Getting geared up for 2007/2008 snowboarding

It's the end of October and the 2007/2008 snowboarding and skiing season is right around the corner!  I'm very excited for this year and to prepare, I've decided to get some new outer clothes before it starts to snow and the prices shoot up. I also had a look at some of the new snowboard offerings from Burton, amongst others, who is pushing the boundaries of rational purchasing with their new $1000 Vapor model.  I'm not in the market for a new board this year but I thought I'd share some of my findings for stylish jackets and pants for both men and women.

After perusing the selection at REI and other major sporting goods stores I settled on the new Ride Cell 5 Ashland Jacket in gray and the Ride Cell 5 Nellis Cargo Pants in black.  I immediately loved both.  They are both fairly standard:  Made of PVC, windproof/waterproof shells with a removable insulation layer.  The jacket features a waistband to stop snow from getting in when you inevitably fall and the pants have zipper-vents on the inside of the legs for when you're getting hot.  I have yet to try these out but am very excited nonetheless.

My female partner is very fashion conscious and is looking to get started snowboarding this year.  We've looked through several brands of jackets to find something that would suit her tastes.  One manufacturer that really stuck out at me was Betty Rides.  This company picks very cute designs that seem fairly fitted for snowboarding gear.  I was impressed at how every piece was attractive and while being fairly conservative relative to the insane world of snowboarding style still looked modern and chic.

Other women's finds were the Columbia Titanium modern bliss jacket and of course Burton's line of women's wear.  I was less impressed with Spyder this year as they still seem to be going for the all-sport look and while I'm sure they make a great product, I can rarely justify the price tag on their jackets which often times are 300-600 dollars.

As for snowboards, I really like the Ride Concept UL which would seem to fit a fast, technical free-riding style well.  I hope to demo that board this season.  I may be biased because I absolutely love Ride snowboards but it does look like a very nice board regardless.  As for Burton, I'm very interested in the Tadashi Fuse for park riding.  I love the art on it and it looks like it would have a very nice pop and soft landing.  I currently have a Retro Twin for park riding and the one thing that's great but difficult sometimes is it's ability to twist.  The twistability of a board let's you land on pipes and other things at odd angles, hitting flat to the ground to keep control but is far less forgiving than a more rigid board for beginner mistakes and balance on a nose or tail press.

Coming back around to the Burton Vapor, I can't imagine actually paying $1000 for a deck alone.  I'm sure it's got fantastic tech and all, but does it really ride $400 better than last year's T6?  I guess only time will tell.  As for right now, I'm sticking with my 2005 Ride No 4.  That board performed outstandingly last year at Whistler/Blackcomb and I can't imagine a better big-mountain board for me at the moment.

Of course there are so many manufacturers of snowboards, clothes and the like.  Please comment on gear you think is exceptional and I will continue to review products as I get a chance to try them.