- Outerwear (Jackets & Pants): A good quality jacket (or jackets) and pants are a must. There are a couple of factors that are really important:
Waterproofing/Breathability: This measures how much water the jacket can keep out and also how much moisture the jacket can let out through the farbic to keep you dry. It’s shown as two numbers (e.g 10,000mm, 10,000gm). The first number is the waterproof rating and measures how much water the fabric can resist in a single day. At a minimum for Japan you will need 10,000mm but can go as high as 30,000mm. Above 30,000mm you can also get Gore-Tex. Jackets with Gore-Tex fabric are bullet proof and regarded as the industry standard. Each jacket is independently rated to ensure it meets the Gore-Tex standard and will ensure that you are dry and comfortable. The second number is the breathability rating. This should be at a minimum 5,000gm but will ideally be the same as the waterproof rating, allowing moisture to pass out through the jacket to keep you dry and comfortable. Remember, the ratings are only a guide and although two jackets might have a similar number they aren’t all created equal. Go for a reputable brand like 3CS, Burton, RPM, Analog or DC and if you are looking for a jacket or pants, make sure the are snowboard specific and designed for use in the snow.
Seam Sealing: Snowboard jackets generally come as either critically taped or fully taped. A critically taped jacket has all the major seams welded to prevent moisture entering the jacket and heat leaving the jacket through the seams. Full taped jackets have 100% of the stitching welded making the considerably warmer. This is a huge plus for riding in really cold conditions as you don’t need as thick a jacket when you have a fully taped jacket.
Insulation: The temperature in Japan can fluctuate significantly. This is why it can be an idea to carry two jackets – a thicker one for colder days (like when it’s -25c) and a thinner jacket for when it’s warmer. Insulation is either synthetic or down. Down is very warm but generally bulkier than synthetic and if it gets wet it is prone to clumping which will have an effect on warmth. Synthetic fabrics are more versatile than down and function better if wet. The downside is that they are less breathable..
Check Men’s and Women’s Outerwear here.
- Gloves: Gloves come in a range of qualities and finishes. For Japan we recommend a Gore-Tex glove. Choosing a glove will give you better dexterity and movement while a Mitt keeps you warmer if you are prone to the cold. Generally 1 – 2 pairs of gloves are recommended and I would highly recommend a removable liner which will help push moisture away from your skin and keep your hands dry and warmer.
- Snowboards: You can ride any snowboard in most conditions but for a powder experience you can’t go past a shaped board like the Yes 420, Capita Spring Break, Burton Mod Fish or Jones Hovercraft. For the girls, the Burton Day Trader or High Spirits are ideal. Powder boards are designed with a longer nose and shorter tail which reduces volume behind you, making the board plane better through powder. This gives you more float and means that you will use less energy (and fall less) and deep snow.
If you want something more versatile that will ride in well in Japan but also back in New Zealand, a directional twin (all mountain) shape will be ideal. Boards like the Burton Custom Flying V and Lib Tech Travis Rice or TRS will be ideal. The directional stance sits you back further on the board than a twin shaped board but can still be ridden switch. Looking at the board profiles, hybrid camber (Flying V, etc) will give you more float than traditional camber boards.
Whatever board you choose, make sure you have a fresh tune and re-wax your board during the trip.
- Boots: When you are riding in deep powder (hopefully) for long periods you want a boot that fits nice and snuggly. This will reduce heel lift, improve control and reduce the amount of energy used when riding. Boots don’t need to be expensive but it is important that they fit your foot well. Your riding experience depends on it. If you want us to check them out and make sure the fit is good, drop by one of the stores for an honest opinion. Not all boots are created equal and we recommend Thirty Two, Burton or DC boots.
- Bindings: Bindings are easy to forget when they work well but when something goes wrong it can be a nightmare. Make sure all your screws and hardware are tight, ratchets are working well and that there is no wear and tear on the ladders (the plastic straps that go into the ratchets). Finding parts in Japan can be a nightmare so it's worthwhile stocking up on parts. If in doubt, drop by a store and we can check them out and replace any parts or recommend a new pair. As always, choosing a reputable brand like Burton, Union, Switchback, or Now means you will be less likely to have parts break and if something does go wrong will make it easier to find replacement parts.
- Helmet: With all the trees in Japan, riding with a helmet is a must. Your helmet should fit well (gently touching your head), have good ventilation and should have no visible signs of impact. If you are in the market for a new helmet, lightweight helmets with one piece construction are a lot lighter than helmets with two piece construction which can help when you are riding for long periods. They are also significantly lighter for packing in your luggage.
- Goggles: With changing conditions it’s really important that you have good quality goggles so you can see! Make sure your goggles aren’t prone to fogging (if they fog, replace them) and that they have two lenses – one for sunny days and another for cloudy days. It can be good to look at a goggle with a quick change feature like the Anon WM1, M2 or M3, or an advanced vision goggle such as the Oakley Prizm lens.