CH HQ is in NYC, but we're big fans of hitting the slopes. Whether it's riding the local toe rope in Minnesota or exploring some side country in California, having the right gear can make all the difference. While early season snow conditions run rampant out east, we recently went west in effort to find some snow in British Columbia (stay tuned for our visit to the Westcomb factory) and Washington State.
As longtime supporters of K2 and their innovative technology (the Gyrator was one of the first boards to adapt reverse camber) we selected the 2013/14 Slayblade and Company binding to test. And, to make the package complete, Poler provided a pair of their new collaboration Nike Vapen snowboard boot—it's no secret that a solid pair of boots are the official unsung hero of snowboarding.
Poler + Nike Vapen
Having been curious about the Swoosh boots for some time now, our time spent in the new Poler + Nike Vapen boot was both informative and affirming. Day one, as one would expect, there were some hot spots. However once the short break-in period came and went, the boots fit better than any ridden in recently. Traditional lacing was a nice departure from most tech-laden options on the market, and the use of Poler's signature furry camo print on the tongue reminds the wearer that snowboarding is about having fun with friends—not winning medals. Flex-wise, the medium soft boot was stiff enough to handle straight-lining groomers and plenty flexible in the park, making it a nice option for both park rats and all mountain explorers.
While being a variation on one of Nike's lower priced boots may be an undeserving red flag for some, the Vapen's technical specs (Phylon foam midsole, ergonomically notched Neoprene liners) and overall sleek design remind that this $240 boot could have easily sold for near double that just a few years ago. Find a pair for yourself from Poler.
K2 Slayblade 156
With factory-sharp edges and over 5,000 feet of vertical, Whistler proved perfect for putting the K2 Slayblade to the test. The Tweakend and Lifted baseline technology delivers raised, conventional camber between bindings and rocker on tip and tail, creating a stable ride with plenty of pop and a bit of play on the ends for staying afloat in deep snow and pressed on rails and boxes. The Bambooyah core adds strength and makes for a very responsive snowboard. On groomed trails, off-side hits and even through icy chunder, the Slayblade performed as its name suggests. While much less flexible than other park-specific boards like the classic WWW, the Slayblade was still fun in the park too. Find more specs from K2 online where the Slayblade 156 sells for $560.
K2 Company Binding
When it comes to bindings, some say that as long as you're in a real snowboard shop there's little difference—aside from materials—considering they all hold your feet to the board. For this trip, the foot attachment of choice was the K2 Company binding, a well-loved staple in the brand's lineup. With a 3" canted footbed and Harshmellow dampening, the bindings are as comfortable as a piece of plastic can be. Other subtle details like the elimination of forward lean components—because nobody besides Olympic halfpipe riders use them—and refined toe-cap design make the binding lighter and fit tighter. We suggest getting black though, as the red clashed with pretty much everything. The Company binding sells for $230 from K2.
Lead image courtesy of Bear Simmons/Pale Morning Media, binding image courtesy of K2, all others by Graham Hiemstra