Functionality Meets Fashion in the Future of Snow Gear
Outdoor apparel and gear always has a way of demonstrating functionality that is specific to the sport or activity it is engineered for. This was once again proven at the latest trade show for OUTDOOR RETAILERS. We have come a long way from “zip off” pant legs and plastic layers inside of gloves to ensure the promise of the product being “waterproof”. As an authority in the fashion industry I always have a pulse on apparel, gear and fashion trends. Each year there is more patented systems shared, technological advances in the engineering of products, and fabrics that are created to have SPF and moisture wicking properties. Fabrics seem to be evolving at a rapid rate much like microchips. Instead of getting smaller with more memory capability…fabrics are getting thinner with more functionality.
On behalf of Xposer Magazine, I was able to join the industry to experience the latest and greatest in new apparel and gear for the outdoor enthusiast(s).
Below are some of my favorites items…
North Face, North Face…where arte thou North Face? As one of the grand daddies of all outdoor brands, The North Face is often the automatic “go to” for climbing, hiking, snow sports, training, running enthusiasts. With over 50 years of exploration and innovation it is easy to see why. The North Face carries everything and anything you never knew you needed for your next outing. Take the BASE CAMP DUFFEL for example. This is not your average duffel bag. Made from durable laminate material it is the bomber of all bags. This is one burly duffel bag (yak not included). There will likely be amendments made to the straps based on line feedback, but overall, we give this brand and this bag FIVE STARS.
Of all the new brands that I was introduced to, POC Sports was by far the best experience. I love to discover new brands that deliver on experience and are high quality. My family was able to experience POC helmets and goggles on the slopes. Usually when you are doing snow sports you live with the fact that certain parts of your body are just going to be cold and/or uncomfortable. From the “neck up” we were locked and loaded. The helmets were a perfect fit and had this dial on the back to ensure we got it just right. The goggles were super comfortable and non-evasive. You forgot you had the gear on. I have real sensitive eyes and didn’t find myself squinting at all. This Swedish company has an impressive following across the globe given the fact that they were founded not too long ago in 2004. My only question is what in the world does the acronym POC stand for?
Riding a ROME SDS board for the first time made me wonder how I ever got by growing up riding what now seems like a piece of cardboard. This brand does not mess around when it comes to the science behind engineering bad ass snowboards. They don’t just focus on technology. They focus on camber design, board shapes, pop technologies, strength technologies, feel technologies, cores, laminates and bases. You can feel the brain power that goes into the ride as you venture down the mountain on one of their boards. My favorite ride is the “low-fi rocker” snowboard. It is a steady and stable ride and can make any novice or intermediate snowboarder feel invisible and in complete control. The owners ROME SDS spun off and created their own brand in Vermont after working in marketing and product development for Burton. The technology behind their products are as well thought out as their latest advertising campaign, “100 DAYS OF…mobbing with friends, entering white rooms, dragging knuckles, slashing lips”. Sign me up!
Ode to Electric California. You had me at your black on black goggles and sunglasses. Electric is a global, premium sport and lifestyle accessory brand rooted in Southern California’s rich action sports, music, art and customization culture. They are BOSS at having a quality product while taking no shortcuts when it comes to being on trend. They understand that outdoor enthusiasts don’t want functionality over fashion…they want both! Their tagline is “visual evolution” and are known for their sunglasses. This does not limit them, however, from selling their sunglasses designed for the avid golfer or keen fisherman.
Eurosocks combine 45 years of Italian expertise in design, engineering and manufacturing. These performance socks are made for ski, nordic, snowboard, hiking, golf and everything in between. Each sock has a special and different combination of design, fit and moisture management systems to bring complete satisfaction. Did I mention comfort? I can say first hand that these socks are like a warm embrace for your feet. Light weight padding, ankle support, soft cuff and arch support are just a few examples of how comfort and performance are achieved.
You had me at “sustainability” Burton. Well, actually…you had me over two decades ago when I started snowboarding. I have long been attracted to your brand, so it felt natural that I grab your gear to hit the mountain. I gave both the STORY BOARD and TALENT SCOUT a whirl and was not disappointed. Both felt like similar experiences…but it was the TALENT SCOUT that stole my heart. At the end of day three of being on the mountain this board was just what I needed as a “40 something year old” working to get a full day out of day three. Burton is focused on all the right stuff on and off of the mountain as they continue to focus on people, playground (aka planet) and product.
Born in the Swiss Alps, Nidecker was founded in 1887 and has been creating gear for the snowboarding world since the early 1980’s. Their snowboard boot dubbed “Tracer” will be available on the market soon. These boots are beyond comfortable and easy to get on and off. As someone who just lives with “cold feet” there were zero problems or instances where the toes were cold while up on the mountain. That is truly a gift. This brand is a new comer to the United States and although they lack the “street feel” that other snowboarding brands own; I predict they will be embraced by the outdoor enthusiast who expects consistency and quality from their brand.
Nikwax is a waterproofing wax for leather made in Great Britain. It is a “carbon balanced” company and is water based. The wax protects walking, motorcycle, work and sport footwear and saddlery. One of the best things about this product is that it uses no propellant gases, is not persistent and is environmentally safe. It is not tested on animals and contains no fluorocarbons.
As a brand groupie I could go on and on with all my favorite things on the market, but I will stop there. Sometimes shopping feels like a needle in the haystack. Don’t be overwhelmed with options. I hope this quick review helps you pick some of the best brands and best gear out there for your next adventure.
Written By: Jessica Montour
Wardrobe Consultant Fashion Forward www.fash-fwd.com
Fashion Forward is a wardrobe consulting and event planning company. Our stylists are available for closet purges, personal shopping, custom menswear, runway show production, brand consulting and photo shoots.
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