Ass Armor - Whether you’re a beginner or big mountain slayer, protective shorts can save you from an injury that’s both painful and embarrassing (carrying around an inflatable doughnut isn’t great). Ass Armor features a high tech composite built from polymers that deliver 67% better protection than foam alternatives thanks to its ability for firm up on impact, according to the company. Since the composite is also thin, the shorts are undetectable under even slim-fit snowboard pants. Your tailbone will thank you. [$89.99; assarmor.com] Burton Ion Boots - Burton’s tried and true all-mountain model, the Ion is stiff enough to provide big support, but offers enough flex to keep you comfortable. Tightening or loosening the boot on the fly is quick and easy thanks to the SpeedZone lacing system - you just pull the handle connected to the lace to tighten and then yank it over backwards to lock it in place. And thanks to a collaboration with Minnesota’s work boot maker, Red Wing, they’re stylish as to, um, boot. [$499.95; burton.com] Thule RoundTrip Double Snowboard Roller - Thule’s new RoundTrip makes airline travel easier thanks to plenty of padding and smart storage. Unlike other snowboard bags, the RoundTrip comes with sleeves to cover the tip and tail of your snowboard, so you don’t damage the clothing you cram in the bag on your board’s metal edges. [$229.95; thule.com] Stio Basis Power Dry Shirt - This base layer from Jackson Hole-based Stio is built from wicking a poly/wool blend that’s versatile enough for everything from cold backcountry days where you warm up in a hurry, cruising around the resort, epic apres skis, or ghosting on your friends. [$145; stio.com] Eddie Bauer Neoteric Pants - On most days, a good pair waterproof and windproof pants are all you need, but for those blessed powder days, it’s great to have a convertible bib to help keep the fresh pow away your skin. The Neoteric pairs a stylish bib with sealed seams with a three-layer breathable fabric as well as a classic look and fit. [$399.99 (add $20 for tall); eddiebauer.com] G3 Black Sheep Carbon Splitboard - This new split from G3 rides like a solid board. And if you match it up with the awesome Spark R&D Blaze bindings, the full set-up is lighter than some solid decks thanks to a full wood core (poplar/paulownia) complemented by layer of carbon fiber. But it’s when you split the Black Sheep Carbon in half and start climbing that you really appreciate the weight savings because it takes less energy to ascend. So much so that your buddies may insist that you break trail. [$849.95; genuineguidegear.com] Click Carabiner - The Click Carabiner is a miniature toolkit with most of the attachments you need for “out there repair”, like a #2 Phillips head screwdriver (with 90 degree & 180 degree locking feature), #3 Phillips head screwdriver, as well as a 3mm and 4mm hex wrench. The attachments fold into the ‘biner when not in use, which keeps the sharp bits away from you and your clothing. Easy to operate while wearing gloves, there’s even a bottle opener. [$25; clickcarabiner.com] K2 Route Helmet - New for 2014-15, the Route is as svelte as it is versatile. At 320 grams it’s the lightest helmet on the market and certified for both snow and bicycle use, just in case you want to go a ride on a floats-on-the-snow fat bike after hitting the slopes. 59 vents ensure that it will keep you from overheating on the warmest of days and when the winds pick up, just through on the included cover. Thanks to BOA technology, you can fine-tune fit just by spinning a glove-friendly knob located on the back of the lid. [$149.95; k2skis.com] Spy Bravo with Happy Lens - Spy makes an ambitious claim about their new for this winter Happy Lens: it make you happier. The company claims their patent pending lens tech ushers blue light in, resulting in the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. The effect? Improved mood and raised alertness. We’ve been using our pre-production sample since last spring and are fans. And changing out lenses is easy and fast, even with mittens on. [$204.95; spyoptic.com] Gnu Zoid - Slated for wide release next winter, an industry buzz provoked Gnu to release a small batch of Zoids in mid-January. Trapezoid shaped, the heel-side edge is shorter than the toe-side edge to maximize the different biomechanics of a heel-side turn vs. toe-side turn. We have three days on ours and found it easier to get deeper into turns. Translation: even more fun. [$649.95; gnu.com]
Powder is great, but there's no sense in depending on the weather for a smooth ride. If you're looking to get a bit more comfortable on the slopes, focus on your equipment. It probably needs an update. Fortunately, outfitters are racing to create the perfect boards and goggles and even underwear for your next run. Here's the stuff you should consider picking up before buying that next lift pass.
Photos by Getty Images