Happy New Decade! The title kind of says it all for this one. It is the end of the year, the end of the decade, and we are rounding up some of the gear that defined it. Check out what our staff deemed worthy below!
Like the Airblaster Leg Bag Leash of the previous decade Crab Grab came along in 2010 to re-energize the snowboarding accessory market with a quirky take on traction that is both practical and a joke and founder Preston Strout has had serious fun doing it. The result is a company that has taken over our sport one topsheet at a time and become the must have tool for one-foot trickery.
Although a handful of brands had begun to re-introduce tapered pow sticks in the early 2000’s and Lib Tech had partnered with Travis Rice to release the highly specialized oblong Banana Hammock it wasn’t until the second decade of the new millennium that things really started to get weird. In 2011 shred cenceptualist Corey Smith manifested Spring Break as an outlet to produce rideable art. While Corey’s early one-offs were more about the experience each shape invoked within a few seasons he had released the Capita x Spring Break Slush Slasher, an atypical directional freestyle statement for the masses.
Similarly, Burton released their Family Tree line in 2011 with swallow tails and pointy tips taking center stage. Meanwhile the sharp kicks of K2’s Happy Hour were symmetrical but hardly the same as other boards on the market. Coffin shapes, convertible split tails, short and wide high volume design tangents and other deviations from the stock twin tip shape became commonplace in the market as riders were seeking products with personality ultimately leading to snowboarding’s first quiver phenomena. Equally as aesthetically compelling and arguably more functional than their directional counterparts was the rebirth of asymmetrical shapes beginning with the Gnu Park Pickle which was released just in time for the 2009/2010 season. Yes, Burton, Nitro, Bataleon, Smokin’, Spring Break and other brands soon took the same albeit different path as Gnu.
No longer a novelty, POV clips of riders laying down first tracks or insane tricks in the first person perspective flooded the feed over the last decade spawned by the affordable, compact, hi-resolution package that is the GoPro camera. Being able to experience “wish you were here” moments vicariously became vogue as everyone from Torstein Horgmo to Gimbal God to your mom became obsessed with documenting everything they did on the slopes via GoPro’s. The ease of use, low cost and seemingly infinite mounting possibilities made GoPro’s a must-have on-hill accoutrement leading to GoPro accessories like gyroscopic stabilizers and selfie sticks becoming a cottage industry unto themselves.
Long gone is the era when Scotch Guard soaked Blind Jeans and a flannel were considered functional attire for a day of buttering and spinning blind down the slopes. Over the coarse of the last decade, perhaps as snowboarding’s first wave of mass early ’90s converts hit middle age, Burton’s AK line of high end outerwear was joined by a host of more mainstream labels as the preferred attire for protecting oneself from the elements. Patagonia, The North Face and Arc Teryx made inroads into the core culture while Volcom, 686, Dakine, Holden and Airblaster all upped their game when it came to producing hi-end, detail oriented outerwear that is as functional as it is fashionable.
Despite Nitro, Voile & Fanatic bringing splitboards to market in the early ’90s as well as Burton introducing their own take on a touring ready setup ten years later it wasn’t until Jeremy Jones went all-in on human-powered ascents with his 2010 epic Deeper that the earn your turns ethos became trendy. Fueled by improved binding interfaces, a proliferation of off-the-shelf splitboard options from nearly every board manufacturer and new techniques for transforming existing models into contemporary tourers, splitboarding made the side and backcountry that much more accessible to adventure savvy, budget-conscious riders willing to go the extra mile to get fresh tracks.
Bibs, One-Pieces & Pullovers Comeback
One-pieces, pullovers and bib pants were staples of the slopes in the ’70s and ’80s but as neon made way for grunge in the ’90s these utilitarian garments fell out of favor. Fast forward to the 2010s and these items became fashionable again with updated styling, fabrics and functional details, yet the unmatched protection from the elements and cozy comfort of each piece remains preeminent.
Reissues, Tributes and Throwbacks
The proliferation of reissues, tributes and throwback products In the 2010s could be attributed to many factors. The reason for this sudden dose of nostalgia could be attributed to a myriad of factors. For some brands, throwbacks coincide with a corporate milestone, such as Oakley or Smith celebrating 40 or 50 years respectively in the goggle game with hot dog era neon styling and the revamping of classic frames.
For others it is a creative lob when the well runs dry. Some initiatives though, like Vans reintroduction of linerless boots or Burton’s Step-On step in binding mechanism were wrought by the desire to see how modern materials, design theory and manufacturing processes can be applied to updating long-dormant technology. Yet, ultimately most of the nostalgia, handycam clips, Kidwell faithfully re-issueing his original Sims roundtail signature model, Kemper, Sims and Santa Cruz relaunching, kids re-appropriating late ’90s street fashion, puffy shoes, polo jackets et al. etc… are the result of sentimentality as snowboarding matures beyond the traditional 18-24 age demographic.
The archetype for the modern goggle was set in 1965 when Bob Smith and his namesake company released the first dual pane anti-fog option. Since then innovation in goggle design moved at a glacial pace for nearly half a century. In 2012 anon introduced the M1 frame with its patented “Magna-Tech” and everything quickly changed, both literally and figuratively.
By relying on magnets Anon was able to offer riders the ability to change lenses on the fly and in turn transformed goggles from being a commodified no-frills necessity to becoming a coveted top-tier accessory. While the novel connectivity appealed to consumers it was the elevated price tag and healthy margins that drew competitors to introduce their own “quick-change” lens technology, ultimately leading to the introduction of models where the lenses themselves would be dynamic allowing for tints to go from light to dark with the simple push of a button.
To be honest, we had to get to nine products for this list since everything in 2019 seems to be ending with nine. So… we added on the DIY fashion that started up in the back half of this decade and looks to usher us in to the next. Whether it is the Dust Box crew whipping up their own hoodies, Clique Worldwide exploding onto the scene this month with home-sewn hats, or whatever the SLC crowd finds at Vantage… trendsetting took a bit of a DIY turn the past few years. If your favorite companies don’t make it… just make it yourself! And if you are Mike Rav or Forest Bailey, if you make it yourself your respective sponsors will start making it for everyone else (thanks guys)! You could argue that snowboarding has always had that gumption (mostly because it always has) but hey, then we wouldn’t be at nine for this list.
This article originally appeared on Snowboarder.com and was republished with permission.
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