders in snowboard technology, but don’t forget that technology is wasted on those who don’t know how to use it. So make sure you strap into a binding that fits you, your riding level, and your riding style. You’ll be happy, we’ll be happy, and Burton will be happy.