Walking around the SIA Snow Show this week, I made a project for myself to see if I could come up with head-to-toe snowboarding gear sourced solely from companies based here in Colorado.
Although I came up short on boots, I did discover one cool local company working behind the scenes with most of the major boot brands: Denver-based Boa Technology provides customizable steel lacing systems for snowboard boots from Vans, K2, DC, Ride, Flow, Nidecker, Rome, Thirty Two, Salomon, and several other brands (as well as a handful of ski boots, and closure systems in outerwear, helmets, hats, and other gear).
My pick? The Vans Cirro x POW Boot, constructed of sustainable materials (recycled PET textiles and solvents, recycled cork footbed), features three adjustable closure zones using the Vans Boa Focus System for support and custom fit. A percentage of sales of the Cirro (and the women's Veil boots) benefit Protect Our Winters, a Boulder-based non-profit "dedicated to reversing the global warming crisis by uniting the winter sports community and focusing our collective efforts towards a common goal."
I caught up with Garett Graubins, marketing manager for Boa Technology, to learn more about the company and its lacing systems:
My current boots have good old-fashioned laces on them and I've always made do, but obviously boot fit is critical in snowboarding. Is lacing up in the parking lot becoming a thing of the past?
I think if you want a custom fit and proper support for the activity, it really is. We've been at it since 2001. K2 and Vans were our first two partners, and since then snowboarding has really become our core category, although we're in at least 12 other categories. Our founder Gary Hammerslag, he came from a medical catheter background, so envision, if you will, that same kind of stainless steel wiring that they use for various surgeries. Gary was originally a California guy but he moved his family to Steamboat Springs and took up snowboarding, and he pretty quickly got tired of lacing up his boots and getting a bad fit every time. He said, "There's got to be a better way of doing this." So he combined his love of snowboarding with his medical background and tinkering passion, and it all came together to create the Boa Lacing System.
Walking around SIA, I notice your systems are inside the boots of a lot of competing companies. How does that work?
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We are what's called an ingredient brand: We provide an ingredient for another brand's product. It's very much along the lines of the business model you'd see with companies like GORE-Tex, PrimaLoft or Vibram... It's what I call a premium brand strategy: We're working with most of the industry leaders in boot technology because we are very much the authorities when it comes to these advanced closure systems, whether you're snowboarding, skiing, hiking, running, golfing, or cycling. We provide the brands with the laces and the dials and the reels, and we work with them very closely to get the design right and develop new systems.
I've got my eye on the Vans Cirro boot. Can you tell me specifically about the Boa system in that boot?
Sure. The Cirro's a great example of one of our key innovations for this year, the Focus System, which means there's more than one BOA dial on the boot to customize the fit for different zones of the foot. In that boot you can customize the fit in three different zones, and we worked with Vans and Protect Our Winters to re-engineer the lace routing path to help reduce the volume of the components in the instep area and eliminate some of the excess material in the boot, in line with the idea behind that boot to make a more sustainable product. Like all of our boots this year, the Cirro comes with our Dialed In For Life guarantee. The Boa reels and laces are guaranteed for the lifetime of the product.
Stay tuned for more Colorado Head-to-Toe winter gear picks spotlighting cool local companies.