So the last post I did, Snowboards 2015, offered some thoughts on the boards I rode day one at the 2014 Stratton demos. It was a cold, dry day with ice and groomer snow across the board- perfect conditions for east coast demoing. The weather changed a bit on the second and third days dumping around 10+ inches fresh snow that carried on into the next day with another 3+ inches. All boards were ridden centered stance.
Jones Mountains Twin 2015 and Mountain Twin Limited 2015
Jones Mountain Twin 156: Jones makes solid, all-mountain and freeride snowboards and the Mountain Twin is their most freestyle-friendly board. It has a directional twin shape, camber underfoot and rocker to the nose and tail. It also has blunt tips and mellow magnetraction edges. The Mountain Twin felt damp with a medium-stiff flex and excelled at laying down long, powerful turns in the untracked snow. Pow switch turns were a breeze and it had a good amount pop out of side hits as you would expect from the camber. The rocker in the nose is plenty enough to float easily through pow. Any all-mountain rider will appreciate this board as a bomber style, twin shaped board with really good edge hold.
Jones Flagship 2015
Jones Flagship 161: This is Jones’ meat and potatoes model as the name indicates. A stiff, directional board with rockered nose, camber and a slight taper in the tail. Cut this beast in half and you get the Solution Splitboard– a stealthy, backcountry ripper. I took the Flagship out after a lot of the day’s pow had gotten chewed up and I was really impressed by how well it obliterated the chop- a true point-and-go snowboard. I have been riding the Solution for a few years now so I was familiar with the shape and profile of the Flagship. This board is very light and the massive straight airs I caught off of it made me blush a little. It was also nimble in the trees and pretty quick edge to edge but I found I needed to work the back part of the side-cut to get the most out of each turn. It is obviously not a playful board on the groomers but if you enjoy the feeling of being totally indestructible and locked in tight while going 70+ mph then this is your ride. Also, for 2015 the Jones Flagship has full wood ash top sheet that makes it light, snappy and gives it a lot of pop.
Gnu Eco-Impossible 2015
Gnu Eco-Impossible 160: All the tent had was a 160 so I took it. The Gnu Eco-Impossible incorporates a ton of high-end tech, materials and design. First off, it has the A.S.S. tech: deeper heel side cut, softer heel side core, shorter heel side effective edge, more aggressive heel side magnetraction, and asymmetrical tips. Basically, this gives you better board control by letting you have the same leverage over heel side turns as you do your toe side. Additionally, the Eco-Impossible is made with liquid magnesium fiber interwoven with a Texalium wrap (high-end carbon fiber). Here’s what I felt. The board is light as a feather and has really fast base. It is a mid-flex snowboard and easy to butter but really stable blasting through chop. I felt I could session this board in the park and then let it rip down some icy chutes with no worries. Carving felt buttery and consistent. Float through pow was effortless and it was damp enough to absorb all manner of crud. I really have nothing negative to say about this stick. It’s a high-end quiver of one snowboard for the guy who wants the best tech/materials and has $699 to throw down.
Salomon Man’s Board 2015
Salomon Man’s Board 159: The Man’s Board is another all-mountain board with a mid-stiff directional flex, camber between the feet and rocker through the tip and tail. The way Salomon designed the profile on this board made it feel softer than the 7 flex rating they give it. It has a bamboo construction (I love bamboo boards) and basalt stringers. The camber also works in conjunction with what Salomon calls its quadratic sidecut that consists of several straight point-to-point edge sections allowing the board to turn very responsively and give it better edge hold.
The blunt tips crushed it in pow and chop and the board had so much pop I spent half my time on it in the air. Turning was buttery smooth forward and switch. The board is super lively yet damp at the same time. I kept thinking, “damn this rides really nice.” All I could get was the 159 but I would definitely like to pick up a 156 for the quiver. Bode Merrill rides and helped design this board, and if you have seen what he is capable of you will easily recognize that this could make an awesome deck for next level all-mountain freestyle shredding. It is for the person who is in love with big, fast, technical all-mountain riding. Plus you get a “bodacious warrior babe with pet Tiger laser beam eyes” graphics to pump your stoke.
Arbor Draft 2015 (L) and Arbor Whiskey 2015 (R)
Arbor Whiskey 155: This is an all-mountain board that shares the same “System” profile as the Coda and Element- that is, parabolic rocker from tip to tail with grip-tech contact point at the toe and heel sections of the board. The tips are moderately blunted with a full wood top sheet that looks outstanding with the old school western style graphics.
The System boards in Arbor’s line use a parabolic rocker that gradually lowers the outside contact points closer to the snow so you get more of the effective edge engaged as you turn. The Whiskey felt solid and damp underfoot but not as snappy and poppy as the Coda. It did feel more akin to the Element but a bit more rigid torsionally. It has a mid flex through the middle but seemed to get softer at ends. I’m not sure if that was the flex of the board or the rocker but it was fairly easy to press and butter. I demoed this board last year at SIA and I think it may feel just a bit looser than the 2014 Whiskey. Regardless, it is a solid all-mountain freestyle price point board for the person looking for best Arbor has to offer at very affordable price. It holds together great at speed and handles hidden rocks, stumps and death roots in the trees with ease (I personally tested it out on all three). Plus, you can’t beat their new 3 year warranty. The Whiskey is a no-brainer board for the passionate shredder.
That wraps up the 2015 snowboards that I rode at the Stratton demos. Next post will be the bindings: the Gnu Psyche, Salomon Balance, Flux DS and Flux RL. Stay tuned.