Temperatures reached 60 degrees in New York City last weekend, not exactly what you expect in the middle of December and not exactly the kind of weather that gets you thinking about hitting the slopes. But in other parts of North America, winter, as the Game Of Thrones folks say, is coming. This is supposed to be an El Niño year, which means that the western U.S. can expect to get dumped on. More than 12 feet of snow has already fallen at Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada.
The holidays are also when many people hit the slopes for the first time of the season. Whether you’re going to Colorado, Lake Tahoe, or Vermont (actually, you might want to hold off on the east coast trips until more snow accumulates), we’ve got the gear to help you have an awesome time and ride like a pro.
Here is the best snowboard gear of the year.
PLAYBOY X BURTON PROCESSS SNOWBOARD
Everyone rides a little bit better when they know a pretty woman is watching. With this collaboration board between Playboy and Burton that is always the case. The topsheet graphic features a classic Playboy Playmate overlaid with designs from renowned tattoo artist Chris Nunez. The board itself offers plenty of pop and is the deck of choice for Olympic gold medalist Mark McMorris.
UNION ATLAS BINDINGS
Not too stiff, not too soft, these bindings are built to keep you securely affixed to your board during long days on the mountain. The highback is bored out to save weight and the area near the toe is angled to keep the knee and ankle in proper alignment so that you ride in comfort.
THIRTYTWO ULTRALIGHT 2 BOOTS
Lacing up the Ultralight 2s feels more like you’re putting on a hightop sneaker than a snowboard boot. They are that light. But the savings in weight do not equate to a sacrifice in performance. ThirtyTwo’s AirFrame exoskeleton provides all the support you need while also allowing you to tweak out your tricks.
SWEET PROTECTION IGNITER MIPS HELMET
True to its name, this helmet offers sweet protection. The Igniter utilizes MIPS technology which allows the helmet to rotate slightly in order to better absorb the force from oblique angles, which is how most impacts occur. It also fits incredibly and has a low profile design to keep it from looking too beefy.
SPY DOOM GOOGLES
The Doom goggles have a great shape that offers tons of peripheral vision so you can keep an eye out for out-of-control gapers. They feature Spy’s Lock Steady system which makes swapping out lenses ridiculously easy, even if you’ve got gloves on.
BURTON AK 2L LZ DOWN JACKET
Some people are huge proponents of layering on the slopes, a down jacket for warmth and a shell to keep snow out. But if you can get one coat that does both jobs excellently, why not go for that? That’s what the AK LZ down jacket does. The 800-fill goose inner layer is wrapped in a completely waterproof Gore-Tex layer. And there is plenty of venting options for those rare days when it isn’t below zero.
AIRBLASTER NINJA FACE
As Airblaster proclaims, this is the “base layer for your face layer.” The balaclava will keep your cheeks and nose from freezing over on those brutally cold days. Despite its warmth, it is thin enough that it fits easily under a helmet. Also, it’s called a Ninja Face, and it’s hard not to appreciate that.
UNDER ARMOUR NIMBUS SHELL BIB
Under Armour first came to fame for its base layers that performed in cold weather conditions. Now the “Protect This House” brand is taking its technical know-how to the world of snowboarding. Utilizing Gore-Tex and UA’s Storm Technology that repels water but maintains breathability, these bibs are ideal for days carving turns through deep powder and for hiking through the mountains to find more of it.
DAKINE FILLMORE TRIGGER MITT
The warmth of a mitten meets the dexterity of a glove. The Fillmore has a cool lobster claw design and is packed with synthetic insulation so that your hands don’t get numb on those long chairlift rides.
JONES HIGHER BACKPACK
If there’s anyone who knows what a backpack does—and doesn't—need to perform in the backcountry, it’s snowboarder Jeremy Jones. His snowboard mountaineering exploits have been chronicled in a trilogy of epic films (Deeper, Further, and Higher) and he incorporated the knowledge gained on those adventures into this pack, which has room for extra layers and camera gear as well as designated pockets for avalanche safety tools and a front panel that can expand to hold a helmet.
SUPERFEET REDHOT INSOLES
It may be the cheapest item on this list, but these insoles can be a lifesaver because nothing ends a snowboarding trip faster than painful feet. They have a deep heel cup that absorbs impact from bumps and jumps and are treated with a special material to trap warmth inside.
RELATED: The Burton X Playboy Collaboration Is Here, and We Threw a Party (With Playmates) to Celebrate