Features and Video Blog PosT
Client: Burton Snowboards
To me, this editorial content is important because as a creative team, we were moving into more of a journalism/editorial direction, rather than the typical "blog" content I had been creating up until this point. Through a combination of four interviews with various figures, I was able to put together this story that was very well-received within the company and to our audience.
Originally Published: 8/13/13
8 FEET, 80 TOES: THE ION & TOTAL COMFORT
Terms like “legendary” are thrown around quite frequently these days, but much like the Burton Custom is to snowboards, over the last decade the Ion has grown to become a recognized boot for consistency, dependability, Total Comfort, and the platform in which Burton tests all other boot technologies. Whether it’s the hard-charger, the powder hound, the park kid, or the weekend warrior, the Ion’s proven to be a go-to for all types of riders.
First we’ll check in with pipe slayer, and all-around snow ripper, Danny Davis, to see how the Ion has become his go-to boot recently, then take a trip through the mind of the Ion’s original designer, Greg Reagan, to see why he thinks the Ion has turned into such a favorite over the years. From there we’ll check in with Mark McMorris, who’s mixture of aerial maneuvers and skate-style rail tricks have made him a household slopestyle name, and wrap up with boots product manager, Eric Carlson, as he talks about the challenges of keeping the Ion consistent year after year and what the Ion’s customers have come to expect each season. Four different, yet similar, perspectives on why the Ion could be called “legendary” today.
Danny Davis: Powerful Style
Already known as an icon in snowboarding, Danny Davis has a style and approach like few others, charging everything from icy halfpipes and powder kickers to slushy parks. “I ride lots of transition, and you rely on your boots a lot, so having something with a lot of support, but just enough give, is ideal. The Ions offer stiffness where I need it, but they are still soft enough for comfort and tweakability.”
Danny rides the Ions now, but it hasn’t come without a search. “I was riding the Driver X, but I felt like I wasn’t getting enough feel or tweak and I wanted something a little softer.”
When asked about the Ions being the second stiffest boot, Danny explains that, “the Ions have a consistent feel and stiffness that I’ve come to expect. Having stiffer boots is like a new pair of underwear; at first they’re constrictive, but eventually they become a part of you.” It’s the consistency that drives riders like Danny to the Ion, but it’s the comfort that keeps them there. Being comfortable is important when you wear your boots as much as Danny does. “When I am at contests or filming, I have my boots on for really long periods of time. Having my boots on for over twelve hours isn’t uncommon and they stay comfortable the whole time.”
Greg Reagan: A Personal Connection
When he started 10 years ago, one of the first boots Greg Reagan worked on, and developed a personal connection to, was the Ion. Nowadays, as Senior Advanced Product Developer for footwear, Greg is in charge of engineering, creating, and testing the future of snowboard boots. Greg explains that the key to the Ion becoming a go-to boot over the years has to do with its consistency.
“Keeping the boot the same is one of the reasons why people like it —people have come to expect what the Ion offers.” In the process it’s also become the de-facto test boot for new technologies. “Now we basically have 10+ years of a control boot for testing and development.” Greg explains. Consistency is key, but it doesn’t come easy. “We’ve done a lot of work over the years to keep the Ion consistent,” he says.
The list of technology tested and introduced in the Ion is lengthy and notable, “Speed Zone was originally tested in the Ion, EST outsoles, as well as all testing for Total Comfort construction—to name a few.” While Greg spends a lot of time testing and constructing boots, he still has a favorite. When asked how he chooses a boot, Greg confesses that, “boots are the most important part of my kit. It’s all about pain, and pain sucks. The only thing worse than yard sale crashes is foot pain. Riding with foot pain is just not cool.”
Mark McMorris: Technical Wizardry
Recognized for his groundbreaking aerial maneuvers, Mark McMorris’ skills on rails easily rival his jumping talents. From huge park jumps to rails and features, Mark McMorris represents the best in well-rounded contest riders, and sees the Ion much the same light. “The Ions are the best, well-rounded, and comfy boots Burton makes—and they keep getting better and better.”
When asked why Mark thinks the Ions have become the team boot lately, he admits that “I feel like once the word spread about how good they were for all types of riding, it was almost a given to get on them.” With an almost unique blend of comfort, support, and response, the Ions seem to excel in all areas of snowboarding.
“I like the Ions because they give me good board feel for rails and still give me extra support for big jumps,” says Mark, “after skating my whole life, my ankles need all the support they can get.”
While support is important, comfort is just as much of a factor. “I usually put about 250 days on a pair of boots and between photoshoots and contests, I can have my boots on for 16 hours at a time.” It’s not just the support and response of the Ions that makes them a favorite; it’s also the customizability of Speed Zone. “I like that I can tweak the Speed Zone laces how I want them so the boot remains stiff and comfortable at the same time.” For Mark, a board is a board, and bindings are bindings, but “boots are the most important thing in my setup. What can I say? I like to be comfy.”
Eric Carlson: Pushing Steady Progression
It’d be easy to say that boots Product Manager, Eric Carlson, has the most business-like relationship to the Ion. In charge of the final development decisions and an avid rider himself, the Ion is Eric’s boot of choice. Agreeing to the Ion’s legendary status, Eric notes, “It’s a model people look to year after year to see what we’re delivering. We’ve kept it a high-end boot with a progressive design, and we’re trying to stay on that path.”
As an additional testament to the Ion’s popularity, Eric also brags that the Ion is the “best-selling boot over $300 in the industry,” and that it recently won 2014 The International Sports Show (ISPO) award for best snowboard boot.
The Ion manages to work for many different riders. “Some riders are looking for it to be super stiff, and you get others who are planning to have 10-15 days of break-in until they get the boot to its sweet spot.” He adds, “because of the performance of the Ion, you get riders willing to put in a little time to get it to its sweet spot.”
The Ion’s popularity and consistency also led it to be a go-to for testing. “It’s where we test new technologies, as well as launch new technologies.” Since the testers already know what to expect in the Ion, “if we give them a new model with an update, they know what to compare it to.” Eric explains.
Each of these four riders has a different relationship with the Ion, and whether they design, develop, or test the Ion, the thing that ties them together is that the Ion is their boot of choice. Designating something as “legendary” doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s not something that can be self-appointed. If the Ion’s decade of domination, innovation, and consistency isn’t enough for a “legendary” label, then not much else is.
(Story by Chris Zimmerman)