Despite driving home in a blizzard and brining the flu home with us, we had an excellent week at Stratton testing out some of the coolest stuff coming next season. I approached things a little differently this year focusing on bindings much more than usual and venturing away from our usual brands a bit to try out a few different things.
So we bring you the 2017 Stratton Demo women’s snowboarding gear recap part 1
On day one of the demos I started off at Jones to test out the new women’s board the Dream Catcher. I checked out a pair of medium NOW Vetta bindings on it. The bindings were comfortable. There were no pressure points and the straps held well. But I felt like the mediums were a little bit big for my boot.
The Dream Catcher is the women’s version of the Explorer which has been in the men’s line for a couple of years and is a more user friendly, less expensive board than the rest of the line up. The Dream Catcher delivers. It was a fun, predictable ride reminiscent of the Twin Sister of old. It is softer than the Twin Sister has been the last few years. It matched up nicely with the NOW bindings, both lending a skatey, easy to ride feel to things. It felt a little sketchy on hardpack, but ultimately it did hold its edge.
Next up the Jones Twin Sister with small NOW Vetta bindings. Being right on the cusp of a small or medium for the bindings, it really helps if you have your boots with you when you are shopping for these. The smalls definitely felt like they gave me more leverage over the board, and they fit my boots just fine.
The Twin Sister has a new core this year, giving back a little bit of the torsional flex that was lacking last year. The Twin Sister is definitely stiffer and more responsive than the Dream Catcher. It is the board I remember from 2 and 3 years ago. It’s very lively under foot with quick edge-to-edge transitions. The tradeoff here for lots of pop is also a fair amount of chatter. But that is really the only drawback I could find. Next year’s Twin Sister definitely does not disappoint.
Gnu Girls' Hyper Kyarve was a mid season release in the men’s line this year. Next year it’s being rolled out for the women too. It is a C2X profile (formerly called XC2, but Gnu likes to keep it confusing) directional twin. It’s a little on the stiff side and is designed for all of your all-mountain and freeride needs. It feels like a stiffer version of my Gnu Beauty that I have written about repeatedly. It holds a great edge, rails into turns, has good pop, and it’s super stable. The rocker between the feet keeps it playful enough that it’s still easy to ride, but you can feel secure thatthe Hyperkyarve is going to hold up to pretty much whatever you throw at it. I couldn’t stop thinking about this board the rest of the demos. It is so much fun if you are looking for a fairly aggressive, all mountain, carver.
Next up was Arbor’s new women’s bindings on my own Never Summer Proto Type Two. Arbor premiered their bindings in the men’s line last year, and this year they added a model to the women’s lineup…are you sensing a trend? Overall the binding felt fine. It was mostly comfortable though the highback is a little too high and I could feel it. And there was a bit of lag going from edge to edge. The straps were fine, and the bindings work. In my opinion there are better choices available at the $200 price point, but take it with a grain of salt because it’s only my opinion.
Flux GX bindings on my Never Summer Proto Type Two. These Flux bindings are top of the line for women. Flux has the most amazing ratchets I have seen, and their straps are super comfortable. These bindings are incredibly responsive and the EVA footbeds absorb a fair amount of chop and chunder, minimizing the leg tiring feedback from junky conditions. My impression of these was that I wouldn’t mind having them in my quiver.
Paying more attention to bindings this year has been kind of interesting. If a binding is comfortable, and you don’t have any pressure points from it- what more do you really need? Well, if your board and bindings don’t match up you can find that there is a delayed response on your edge-to-edge transitions. And if the bindings are reacting faster than the board, it may also leave you feeling that things aren’t quite right. You can ride any bindings with any board, but to get the most out of both you will want them well matched to each other…otherwise you are proverbially leaving money on the table by not getting the most out of either piece of the puzzle.