Buying Alpine Gear
Even though the market for alpine is less than 1% of all snowboard gear, there
is plenty of gear available from retailers, plus you can find a lot of gear
used. Because the selection of new carving gear can be limited, carvers often
look to buy used gear, or gear from outside the US, in which case:
- Older gear of the same model can have a different performance than newer
gear, or compatibility issues. The market for carving gear is fickle, which
means some used gear comes from product lines that have long since been completely
discontinued by the manufacturer. As a result, it helps to know something
about the history of a manufacturer's product line, and that's why info on
older or discontinued gear is sometimes mentioned here. The model year always
refers to the spring, which means that '04 gear corresponds to the 2003/2004
- The identical model of gear can sometimes change characteristics from year to year: Some F2, Nidecker, and Donek boards have gotten softer, and Volkl boards have gotten stiffer
in the nose.
- Some of the best gear is manufactured overseas, and may or may not be widely
imported into North America. But you can order the stuff anyway from overseas
retailers, and that's why info on foreign brands is sometimes mentioned here.
- In Europe, internet addresses and email addresses use oe in place of ö.
For instance, The Völkl web site is www.voelkl.com.
In addition, it's not a bad idea to pre-order gear. Dealers sometimes sell
out their entire stock of harder-to-find boots and bindings before the season
starts. On the other hand, if you are looking to buy gear at the start of the season, it is sometimes a good idea to wait until the major players (Bomber, Catek, Donek, Prior) have unveiled their new and possibly improved products in November, before buying something that's already obsolete.
Gear for Beginners
Boots: When learning to carve, boots are the most important link in the board/boot/binding chain. It's better to put more money into the boots, even if it means having to go with a cheaper board. That's because the fit and performance of your boots will impose an upper limit on how well you can carve, independent of whether you have the best board and binding. You may go through several boards over the course of many seasons, but you will likely stick with the same pair of boots. A stiffer boot will actually make it easier to get the board
on edge. It will also force you to use somewhat better technique early on, which
can prevent bad habits. Go for either the Raichle AF600, Head Stratos Pro /
S-LTD, or the UPZ RSV Mach Superlight. Definitely go with
a boot that has at least 4 buckles - it offers better adjustability and better
response. And as a beginner, avoid the most common boot-buying pitfall: make sure you do not get boots that are too big. See the size guidelines on the bootfitting page.
Board: Get an all-mountain board: it will provide the easiest learning
curve. You can learn to carve on it, and you can also go off-piste with your
soft boot friends. It is highly recommended to get one of the better all-mountain
boards like a Donek Incline, Coiler All-mountain, or Prior 4WD, because they
all carve very well on groomers. They go for ~$500 new, but your best bet is
to put a want-ad in the Bomber classifieds. You could also go with a cheaper
production board like a used Burton Coil (~$175). You can select a long all-mountain
board (for a production board, a 168-172 cm length is about right for a 170-190
lbs person): it will be easy enough for a beginner, yet you won't grow out of
it as you become more advanced. In addition to the all-mountain board, you can also go with some other
- Get a used slalom race board. For a production slalom race board, a 157
cm length is about right for a 170-180 lbs person. The shorter length slalom
race board will let you turn easily at low speed, but also allow you to practice
finding the balance point of a stiff board. However, you'll want to move up
to a longer board pretty quickly.
- Get a freecarve board. They are longer and have a lot of stability, but
with a small sidecut radius that makes them easier to turn. You can either
take an easier intermediate step and go for a used shorter board (for a production
board, 168 cm length is about right for a 170-180 lbs person), or splurge
and go for the board you will use long term (for a production board, 173 cm
length is about right for a 170-180 lbs person)
- Get a full-on GS race board that is damper. The Oxygen Proton is a good
example: because it is so damp, it holds an edge very well and will compensate
for less-than-perfect technique so that you can go up the learning curve faster.
Riding a combination of these boards will speed the learning curve. When you
learn to control your speed and make tighter turns, you can add a long GS race
board to your quiver. For a production GS race board, a 173+ cm length is about
right for a 170-180 lbs person. When selecting a longer race board, you should
demo at least one damp board and at least one lively board to find out which
type you prefer. Whatever you do, don't get an asym board.
Bindings: If you are < 180 lbs, you can begin with cheap plastic
bindings like the Burton race plates (~$120 used). But if you weigh > 180
lbs, you should consider higher performance bindings depending on what you plan to be doing:
- If you plan to do mostly free carving, you should upgrade to either
Bomber or Catek step-in bindings.
- If you plan to do mostly racing, then go with a medium-stiffness binding like the F2 Race Titanium, the Snowpro Race, or the Head Stealth DNA.
- For most beginners, a good starting point for cant/lift setting involves a combined cant/lift of about 3º on the front foot and 3º on the rear foot.
Think about the linkage
The stiffness of your carving setup is determined by the stiffness of your
boots, the stiffness of your bindings, and the stiffness of your board. When
you select gear, you need to decide how stiff to make each linkage. In addition,
your skill level will determine how well your legs can perform as part of the
suspension system. You generally need softness in some element of the linkage,
otherwise you will tend to get knocked around by anything other than perfectly
groomed slopes. Chris Klug has chosen a somewhat softer binding, along with
a very stiff boot and board. A stiffer overall linkage will provide a more "locked-in"
carve, but requires more skill and has a narrower margin for error.
Carving is a science that requires experimentation, tweaking, and fine-tuning,
both with your gear and your technique. As a result, there are a lot of subtleties
to learn, and you generally cannot determine the best gear theoretically - you
have to find out what works for you by taking some guesses and experimenting.
= Readily available in the US/Canada
or through Blue-Tomato
= Not readily available in the US/Canada
= Sells direct
Note that some direct manufacturers have sales at the beginning or end of the season:
- Prior has its annual Turkey sale the first week of October, and often has a $100C off sale starting in May.
- Bomber often has a big sale in the spring, if any gear is left over.
Online Retailers for North America
In addition to the manufacturers listed above who sell direct (),
there are additional online resources:
- Carving gear:
- YYZCanuck in Toronto:
- They are the F2 distributor for North America, and sell direct to consumers in Canada and the USA. www.f2-canada.com
- In addition, they are the distributor of DeeLuxe boots in Canada: www.deeluxe-canada.com.
F2, Donek. Bindings: Bomber, F2. Boots: DeeLuxe. Liners:
YYZCanuck sponsors the races held by the Association of Ontario Snowboarders, and runs a Masters race day to raise money for the Ontario alpine team.
- Prior has an annual Turkey day sale in early October, and they also have an open house at the factory. Prior has a disclaimer on their web site that applies to the fancy metal boards: "damage caused by metal baseplate bindings that do not have sufficient rubber gaskets underneath them does not fall under the coverage offered by warranty."
- Catek You can pick up Catek Olympic
bindings and the Catek Freeride bindings. If there is an ECES for '05,
you might be able to pick up demo Olympic bindings at a discount.
- BomberOnline Boards:
Donek, Nidecker, Volkl, Prior, F2. Boots: DeeLuxe, Head. Bindings: Bomber,
Skwal, splitboard. They sell out of bindings around the middle of the
season, so you should order early. There is often a sale in March and
September on boots and boards.
- ExoticBoards sells Rad-Air Tankers: They have good deals on '05 models, and they can special order '06.
- Dan Yoja is a hardbooter who
sells UPZ boots, Snowpro bindings and Goltes boards. For '05, he sells
3 models of Goltes boards from Slovenia that have carbon fiber topsheets.
His site also has a great photo gallery. He has a sale during the off-season:
In June 2004 everything was on sale cheap.
- Blue Tomato is an online store
in Austria that has a large selection of carving gear, and they ship anywhere
on the planet. If you call, they may or may not have someone in the store
who speaks English. They ship to the US via DHL in two days for $50. Typically,
there is no additional customs duty assessed for orders that go to the
US. Before the big-time rise in the Euro, they often undercut retailers
in the US, even with the $50 shipping cost. A lot of people order F2 bindings
from them. Bindings: F2. Boots: DeeLuxe/Proflex. Boards: F2, Hot, Volkl,
Oxygen. They are based in Schladming, Austria, and are located near the village marketplace. They demo F2, and also have
a carve school.
- Chris Klug is pimping old Burton
gear, and is also selling the new IBEX bindings, which use the Burton molds from the Race Plates. Sales tax is added if ordering from WA, NY, VT, MA, or CA. If you
order stuff from klugriding.com, you should immediately call them up to
confirm your order, otherwise it can "get lost."
IBEX, Burton, R.17#Addicted.
- Hardbooter.com has an online
Bomber, Catek, F2, DeeLuxe. They also have good deals on '04 Rad-Air Tankers.
- The-House.com sells F2 Race Titanium bindings and F2 RS Speedster boards. They were selling older new stock really cheap.
- Other winter stuff online:
- REI sells Gore-Tex.
- A cheaper alternative to a Capeline long sleeve shirt is a silk turtleneck
shirt, like the kind sold at Lands'
- Patagonia.com for synthetic
- Campmor has some outerwear and
- Cheap winter stuff:
Hard boot retailers Worldwide
Of the few retailers that were previously selling alpine gear, most of them
pulled out entirely in '04, when Burton discontinued the alpine line. Many retailers
in the US consider the market for alpine gear too small to constitute a viable
niche - more like a sub-niche of a cottage industry. You are most likely to
find gear at shops where the owner carves. The few snowboard shops that still
sell carving gear often do not mention it on their website, so you have to call
them up and talk to someone who has a clue. At retail shops that have boards
in stock, you may need to find the one person who can lead you into the back
stockroom to show you the selection of boards gathering dust in the corner.
If you win enough races to clinch a sponsorship from a board company, you get
access to the pro-form price list, which is at least 30% off list. For the best
selection of carving gear that you can try on in the store, consider taking
a trip to Austria. Failing that, there are a few purveyors in the US and Canada.
- Performance Downhill in New Hampshire. Eric is a carver, and runs the place. 866-766-9700
- The Starting Gate in Vermont sells
alpine gear, and they ship anywhere in the US. For '05, they are the exclusive
supplier for Donek in Vermont, and they are also the East Coast Donek demo
center. Boards: Donek. Boots: Head, DeeLuxe. Bindings: Catek, Phiokka. They
heat-mold Thermoflex liners. Gary is the owner/guru. If you want carving lessons,
call during the weekend and ask for Curt.
- Alpine Trader near Mt. Snow. Boards:
Nidecker, Prior. Bindings: Catek. Boots: DeeLuxe. Ask for Tom, who rides a
- Out of Bounds Snowboards has expertise
in soft setups for carving. See Vin. Boards: Nitro Nature, Palmer Crown. Bindings:
Salomon SPX 7. Boots: Salomon Malamute, Salomon F24, Northwave Concept. The
"Breakfast Club" meets at the store on Sundays at 7:30 AM.
- Ski Fanatics in Campton, NH: Boots: DeeLuxe, Bindings: DeeLuxe.
- Lahouts' Ski Shop in Lincoln, NH
- Global Wintersports in Ohio carries the Rad-Air Tanker. (614) 451-0081
- All Boards Sports in Boulder
has a very large selection. Their motto is "passionate dedication to
the carve in all boards sports". Boards: Liberation, Nidecker, Volkl,
Donek, Coiler, Prior. Boots: DeeLuxe, Head. Bindings: Raichle, Catek, Phiokka.
Head. Bola is a carver and can give you some technique pointers on the hill.
For bootfitting, they refer carvers to Larry's Bootfitting down the street
- he is the Czar of bootfitting in Boulder.
- Salty Peaks in Utah. Boards: Burton Ultra Prime and Factory Prime. Boots: Burton Wind. Bindings: Burton race plates, carrier, and physics. Dennis also sells a lot of gear on eBay (seller ID = u12).
- Doug Dryer at Mt Bachelor is a dealer for Bomber Bindings, and always has
boards/boots/bindings on hand. He gets a continuous supply of used gear, and
he can usually put together an affordable starter setup for beginners.
- Sean Cassidy at Crystal Mountain has a stash of gear and can get newbies
going. See Snowperformance.com
- Dave's Snowboards in Tahoe City
has a small and dwindling supply of Burton alpine boards and boots, and they
have some rental gear. Ask for John Percy, who raced on the Burton team. Ground
UPS from Dave's to the Bay Area is $10 and arrives the next day. Some of the
employees carve on soft setups.
- SFO Snowboarding shop in San Francisco
has a few Burton Speeds and a few Burton Wind boots.
- Elite Feet at the Resort at
Squaw Creek stocks Head boots. Brian is a carver
and knows the deal.
- Tahoe Sports LTD near the downtown gondola carries Head Stratos Pro boots. Ask for Tom or Jeff.
- Reno Mountain Sports. Boards:
Volkl. Boots: Head. Bindings: Head.
- Goldsmith's Board House and
Ski Rental (Big Bear in So Cal). Boards: Oxygen. Boots: Raichle. Bindings:
Raichle X-bones (step-in and non-step-in), plus the Thermoflex liners. Brad
carves, as well as the owner, Danielle.
- Powder & Sun Mountain Outhouse at Mountain
High Resort. They no longer sell alpine gear, but they might have a few pairs of old Head boots sitting around. (760) 249-3191
Canada (See the Canadian
Yellow pages for numbers)
- Fanatyk Co in the Whistler Village.
Boards: Prior. Boots: DeeLuxe. Bindings: Catek. Ask for Scottie Gillis, who
can fine-tune your setup. Board rentals from Fanatyk Co are $40/day, Board+Bindings
rent for $60/day. (Prior rents demo boards out of their factory for $25/day,
7 days a week).
- If you need Raichle replacement parts like new flex/lean adjusters, the
cheapest source is from the Canadian Distributor, Gabriel
A Mordo & Son Ltd in Vancouver. Ask for Bruce.
- Squire John's near Collingwood.
Boards: Burton, Volkl, Prior. Boots: Raichle, Head. Bindings: Burton Race,
Bomber. Ask for Jason or Forest. They can set you up with a carving instructor
at the various ski clubs.
- The Sign of the Skier in
Toronto. Boards: Volkl. Boots: DeeLuxe. Bindings: DeeLuxe.
- Scotties Skis N' Boards in Whitby.
Boots: Head. Bindings: Head.
- Corbett's in Toronto has a few R.17#Addicted boards left over.
Québec: Check Derf's webpage for an inventory of carving shops in the Montreal area.
- Oberson Sports in Brossard or Laval.
Boards: Hot. Boots: Head. Bindings: Head Stealth, Hammer Blast LTD.
- Sharks La Boutique in Laval. Boards:
Hot, Nidecker, Volkl, Prior. Boots: DeeLuxe. Bindings: Catek, DeeLuxe, Head.
- Ski Bazar André Bouchard in Beaupré. Boards: Scott. Bindings:
DeeLuxe. Boots: DeeLuxe. Also recommended for bootfitting. (418) 827-2148.
- Boutique La Shop at Stoneham. (418) 848-3590. Boards: Hot Blast. Bindings:
Head. Boots: Head.
Europe (strong Euro means higher dollar prices)
- For used gear, check out eBay.de (Germany/Austria). You can pick up gear
for Wahnsinnspreis (insanity price). Carving is big enough in Germany to warrant
its own eBay.de sub-categories:
You can often find boots that come with Intec heels. Hard boots with fully-lugged
soles like Raichle 121, Raichle snowboarder, and Nordica SBH are always
available. Great for AT touring.
A quick glance will reveal that 90% of the bindings are OEMed from 10%
of the manufacturers.
in Germany. They carry Choc, Trans, Virus, F2, Elfgen, DeeLuxe, Voodoo
- Westside-Sport, in Germany. They
carry F2 boards. They also have an eBay
shop with Nidecker and Hot.
- st-online is a German eBay
store. Boards: F2. Bindings: F2. Boots: DeeLuxe.
- Boarderline. Boards: F2. Bindings:
F2. They also have an eBay
- SnowboardKeller. Boards: F2.
Bindings: F2. They also have an eBay
- Luxury10, an eBay shop. Boards:
F2. Bindings: F2.
- Freestyle Shop, in Germany has
a large selection of carving gear, despite its name. Boards: F2, Nidecker,
Hot, Pogo. Boots: DeeLuxe. Bindings: F2.
Austria. For carving shops in Austria, a good resource is the list of dealers/
test centers on the Virus web site.
- Sport Riml has several locations
in Solden and specializes in carving gear. They demo Virus and F2.
- InterSport Glanzer, with several locations
in Solden. Boards: F2, hot, Pogo, Virus, Volkl. Boots: DeeLuxe, Head
- Surfinsel in Wien has a large selection: Bindings: Nitro, Snowpro, F2, Fritschi, Burton. Boards: Hot, Volkl, F2, Limited4U. Boots: Head, DeeLuxe.
- Intersport Eybl has 9 locations in Austria.
Boards: F2, Burton, Hot. Bindings: F2, Burton. Boots: DeeLuxe.
- Austriasport sells Strolz boots.
- Oxess. In addition to Oxess
snowboards and an Oxess Skwal, they sell Bomber, Raichle X-Bone and F2 bindings.
- Schmid-velosport in Rohr sells
- Tropical Corner: boards: Hot.
- Stockli, with several
locations in Switzerland, sells F2 and DeeLuxe
- Force 5, in Geneva: SWOARD
- Au Vieux Campeur, a sporting good
store, with five locations in France. Boards: Nidecker, F2, Hot, Volkl. Bindings:
F2, Emery, Nidecker, Phiokka. Boots: DeeLuxe, Head.
- Krakatoa in Briançon. Boards:
SWOARD, F2, Swell Panik swallowtails. Bindings: Phiokka.
- Snowboards.cz Alpine (Tvrdé) Boards: Scott, Factory, Head. Boots: Raichle, Head. Bindings: F2, Snowpro.
- SnowBoardZone Boards: Oxygen. Bindings: F2. Boots: Raichle, Blax.
- 2Boards F2, SG, DeeLuxe
Europe - other
- Wim Jaquet All Sports in Amersfoort,
Holland sells a large selection of alpine gear, including the Volkl Monocarvers.
- The Oslo Snowboard Senter in
Norway. Boots: UPS. Bindings: Snowpro.
- Settimosport, in Italy. F2, Phiokka, Blackhole, DeeLuxe, Virus
- Tomahawk snowboards in Italy custom-builds boards for world cup racers.
They do about 100 per year.
- Ukpallas in Finland. Boots: DeeLuxe.
- Skiservice, in Finland.
- Alpinepunk, in Sweden. Boards: F2.
Boots: DeeLuxe. Bindings: F2, Bomber TD2s.
Plus, the Afterburner
- Rabanser is selling UPZ
hard boots , IBEX bindings, as well as their own private-label bindings. Plus race boards.
Rest of the World
Japan. These stores only stock smaller sized gear: you won't find anything
over mondo point 28. Surprisingly, it is often cheaper to order gear directly from sellers in the US or Europe.
- Checkout the shops listed in the back of CARVE magazine, which comes out every November.
- In Tokyo, the outdoor-oriented shops are clustered in Ochanomi zu, in the
Kanda section. Two large shops carry carving gear:
- Bari Boardshop in Okazaki is well stocked,
and can heat mold Thermoflex liners. Boards: Gray, Moss. Boots: DeeLuxe. Bindings:
SHR, Raichle, R.17#Addicted.
- American Sports: ACTgear, BCstream, DeeLuxe, Yonex, Gray
- Goltes now has a full-on store, in Slovenia. Goltes, DeeLuxe, Snowpro, Raichle X Bone F.A.S.T
- Spielen in Ibaraki has all the
goods, and can heat mold Thermoflex liners
- Snow-Workshop (Hokkaido, North Kanto area) has a large selection
of alpine gear.
- Pro Shop Legna (Chiba) Has an extensive selection.
- Northernlights. (Fukuoka) Boards: Sigi, Gray,
F2, R.17#Addicted, Hot. Bindings: Head, F2. Boots: Head, DeeLuxe.
- Line-up. Boards: F2. Boots: DeeLuxe.
- Surf Company. BC-Stream, Moss, R.17#Addicted, Ogasaka, Yonex, F2. Boots: DeeLuxe, G-Style. Bindings: F2.
- Bullet-Snow. Boots: DeeLuxe. Boards: R.17#Addicted, Gray, BC Stream, Ogasaka. Bindings: ACT.
- Alpina: Boots: line, Raichle (SB323), Bomber Elite and bomber Pro skiboard bindings.
- Follows. Gray, Moss, Ogasaka, BC Stream, R.17#Addicted. Boots: DeeLuxe.
- Glide: Boards: Gray, Yonex, Sigi. Bindings: Head. Boots: DeeLuxe, Head.
- Lineup: Boards: Sigi, Yonex, F2
- WSLC Boards: F2. Bindings: F2.
- For used gear, check out the Yahoo!
Japan Auctions. Japanese people always want the latest model year, which
means you can pick up previous model year items at a big discount. In particular:
- Extremeshop.ru. Boards: Hot.
- Genza, with two locations in Moscow. Boards: Donek, Prior, F2, SG, Virus, SWOARD, Nidecker, Pale, mpride, Lacroix. Bindings: Bomber, Catek, F2, Raichle. Boots: DeeLuxe, UPZ, Head, Raichle
- Virus Sports located in downtown
Seoul. Boards: F2, Prior, Donek, Moss, Ogasaka, R#17. Bindings: F2, Catek,
Bomber, R#17. Boots: DeeLuxe.
- Himalaya Sports located in Bun-Dang-gu,
Sung-Nam city. Boards: Ogasaka, Nidecker, Moss, Donek, Prior, SG, F2, Gray. Bindings:
ACT, IBEX, Catek. Boots: Head, G-style, UPZ.
Boards: Oxygen Proton, F2, Limited4You, Prior, Donek, Ogasaka. Bindings: Raichle
x-bone, S5 hard plate, Catek, emery. Boots: DeeLuxe, Head.
- Kiwi Snowboard: Boots: DeeLuxe, Head. Boards: BC Stream, Prior, Virus, Hot, Oxess. Bindings: ACT.
- Boardya.com. Boards: Prior, Donek,
Ogasaka. Boots: G-style. Bindings: Catek, Bomber.
- Edge-to-Edge in New
Zealand, in the Skotel hotel on the way to Whakapapa. Sam is the owner/carver,
and he sells and rents alpine boards. You can also hook up with his posse
- The CADS system is an elaborate Rube-Goldberg
style pulley mechanism that reduces stress on the knees. It looks like it
would probably get mangled in a heel-edge wipeout.
- The C.Ti.2 Brace by Innovation Sports
is a high-end brace that may be covered by your insurance.
Carvers sometimes get slammed from behind by skiers bombing down the hill. If you race, there is the potential for wipe-outs. If you race with tall skier poles, then you will need pads for your arm and shoulders. You might want to consider three types of armor:
- A back protector - It protects your spine from damage.
- A padded slalom jacket: It has pads for the arms, shoulders, and back.
- Padded shorts. It's good to get one with a hard tailbone protector.
A lot of people give good reviews of the body armor made by Dainese,
especially the back protectors and padded race gear. Azonic is another option.
- Body armor like spine protectors, butt pads, back pads, forearm braces,
etc are available from:
- Back protectors:
- Race jackets with integrated protection:
- Jacket from TSG
- Rock Gardn Flak Jacket: it covers the entire upper body, including spine protector and elbow/shoulder/forearm armour. The elbow/forearm section is detachable, and it's light weight.
- The Dainese Fullcoat Wave: Entire upper body, including spine protector and elbow/shoulder/forearm armour.
- The Dainese multisport jacket plus: Entire upper body, including spine protector and elbow/shoulder/forearm armour.
- Padded shorts are available from a number of sources. These also keep your butt from freezing when you sit in the snow:
- Skeletools sells their own protective shorts.
- The Bomber Short from SixSixOne
- Tucker Butt Gear sells their own line of padded shorts
- The IPS Hip pad from Pro-Tec
- CYA Shorts from RockGardn
- The Dainese Impact Short Plus (previously called the Short Protector Plus). You get a hard tailbone protector with the Plus version.
- The Red Impact Short
- The CERN site shows how to make your own padded
- A cross between Motocross armor and ski wear is manufactured by Bohn.
- Lacrosse pads provide low-profile protection. If your back knee is banging
against the cuff of your front boot, you can add a low-profile knee pad to
your back knee.
- If you like one-piece suits, consider a lightweight motocross suite like the Roadcrafter from Aerostich.
- If you are prone to shoulder dislocation, you may want to consider the EVS
shoulder Brace. The new SB03 is supposed to allow a greater range of motion.
However, it may not prevent dislocation in a major wipe out. Keeping your
arms close to your body when you fall is the best way to minimize the risk.
- See SkiHelmets.com for everything
helmet. When you are carving laid-out turns, your head will be at the perfect
height to get clipped by ski boots. Two features are important for carving:
- Helmets that protect the ears with a soft flap instead of plastic allow you to hear people encroaching on you from
- Get a helmet that provides protection for the lower back of your head.
- If you dent a helmet in a crash, you should replace it. Red and Burton advertise a helmet replacement program on their website, however other manufacturers might also be receptive to replacement.
- Ski helmets are generally made of expanded polystyrene (EPS), which breaks down over time. As a result, most manufacturers recommend replacing a helmet after 5 years.
- If your helmet isn't warm enough, you can get a balaclava to go under it.
- There are several safety standards for helmets:
- Snell establishes two standards for
helmets: S-98 for skiing and
RS-98 for recreational skiing
- The American Society for Testing Materials
(ASTM) has established standard F2040 for helmets.
- The Central European Standard
for helmets is CE EN 1077:1996 "Helmets for Alpine Skiers".
It is defined under the International Classification for Standards 13.340.20.
However, it is not as stringent as the Snell or ASTM standards.
- If you do a lot of night skiing, consider getting a pair of clear lens goggles.
It's really cold at night, and that's why the slopes are empty - it's one of the best times to go carving, especially if they groom before the night skiing shift kicks in.
- The recommended anti-fog paste is Cat Crap Anti-fog Lens Cleaner.
- After your goggles get scratched up, instead of buying new ones, just buy
replacement lenses from the manufacturer.
ProLens.com in New Hampshire has good deals.
- If you are on tight budget, you can infinitely extend the life of your gloves
with Shoe Goo. It's also good for building
up boot heel and toe pieces that are worn from walking on concrete, or for
repairing pants and liners. It's the embalming fluid for carving gear.
- Some people like the Reusch leather racing gloves sold at Reliable Racing.
- The ExtremeCarving people put a patch of P-Tex 2000 on the palm of their
gloves to reduce friction with the snow and prevent wear. Plus they have been
known to mummify the fingers with duct tape.
Mittens are warmer. You can go with the lobster-style (or trigger-finger)
style that lets your index finger articulate. You can reinforce the mitt section (covering the small fingers) with duct tape to provide protection against finger jamming.
|Kevlar adds incredible durability to gloves, even if it only covers the
palm and fingertips. The Snow Raider Snowboard Glove is popular with carvers: it's an inexpensive glove that uses high-end Schoeller Keprotec Kevlar.
It also has
a lot of built-in "rigidness" that feels very solid. The glove is designed by Steve Thornell and he sells them direct to keep the
cost down. They are lightweight and designed for warmer temperatures, so it
is best to order a larger size so that you can use a liner with them. If you need extended durability, you might want to reinforce the seams with nylon thread, however they are inexpensive enough that people buy multiple pairs each year. For a carving glove, they are probably the best value around.
- No Gomer Wrist Guards are industrial-strength wrist guards that go over
gloves. They are manufactured by Auclair
Sports and available at Reliable Racing.
- The Flexmeter glove is similar to the No Gomer but does not provide thumb protection.
- Level gloves have a Biomex
plus protection system that offers in-glove protection. They are sold at Snowtraders.
The Level Fly are highly recommended.
- Seirus Innovation makes Da Bone gloves with a wrist guard, as well as the
Jam Master wrist guards that go over gloves.
- Dakine makes low-profile wrist guards that can go under gloves.
- The museum of defunct ideas now includes Boardies,
small handheld shields that can be used if a rider tips over. Instead, it's
best to keep your hands out of the snow entirely.
- Steep and Cheap has something new each day that is ultra-discounted.
- If there is a specific sock that you want, and it's not at your local REI, check out The Sock Company
- It's nice to have Gore-Tex pants. The high binding angles of carving force
you to lie on your side in the snow when you are resting at the side of the
run. It's one of the few things that genuinely sucks about carving.
- See the Gore-Tex care
- Use the smallest leash possible so that you don't drag it under you when
you skim the snow with your knee. Hard boot bindings often come with leashes
around 4-6" long for attaching a binding to a boot buckle.
- Get a CamelBak with insulation that is designed for winter sports. You should
take a drink every time you are on the lift to prevent dehydration. To keep
the water from freezing in the tube, raise the tube and pinch the mouthpiece
open to get the water to flow back into the bladder.
- For de-smelling gear, you can use Febreeze, "NO B.O.", or Boot
Juice. If you want to avoid the heavy perfume smell of Febreeze, an effective
alternative used by many theater companies on costumes is an 8-to-1 mixture
of water to vodka in a spray bottle. The alcohol kills odor-causing bacteria,
and also clings to the unpleasant odors and pulls the scent with it as it
evaporates. Vodka is the only alcohol that works well because it's colorless,
and nearly odorless.
- A rooftop carrier has two advantages: extra weather-proof storage, and the
fact that people can't see what's inside.
- Even if you have Gore-Tex apparel, it's important to apply a waterproofing about once per year using a product like Nikwax.
Board Bags / luggage:
On a long drive up to the mountains, if you use a roof rack, put your boards
in board bags, then put them on the roof rack. That way your bases won't get
pelted by crud. Use Scotchguard on the board bags. The cheap board bag sold
on Bomber is great for this purpose. It has no zippers: it's a tube, and you
slide the board in from the top. The Bomber board bags don't accommodate some
wider all-mountain boards. Wipe down your boards before you put them in the
board bag, and dry out the board bag after use, since water tends to stay in
board bags for a long time.
One option is to use an old double ski bag.
Back Packs for carrying boots and gear are available from MEC and Transpack
The SporTube is a hard shell
case with wheels. For '06, SporTube sells only one large size, for both skis and snowboards: The SporTube snowboard / series 3. It adjusts from 107 cm to 183cm in length, and is 14 1/2" wide by 7 7/8" deep. The SporTube can hold multiple snowboards and/or possibly several pairs of snowboard boots. They are sold cheap here. Older versions of the SporTube for skis came in the two versions: series
1 or series 2. Series 2 was twice as deep, and even though it was designed for skis, it was the better choice for snowboards. However, the older versions of the SporTube were not always wide enough for powder boards.
See the SnowShack and the BackcountryStore for a
good selection of board bags
Alpine gear is not expensive. You can pick up perfectly fine
gear on the cheap from eBay. If you are willing to buy from eBay Germany, you
have 5x the selection.
- For used gear, see the classified sections of the sites listed in the Resources
- eBay has a selection of
carving items on sale at any given moment. Use search terms like hard* carv*
snowboard. See the hardbooter price almanac for a history of hardboot gear sold on eBay, as well as links to eBay searches .
- Used gear is at least 30% off list. From the Bomber classifieds, a never-used
late model board (never mounted, still in shrink-wrap) will go for $250-$350
and a slightly used later model board will go for $200 - $250. Used gear is
about 25% cheaper at the end of the season.
- For boots and boards, new-gear prices don't fluctuate greatly as a function of size. But when buying used, the prices for smaller gear are radically less expensive: The prices for used boards seem to vary almost by the inch, and the prices for boots falls off exponentially for sizes below mondo point 26. If you are looking for smaller gear, definitely buy used. eBay is great for smaller-size people looking for carving gear.
- Correspondingly, if you are debating between buying boards of two different lengths, buy the longer one - it will have higher resale value.
- There is a longstanding sentiment in the carving community that translucent
plastic is highly prone to breakage, a result of bad experiences with translucent
plastic products from Burton and Head. As a result, translucent plastic gear
has a lower resale value.
- Since carving gear is rare, people selling gear will often be looking to
trade it for other carving gear.
- Chunks of wax can be used as currency when bartering for small items.
- You can also go for a trade. When trading gear on the forum, you can post a WTT (wanted to trade) offer. When two riders agree to the trade, the person who posted the WTT offer will first send the gear to the 2nd person, who inspects the gear and verifies that it's not broken. Then the second person sends the traded goods in response. For trades, it's critical to be honest in the condition of the gear.
Make sure you ask the right questions when buying used gear:
|What is the size of the boots in mondo point? Regular US size is useless.
Measure your foot and compare to the mondo point size. The size is stamped
on the outside of the inner liner. If the seller gives a range, like 25-27.5, that is only the range of sizes allowed by the plastic shell - the liner is what determines the side of the boots.
||Does it have a Velcro strap at the top that goes around the front and
back of the shell? Straps that only go around the liner don't count. If
not, does it require a booster strap for better response?
|How many buckles does the boot have? You generally want at least 4 buckles
for good adjustability.
||If it has a heat moldable liner, how many times has the liner been heat
molded? Thermoflex liners can be molded up to 6 times. Raichle boots can
come with four types of liners: regular, Thermofit, CPD Thermoflex, and
|Can they accept step-in (Intec or F.A.S.T.) heels? Is drilling
required for the Intec cable? If a boot has a smooth transition from the
shell to the heel with no seam, it's not Intec/F.A.S.T. compatible.
||What type of lean/flex mechanism do they have? Are extra
|How well do they mate with the intended bindings?
||How chewed up are the soles (heel and toe pieces)?
|Has the liner been heavily modified?
||Does it need new heel/toe pieces?
|Does it need a new liner?
||Do the boots come with race heels or tongues, or extra tongues
of different stiffnesses?
|How many riding days are on the boots? > 6 days means
the liners are packed out.
||Does it have a generally wide or generally narrow volume?
|How warm is the liner?
||Does the cant adjuster still work?
|Does the liner have a Velcro strap?
||Have any part of the boots been dremelled?
|Has the shell been punched out?
||Do the buckles have micro-adjust capability?
|For OS2 bindings: The first model year ('06) include discs that accommodate both the 3D and 4x4 patterns. Starting with the second model year, the discs only support one or the other. You want the 2006 model year.
||Is the cant/lift adjusted by adding shims under the toe/heel
blocks, and if so, are there enough of them?
|Do they include disks that work with the 3D and 4x4 pattern?
||Do they need modifications to work with certain brands of
|Do the bails have springs to keep them up?
||Do they come with lift/cant wedges, and what are the angles?
For Burton bindings, make sure you get the wedge for the rear foot, and
make sure the wedge has both 3D and 4x4 metal center pieces.
|How well do they mate with the intended boots?
||Is a gasket/bumper set included? Are extra bumpers included?
Burton race plates included pads of various stiffnesses (red, gray, and
|Has any part of the bindings been dremelled?
||If they are plastic, how soft are they, and have they warped?
|Can they be upgraded to step-in?
||Do they have an integrator lift/cant adjustment?
|If they are step-in, do they come with the replacement heels?
||How much built-in lift do they have?
|Some bindings, like F2, come in two sizes - small and large.
Also, Cateks come in either short plate or long plate.
||How is the cant/lift adjusted?
|Were the wire bails previously bent to accommodate a certain
brand of boots, and do the wire bails need to be replaced?
||Do they come with all the necessary hardware (bolts, etc)?
Do the bolts need to be replaced?
Whereas boots and bindings are usually a great deal when bought used, you have to be a little careful when buying a board. That is because an older used board may have lost all its camber and snap, and there is really no way to know until you test it out. If possible, see if you can arrange to demo a used board, and compare it head-to-head with one of your existing boards that has a decent amount of camber. You may want to avoid boards that tend to lose their camber quickly, like Nidecker and Rossi boards.
|If it's a really old board: Does it have older 5 or 6 hole
insert patterns, or no inserts at all? Is it an asym?
||Is the base perfectly true as measured with a true bar?
Is it base-high or edge-high?
|Have bindings ever been mounted on the board?
||What edge bevels (side and base) are on the board?
|Is the base dry, or does it look oxidized?
||Is the board still in shrink-warp?
|How many days has it been used?
||How much of the original camber does it still have?
|What does it need as far as tuning / base repair / edge
repair? Does any part of the edge need a delam repair?
||Does the topsheet have gouges/dimples from the binding hardware?
|What is the sidecut radius? eBay auctions almost never have
it, but it's just as important as the length.
||Does the board need a base grind? When was it last ground?
How many times has it been ground? What is the current grind pattern?
|What are the conditions of the inserts? Can screws be easily
screwed into all the inserts, or do some inserts need "cleaning up"
with a tap? Do any of them need to be replaced?
||What does the largest base gouge, edge gouge, and topsheet
gouge look like?
|Does the base have major base suck?
||Is a base grind or tune included in the price?
Some additional guidelines for buying/selling used stuff:
- When posting stuff for sale on forums, it's usually a good idea to specify $USD or $C, so there is no confusion.
- When selling stuff, always specify the method by which the buyer should contact you: e-mail, via phone, or via a forum reply.
- For boots, always ask for the mondo point size. When sellers post only the US size, that size tends to be *way* off, because they are only guessing.
- If the model year of the item is mentioned in a for-sale ad, it corresponds
to spring of that year. So a '01 board is from the 00/01 season. If the model
year is not mentioned, assume the gear is at least two years old.
- Prices listed usually do not include shipping.
- It's ideal if you can try out a friend's board before you buy the same model. Be aware that the buddy by-laws are in force: If you demo a board and you break it, you buy it, unless the damage is covered by warranty.
- Burton bindings often include a cant wedge. You have to make sure that both the center disks of the binding and the cant wedges have compatible hole patterns: It does not make sense to buy Burton race plates with 3D center disks and a wedge that only comes with a 4x4 center piece.
- If you sell a board and provide photos, make sure you take the picture straight-on
to the board, so that it doesn't look like an asym, and also make sure the entire tip and tail is in the shot, so people can get a really good look at the entire shape.
- The best way to buy or sell carving gear is through eBay: it provides benefits
for both buyer and seller:
- Benefits for the seller: There are a lot of stupid people who know nothing
about carving and will pay too much for the gear. It is not uncommon to see high winning bids for gear that lacks vital accessories and/or is not well described in the auction. If selling gear, put
it up on eBay and then announce it on the Bomber classifieds.
- Benefits for the buyer: Sellers who go to the trouble of putting gear
up on eBay with a picture, and who also have a good feedback rating, are more serious
than sellers who put gear up on a classified forum without a picture
or feedback track record. On eBay, sellers are more accountable.
- If you agree to buy something via the Bomber classifieds:
- Immediately add a post indicating that the item is now "sold."
- Always get the phone # of the seller and talk to the seller directly
to confirm the purchase.
- PayPal is the way to go. When using PayPal, send the money from a credit card instead of a bank account, because you can do a chargeback through your credit card if you don't receive the goods and if PayPal does not provide you with a refund.
- The cost for insurance within the US varies:
||Free for the first $100, $.35 per $100 of additional coverage.
|Free for the first $100, $.40 per $100 of additional coverage.
||$2.20 for the first $100, $1 per $100 of additional coverage.
Cheap new gear
There are several places where you may luck out and find carving gear cheap:
- At the pre-season snow expos held in major metropolitan areas. Retailers
will be getting rid of alpine gear that they don't know how to sell. One list
of snow expos is listed at OnTheSnow.
- Ski swap meets in November: people will be selling alpine gear that they don't know how to
- VIP/sample sales: manufacturers sometimes offer one-day pre-season sales
of new gear that was used in sales pitches to dealers over the summer. Burton
used to have a VIP sale once a year in various locations in the US. But the gear is
not always heavily discounted, to avoid pissing off the retailers.
In the US, The least expensive way to ship a board is via the US Post Office
- Shipping within the US: You can use regular mail rates, as long as the Length + Girth is less than 108". See the USPS guidelines for domestic shipping. Girth is the outer
cross-sectional distance around the waist. (2×Width + 2×Depth).
Priority mail will be a few cents more expensive than parcel post, and a bit
faster. One of the standard board box sizes is 71" x 3" x 13.5",
which comes out to Length + Girth = 104". This box can usually fit up to
a 173 cm race board and still allow for an inch of padding at the tip and tail.
If the Length + Girth is more than 108" and less than 130", the only
USPS option is the slower parcel post, and it's going to be very expensive,
so in this case you probably want to use UPS or FedEx.
- Shipping from the US to Canada using the post office: The Length + Girth must be < 108"
- Shipping from the US to Europe using the post office: The Length + Girth must be < 108", plus no one dimension can be longer than 60". See the USPS guidelines for International shipping.
Use the International Tools feature of the FedEx website (registration required) to determine the Tariff duties and taxes that apply to goods shipped from one country to another. This tool uses the international harmonized tariff codes to look up the duties on imported items. In order to find the codes for snowboards, you generally have to search through the sub-categories under the skis category, since snowboarding is technically considered a form of skiing. For snowboards imported into Canada, the code is 9506.11.9020.
See the USA-trade publication, which provides pointers to the import rules for various countries. Note that sometimes the value-added-tax (VAT) applies to the shipping cost.
Importing gear into Canada from abroad
If you buy goods from abroad to be shipped into Canada, you have to pay tax,
duty, and fees in addition to the shipping & handling. You can avoid the
fees by having the goods delivered to a private mail box just across the border.
Don't insure the item, since duties may get slapped on the insured amount. You can send an item as a gift, as long as the declared value is less than $60CD (around $40US), but in this case you should include a birthday card with the shipment to convince the customs people.
Tax: You pay tax ranging from 7% to 17.7%, depending on where you live
in Canada. Some provinces will automatically charge you both GST and PST, but some provinces only charge you GST, in which case you are expected to submit the PST to your local government.
Duty: For products originally manufactured in the US, there is
no tariff. In this case, make sure the shipper includes a NAFTA Certificate
or Origin form (OMB No. 1651-0098)
so you don't pay duty. For products originally manufactured in Europe, the duties
are as follows:
||Canada Tariff classification
|Men's snowboard boots
|Men's downhill ski-boots
Note that hard-shell boots labeled "snowboard boots" have an 18.5%
tariff, whereas hard-shell boots labeled as "ski-boots" have no tariff.
Fees when importing from the US:
- The US Post Office charges $5 for processing. They don't take the goods
through customs. If a customs officer wants more info about a purchase, they
will call you up directly. Any duties are assessed by Canada Post, and they will charge you when they deliver the package.
- Other carriers charge various brokerage fees up to $30, because they will
shepherd the goods through customs for you. The UPS brokerage fees are very
high, and you should only use UPS for large items that the USPS can't handle. However, you can avoid brokerage fees entirely by brokering the shipment yourself. To go this route, you need to follow a few steps:
- Tell the shipper to write "Receiver Will Act As Own Broker" on the shipping paperwork.
- Call 1-800-PICK-UPS and get directions for when and where you need to go to pick up the item.
- Typically, you show up at the customs office at the airport, fill out paperwork, get the paperwork approved, then go to a warehouse, present the paperwork, and pick up the shipment. If you live close to the airport, this can be the way to go.
Personal Baggage: If you are a Canadian citizen traveling abroad for
at least 7 days and you meet certain restrictions,
you can bring back up to C$750 of imported items without paying duty. Value
of up to C$300 beyond the C$750 exemption is assessed a flat duty of 7%. For
value more than C$300 beyond the C$750 exemption, the regular tariff classification
duties apply. Family members cannot pool their C$750 exemptions or C$300
flat duty allotments. The C$750 exemption also applies to items that you mail
back to Canada, but the C$300 flat duty allotment does not.
Importing gear into the US from abroad
If you buy goods from abroad to be shipped into the US, you have to pay duty
and fees in addition to shipping & handling. Some Canadian retailers ship
the goods from "satellite offices" just across the border to avoid
the extra charges. Don't insure the item, since duties may get slapped on the
Duty: For products originally manufactured in the US, there is
no tariff. In this case, make sure the shipper includes a NAFTA Certificate
or Origin form (OMB No. 1651-0098)
so you don't pay duty. For goods shipped into the US, no tariff applies if the
value is less than $200. For products originally manufactured in Europe, the
duties are as follows:
||US Tariff classification
|Ski-boots or hard-shell snowboard boots
|Other ski bindings
Fees: The US Post Office charges $5 for processing. Other carriers charge
various brokerage fees up to $30.
Personal Baggage from abroad: If you are a US citizen traveling abroad
and meet certain restrictions, you can bring
back up to $800 of imported items that are part of your accompanied baggage
without paying duty. Value of up to $1000 beyond the $800 exemption is assessed
a flat duty of 3%. For value more than $1000 beyond the $800 exemption, the
regular tariff classification duties apply. Family members can pool their $800
exemptions and $1000 flat duty allotments. The exemptions do not apply for items
that you mail back to the US.
When shipping gear from Canada to the US, see the Canada Post regulations.
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