Our Favorite Surf-Inspired Snowboard Gear This Season
Enjoy riding frozen waves more than ever with these items
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Decades ago, snowboarding was born from a desire to surf on snow. Early pioneers sought to carve the contours of mountains like the faces of frozen waves. Undeniably, snowboarding has come into its own since those early days, and for some, snowboarding is only distantly related to its surfing roots. And yet, for many of us, surfing remains the driving force, the ideal, the inspiration for the gear we ride, how we ride it, and the cold-smoke powder we prize above all else. If you count yourself amongst this sect of surf-inspired snowboarders, look no further.
Korua Dart Plus Snowboard ($775)
Korua’s affordable yet critically acclaimed Dart has been a popular pick for surf-addicted powderhounds and carving specialists for a few years now, but this season the boutique German board builder unveiled the Dart Plus. “Plus” doesn’t mean beefier dimensions, but more premium materials. The classic Dart shape remains the same: a broad, rockered nose; a wide, cambered midsection; and a relatively petite, tapered backseat notched with a sultry swallowtail. Upgrading to the Plus, however, gets you a faster base, lighter, slightly stiffer carbon layup, and a tantalizing black topsheet.
The resulting weapon is the “sexiest unisex snowboard the world has ever seen,” according to one tester, although he did note that many lighter riders will want to wait for a more inclusive size range than the initial offering, which, at the time of publishing only includes a 156- and 164-centimeter length. While reviewers salivated over the board’s looks, they were even more smitten once it was underfoot. “The Dart Plus is a piece of extremely fun, functional art. There’s enough surface area to surf through the deepest storms, and the right combo of camber and stiffness to lay a rail on corduroy,” reported one wave-chasing addict. “Toe drag doesn’t exist thanks to the width of the 156. And with the huge nose, 3.1 centimeters of taper, and swallowtail, it skims over waist-deep pow. The stiffness of the swallowtail really allows you to snap turns and finish maneuvers with a flourish.” On one of the deepest days at Snowbird last season, he recalled, “I dropped in, basically blacked out cause I was having so much fun, and turned around and my riding partners were nowhere to be seen—this thing is even faster than it looks and as close to effortless in deep snow as anything I’ve ever ridden.”
K2 Taro Tamai Snowsurfer Boot ($520)
Taro Tamai is the founder and shaper of Gentemstick, a revered Japanese snowboard company, and while you can’t walk a mile in his shoes, you can take a lap in his boots. The Snowsurfer is built for a specific niche: advanced riders who crave the ankle mobility of a softer boot with the attention-to-detail and construction quality found typically in premium, stiffer models. One tester felt K2’s 4/10 stiffness rating was a “a touch on the low side,” but still found “BOA locks the heel comfortably while overall flex allows for fluid, surfy turns and aggressively tweaked grabs.” He gave the insole and outsole cushioning, warm liners, and tweakable lacing system two thumb toes up, but noted that the fit felt a touch small. Want more serious stiffness? Check out K2’s Orton ($400)—the new pro model from Olympian turned backcountry barbarian Sage Kotsenburg.
Union Atlas Binding ($350)
The Union Atlas was our favorite binding we tested last season—which is unsurprising if you’ve ever sampled the binding brand’s rock-solid wares. It’s a mid-stiff all-mountain assassin that features Union’s renowned bombproof construction, form-fitting toe and ankle straps, and a responsive, yet comfortable canted baseplate. “If you have a quiver of boards but want one binding that can do it all, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better binding than the Atlas,” said one tester. “The canted baseplate lets you ride all day long, and reactivity is on point for gnarly lines. Set ‘em up on a board like the Korua Dart Plus and you’re going to comfortably surf pow, charge bigger lines, and rail corduroy.”
Airblaster Sasquatch Suit ($650)
Sighting a onesie that doesn’t inspire a chuckle in the lift line is almost as rare as sighting Bigfoot himself, but Airblaster succeeded with the Sasquatch Suit. We fell in love with the understated gray-black body, bright blue hood and zippers, and silky liner. The latter is patterned with “Surfsquatches” and feels like what you might find on the inside of a custom-made, four-figure dinner jacket. The onesie is stacked with technical features—six zippered pockets, a number two-friendly rear zip, ample vents, and more—but it’s the lightweight, waterproof, and breathable two-layer nylon and movement-friendly fit that make this a primo piece for deep days at the resort and trips into the sidecountry. It’s basically a snowboarding wetsuit. “It’s as stylish as it is utilitarian,” said one tester.
Outdoor Research Mt. Baker Storm Jacket and Bibs ($449 and $449)
Mt. Baker is famous for some of the deepest—and wettest—snow on the planet, and Outdoor Research’s Mt. Baker Storm Jacket and Bibs are purpose-built for such prodigious precipitation. The two-layer Gore-Tex kit hits high-end waterproof and breathability ratings of 20K/20K (for comparison, a solid rain shell like Black Diamond’s Stormline Stretch has a 10K/10K rating), while a nylon lining adds warmth and makes the kit comfortable against the skin on spring days. “Not only are the style and waterproofing up to snuff,” commented a tester who’s particularly brutal on his gear, “but the fabric is exceptionally durable. I bushwacked through tight trees, ran this kit on a lengthy road trip, and it still looks brand new.” He loved its backcountry-friendly features, like the scuff guards on the bib cuffs and the beacon pocket, but noted that serious splitters might lean towards lighter, liner-less shells for warmer tours.
Rab Zero G Jacket ($500)
The Rab Zero G is overkill is in most locations on most days, but it’s a lifesaver on the coldest ones. Rab stuffed this ultra-thin Pertex nylon jacket with coveted, 1,000-fill, RDS-certified goose down, and that loftier-than-average filling explains the lofty price tag. “I mostly use this piece as an insulator while splitboarding, since the 1,000-fill down compresses well,” commented a tester who splits his time between resort and backcountry riding. “It’s welcome armor when you’re met with gnarly wind, whiteout conditions, or, heaven forbid, an unexpected overnight. However, on a few of the coldest days at the resort last season, I wore this piece under my shell, and it kept my core as toasty as a fireside cocoa in the lodge.” His only critique: the thin Pertex face fabric won’t stand up to rough use, like scrapes against branches.
Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Zip Neck Crew and Bottoms ($99 and $89)
Thanks to a heavyweight gridded fleece that wicks like a featherweight, Patagonia’s Capilene Thermal Zip Neck Crew and Bottoms are apt first layers of defense on bitter mornings when you’re hunting for fresh tracks. “If your home mountain lift lines are around the block before the bell rings on a powder day, these are the base layers for you,” wrote one tester who can often be found in Snowbird’s fabled cues. “They’re ultra-warm for waiting around, and once you start shredding, the layers move comfortably and wick surprisingly well.” If you sweat heavily, you’ll be stoked to note that the Polartec fabric uses an antimicrobial treatment —to combat post-shred funk —that actually works.
Gordini Cirque Three-Finger Mittens ($150)
Julian Carr isn’t a single-planker, but the Utah-based skier’s pro model trigger mitts fulfill the demands of non-denominational powderhounds: synthetic Primaloft Gold insulation keeps digits warm on frosty days, while supple, waterproof goatskin leather and a three-finger design deliver durability and dexterity for fiddling with bindings. “Not only are these mitts extremely warm, but they’re so dexterous I can type this review while wearing them,” joked one tester.
Giro Contour Goggles ($270)
What’s simultaneously low-profile and high-vis? Giro’s Contour Goggles, which pair a sleek, frameless design with an expansive field of view. Peripherals come courtesy of a toric lens shape, which is similar to that of a spherical lens but is more closely modeled after the shape of the human eye. Each pair of Contours comes with two lenses: one for low light and another for sunny days, which means you can lay it confidently on rail no matter what conditions are like. Magnets guide them into place, making swaps a breeze even on the windiest chairlift rides. “Optic quality is on point,” said one tester, and we expect nothing less from Zeiss, Giro’s lens plug. “From glare reduction and clarity to helmet compatibility and nose bridge comfort, the Contours have upped my expectations for all goggles moving forward. Ten out of ten. I can’t get enough!”
POC Obex MIPS Helmet ($200)
If you’re hunting for a helmet that’s as safe as it is stylish, check out POC’s Obex MIPS. To start, the Swedish safety specialists encased the Obex’s impact-absorbing EPS liner in a durable yet lightweight PC and ABS plastic shell. Then, they kitted it out with MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System), a thin, plastic, sheering insert that allows the helmet to spin independently upon impact, reducing rotational forces that can cause serious head and spine injuries. Detachable ear pads, an easy-to-use size adjustment dial, and tunable vent covers add all-season, all-weather adaptability. “The fit was easy to modify, and the helmet was always snug and comfortable, whether I was rocking a balaclava or not. I never overheated and I loved the vents, especially the ones on the brow that help keep goggles from fogging up,” commented a Utah-based tester. “But most of all, after several serious head injuries, I loved the sense of security it provided.”
Kate’s Real Food Bars ($30 for 12)
The best time of day to shred is often around noon. Why? That’s when the hungry head to the lodge and the hardcore keep on surfing powder stashes. Now, we splurge on the occasional bread bowl, but we’re big proponents of snacking on the chairlift—particularly when conditions are superb. Kate’s Real Food Bars have become our go-to snack on powder days: they’re delicious, gluten-free, and made with real, recognizable ingredients like coconut, honey, almond butter, dried mangos, and oats. Not only are these bars easy to munch, but they also provide plenty of clean, sustainable, slow-burning energy. For instance, our favorite flavor, the tropical-tasting Mango Coconut Tiki Bar, includes two 150-calorie servings in a single bar—more than enough to get you through another in-bounds hike or two. “I’ve had pow days where I just pack two or three of these in my jacket and ride bell-to-bell,” commented one tester. “The flavors are all so damn delectable, you can tell it’s real food: the consistency isn’t mushy at all.” Score a variety pack to figure out which flavor you like best.