Board: M3 Discord 152.5
Bindings: Ride Team
Boots: Salomon F24
So what do these products do for your ride?
Snowboarding and cars, a comparison:
I would equate the board to the chassis of a car. How much the chassis/board flexes depends on the type of ride you want. The harder/stiffer the board, the more responsive while cutting down the mountain. For the freestyle types, they like their boards to be a little more flexible for their tricks. The metal edge of your board is like tires, the sharper it is, the stickier the tire for those extreme turns. The base of your board can be compared to the aerodynamics of your car. The bindings are like the suspension of your car. The tighter/stiffer it is, the more responsive but less forgiving the ride. Finally the boots are the seat and steering wheel. They are your first line in terms of feedback from the road or trail. Like a good racing seat that keeps you glued while taking hard turns, a good boot will be comfortable but will also keep your heel down at all times.
My snowboarding crash course (quite literally) was spent riding on the Catalyst 156, an all-mountain board a bit long for me. Nonetheless, by the time I had started looking for my own equipment I was very in tune with the board. Now I must re-establish the mind-board link once again with my M3. That's right, we form an emotional bond with our equipment. Much like the bond formed between man and car, I tend to extend that relationship to a lot of my equipment. Even my wrestling shoes and I shared an amazing three years together. I had two new pairs of shoes sitting in my closet, but I could never leg go of my black and green Adidassers. Even with the big holes and duct tape patch work. Right now the board still hasn't really been broken in, so it's quite stiff for a free-style board, and at 152.5 cm, I should be able to control it a bit more easily. Already I've scuffed up the top sheet, there's a nasty rip on the tail end. It's first scar...
The Team Bindings are a good pair, but like the Tomcats Bryant lent to me, the toe straps are a bit uncomfortable for my thin boots. Word on the net is that Ride will be releasing their own version of the Baltimore/Capstrap next year. Let's hope so, or I'll be forced to buy a mismatched pair from T9 or Burton and modify from there. Common sense would have dictated that I purchase the Flight Mig bindings, it MSRP's for way more than the Teams, but the demand isn't as high so the street value is actually about the same. The Migs are much lighter but built in one piece to achieve the weight savings which means less adjustability. But due to factors beyond my control, I ended up with the Team bindings (aka: PCTM). But don't get any ideas, I dig the setup. That board and bindings were made for each, look how good they look together. Sexy.
The boots were actually the first part of the setup I purchased. Why the Salomon's over my beloved Sabbaths? They were the top boots in 2004, and the price I got them for was too good to pass up. I love how comfortable they are, but I wish at times I had gotten regular boots, though it would have been tougher to walk around in, there would have been more padding in the toe-strap area. Anyway, the Burton 05/06 catalog was leaked onto the web and they totally wrecked the Sabbath's so I may actually try to purchase a pair of this year's boots for storage.
Update: Ever wonder how a snowboard is put together? Austria's very own Elan Snowboards provides six videos navigating you through the fabrication process.
Update 2: UK forum thread with the Burton 0506 catalog and photos/information on other 0506 merchandise.