Evolution is not always gradual. Snowboard designers hit fast-forward in adopting new technology this season, introducing radical innovations in shapes and materials that deliver precision rides with more versatility than ever before. Lib Tech's Skate Banana has a surf- and skateboard-inspired deck that delivers incredible edge hold, for instance, and Burton reinvents the ultraresponsive baseless binding. And this year's Gear of the Year winner, Palmer's Honeycomb, simply does it all with a design that floats easily, rides fast, and turns like it can read your mind.
Palmer Honeycomb 164 $749 palmersnowboards.com
1. It's long enough to float in powder and generate white-knuckle speed on groomers, but still light enough for easy spins and big airs through the park and off backcountry booters. "This behemoth makes turning thoughtless, spinning simple, and powder a pleasure," said one tester.
2. Palmer debuts its DPD technology, which optimizes action between the lowered nose and tail kick and the sidecut. It helps maintain speed when you initiate a turn because the nose doesn't dig into the snow. It also transfers power more quickly to the effective edge.
3. Thanks to DPD, the Honeycomb felt stable at speeds that cause other boards to get shaky. "Carving feels effortless and faster," said one tester. There's also an increase in stability through the turn. And coming out of the turn, this monster accelerates even more.
4. The board is cored with superlight Nomex Honeycomb from tip to tail, creating one of the lightest production boards available. Accordingly, the Honeycomb floated and turned with ease, while DPD gave it the ability to power through the worst springtime crud.
5. Don't be intimidated by the Honeycomb's length. The weight-saving design makes what appears to be a big boy's board feel rideable for anyone. As one height-challenged tester concluded, "It turns more quickly than one would expect and is definitely manageable for a 164."