[All photos: Matt Georges]
Possibly the best product test ever hit the Zillertal last week, with legends like Jamie Lynn, Wolle Nyvelt, Hana Beaman and Markus Keller trading faceshots and trying out Vans' new 15-16 boot range.
Vans Snow were so hyped at being able to re-introduce their boot range after a one-year enforced hiatus that they dragged a bunch of their legendary riders plus a few lucky hacks, shop dudes and product developers to Mayrhofen for two days of epic pow riding, product testing and to discover just how much their boot program means to them.
It was just when we were finishing our 14-15 Product Guide that the bomb dropped - Vans would not be producing snowboard boots for this winter. As they do, a bunch of rumours circulated as to what this meant, but they laid it straight: they were as committed to snowboarding as ever, it was just that the factory that made their boots had gone bankrupt at short notice leaving them with no time to source a new one that they had the confidence in to produce to the high standard they demanded and deliver on time. Vans made the tough, but smart, decision to step back for a year.
Now, for 15-16, they're back and wanted drop in again in the best possible way – by getting their riders, shops and a bunch of media in the new gear... and ride a shit tonne of pow. Listening to Juss Apivala, Global Category Manager, liken their absence to a snowboard injury summed up their desire to come back stronger perfectly, and as soon as we'd snagged a set of boots it was clear they'd made good on their claim. They've also bolstered their team by the addition of some US slayers that I'm not sure if I can mention here, but they're frickin sick riders and super cool dudes to boot.
I was in a pair of the Infuse, because I didn't know which ones I should test and asked Markus Keller. He can do 4m high air-to-fakies on a 183 swallowtail, so when he said the Infuse is what he and Arthur Longo ride I was sold. It's a mid-flex boot with the option to customise the stiffness, and I found it had totally eliminated heel lift thanks to an internal Boa complementing the regular laces. They looked badass too.
So we headed up, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the boots were good to go straight out the box – something that doesn't happen often. And then we hooked up with Mayrhofen legend and long-time Vans rider Wolle Nyvelt who showed us the way to some of the resort's epic powder fields. High fives rained, and I even got a chance to rip pow with the legend that is Jamie Lynn. And to follow it up? More pow, and a shot at riding Wolle's hand-crafted works of art that are his Äsmo no-boards.
In short, Vans are back in the boot game with a bang. Thanks for the goodtimes to everyone who was involved, and keep your eyes out when Vans's new line drops in fall 2015.