Long-Term Test: The Gnu Barrett
We can’t guarantee you’ll ride just like Barrett Christy, but this snowboard might get you a little bit closer
Sizing: 146, 149, 152, 155 cm
Profile: C3 Camber
Waist Width: 245mm
- Top-notch carver
- Freeride/all-mountain blade that can handle most conditions and terrain
- One-board quiver for freeriders or all-mountain riders who want a directional shape
- Lighter, jibbier riders had a hard time buttering on this board
- On the deepest days of the test, some riders wanted more float
Throughout her competitive career, snowboarding legend Barrett Christy racked up 11 X-Games medals, a few Rider of the Year awards, and one of the most prized trophies in snowboarding: gold duct tape from the Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom. Instead of slashing into the sunset once chasing podiums lost its allure, Christy maintained pro status and simultaneously accepted a role as a marketing maven and product designer for Mervin, the Washington-based parent company of Lib Tech, Gnu, and Bent Metal. Since 1996, Christy has had her name on an ever-evolving pro model with Gnu, making it the longest-running pro model in women’s snowboarding. The latest iteration, the 2023 Barrett, is a directional all-mountain decimator with a hybrid camber profile and moontail that represents Christy’s currently indiscriminate ambitions: freeride if there’s powder, rip the entire mountain if there isn’t.
A dedicated snowboard nerd, Christy tweaked the Barrett’s sidecut this season, adding the brand’s Progressive Magne-Traction tech, which is a spin-off on Mervin’s proprietary serrated, grip-enhancing Magne-Traction edges. Funnily enough, Progressive Mag was first introduced on Gnu’s Banked Country last year, which was a collaborative effort between Christy’s husband Temple Cummins and son Cannon Cummins—yup, this family rips. “The mag bumps are progressive, so the nose of the board doesn’t have any, and they progressively get more pronounced from the middle of the board to the tail,” she explains. “It’s exactly where I need the edge grip—not at the turn initiation, but at the exit with a little Mag help at the tail for not sliding out of power turns.”
The result was the highest-scoring snowboard of our entire test—men’s or women’s—by a landslide. Of the seven women who rode the Barrett during our all-conditions assault at Sugar Bowl, four gave it perfect scores. The rest were just a point shy. Consensus was the combo of mid-stiff flex, Progressive Magne-Traction, and camber-dominant profile made for a consummate carver. One all-mountain ripper reported: “You want a small turn in tight trees? Check. Medium turn? Check? Big sweeping groomer turn? Check. Hop turn in a shitty, icy couloir? Check, check, check. I’d ride Ms. Christy’s signature model anywhere.”
The Barrett shone when late-season storms draped Sugar Bowl in multiple feet of powder. “Surfy in pow, as badass as its namesake,” wrote a longtime fan, although another rider did crave a little more length on the deepest day (to be fair, we only had the 149 at our test). Freestylers were impressed, too. “Pops like bubble wrap,” lauded a Tahoe park stalwart. A snowboard coach and watercolor artist recommended the board for “riders who want to build confidence in big mountain riding” and artfully summed it up: “It’s the perfect board for painting your lines down the mountain.” And last but not least, a percentage of proceeds from the board funnel towards Boarding For Breast Cancer, a cause near and dear to Christy.
Meet Our Lead Snowboard Tester
Drew Zieff is a Tahoe-based freelance writer and a lifelong snowboarder. In addition to directing Outside Magazine’s snowboard and splitboard gear tests—a role he’s handled since 2016—he directs Backcountry Magazine’s splitboard test, waxes on the Natural Selection and snowboard culture for Whitelines Snowboarding, and nerds out on snowboard gear and travel for REI, Gear Junkie, Gear Patrol, and Popular Mechanics, among others. He spends his winters testing snowboard and splitboard gear in his backyard backcountry zones or up at Palisades, as well as chasing stories and storms to snowboard meccas like Alaska and Wyoming, British Columbia and Japan. His summers? They’re mainly spent at his desk, sifting through review forms and spec sheets, compiling our snowboard reviews—although he occasionally disappears in his custom-built 2006 Chevy Express for a few days when there’s swell on the coast.