How To: Turn Heelside and Toeside on a Snowboard

In snowboarding you turn one of two ways – either heelside or toeside. We’ve heard the difference between the two explained like this: think of your heelside as being similar to the heel of your palm – powerful, but not necessarily the most nimble. The toeside turn is more dexterous, like your fingers, and can make more “precise” turns than heelside.

You likely already know this, but executing – carving – both turns correctly takes some practice and attention to form and body positioning.

With a toeside turn, you want to initiate the turn by shifting weight onto your front foot, onto the toes and ball of your foot.

As you reach the apex of the turn, your weight should be centered over both feet, knees and waist bent, creating an athletic powerful stance. At this time the board is up on edge, engaged in a carve.

As you ready to transition to a heelside turn, your weight shifts towards the back foot and over the tail of the board.

Maintaining a similar, athletic stance, keep your head and shoulders pointed down the fall line (the natural downward slope of the run you are on), and use your ankles to transition to your heel edge. You can stand a little taller during the transition before engaging the heel edge.

Keep your weight a little forward during the initiation and then balance your weight between your front and back feet as you reach the apex of the turn.

Spread your knees outward a bit to create a powerful stance, complete the turn, shift your weight slightly onto your back foot and the tail, and then transition back to your toeside edge.

Glossary: Snowshoeing Terms

Snowshoeing Terms

Grasping the snowshoe lingo will be helpful when making snowshoe related purchases and in learning more about the sport. Take a peak at the most common terms associated with snowshoeing…

Backcountry – Typically refers to ‘off the beaten path’ or a place with no designated trails.

Binding – A device with straps that attaches your foot to the snowshoe.

Crampon – A toothed traction device, located on the underside of the snowshoe, that helps gain foothold on slippery or steep slopes.

Decking – Flat surface of the snowshoe, typically made of plastic or synthetic materials, that evenly distributes the weight of the snowshoe, allowing it to float.

Fixed Toe Cord – Point where the binding attaches to the snowshoe, limiting the amount of rotation on your binding and keeping the snowshoe close underfoot. It springs back up, thereby providing greater maneuverability for activities like racing or running.

Floatation – The ability  of the snowshoe and the user to stay on top of the snow, rather than sinking.

Frame – The outer edge of the snowshoe where the decking attaches, typically made of metal or plastic.

Hypalon™ – Very durable and flexible rubber material used in snowshoe decking.

Pivot Point – The point under the ball of the foot where the snowshoe is attached to the binding.

Rotating Toe Cord – Binding point attached to the snowshoe that pivots on a metal rod. It allows the snowshoe tail to drag or track behind you.

Self-Arrest – Planting your ice ax into the hillside with body weight to stop a fall.

Self-Belay – A self saving method that prevents you from falling in which your ice ax is planted and used as a hold.

Snowshoe PolesSnowshoe Poles with large baskets on the ends used to increase stability while walking in deep snow or uneven terrain.  Essential part of the snowshoe gear.

Step Kicking – Ascending steep terrain by kicking your snowshoe toes into the snow, creating steps.

Toe Cord – See ‘Pivot Point’ above.

Traverse – Method of moving across a slope horizontally, with one shoulder facing uphill and the other facing downhill.

V-Trail – A snowshoe frame design with a tapered tail for better traction.

Western –  A snowshoe shape, usually aluminum frame, with rounded tails.

 

How to Purify Water in the Wilderness

 

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Safe Drinking Water

Water is heavy to carry in your pack, especially if you’re planning a multi-day trek in the wilderness. Knowledge is key. Is it a heavily travelled trail? Are there campsites nearby? Have you seen hikers with dogs? Are there farms nearby? There are still many pristine places on our planet, especially at higher elevations, with safe, pure, clean drinking water. However, there is always a slight possibility that water could contain water born pathogens that cause human illness. Let’s dig a little deeper to learn more about safe drinking water in the wilderness…

Contamination Possibility
The most common culprit for unsafe drinking water in the wild is the contamination from animal life – including you and your friends! In fact, a common source of harmful bacteria is your own hands! Make sure you wash them thoroughly with biodegradable soap before bringing a cool, clear sip to your mouth.

If you are anywhere near farmland or other cultivated areas, watch for algae. If you see the slightest sign of green blooms, avoid drinking the water. While you may feel safe, far from the pollutions of civilization, fertilizer can find it’s way to the backcountry via domestic animals, rain, run-off and wind. It causes growths in the water that can be very harmful to humans. Also, a concentration of livestock can pose a risk for obvious reasons. Such water should always be treated.

Viruses, protozoa, and bacteria can take a few days or even up to a week to start causing symptoms. Simply sipping and seeing how you feel is no way to judge water drinkablility. If you find yourself suffering from diarrhea, intestinal pain, vomiting, or other signs of infection, chances are likely that contaminated water has found it’s way into your system. Prevention is key!

How to Purify Water in the Wilderness
Know your surroundings. If you’re at a high elevation with very little human and domestic animal traffic, the water is likely clean and safe to drink without any treatment. If you have any doubts, treat it with one of the following methods:

  • FilterFilters are a convenient and reliable method of treating water in the backcountry. It consists of a pump and filter material, weighs very little and has gained immense popularity over the past decade.
  • Iodine – Iodine tablets or an iodine solution is far less expensive than a hiking specific water filter. It’s easy to use, extremely packable and takes only about 20 minutes to make the water safe to drink. However, any chemical treatment can give the water an unpleasant taste. It’s common to add a powdered flavored drink mix to iodine treated water.
  • Boiling Water – Boiling water for at least one minute (five minutes at higher elevations) destroys Giardia, the most common bacteria found in unsafe drinking water. Boil it before you rest at night, so it cools down for the next day.

Do Your Part in Keeping Water Clean
We’re all in this together, so it’s important to practice good habits in the wild to preserve and protect our wilderness. Urinating, defecating, cooking and bathing should be taken at least 200 feet away from water sources on flat ground. Also avoid these activities on a slope that leads to a stream or water source. A little common courtesy will soon become habit. Your fellow backcountry-goers will appreciate your awareness and will do the same for you!

Final Decision: Is Water Safe to Drink the Backcountry?
It’s pretty simple. While the risks in isolated areas at high elevation are small, it is best to plan on some sort of purification as back up. Invest in a backpacking water filter, bring some iodine tablets or boil suspect water. Don’t let a few quick gulps keep you from going back out there and doing the things you love to do!

Check out our camping supplies if you’re looking for tents, sleeping bags, tarps, etc.

 

Finding the Right Snowboard Flex

Go take out a really stiff snowboard. Better yet, take it into the trees and try to control it, even at slow speeds. Seriously. If it’s not your style, you’ll get bucked around wild bronco style, like the board is riding you versus you riding the board. It’s not a good feeling, but it’s a good reason to get out your flex meter and find out what stiffness fits your style of riding before buying a snowboard.

First, the two types of flex:

Torsional Flex is the flex across the width of a snowboard, between the two edges, and defines how a board holds its edge. More (softer) torsional flex will make it easier to twist the board and initiate sharp-radius turns, and manipulate the board on park features.

Longitudinal Flex…. you guessed it, is the flex of the snowboard going the long way, from tip to tail. Freestyle riders prefer a softer longitudinal flex as well, for laying down ‘butters’, boardslides and bonks without catching an edge.

The longitudinal flex will either be balanced through the length of the board or progressive, ie. progressively stiffer towards the nose, or softer. For example, a softer nose than tail is ideal for soft snow because it resists diving beneath the surface, while the stiffer tail helps maintain edge control and create ‘pop’.

Really it comes down to personal preference, and most boards will have a flex rating on a scale of 1-10. Once you’ve gauged your own flex preferences, that’s a good place to start. And remember, the softer the flex the easier a board is to turn, but if it’s too soft you won’t feel stable committing to turns at high speed. -MH

What is a Splitboard?

There’s nothing more entertaining than standing at a backcountry trailhead and having someone walk by, stop, and ask, “Is that thar one of them splitboards?” While splitboards have been around for a decade or more, they have remained largely out of the mainstream until the last couple years. Teton Gravity Research’s new Film “Deeper”, which features Jeremy Jones and a number of other high-profile riders on splitboards, is showing people there’s a whole other world of snowboarding out there. If you’re willing to work for it… Find best split snowboards here.

Jones and crew were using splitboards to access remote big-mountain lines in Alaska, Tahoe and elsewhere. Why? A splitboard is a snowboard that splits in half, into two “skis”, for climbing up mountains and then riding down in the backcountry. They enable snowboarders to go places that are difficult to access via bootpack or snowshoes, due to deep snow or long approaches, because gliding on skins is a more efficient and faster way to travel on snow than walking/booting. Because you can “ski” up and ride down, splitboards offer the best of both worlds in the backcountry.

Going Up

Essentially, when you are in “ski mode”, a binding is mounted to each half of the board, facing forward, with a pin that slides into an interface, which allows the binding heel to rise and fall similar to a telemark ski binding. Splitboarders typically use 3-piece collapsible poles for climbing, because they are more compact when attached to your pack for the descent. Dakine, and several other companies make a variety of packs that are suitable for backcountry snowboarding. With touring skins attached to the base of the split skis, you can climb mountains as well as skiers using an alpine touring setup—and even better—you get to snowboard down.

Going Down

When finished climbing, you reattached the two board halves so they form a snowboard, engage the two hooks and two tip-and-tail clips, slide your bindings over the “puck mounts” and slide the pin through the toeside of the binding to lock them on. Burton’s new splitboards like the 2013 Burton Freebird, or Rome’s Whiteroom Splitboards are a strong evidence that the sport is growing.

Smart Shredding in the Backcountry

Whether you’re going to build a backcountry booter and ride a steep mountain face, keep some things in mind and carry the proper equipment. Bring a beacon, shovel and probe—and know how to use them. Carry extra food and clothing. Check the weather and avalanche forecast, especially if there’s been unsettled weather of late. And have fun… -MH

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Splitboarding Equiped

In addition to a splitboard, you’ll need several other pieces of equipment for riding in the backcountry.

For bindings, you can use either-

Splitboard bindings made by Spark or the limited edition Bent Metal Split-Tail Hunter Bindings

Or

• Voilé’s full hardware kit, which includes aluminum plates to which you can mount standard snowboard bindings

• Splitboard Touring skins – also made by Voilé

• 3-piece collapsible poles

Backpack that will carry a board if you need to bootpack

Avalanche Safety Gear: beacon, shovel, probe, first aid kit

• Extra layers, food, water

Burton’s Shrinkage Boot Technology Explained

If you ride boots bigger than size 10, you are typically limited to boards with wider waists to avoid toe drag. Burton has reached the point where many of its boots’ footprint is now a full size smaller. For example, a size 10.5 now has the profile of a 9.5, and you can fit into a medium versus large binding. For riders on the edge of needing wide boards, this opens up a whole new set of options.

Burton achieves this lower profile by removing any gaps between the liner and shell, and custom molding every liner to the shells at the factory for a glove-like 1-to-1 fit. They are also using thinner, more resilient materials in the toe and heel of the boot to reduce overall boot volume. The result is a lighter, more nimble boot that doesn’t waist unnecessary space, like Burton’s Imperial.

This has been a part of the Burton Technology articles.

Choosing the Right Base Layer Clothing

Best Base Layer Clothing

Long underwear has been a household name for decades. However, it’s come a long way in terms of popularity, materials used, durability and performance. These day, long underwear is also known as base layer, first layer or performance underwear. Since base layers are worn directly against the skin, it’s imperative that it’s soft and has the ability to regulate your temperate, while keeping you dry. The fit is also important. Anyone who spends time outdoors, regardless of the season, can benefit from proper base layers. We’ve broken down the base layer basics, so you can make an educated decision on what type will be best for your needs…

Base Layer Benefits

Moisture Wicking – Moisture wicking base layers enable sweat to be drawn away from the body during exercise, allowing it to evaporate on the surface of the material, rather than on the skin. In order to perform at your peak and be comfortable at all times, it’s crucial to wear base layers rather than cotton. Cotton absorbs sweat, does not dry and drenches the wearer in sweat which increases body weight and causes discomfort. Polyester, nylon, wool or silk, on the other hand, will draw sweat away from the body and makes for all day long comfort regardless of your activity level.

Temperature Control – The other main reason people choose to wear base layers is due to it’s ability to regulate your body temperature during exercise. In cold weather, muscles are more susceptible to injury, so it’s important to keep those core muscles warm. Base layers designed for colder weather often use a thicker fabric, which will trap the warm air between your body and the garment. They also often have a brushed interior to aid in heat retention. Brands like Burton offer a wide selection of base layers designed for cold weather use.

On the flip side, certain base layers are designed to keep you cool during warmer temperatures. Lightweight base layers that specialize in evaporating warm sweat from the body, help you stay cool and light. Some tops can hardly be felt on the skin because they are so light and airy! Patagonia and The North Face have mastered the art of lightweight base layers for warm temperatures.

Base Layer Materials

  • Synthetic – Polyester is the primary and most popular material used in synthetic base layers…and for good reason! It’s easy to care for and has incredible moisture wicking properties. Sometimes, base layers are also blended with 5-15% elastane (spandex) for a stretchier fabric that moves better with the body.
  • Wool – Wool had a bad rap for being itchy for decades. Merino wool, which has incredibly soft and fine fibers, is pretty much the standard type of wool used in clothing these days and has greatly contributed to wool’s present popularity. Wool absorbs water like cotton, but unlike cotton, wool retains warmth when wet. It also has natural antibacterial properties, making it preferable to synthetics for some people since it’s unlikely to smell during a workout.
  • Silk – Yup, silk base layers are silky smooth. Silk is ideal for cool to cold weather and is often treated with chemicals to enhance wicking properties. It’s thin, layers well and feels great against the skin.

 

Base Layer Fabric Weights

Base layers just get better and better every season. They’re not just for wearing under your ski clothes anymore. Runners, hunters, yoga practitioners, hikers and climbers alike all find base layers an essential component of their closet. Additionally, industry standards of fabric weights have developed and caught on over the years making it easier for people to choose the most appropriate weight for different activities. We’ve broken down the most common weights:

  • Microweight – Less common but still relevant, microweight is best for cool conditions. People who tend to run a little warmer in general are drawn to this super thin weight.
  • Lightweight – For cool to moderately cold conditions, lightweight base layers are extremely popular. They’ll wick the moisture, but won’t allow you to overheat. They can often be worn year-round.
  • Midweight – Also very common, midweight base layers are designed for moderately cold to cold conditions. If the temp is moderate, but the windchill is cold, mid weights will take the bite off.
  • Heavyweight – Cold, frigid and blustery conditions demand heavyweight base layers. People who are never in such conditions won’t need this weight.

Breaking Down Ski Sidecut

Skis didn’t have sidecut until 1993. “Straight” skis were the standard since the sport’s inception, but when the fledgling snowboard industry started utilizing sidecut the ski industry followed suit. The development of sidecut made skis easier to turn, thus making the sport accessible to a wider range of people.

Simply put, sidecut is the arcing, hourglass-like curve that runs along a ski’s edges from tip to tail. It’s this curve that dictates how your skis turn. And with that, the deeper the curve, the faster and more abruptly your skis will turn. For example, skis with deep, drastic sidecuts make snappier, sharper turns but have a smaller turn radius that enables them to make very quick turns without skidding out or smearing. But too much sidecut makes a ski less stable at speed and largely incapable of long, arcing turns without washing out.

To contrast, skis with less/shallower sidecut are best at making long, arcing turns and have a much larger turning radius. They are also more stable at high speeds and in variable snow conditions. Most skis, typically grouped as “all mountain”, are somewhere in the middle, and offer the ability to turn quickly and arc medium-to-long radius turns. All mountain equals versatility, from high-speed groomers to big mountain pillow drops. With all mountain in the middle and most versatile, you then have freestyle on one end, and freeride/powder skis on the other.

On-the-snow examples from all three categories:

• Freestyle skis like Liberty’s LTE (15-meter radius) have a deeper sidecut and smaller turning radius than…

• All-mountain skis like Liberty’s Helix (19-meter radius).

• Meanwhile, Liberty’s freeride/powder-driven Double Helix has a radius of 24.5 meters

How To Buy the Right Size Skis

Sizing up skis is not an exact science, because every individual skier has a unique style and preferences. Not to mention skiers come in all different shapes and sizes. Manufacturers are quick to point out that their sizing charts, based primarily on skier weight, are recommendations and not mandates. Some will even develop sizing charts for each individual ski in their line. From there, a lot of subjectivity is involved in the decision-making process—beginners prefer shorter skis because they are easier to turn; so do pipe and park skiers, because they are easy to maneuver and lighter weight. Racers will also often pick a ski in the 150-160cm range, which is on the shorter side compared to the 175-185cm-plus lengths freeride/big mountain skiers prefer.

There are plenty of options when it comes to buying skis

Weight Factor

 

This is a general chart designed to give you an idea of the size-range you should be looking at.

Weight (lbs) Ski Length (cm)

<100                                                          140

110-125                                                      145

125-136                                                      150

136-150                                                      155

151-165                                                      160

165-180                                                      165

180-190                                                      175

190-200                                                      185

 

 

 

Waist Width + Terrain

 

Where will you do most of your skiing, and in what kind of conditions? If you’re a powder snob that only skis the steep and deep, you’ll want a “fat” ski with more waist width. The trend for big mountain/powder skis is 100mm+ underfoot, while freestyle skis are more in the 80-85mm waist range. Fat skis (110mm+) float great in powder, but don’t have as good edgehold as narrow-waist skis. Find something in the middle (90-100mm underfoot) if you’re looking for a pair of do-it-all sticks.

Most brands have sizing charts on their websites. Here’s a couple examples of recommended size charts from brands that The House Boardshop carries.

Line Ski’s size chart

K2 Ski’s size chart

On-Hill Accessories. Putting Together a Legit Kit.

Ever get to the top of the lift and find yourself asking, “does anyone have a screwdriver?” Your bindings are so loose you can rotate from regular to goofy without moving the board, and there’s not a tool in sight. Well, except for you…

Tool Kit

It pays to pack your own snowboard tool, and depending on the weather, there are a few other key items that will keep you from running back and forth to the base lodge all day. First and foremost, keep a snowboard-specific multi-tool in your pocket, like Dakine’s Stubby Driver.

Or, wear a toolbelt, no seriously—686 makes a snowboard belt with a built in #2 Phillips driver, bottle opener, and a detachable loop with 8mm, 10mm, and 11mm wrenches.

The 686 Snowboard Tool Belt

High Maintenance

If you like to keep your edges ultra buff and catch-free, or you are still detuning that new board, Dakine’s Pocket Stone is a handy accessory—you can score both of these items for under 20 bucks. Slow base or powder day? Consider rolling with a tin of rub-on wax to avoid getting stranded on the flats.

Storm Insurance

Powder day runs are pure gold, and you want to maximize every minute you have on the mountain. So if it’s hammering, or mid-winter cold and windy, consider rolling with these items stuffed in your outerwear.

• Bandana/facemask – There are a variety of styles, from gangsta to cowboy, and are virtually weightless so you won’t even know it’s in your pocket.

• Extra goggles – If you have fog issues or tend to yard sale bring a backup pair of goggles. There’s nothing worse than trying to ride down a mountain blind in a snowstorm.

• Backup gloves – These can be in your pocket or in your car, but it pays to switch into a fresh pair of gloves when your other pair is soaked. Cold hands=no fun.

• Chapstick and sunscreen – pretty self-explanatory, protect your face so you don’t get weathered.

-MH