Shopping: I want ... some extreme snowboarding gear - Get yourself a seat on the hip board of cool
Saturday 21 November 1998
As for grown up kids, the fashion is as ubiquitous in your local shopping centre as it is on the slopes of Chamonix, while the price of entry-level hardware is extremely competitive. Of course, you can hire dilapidated, unforgiving boards and hard ski boots, and spend a day struggling on the slopes, but if you harbour dreams of showing up kids who can barely shave by freeriding through the evergreens, carving up skiers on the piste and performing boarding gymnastics on a half-pipe, then try adding some of the following accessories to your Xmas wish list.
The Board: Burton Snowboarding Charger.
Price: pounds 199.95.
Description: What it looks like depends upon which size of board you buy, ranging from a pretty-in-pink 143cm board for the ladies, to a racing green 161cm for former rugby props. An average-weight bloke should sit comfortably on the 156cm, which is a cool minimal off-white on top and midnight blue on the base. The construction, though, is what really counts. The Charger has a tip-to-tail wood core, full edge protection and cap sidewalls (the most common method of snowboard manufacture, which is meant to improve edge control). The core is laminated with two perpendicular layers of uni-directional fibreglass top and bottom, giving it both a good degree of strength and flexibility. This makes it consistently stable at both low and high speeds, essential for less experienced riders when attempting turns.
Label hipness: If Burton Snowboarding was a superclub it would be Cream.
Suitable for: Riders who say, "It's not what you wear that matters, it's where you're at", but don't really mean it.
Stockists: 01784 251000
Style rating: H H H H
Any others worth considering?: Burton Snowboarding also does a more expensive entry board (the Motion, pounds 275.95), as do Saloman, whose Freeride 300 (pounds 279, stockists 07000 781 655) also boasts tip-to-tail construction and a stoneground base (the tiny grooves cut down suction, helping the boards glide over the slush). For experienced, more aggressive snowboarders looking for a more challenging ride, and underwhelmed by the old-school appeal of European-manufactured, ply boards, the Morrow Master (pounds 392, stockists: 00 43 523 48045) is worth considering. This American-made board is constructed with a central foam core strengthened by six-boxed walls of fibre glass that run the length of the board. And if you've already got a perfectly good board, then you can always ask for a Bonfire Loaded Wheelie Board case (pounds 99, stockists 07000 781 655), with car rack strapping system, removable tool kit holder and silent wheels!
The Gloves: Level Gore-Tex Glove.
Price: pounds 99.
Description: The glove with everything: waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex outer, exterior hardshell Biomex wrist protector, a removable liner (most gloves get thrown out because they stink, not because they wear out), and a fleecing on the forefinger to mop up the nose drips.
Label hipness: Well, it does look like something you'd get on the NHS rather than with BUPA.
Suitable for: Those who think they can pull off a Stalefish (go ask a pro) but can't.
Stockists: Available via mail order from Snow & Rock on 0845 084 1000.
Style rating: H H
Any others in the range worth considering? If you're more interested in an economical, warm-as-toast mitt rather than a fracture-protection glove, then the Fishpaw Original Mitt (pounds 49.99, 07000 781 655) is a good bet.
The Goggles: Smith V3 Turbo C.A.M.
Price: pounds 109.
Description: OK, for posing you can make do with a pair of flexible UV- proof wraparounds, but for serious snowboarding you're going to need exceptional peripheral vision and something that prevents the melting snow fogging up your lenses. The extremely flexible, and technologically smart V3 Turbo features a double lens and a small fan which sucks air through the side of the visor and moisture out the top of the goggles. The lens colour you choose depends on the sort of weather conditions you're likely to work in (gold is the most popular, since it filters out blue glare and gives good contrast in flat conditions).
Label hipness: Smith have been putting goggles through their paces for 30 years in the shadow of the chairlifts in Sun Valley, Idaho. They "live for powder". Not the Hollywood variety.
Suitable for: Everyone.
Stockists: Smith Optics. Call 0161-428 1178.
Style rating: H H H
Any others worth considering? Oakley's A Frame may not be as gadgety as the Turbo C.A.M., but it is the coolest pair of goggles in the world. Since they bear more than a passing resemblance to the head gear of Star Wars' stormtroopers (pounds 65 with a V50/28 visor, mail order 0161-834 5555), you can feel "The Force" just by looking at them.
The safety precaution: ABS Glissade airbag.
Price: pounds 385.
Description: No, it doesn't stop you hurting yourself when your attempt to do a meloncollie (i.e. grabbing the board mid-air on the heel edge in between your bindings with your front hand) results in you landing awkwardly on your face. It's a backpack for your sandwiches and snowboard which also contains two airbags and a canister of pressurised gas. If there' s an avalanche, then a swift tug of the emergency handle inflates two 75-litre bags which literally make you float to the surface.
Label hipness: None. If the bags go off during apres ski cocktails, you will be a laughing stock. In an emergency, who cares about cred?
Suitable for: Bodie and Doyle types who love the risks but still have a self-preservation streak. Who dares swims.
Stockists: 0181-287 4006.
Style rating: H H
Anything else that might save your life? An Ortovox MI Transceiver (pounds 199, mail order 0161-834 5555), a gadget which sends signals out to anyone nearby with a similar device.
The Bible: World Snowboard Guide 3 (Ice Publishing).
Price: pounds 9.99.
Description: Third edition of the worldwide almanac to the world's richest and roughest snowboarding slopes. Everything from observations on the upkeep of the antiquated pay-as-you-ride cable car in Dombai (Russia), to the bad manners of the lift operators closer to home. And if you're looking for a halfpipe in Chile, don't bother, there isn't one. The guide also includes a summer ride guide, rider tips - including the avalanche survival guide - and, for some spurious reason, an analysis of the World Cup.
Suitable for: Anyone who doesn't want to be stuck in the Tamworth Snowdome for their whole boarding life.
Stockists: 01479 810 362.
Style rating: H H H
Shaun Phillips, deputy editor, `ZM Magazine'
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