Friday, October 11, 2013

Stay Out Longer This Winter

It's coming. Those of you in the Pacific Northwest know. Big storms form Whistler to Timberline and spots in between. I've already picked the forecast I like best. It's the guy who's saying the season is going to start early and we're going to get a ton of snow. Yeah, they already know, so don't even sweat it. Just go ahead and buy your season pass already.

I'm still there, waiting.
This year I wrote the winter gear guide for I focused on stuff that will actually keep you out longer instead of over-hyped bull and the same ole same ole in different packaging. That was the goal, anyway. Some of the gear I didn't get to test and some of the publicists weren't forthcoming with the info I wanted. With word counts being low, I decided I'd get on here and give some more details that couldn't fit in the captions over at the photo gallery. Speaking of photos, everything here is from Jared Souney, same with all but one of the shots in the gear guide. And if I reference something in a picture, it might be in that guide, so go check it out already.

First off, the 2XU compression socks. Compression is a whole new category for me and my initial impressions were good. You'd think tight socks would be a bad thing, but it's not the case. My feet always felt good riding in these. If the circulation benefits are as-stated - the same tech diabetics use to avoid amputation - these might be the best possible socks for your longevity. That's why you're gonna keep riding 'til you're 70. The biggest problem is they're $60 a pair. That's a lot of tube socks. 

2XU's biggest competition comes from Injinji. I got the Injinji compression socks right before the photo shoot when they sent me the Wittlakes, and I didn't feel right kicking the 2XUs out for something I hadn't ridden on the mountain. That said, the Injinji compression toe socks might be trump. Questions remain in the padding and warmth departments, but the comfort is there. They claim benefits that sound reasonable enough - alignment, balance, sweat management - but for me, comfort is the ender.

Not to be confused with the Injinji compression sock, the Injinji x Stance Wittlake snowboard toe socks are the most comfortable snowboard socks I've ever worn. That's just all there is to it. No, I haven't worn them shredding yet. I'm confident enough based on Stance's and Injinji's other socks. Yes, I'm a big toe-sock fan. Also a big Scotty Wittlake fan. Gimme three pair of these and I might never wear anything else, snowboarding or otherwise.

POV of the last guy who challenged me to a duel.
Let's get back to the compression gear, though. Check out the lovely Casey sporting Skins' new S400 X-Warm. Here's where compression really shines and not just for flattering the female form. When you put this stuff on, it's like you just flexed a little without even trying. Your muscles feel tighter. They don't jiggle around as much. You can give yourself a thigh-slap test to prove it. Put this stuff on and you feel ready to rock. You look like a ninja, you feel like a ninja. Thing is, it takes a little while to pull it on. You have to line it up right, so you don't feel twisted. This is not your standard underwear. It's also a little spendy at $130 a piece. Skins was talking about a one-piece version of this stuff. If it has a hood and a trapdoor, I'm so down for that.

If you're not down for the tightest of the tight, check out MyPakage. They make boxer briefs and long underwear the way they should be made. Here's the deal guys, your cock and balls exist on a different plane than your legs. Why do we just try to jam them flat in standard underwear? MyPakage gives you a nice pouch where your boys can breathe. You lose the batwings of traditional tighties and you lose the ball-slapping landings of boxers. Best invention in underwear since boxer briefs. Problems? You will want to size down. The fabric is smooth and stretchy and can ride if they don't fit just right. Especially so in the Weekend version of the boxer briefs. Look out for the Action Series. They fit a little tighter, don't ride up as much and have a light, wicking fabric that is plush as fuck. Again, though, the price is up there. Maybe they can come out with a cotton, price-point version. If MyPakage can get together with Skins to make a compression pant with the Keyhole pouch, I may just use my other undies as tp. As it is, that Action Series is the best pair I've ever worn. PS, yes, that is my ass. You're welcome.

Vapur anti-bottles. What can you say about these? It's a water bag with a carabiner. They have a small enough one (half-litre or 17 ounces) to slap in your pocket, so you don't have to feel like a donkey. Maybe this year I won't always be dehydrated at the end of the day. I used to get home and just not move from the couch because I couldn't make myself stop to eat and drink while I was riding. Not this year, I'm a changed man. Look at the Range man. I got a whole new game plan. Vapur bags and Larabar ALTs. Oh, check that fly that YoJared caught scoping the bag, too. Jared's shutter finger be twitchy like a cartoon cat.

All those veins and I still have problems giving blood.
Let's skip to the Larabars since I mentioned them. Look, I don't need to tell you that you feel hunger. Funny story, though, my sister didn't feel hunger 'til she was in college. No shit. She had some weird eating habits growing up. Not that she was always eating, she just didn't feel hunger. Imagine that. Now imagine having a brother who was constantly hungry. That's my big bro going through that growth spurt stuff. Family vacations were the wackness. 'He's hungry again!? We just stopped for food like two hours ago!' College rolls around and eating habits change. She feels the pangs of hunger for the first time. Straight up gets on the phone to my bro and lays out an apology for the decades. Just think about that. Dude gets hungry, what, five times a day or something. She's giving him shit four outa five I bet, knowing my family. Sets it straight in the end. But what if he had Larabars!? Are you kidding me, I'm not gonna segue like that. That story is bonkers, I'm letting it have the 'graph to itself.

Larabar ALT is the new protein-enhanced bar from Larabar. They use pea protein. It's all vegan, gluten free, etc. etc. Maybe I'm the only snowboarder, but I'm interested in balanced snacking. Protein with my carbs with my fats. Protein is for muscles, right? You use muscles to snowboard, right? So then snowboarding requires protein. Thing is most protein bars taste like sawdust or chalk. These taste like cookies and use ingredients you can buy at the store. Dates, almonds, peanuts, peas. And some rice syrups, I guess. OK, nobody's perfect. Caveat: if they are the only thing you have to eat during a multi-hour photo shoot, they may cause gastro-intestinal discomfort. Just sayin' maybe don't mow down five in a row. Snack, not entire daily caloric intake. I'll always prefer whole food, but if it has to come in a wrapper, this is about as good as it gets.

I saw the Yaktrax booth at SIA and said, "Look, is there any way you guys make a product that's worth a damn to a snowboarder because my name is Yak and I want to rep you hard!" Not exactly, but I saw these mini-crampon deals and they hooked me up. Any time you can pack a little peace of mind like this in your pocket, you're stoked. I'm thinking about a sketchy ridge hike I took in the Headwaters zone at Moonlight Basin. Maybe you've got zones like that where you could use a little traction boost. Maybe you never take them out of your pack and you're just stoked anyway. 

Here's the thing that might not come across with the Goal Zero kit, you can plug your device into the AA battery pack. It's not just for charging batteries. It's got a USB thing right there! As far as I know, the 'U' in USB stands for 'Universal' so you're in luck. Solar panel (which comes in different sizes) charges battery pack (which comes in different sizes) which charges your device (which comes in different sizes). I seriously want to set up an RV with a bunch of the big panels and generators and roll up to AK this spring. Or Burning Man next fall. No loud, smokey generators here. THE SUN!!

The Remind Solution liners might be my favorite product of the guide. When they sent me these, I thought they were too stiff. Then, my boots got all sloppy and I decided to give the Reminds another shot. Just right. If I can get another full year out of them, they will pass the 'worth it' line. At $150 they aren't cheap, but a new pair of boots ain't cheap either. I run 'em with the Remind Cush insole. The Medic pictured in the guide is a little thick for me, but I'ma give them to a buddy of mine who has the worst feet ever. Seriously, he stops every few runs to massage himself back into the game. Almost enough to get him to quit, but he's a fighter. This is going to be his savior, I can feel it. What up, Dangerito!

The Mophie pack came about because of the Alpine Replay and Snocru apps. Those things drain your battery like no other. Always running GPS. At one point, Snocru was draining my phone by 1% per minute. At that point, I don't care if it can point me to the nearest pow stash (actually, that would be the best app ever, can we get someone on that?) I really do want to be able to make an emergency call if something happens on the drive home. These Helium Juice Packs come in a rainbow of colors, now, too, so you can get one to match every piece of your new school outfit. Jared uses the one from the photo shoot and says it gets him through the day now that the new OS is draining his iDevice like a pus-filled boil.

The Giro Combyn helmet is pretty revolutionary. The outer shell is soft enough that you can flex it by hand, as is the inner foam. The multi-impactness isn't unprecedented, but the sheer resilience is evolutionary at least. No matter what A Man says, I'm wearing my helmet.

The Bern Impact Apparel, maybe not. The shorts are plenty comfortable. I couldn't really tell I had them on when I wore them, except for the velcro belly strap. I'd probably cut that off. Also, Bern never got back to me on whether these are machine washable or if they just dissolve in the machine. I don't think I'd ever wear the back piece. Maybe I'm just not gnar enough. They do make a shirt and a hoodie that it snaps right into, though. Park kids, take note.

Homeschool outerwear, I'm fully reppin'. I ran their last kit for two years and it's still in the game. This new stuff is even better. You can't really see the puffy (except in the photos for the Function pack), but it's Cocona-insulated for better breathability. It's denser than down, duh, but still packs small. That Ghost Shell is a hell of a jacket, too. Super breathable, right number of pockets and a nice, subtle texture to the exterior. Might be my everyday jacket. I just wish they could bring the cargo pockets up in the pant, so the stuff I put in there doesn't bang off my knees. 

We took dozens of pics of the Under Armour gear, our warmest outerwear, in the blazing sun. We were sweating our eyes out. They ran the closeup of the print. Well, it's warm, but I haven't tested it in the real cold yet. I've got a pair of pipe gloves that I'm hoping work more like a mid-weight glove. The softshell hoodie has kept the fall rains out nicely, too. The best application of this CGI tech is probably on layering pieces, though; extra insulation without extra weight on a sweatshirt or pants. Maybe mittens.

Is it because we're bad at posing?
The Function backpack is the real deal. Thing is, it's the first pack these guys have made, so look out. The Dyneema fabric is overbuilt and underweight and it has just enough room for a day's worth of gear in the backcountry. It's not a long-term excursion pack, it's a daypack. You want something bigger? Like I said, look out for these guys in the future. 

Carl Paoli was a trip to talk to and kind of a classic story. His talent took him to the elite ranks of gymnastics but in his teens and early 20s he couldn't stay out of the mountains. First skiing, then snowboarding. Oh, and some breakdancing. Channeled it all into his hugely successful Freestyle Movement paradigm. Yes kids, time in the gym can increase your time on the mountain if you're smart about it. An investment in your fitness is a great investment.

OK if you made it this far, you deserve a reward. I've got all this gear from the photo shoot and I've decided to give it to you, my fair readers. Thousands of dollars worth will be yours over the coming weeks. The giveaways will happen here, Facebook ( - in the works), Twitter (@boredyak) and Instagram (boredyak). Follow me on all those for your best chance.

First off, I have a Mophie Juice Pack. Tell me one thing that helps YOU stay out longer and tell me what kind of phone you use in the comments. First one to match this Mophie wins! It's that easy. One rule: you can't be anonymous. An approximate retail value of $80 and it can be yours just for writing a comment!

Number second: I dropped a couple rap quotes or paraphrases in this article. First one to tell me the artist and song and I'll send you a little something, too. Call it an early Christmas gift. Now get to it!


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