Ah yes, with the holidays marching ever closer and the mountain snow blowing in full force it is time for this year's installment of Tom's Snow Picks. You can pick your board and you can pick your nose, but you can't wipe your board underneath the chairlift seat.
1st off: boards. The board i most want to see go to a good home this year is the Gnu Space Case. At the On-Snow demo i rode most of the models we carry and lets face it, there are not really any crappy boards made by the companies we carry (weird, yes, like the bizarre ride of the DUH) but there are always a couple that stand out for various reasons.
Unlike the asym ghosts of snowboading's past most companies are getting the modern asym design right. You don't ride your heal and toe edge the same so it's always seemed logical to have different approaches to their construction and shape. A banana-pickle sounds like it tastes awful but man does it ride great! We've all seen great graphics on OK boards and shitty graphics on great boards but the Space Case has delivered on both. This year of the Super Moon phases graphics has got my crescent waxing!
I can't say this enough - your boots are your day! If you're not comfortable, warm, and if your heels are slipping around it doesn't matter what kind of board your riding your day is going to be rough. If you've spent any time around the shop you know just how opinionated i am about footwear in general (and probably know what brand i heavily favor). i have to admit, i actually had no intention of adding DC to our boot lines. At the snow show while looking at the DC skate sneaker pre-books my wife and Mike both pressured me to try on the DC boots at least - and now here we are.
Again, at the On-Snow i rode almost every boot we carry. i'm only carrying ones that are solid riders. Like some mad scientist on a mission at On-Snow i am distracted as i talk with our friendly reps, i am judgmental of other chatty shop employees who are holding me up from my next set-up to demo, and i rush off so that i can squeeze in 2-3 runs on as many different combos as possible making mental notes of each of their strengths and truly having an incredible time just geeking out on all the tech and how they ride.
Once i got in the DC Control i rode them for about a half day (kind of an asshole move, sorry to anyone waiting for them to come back in to try). i just didn't want to turn them back in. So see, as stubborn as i may be i let the quality speak for itself and i have really fallen for these.
Bindings - so often overlooked by so many. Like with boards, bindings have evolved and gotten so good, durable, and comfortable that there really aren't too many stinkers out there (well, maybe except for rear-entry designs) so it really comes down to what seems to work best for you design and price-wise. i've got a sweet spot in my heart for companies that do just one thing and do it well. Union just does bindings, and their dedication shows. The Union Contact has a great looking and great riding design that is incredibly light, especially at that price point.
Can't hit what you can't see, or not hit - depending on your riding style. i won't go off too much about these goggles because they seem to make the list every year and i don't want to keep flogging a dead horse here. Annual favorite around the shop: best selling, most worn by team riders, worn by both shop owners - Smith I/OX (well, Sarah wears the I/OS 'cause she's got a pea sized head). Frame-less, 2 - lenses, great price.
The extras! Another repeat to the list: One Ball Jay Biogreen Wax. i wont ride anything else. You don't need those chemicals in your lungs while waxing and our rivers don't need those chemicals in them as the snow melts... and they make the shop smell like a soy latte on waxing day.
Black and white snowboarding socks with a skull on them - win. Stance socks, you know because you're probably already wearing a pair.
Another case of a company just doing one thing and doing it well - Crab Grab. Black and blue because that's what color my hip bruises are and Mega Claws because i'm a big crab. (Discovered that if you heat them up with a heat gun the little grippy texture smooths out/disappears - but that's another story on how i found this out)
Clothes, because some mountains still frown upon nudity. With the continued trend to not look like a skier in a parka, all the companies are putting out great weatherproofed hoodies and flannels. They're all great, i just picked the ThirtyTwo version because - SNAKES. And if you haven't picked up one of our new LBS Army Seal long sleeve tee's, what the hell are you waiting for? Writing down the arm, shamrocks, Stay True, and hammers.