The slope of the future

Technology to boost your boarding

The Focus Boa boot, which lets you twist a dial to tighten your laces.

The Focus Boa boot, which lets you twist a dial to tighten your laces.

Photo By David Robert

Brian Lucas, manager/tuner at Out of Bounds, shows off the Magne-Traction snowboard. The wavy edge turns ice into powder.

Photo By David Robert

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, R&D digs a bit deeper and adds some magnetic sensors to a board and claims it will stabilize your center of gravity at fantastic speed or breed a species of gremlin that will destroy the stink in your boots. Sadly, it’s all too easy to get sold on these gimmicks, especially by some shop-grunt whose only concern is his commission—not your performance.

So much of what the industry puts out there is crap—plain and simple. You don’t need a computer chip in your board to ride better. And you don’t need microbial anti-fungicides implanted in your boot liners if your feet stink. But there are a few breakthroughs each season that are legit, and every once in a while one comes along that progresses the evolution of the sport.

Here are a few of this season’s advancements in snowboarding technology:

First is the Audex series of jackets from Burton. Labeled “The future of wearable technology,” these techier-than-tech jackets have built-in Bluetooth. What this means is you can download music from your phone or iPod to your jacket. With speakers built into the hood, headphones are obsolete. You can even receive phone calls through it. Me, I don’t even know what Bluetooth is, but I’m pretty sure I need it, especially in my snowboarding jacket.

We also have the Stanley series of jackets and pants from Holden. This environmentally friendly outerwear is made from 55 percent Cantiva Hemp and 45 percent recycled PET. The natural properties make it a lot more durable than many synthetics and provide for a soft feel and linen look. And with a more indie-inspired style this is far from your granola-muncher’s burlap poncho. Labeled a “Holden exclusive,” the company somehow managed to get a laminate to stick to the hemp fibers, making it waterproof as well—further disproving my cherished theory that you can’t laminate weed.

The Focus Boa boot from 32 Boots might actually make your day on the hill less traumatic. These bad-dogs eliminate the hand- and finger-related stress required to tie your laces. The new Triple Zone Lacing system allows you to actually twist a dial on the boot to customize the fit every time you ride. Say goodbye to those man hands, and put those babies back in Ivory liquid where they belong. Fitted with some kind of high-density NASA foam, a symmetrical flex synthetic stabilizer, and (not kidding) Agion™ anti-microbial coating, the Focus Boa has what you’re looking for … and a lot of stuff you just won’t be able to grasp. These boots might be the most comfortable and functional boots on the market.

And finally, Lib Tech’s Magne-Traction series of boards is seriously the most important breakthrough to hit the industry in years. Labeled under the classification of “Technormous Broknowlogy, Innovations Even We Don’t Understand,” the Washington-based company has gone and replaced the conventional “two-contact ski theory” and given the Magne-Traction seven contact points. This means the metal edge of the board looks serrated—more like a steak knife than a filet knife. The theory is that when your outside (tip and tail) contact points lose grip, the inside ones will take over. These boards are said to ride more like a skateboard and have better edge hold. They may be the superior advancement of our time.

For more information on these products and anything else shred-related, visit