Gear Review: Burton Feather Women’s Snowboard

Burton Feather Snowboard Review

When I moved to South Lake Tahoe in November 2010, I had been on skis a total of 3 times, and I had never been snowboarding. I’m one of the few people who moved to Tahoe for the job and took up winter sports instead of vice versa. Despite the fact that I’d been skiing a few times, I ended up a snowboarder for a couple of very simple reasons:

  1. My roommate at the time gave me a free snowboard (Thanks, Carrie!)
  2. My best friend in Tahoe is a snowboarder, and she offered to teach me (Thanks, Katie!)

My first board was an old Burton, covered in stickers and dings, and it was a great board to learn on because I didn’t have to worry about messing it up. As I started to move from beginner towards intermediate, I decided it was time to buy a new snowboard.

After some research and stalking end of season sales, I ended up buying a 2013 Burton Feather. I’ve ridden on it for a couple of seasons now, and I feel capable of giving it a thorough review.

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I love the colors the Feather comes in each year. This is what my board looks like. Photo from here.

First, I feel like this board was a perfect board to progress on. Since buying this board, I have moved from low intermediate through solidly intermediate. I’m now moving into advanced territory, and the Feather still works well for me. I’m riding black diamond runs with confidence, take this board into powder (since we actually have some this year!), and I can ride in moderately spaced trees.

Burton described the 2013 board as

“Feather-like float for girls determined to get better. – Jump right into all-mountain fun, whether it’s your first time or 50th day. Laid-back and relaxed, the Feather’s upgrade to V-Rocker™ creates a catch-free, playful feel that’s easier on the muscles. Tapered shaping equals effortless turning and float in fresh snow while the twin flex means it’s good to go, forwards or back. Softer and more forgiving than the Social or Blender, the Feather is for the rider looking for more room to grow than they’ll get with our easiest board, the Genie.”

On the cons’ side, if you are an advanced rider who spends all of your time on steeps and in the powder, the Burton Feather might not be aggressive enough for you. I’ve found that the board sometimes “skips” on the steep sections and sinks into powder more than I like. I also don’t think that the board steers quite as well when you’re riding in switch, but I fully admit that it could be how I have the board set up.

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Photo by Greyson Howard.

I initially bought this board based on the reviews that touted its ability to take you from a beginner to an intermediate, and that is exactly what I did on this board. I’ll continue to ride this board for the rest of the 2015-16 season, but I am looking to upgrade eventually. It’s a fun board to ride, and I feel stable on groomed terrain. When riding off piste, the Feather handles different snow consistency well, and I rarely feel like I’m being thrown around, unless the snow bumps are large.

Heavenly, one of the resorts I’ve frequently ridden has A LOT of flat, narrow cat tracks that are the bane of snowboarders existence. I really noticed a difference on how much more stable the Feather felt on these flatter areas, allowing me to keep up more speed. I don’t feel like I’m constantly about to catch an edge on this board.

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Catching (a tiny bit of) air! Photo by Greyson Howard.

The Burton Feather is available in a 2016 model. Here are the specs (from Burton.com):

New for 2016: Flat Top –“A flat profile between the feet means stability, better balance, and continuous edge control. The tip and tail kick up with an early rise outside the feet for the catch-free, loose feeling you’d expect from rocker.”

Directional Shape – “The classic snowboard shape, designed to be ridden with a slightly longer nose than tail to concentrate pop in the tail while still giving you plenty of float, flow, and control to rip any terrain or condition.”

Tapered Shape – “A tapered shape means the nose is wider than the tail, promoting smooth turn entry and exit, stability at speed, and enhanced deep snow flotation.”

Flex – “The flex is perfectly symmetrical from tip to tail for a balanced ride that’s equally versatile regular or switch.”

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Burton Feather 2016 colors and respective sizes. Photo from here.

You can buy the 2016 Burton Feather here for $379.99. You can get previous years’ models in various places at a lower price, but sizes can be limited. Here’s one for for $250 and another for $275.

Bottom Line: if you are a beginner who wants to move from the greens to blues and beyond, I highly recommend the Burton Feather.

Are you a snowboarder? What board do you recommend for intermediate riders?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!

Resort Report: Heavenly Lake Tahoe

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Heavenly Lake Tahoe is definitely the resort I’ve spent the most time at. It’s where I’ve had a pass most years, it’s where most of my friends ski and ride, it’s where I learned to snowboard, and it is freaking gorgeous!

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It is located right in the town of South Lake Tahoe, and while I was living there, it was close enough to my office that we could go and get a couple of runs in over lunch. You can access Heavenly from the California side or a couple places on the Nevada: the Gondola in Heavenly Village and Stagecoach Lodge.

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One of the coolest things about Heavenly is that you can ski in both Nevada and California in the same day! You also get a great visualization of the rain shadow effect. Heavenly has a ton of terrain – one of my other favorite aspects.

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Here’s a few facts:

  • This year is Heavenly’s 60th Anniversary.
  • It’s now owned by Vail Resorts which owns and runs a ton of other ski areas in California, Colorado, Utah, and internationally
  • Heavenly has 97 trails covering 4,800 skiable acres – the most in Tahoe!
  • Heavenly tops out at 10,067 feet and ski down 3,500 vertical feet.
  • It’s the only resort in Tahoe that has terrain in California and Nevada.

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Here’s my take on Heavenly-

Pros:

  • Like I said earlier, there is a ton of terrain. Even when it is crowded in certain areas, you can usually get away from that and find somewhat solitude.
  • There is something for everyone: beginner friendly – to the epic Mott & Killebrew Canyons.
  • Did I mention that the views are amazing?

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  • It’s convenience to South Lake Tahoe can’t be beat. Basically, if you live in South Lake, that’s where you want to have a pass.
  • The Tahoe Local/Value Passes are an INCREDIBLE deal. You get 7 day a week access to Heavenly, and either 7 day or Sun – Fri access to Northstar and Kirkwood. (I love Sugar Bowl, but, man, I miss that deal!)
  • You can track your vert over the course of the season with Epic Mix. Your pass scans automatically and it will keep track of the lifts you ride at any Vail Resort.
  • They have photographers stationed on the mountain through Epic Mix Photo to take pictures of you and your friends. They’ll scan your pass, and the pictures will show up on your account. No more selfies needed.

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Cons:

  • It’s convenience means that it can be CROWDED. On a Saturday, there’s often a huge line backing up Powder Bowl and Sky chairs.
  • While there’s lots of beginner friendly terrain, the crowds can make things stressful for new riders and skiers. I know other people, especially on narrow trails made me super nervous.
  • If you’re on a snowboard, prepare to do a lot of traversing. There are quite a few flat areas that you’ll need to cross in the course of a day at Heavenly. There are places you can keep your speed up, but the crowds often make that impossible in others.
  • Heavenly has really embraced the nightlife, Nevada, casino side of things with its after parties and the Heavenly Angels. I guess that could be a pro or con, depending on how you feel, but I’m not a huge fan.
  • Food/drinks are expensive! Bring your own.

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Tips:

  • Want to access the Nevada side on a busy weekend day? Drive up Kingsbury Grade and park at Stagecoach Lodge. Note: if it’s snowy, only attempt if you feel comfortable with narrow, steep, slick mountain driving and have a proper vehicle.
  • If you’re starting on the California side, take Sky chair all the way to the top and go down Ridge Run for a warm up with killer views.
  • My favorite runs on the California side are Ellie’s, Liz’s and Powder Bowl Woods. In Nevada, I like everything off of Galaxy chair.

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I really enjoy Heavenly, and it will always have a special place in my heart since I learned to snowboard there. It can be crowded and expensive, but its expansive terrain and killer views mean that you can get away from the crowds and really enjoy yourself.

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Where to Stay: Basecamp Hotel is adorable! I’ve never stayed there, but I’ve toured the theme rooms during events and hung out at the bar. Plus, there are free s’mores! There are also a ton of vacation rentals and Air BnBs in South Lake Tahoe too.

What to Eat: Here are my favorite places to eat in South Lake Tahoe. If you’re on the California side, be sure to check out Himmel Haus just across the parking lot.

Happy New Year + a Winter Bucket List

Happy 2016 everyone! I thought 2015 was pretty great, but I’m looking forward to the new year with my eye on a few goals. I made a Fall Bucket List, but between sickness and business, I didn’t check off too many. Now that the snow has begun to fall (already more than fell ALL of last winter), I have some goals and experiences for my Winter Bucket List.

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Join a Gym and Start Swimming: So, I didn’t join a gym, despite it being a goal for the fall. With winter’s early darkness, cold temperatures, and icy trails, it’s definitely time for me to join a gym. I’m going to go along with all of the other January Joiners and start working out after work. Relatedly, I’m going to find a public pool for lap swimming. My trip to Indonesia is coming up (in March!), and I want to be in good swimming shape by then.

Try Out New Winter Activities: I’ve gotten decent at snowboarding over the last five winters, but there are a ton of winter and snow sports I’ve never tried or only done once. Some ideas: cross country skiing, snowshoeing (I actually tried this one last week), fat biking, downhill skiing, ice skating, skijoring, etc.

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Snowboard Twice as Much as Last Year: This should be easy – since I was mountain biking at 7,000 feet in February last year.

Take an Avalanche Safety Course: I want to get into backcountry snowboarding, and step one is learning how to stay safe. There are a bunch of avalanche safety courses in the Tahoe area. I just need to pick one and go.

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Photo by Greyson Howard

Try Backcountry Snowboarding: After I get educated, I’ll be ready to try backcountry snowboarding! I’ll hopefully be able to borrow most of the gear I need, before I invest a ton of money. I’ve already got a snowboard and snowshoes, so I’m partway there! There’s a ton of great backcountry riding in Tahoe, and I’m excited to start to experience it.

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Try Out New Resorts: The last few years, I’ve had a Vail pass that let me ride at Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood. This year my pass is at Sugar Bowl, and comes with a few tickets at Squaw/Alpine Meadows. I’ll hopefully be able to ride with friends at a few new resorts this year – Diamond Peak, Mt. Rose and Homewood.

Resort Report: Sugar Bowl

This is my sixth winter in Tahoe! I can hardly believe it sometimes. It feels like I was just finishing grad school in Santa Barbara, like, last month. Over that past winters, I have been able to snowboard at five of Tahoe’s resorts, and I hope to try a couple of new ones this year.

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Photo by Greyson Howard.

All of Tahoe’s resorts have their pluses and minuses, and I thought that I could do a Resort Report with a local perspective.  I decided to start with my favorite: Sugar Bowl Resort.

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I was only introduced to Sugar Bowl a couple of winters ago, when I started dating Greyson, and I started hanging out in Truckee more. It quickly worked its way up to the top of my list! I’ve written before about some of my fun days at Sugar Bowl.

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First, a few facts:

  • Sugar Bowl is one of the oldest ski resorts in California. It started running its lifts in 1939, and celebrated its 75th Anniversary last year. One of Sugar Bowl’s initial investors was Walt Disney, and Mt. Disney and the Disney lift are named after him.
  • California’s first chairlift was built here, and lift tickets were originally $2!
  • Sugar Bowl has 4 peaks, 103 trails, 1,650 skiable acres, 1,500 vertical feet, with 17% beginner, 45% intermediate, and 38% advanced terrain.

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  • Since Sugar Bowl is located on the Western Slope of the Sierra, it often gets hammered by winter storms. It averages ~500 inches a year, the most in the Tahoe Basin (so they claim).
  • It’s Godzilla El Nino, and Sugar Bowl has the most snow of any resorts so far. 152″ this season!
  • Sugar Bowl also has a cross country ski area, Royal Gorge. Last year, I got to try fat biking there!

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Now, here’s my take on Sugar Bowl:

Pros:

  • Sugar Bowl has the shortest lift lines of any of the big resorts! Even on a “busy” powder weekend day, I’ve waited in line a max of ten minutes. Compared to Heavenly, where you can wait in line for an hour+ when things are busy, Sugar Bowl lift lines are amazing.
  • Related, Sugar Bowl is not usually crowded. It feels much more like a “locals” resort. Even on busy tourist weekends, Sugar Bowl has a much mellower feel.

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  • There are incredible views! From the top of Lincoln, you can look towards the Sierra Crest, towards Castle Peak, down on Donner Lake, and, if it’s a clear day, you can even see the Coast Range!
  • Sugar Bowl is a great resort if you want to advance from an intermediate to an advanced rider/skier. I found myself getting a lot more comfortable riding off piste once I started riding here.
  • I was used to riding at resorts that had mostly two settings: easy to fairly easy groomers and difficult tree & mogul skiing. It’s hard to make that jump! Sugar Bowl has a fair amount of terrain that will ease you in. They don’t groom every run, so there’s plenty of places where you can practice your off-piste technique.
  • There’s also a ton of advanced terrain and great access to the backcountry. I haven’t gotten to ride any backcountry yet, but that’s a goal for 2016!
  • Sugar Bowl is not usually very crowded, so it’s also a great place to learn. I know that when I was learning, other people stressed me out way more than steep terrain, so Sugar Bowl seems like a great place to learn.
  • They have the best Bloody Mary in Tahoe. Sugar Bowl also has their own beer, Sugar Bowl Pale Ale. Their food prices have gone up in the last couple of years. You used to be able to get a beer for $5! It’s still pretty reasonable compared to most resorts.

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Cons:

Obviously, I love Sugar Bowl, and I think there are way more pros than cons. It’s my favorite resort in Tahoe, but I look forward to exploring more to compare.

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How to get there: Sugar Bowl is off of old Highway 40. If Highway 40 is closed, you can get there via I80. The resort is about 20 minutes from downtown Truckee, 90 minutes from Sacramento and under 3 hours from San Francisco.

Where to eat: Here are my favorite Truckee restaurants.

My Favorite Women-Led Adventure Films

Hilary Oliver at The Gription wrote a great post today called “Why are there so few women’s adventure films?” You should definitely go read the post, but she started it by saying:

“It’s been a thing for a while now, this underrepresentation of women in adventure films. Why?It seems we’re not really making them, or at least not enough of them. And why is that? Well, it’s complicated—but the solution might come down to you and me.”

And concluded with:

“Maybe it’s time for us to simply start telling those stories we see that need to be told—to stop wondering why someone else isn’t doing it, and just do it ourselves.”

The issues of under- and negative representation of women is something that is very important to me, and Hilary’s post inspired me to put together a short list of my favorite adventure films that are made by, feature, and/or star awesome women!

  1. The Little Things by Marie-France Roy & Darcy Turenne

The Little Things

I mentioned this film in the roundup of my favorite films of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival. “Follow professional snowboarders who have chosen to be outspoken and make positive changes towards a sustainable environment. This film is an initiative taken on by one of snowboarding’s most influential riders, Marie-France Roy, in hopes of inspiring others towards sustainability through inspirational speakers, positive ideas, and leading a healthy lifestyle. They keep it positive and showcase some of the little things that people can do to contribute to positive changes for the future of our environment.” The Little Things also happens to be the feature film at the Sierra Nevada Alliance’s 10th Annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival – South Lake Tahoe. Get your tickets today!

  1. Push It by Jen Randall

I had a chance to see this film at last year’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival (honestly, where I end up seeing most of my adventure movies). I had just signed up for a beginning climbing class, and this film was totally inspiring. Push It flashes between two friends preparing for their first ever big wall climb and the stories of and advice from professional women climbers. “Two women prepare for their first ever big wall – El Capitan in Yosemite, which goes far from smoothly from start to finish. Along the way, we visit climbing heroines for inspiration – and we overcome broken bones, awful weather, a lack of funds and several crisis of confidence.

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  1. Georgena Terry by Amanda Zackem

This is super short, but well worth watching. A Terry saddle is next on my bike wishlist! “This short documentary is about Georgena Terry, founder of Terry Bicycles. Terry revolutionized the women’s biking industry by creating a frame specific to a woman’s body. This is the story of how she got her start and the challenges within the women’s biking movement.

  1. Nobody’s River by Amber Valenti, Skip Armstrong & Wazee Motion Pictures

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Photo via nobodysriver.org/

Another film I recommended earlier this year, Nobody’s River combines adventure, gorgeous scenery, female friendship and epic dance offs. “Four women journey down one of the world’s last free flowing rivers of the world and discover raw beauty, industrial wastelands, devastating loss, and unbridled joy.”

  1. Solstice by Andy Hofman


I like my runs to be well under 5 miles, but I couldn’t help but be inspired by Ashley Lindsey as she runs 100 miles in the Western States Endurance Race. I may even run 6 miles someday! “1 Woman. 1 Day. 100 Miles. And an attempt to prove that “impossible” is just a word. Ashley Lindsey’s mission to finish the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains—the world’s oldest and most prestigious trail race from Squaw Valley to Auburn—is documented in this film where she batters bitter cold, stifling heat, and her own mental and physical limitations along the way.

These are just a few of the adventure films made by and featuring awesome women that often fly under the radar. What are some of your favorites?