[Mikkel Bang goes back to the future.]
As you flip the calendar over to 2017, Burton Snowboards will be able to say that they’ve been making snowboarding hardware for 40 years. Think about that: it's pretty much longer than most people reading this have been alive for. Everything started four decades ago in 1977, when a young East Coast kid named Jake Burton Carpenter saw a Snurfer, decided he could improve upon it and set about hand-making his own ‘snow surfers’ in his garage that he would try to sell to an initially sceptical public and an even more sceptical collection of ski resorts.
To simply say he succeeded wouldn’t do the story justice – convincing resorts to allow snowboarding, coping with supply and demand, feuds with other pioneers and a whole bunch of legal wranglings are part of a tapestry of the brand (and snowboarding itself) that would require a book to do justice to – but succeed he did and in the process he helped shape the sport and the lifestyle that has become to be known as snowboarding.
But as much as 2017 is about looking backwards and celebrating the brand’s heritage, Burton is even more focussed on taking everything that they have learned over the double-double decade since Jake carved out that first Backhill, and using it to continue moving forwards with the development of some impressive, innovative hard- and softgoods technologies.
Burton's approach this season can be summed up into three areas of focus: continuing to innovate hardware, committing more deeply to sustainability, and focussing more intently on female riders than ever before.
We dove in close up for a look at how these impact a selection of Burton's key models for 2017. Cheers, and here's to another 40...
Burton Family Tree Branch Manager - €600.00
If we're talking about marrying shape and technological innovation with a more sustainable approach to producing snowboards, you need look no further than the Family Tree line, and the Branch Manager is an excellent example. Developed with Japanese rider Beru, it is a quick-turning, agile, powsnowboard for riders who want to make the most our of blower conditions.
This new, pointy shape is engineered to have a super short running length for quick, tight turns in trees, but with a long nose and tail to give you next-level float. Internally it features the snap of carbon-reinforced Squeezebox High profiling and a directional camber shape for ultimate powder power. From an environmental standpoint, all Burton's boards these days have FSC-certified wood cores, but the Family Tree line decks use a bio-based Super Sap epoxy-resin and have recycled sintered bases. Plus, all boards are packaged in fully compostable and recyclable Kraft paper bags.
If you love charging pow and want to respect where you play, the Branch Manager is definitely one to take a closer look at.
BURTON WMNS ESCAPADE EST BINDINGS - €320.00
This legendary female-specific binding is designed for women by women, plus for 2017 it has the added benefit of being the most eco-friendly women’s binding Burton have ever produced.
The Burton Escapade is the perfect choice for women searching for the winning blend of comfort, playfulness and performance on any terrain. Burton's Hammock technology in the ankle strap combined with the Kickback hi-back and Super Grip Capstrap embraces your entire boot in seamless comfort and response. These come in an EST version for mounting on Burton's The Channel mounting system, or a regular one for non-Burton boards.
It's a solid solution for women wanting a binding that's as comfortable charging as it is cruising.
Burton Women's Rubix Gore-Tex Jacket / Burton Women's Aero Gore-Tex Pant - €320.00 / €260.00
One of the strides that Burton have made in their drive to reduce the impact of their products on the environment is that they can now claim that 75% of their outerwear is bluesign-approved – a certification that guarantees a product is made with safe chemicals and meets the highest standards for the both the environment and the factory workers.
A good example is the women's Rubix Gore-Tex jacket/Aero Gore-Tex pant combo, favoured by the likes of Kelly Clark. Gone are the days when Gore's superlative protection from the elements meant you had to look like an alpinist – the Rubix (in the bluesigned coral/jade colourway) certainly pops, and will have you comfortable from mid-winter tree runs to springtime hotlaps thanks to its eco-friendly THERMOLITE® insulation and the climate-controlling Living Lining™.
The Aero pants follow the same script in terms of materials and insulation
Burton Almighty Snowboard Boot - €370.00
When it comes to examples of not resting on their laurels despite turning the big 4-0, check this high-octane freestyle boot that pushes the technical envelope right out there.
The Almighty's futuristic aesthetic is due to what the B term 'Ultraweave' design – a textured material that creates an exoskeleton that they claim resists boot breakdown over the duration of a season, meaning the flex in all directions should be consistent from the first day to the last. Burton also poured in a bunch more 'new' with the lightweight, low-profile DynoBITE EST® outsole to provide solid grip and feel, and their new Life Liner that features DRYRIDE Heat Cycle™ and ReBounce to keep the toes warm during extended mid-winter sessions.
Definitely a solid option for dudes who look to lap the park from pre-season to spring slush.