The coldest months of the year are here with the best possible conditions for sliding and gliding your way down virgin slopes. More and more resorts in Japan have opened new guided and off-piste areas for powder riding, with fatter skis and directional boards helping control steeper and deeper descents. Racer X says to be prepared with avalanche gear and check the conditions carefully before you go big this winter.
Filson Mackinaw Cruiser Jacket
Designed for the Klondike gold rush, tough enough for Tokyo
Introduced in 1914, the Filson Mackinaw Cruiser Jacket is made in Seattle, Washington, and the quality is well worth the yen. Made with the mentality it is better to repair than replace, this durable wool jacket features four front utility pockets that are double layered for increased warmth across the chest, two hand warmer pockets, an open inner pocket and a full width map pocket in back. It can also absorb up to 30 percent of its weight in water before becoming damp, and it is fashionable enough to wear in the city.
Patagonia Powder Bowl Jacket
When the going gets steep, deep and cold
For the powder hounds comes the latest tech jacket from Patagonia. This 2.5-layer shell jacket features an H2No waterproof breathable layer and a mesh lining with a built-in powder skirt that can be attached to your pants with elastic loops for maximum snow protection. When the sun breaks out, or while climbing, you can zip off the adjustable hood and open the underarm zippers for full ventilation. The sizing is athletic, the material bomb-proof and the five exterior pockets can hold your gear without you feeling baggy or weighed down. Racer X likes the padded pocket for iPods and phones
Burton Custom Flying V Snowboard
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a flying Tomato?
No, it is just Burton’s top selling all-mountain freestyle deck tweaked and adjusted to perfection for 2011. Check out the hybrid rocker-camber for a smooth ride that still grips at high speeds. The new energy transfer lines called “Lightning Bolts Hi-Voltage” are interwoven into the fiberglass above and below the core which maximize ollie power and edge control. Add Burton’s new channel mounting system for the bindings, allowing for hassle free adjustment, and you have the original one-board quiver that suits Japan’s often-changing conditions.
K2 Hellbent Alpine Ski
Made with Hokkaido in mind
The Hellbent K2 planks are twin-tipped with a slight directional taper and a powder specific nose. They are heavy and made for advanced all-mountain powder riders who love to float through the deepest snow and are not afraid to land gaps and drops switch. You will need some leg strength to move them around on the groomed slopes, and the tips will chatter at high speeds, but the trade-off in the deeper snow is worth it. You can demo a pair of at Hanazono in Niseko, recommended before you throw down the cash.