Patagonia Revamps Snowboard Line & Ads Bell, Dirksen & Shearer to the Ambassador Program

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Ryland Bell | Photo: Abe Blair

Patagonia teams up with Gore-Tex to offer more environmentally friendly snowboard line & revamps their snowboard team with some heavy hitters.
By: Sara Tollstrup

Most people think of Patagonia as a brand that caters to serious outdoors enthusiasts like mountaineers, rock climbers and fly fishers, but few make the connection between Patagonia and snowboarders. The brand hopes that these preconceived notions will change, as it has rededicated itself to the snow category by building a team of Ambassadors and revamping its men’s and women’s outerwear lines.

forest_shearer_patagonia.jpgBecause Patagonia is targeting the growing freeride market in snowboarding, it wanted its team to reflect this. Backcountry-loving pros Josh Dirksen, Forrest Shearer and Ryland Bell are Patagonia’s Snowboard Ambassadors. Dirksen is a longtime Salomon pro who lives in Bend, OR and Zurich, Switzerland. In recent years he has dedicated more and more of his time to absorbing the outdoors through camping and splitboarding. Shearer is from San Diego, CA but now resides in Salt Lake City, UT. He is a healthy, environmentally conscious snowboarder who prefers pow turns to park jumps. 24-year-old Bell, the youngest of the three, was born and raised in Alaska. He is known for making smooth, clean turns and pulling tricks off of natural features. He also puts in more days on the mountain than you and your best friend combined. All three riders spent last season filming for Jeremy Jones’ Deeper and are currently working on Further, Jones’ current two-year project.

Patagonia contracted FYi Design Department to develop and design its 2011 outerwear offering. If the company’s name is familiar, it’s because FYi was responsible for Burton’s [ak] line for several years. Located in Pemberton, BC, an area just north of Whistler and known for its mixed bag weather, FYi is based in a climate that truly tests the quality of technical product. Tom Routh of FYi (a Patagonia Snowboard Ambassador himself in the 90s) is happy to be working with Patagonia –now 12 years later–on the design side. “There is a lot of depth in the [Patagonia] development team to back up our efforts at the factory level, so we can actually achieve in production what we are able to build in the design studio –which sounds fundamental, but in reality always proves more difficult than it should be. Everything is working really well.”

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Josh Dirksen

Together FYi and Patagonia have produced a comprehensive line of GORE-TEX jackets and snow pants (in addition to products for other categories). People usually think of GORE-TEX as a waterproof material, but it is also breathable, windproof and durable. Some of Patagonia’s snow specific outerwear is 2-layer, meaning the GORE-TEX outer membrane is bonded to the outer material with a separate lining. Other pieces like the men’s and women’s Primo jacket and pant are 3-layer. With 3-layer pieces the GORE-TEX outer membrane is bonded between the outer material and inner lining. Sure this degree of technicality primarily appeals to riders who face gnarly conditions on a regular basis, but who doesn’t want to be warm and dry on the mountain? Consistent with Patagonia’s commitment to being environmentally conscious, The Primo kit is made from recycled nylon.

Another element of technology Patagonia has applied in its line is H2No. H2No items, like the 3-in-1 Snowshot jacket from the men’s collection and the 3-in-1 Snowbelle from the women’s, is built to endure extended wet conditions. Patagonia asked its ambassadors for feedback about how well H2No works, but the brand took it a step further by putting each item through a test called Killer Wash. Killer Wash is 24 hours of intense washing meant to mimic years of wear in northwest-like conditions. The 3-in-1 pieces are technical and versatile. They consist of a shell and zip-out jacket and it functions as a shell, a light puffy insulation or a waterproof insulated jacket.

For more information on Patagonias new snowboard specific line and their well rounded team of ambassadors check out Patagonia.com.