686® and New Balance® are once again teaming up to bring their collaborative NB686 Collection for Winter 2012-2013. Now in its fourth season, the '12-'13 line-up is the lightest and most complete collection to date. Combining New Balance's® world-renowned reputation for superior footwear and 686's® long technical apparel history and loyalty to the core snowboarding market, the boots are made with premium fabrications and materials, minimalist design aesthetics and have an incredible sneaker-like fit. Throw in extras like the RECCO® avalanche monitor, BOA® focus lacing system and a 3-zonal SCL speedlacing system and you have three amazing styles to choose from to fit your riding needs. Any true rider understands the need to have boots that not only look good, but also perform in all conditions, all the time. With the new NB686 Snowboard Boot Collection, all the frustration of getting your boot to fit just right is simplified. The break-in process is smooth and your boots will feel like a well-worn pair out of the box and onto the hill.

Michael Akira West, president and creative director at 686®, and Michael Bretz, NB686 lead boot designer, answered a few questions about the boots below:

What's new with the NB686 Collection for Winter 2012-2013?
Mike: The biggest adjustment we made for the fourth season is to offer a more performance story, which better reflects what New Balance is all about, as well as what's happening in snowboarding. Lightweight, low profile, and less is more are the main points we wanted to get across. The most successful storythat New Balance® currently has is their Minimus Collection, which is inspired from barefoot running. We worked with their mad scientists in Boston and utilized a similar story in shredding.

Michael B: We got a chance to work with the New Balance® product development team that works on all the running and performance styles and their sports lab. I was even able to loot their materials library and got a lot of ideas for materials, fit, and construction.

What's your design approach to the special project?
Mike: In the past, we worked with the New Balance® lifestyle group to do throwback vintage pieces and made it applicable for snowboarding. We made a shift to their performance and running group where they're more into technologies that really enhance the user experience instead of just look good. From there, we came in and brought our textile background and worked with our team of testers and riders to make it legit in our world.

Michael B: We took some extra time to develop the '12-'13 boots. We started developing custom materials first and once we had those created, we designed the new models specifically with the properties of those materials in mind. I wanted to transfer the great fit that New Balance® is known for to snowboard boots, so the approach for this season was to work inside out.

How are riders responding to the new collection?
Mike: Insane! They love the out of the box feeling, the new low pro liners and overall steeze factor.

Michael B: It's really hard to do serious development work with them right now. They simply refuse to hand back their test boots after riding which I guess is a good sign…

Rider owned and operated, Westlife™ Distribution USA LLC is the parent company of 686® technical apparel, Matix Clothing® and the exclusive partner with New Balance® and Dickies® performance products. Since 1992, Westlife has provided the riding community with innovative, progressive, and technical apparel, outerwear, footwear and accessories found in specialty retail locations throughout the world. Log on to www.686.com and www.matixclothing.com for more information.