A Review of 2020 Vans' Snowboarding Boots and Technology
A media trip is a concept where people from magazines, websites, Instagram accounts, or whatever constitutes the term 'media' these days are invited somewhere and usually fed nice meals and otherwise treated to a lifestyle they can't afford on their media paychecks. Sounds great, right? Sometimes they're better in theory than practice. What Vans has done with their version of this concept, however, is a shimmering example of what a media trip should be.
Snow Days is an event that brings media together with Vans' staff, athletes, and retailers, this year in a place sporting some of the sportiest terrain in North America. A little place called… Jackson, Wyoming. It's a place you don't say no to when the invite arrives. Yes, the riding was good and so was the food—cool for those who went, but most reading this don't care. (Go to Jackson if you have the chance, and stop at Sudachi and Teton Thai while you're there). What set Snow Days apart from many other events of this type was that we walked away with a genuine understanding of, and new appreciation for, the progression of product that the brand is dedicated to, as well as firsthand experience on said product. Thus, we decided to provide you with a firsthand explanation of what you can expect from next season's Vans boots.
This is for certain: the boots Vans is releasing next season are the best they've ever made. Below is an index of the marketing terms they're using and a review of how their performance.
PopCush: A new insole technology modeled after the popular UltraCush insoles seen on Vans' Pro Series skate shoes. If you've worn these, you know. They're good. PopCush takes this same impact-absorbing technology and updates it to handle the moisture that snowboard boots inevitably encounter.
The scoop: The difference is immediately noticeable. This is the cushiest stock snowboard insole our feet have ever felt. Going back to a traditional insole after floating on these clouds sucks. For those who typically require a special orthotic, we imagine this wouldn't be a replacement for that, but damn are these things are the truth.
Vans X The North Face FlashDry: Seen on all V3 liners for the coming season is FlashDry, a high-end moisture-wicking technology seen on The North Face's outerwear, that, in this application, is designed to keep your dogs from getting soggy. Seen on Verse, Infuse, Sequal, and the new women's double boot, Viaje.
The scoop: FlashDry was introduced into the Vans line via this season's Verse, and after spending plenty of days in these boots this season, we can testify that it works. The lack of sog helps eliminate resulting odor as well. We're glad to see this tech expand across the line.
Vans X Smartwool: Merino wool has unique properties that can absorb and retain moisture yet still feel and act dry. It's warm, it's breathable, and no one knows it better than Smartwool. Next season, this intelligent wool will be in all Vans V2 liners. Seen on Implant Pro, Aura Pro, Hi-Standard Pro, Ferra Pro, and Encore Pro.
The scoop: There's just nothing like wool when it comes to warmth. This noticeably elevates the comfort factor of the boots with V2 liners.
V3 and V2 Liners: Now featuring FlashDry and Smartwool, respectively, the new V3 and V2 liners have two other improvements. While the toebox in previous iterations was made of neoprene, in the new versions neoprene envelops more of the foot. The liner also features updated heel retention, in the form of an updated X-cage on its rear.
The scoop: It seems to provide less pressure points than the previous version. However, it is fixed, not movable like the last version, thus less customizable.
Linerless options: Classic styles the Aura, Hi-Standard, and Encore are now available in linerless options at affordable price points. If you're old enough to remember, think snowboard boots from the '90s. There is also a linerless youth option called the Juvie.
The scoop: For beginner and even intermediate riders, these are a good way to get a soft-flexing boot at a good price. For experienced park and street riders that know what they want out of it—namely, it being very soft—the Hi-Standard Linerless DX is a solid option. You can tweak as much as your yoga routine will allow in these babies.
Viaje: A new introduction to the Vans' women's line, the Viaje is a double Boa option for aggressive riders, similar to its counterpart, the Verse. It's not just a Verse in a different colorway and smaller size, however. The Viaje is engineered from the ground up for female feet.
The scoop: It's good to see an option for women who demand a true high-performance boot and not simply a shrink-it and pink-it option, at that. The verdict from women who've ridden it is that it's certainly stiffer than most female-focused options on the market. The reality is that most ladies have grown accustomed to soft boots because of what's available, so get ready to notice a difference in these. If you're looking for immediate out-of-the-box comfort and forgiveness, perhaps this isn't for you, but if you want something that's going to last and respond, this is it.