There’s a lot of new stuff for women out there next year. There are more quality boards, additional entry-level boards, and improvements in technical apparel. We still have a long way to go, but it’s a great start. Maybe if we have the same equipment advantages as men, and most importantly- if we have access to the equipment, women’s snowboarding will advance. The catch is that it takes commitment on the part of manufacturers, retailers, and consumers to make it happen.
It’s a tough proposition as shop owners to bring in the new stuff because in our experience the girls in our area don’t typically spend a lot on new gear. But if there are choices when girls enter a shop, and there are people there to educate them about why one board might be better for them than another, that can go a long way over the long term.
Girls’ who ride and work in shops can help too. It can be a bit intimidating to be talking to dudes who have been riding forever to try to pick out gear when you are fairly new to snowboarding. If there’s a good shop in your area, talk to them about what you are looking for. Let them help, and keep an open mind about what you are looking at. Some of the better gear isn’t quite as cutesy.
The industry is still very focused on men as far as gear, films, bloggers, and marketing in general. We need to be selling fun instead of pink. We need to focus on the experience because that’s what it’s all about…not the gear, not looking cute, it’s about the riding, having fun, being with friends, and pushing yourself. Don’t get me wrong…we want you to look good and feel good about yourself, and we want you on gear that can take you anywhere you want to go. Confidence is huge in snowboarding progression. You have to feel good enough about yourself that it’s ok if you look silly sometimes. And you have to be confident enough in your riding to take some chances and push the limits of your comfort zone a little each time you go out.
Here’s some hope for the future from our trip to the 2016/2017 gear preview last week.
Mervin Manufacturing has made some changes…ROXY snowboarding got a bit of a downgrade, but Gnu Girls has picked up the slack. They have covered the spectrum of riders from park riders, to hard charging freeriders, and everything in between. Their boards are always a lot of fun to ride.
Arbor Snowboards has added a few new women’s snowboards to their lineup, and this is really exciting because Arbor is one of the only brands who gives women the same earthy look that their men’s line has been built on. There is a new entry-level board called the Ethos that is the women’s answer to the men’s Foundation, a quality entry-level board. There is also a new board called the Clovis that they introduced in both the men’s and women’s lines at the same time. It’s a beautiful wood “power board” for all mountain and backcountry riding. It’s a camber board which is another trend we are noticing…more camber options for women. And there is now a women’s splitboard version of the Swoon. The solid is an aggressive directional twin board that will be well suited to side and backcountry adventures.
NOW Snowboarding FINALLY introduced a women’s binding last year, the Vetta. It was a blast to ride. I have been riding NOW bindings since their introduction 4 years ago, but for the first two years, I rode bindings that didn’t fit properly (men’s mediums were too big for my boots). When they introduced a small binding option, I grabbed a pair of those and they are much better at providing a true experience of NOW’s skate tech. With the introduction of the Vetta last year, it was clear that they finally want to get women riding their bindings. The straps fit a little better than the small IPOs I have, the highback is designed for women and they are a little softer. Next season they are adding another women’s binding, the Conda. This is truly a nod to women who charge hard. It is a more aggressive binding designed for women whose riding deserves respect.
Jones Snowboards is introducing the Air (insert heart emoticon here) which is the women’s answer to the men’s Aviator, a camber board made for tackling the whole mountain. It’s encouraging that there was enough interest to develop a women’s version. This is another nod to women on camber proving that we don’t all want rocker noodles.
On the outerwear side of things there is finally an increase in quality technical apparel for women. Until now it has been hard to find women’s outerwear with breathability ratings of 15K and up…women often being relegated to 8K/8K. I’m sure it’s largely price driven, but it’s also another indication that the industry doesn’t anticipate women going where men go. Even for the few companies that provide that level of quality for women it has been hard to find the products in actual stores.
INi Cooperative is introducing a women’s clothing line for next year, which is also encouraging. They are a progressive and fairly young company doing a lot of things right. Their items are excellent quality, feature rich, and as environmentally friendly as possible.
photo from iNi Cooperative
Hopefully with the introduction of more quality options for women it will help to grow and perpetuate our segment of the industry. It will likely take more to see these products in stores, but no doubt some retailers can, and will, take the leap.
I get so happy when I see girls riding…really riding at the ski areas. And it is always encouraging watching girls progress in lessons, and as they are just getting going. I remember after one of countless wipeouts when I started riding, sitting on the side of a trail stuck in a very flat area and feeling completely defeated. A kid riding by me could obviously see my frustration, and said, “It will get better. I promise.” He was right. It certainly got better for me, and my riding. And I’m optimistic that it is getting better for the women’s snowboarding industry as a whole.
Tags: womens snowboards, womens snowboard, jones snowboard, arbor swoon, arbor snowboards, gnu girls snowboards, now bindings, women specific snowboards, women specific snowboard gear, womens snowboarding