Apparel / Hard Goods / February 5, 2013

Gear Bag: Vail Snowboarding Apparel Roundup

What’s up kids? Just got back from a two-week business trip from Belize to Vail, then back home to Cali. I’ll tell you, there’s no side like the West Side, but there’s some sweet spots to visit out there. The Lodge at Vail got a legit powder dump the night I arrived, so we headed up the next morning for some first track and a great chance to check out some goodies from Helly Hansen, Burton, Smith, and Coal Headwear. Let’s break it down, ninja-style.

This was my first time riding Rocky Mountain powder, and in case you didn’t know, that dry pow floats like a cloud, so when you hit it, you get maced with ice crystals (see the frozen beard here). Hence the necessity of Coal Headwear’s UHB (Under the Helmet Balaclava, $25). A lightweight polyester upper fits under the helmet, while a micro-tech fleece facemask keeps your whiskers warma and dry. Plus, you get to look like silent death while you hit the pow-pow.

Going ninja doesn’t mean you can’t bust out some flashy headwear: Smith’s Gage helmet ($80) sports a sicky-sick rasta Irie Mission style and proper venting. Great fit, great cushioning, and my head is still intact after a day of way-too-fast tree runs. One gripe, though: freaking ear-pieces kept sliding down and letting my ears freeze. Not cool, Smith. Not cool. Or too cool…

Designed by Helly Hansen’s Japan riding team, the JPN Jacket ($325) sports 100g of synthetic PrimaLoft insulation, 17k/19k mm waterproofing & breathability ratings, and a pair of fleece-lined handwarmer pockets. It felt great over a base layer on frigid am runs, and it was just stretchy enough allow for a full range of motion. Plus, come on, it looks siiick. Especially when paired with…


Burton’s The Jeans pant ($279.95), a 2-layer GORE TEX snowboarding pant with a soft, silky lining that wicks away internal moisture. Great snowboarding pants. More importantly, they look like jeans. right down to the five zippered pockets and the distressed screen-printed jeans. Great for a jeans ‘n t-shirt guy like me.

Now you know what the well-dressed hoodlum in Vail is wearing. Go out and hit some pow before it’s gone.


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Tags:  burton the jeans coal headwear helly hansen skiing smith optics snowboarding snowsports

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Billy Brown
Billy Brown
has a hard time standing still. A few years ago he combined his passion for the active lifestyle with his love of toys and somehow made a job out of it as a journalist specializing in outdoor sports and adventure travel. An avid runner, climber, crossfitter and snowboarder, he has tested gear around the world, from canyon running in Jordan to ice climbing in Chamonix. He writes for Outside Magazine, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Wired, and Backpacker. Contact him at

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