Sizes: One Size Fits All
Weight: Not Much
Materials: 100 percent stretch polyesterBuy Here
PHOTO: Dan Corn
On a recent sunny afternoon, I met Jackson Hole native and pro snowboarder Rob Kingwill in a muddy parking lot at the base of Teton Pass. I was there to pick up an order of faceshields and balaclavas he makes for his small, indie company called Avalon7. As my dog ran off to go roll in something dead, Kingwill told me he was headed out of town to go compete in Mount Baker’s Legendary Banked Slalom, the annual snowboarder showdown that started in 1985 and continues to be one of the most respected, rad and fun events in the snowsports world.
He didn’t even know if he was registered, but he was going anyway. I picked up the faceshields, slapped him high five, and wished him luck before finding my dog covered in some greasy dead-animal residue.
I first discovered Avalon7’s faceshields about five years ago. Kingwill, who started the company in 2005, was hanging around Powder Week (when the event used to be hosted by Jackson Hole) and had offered me a faceshield as a test sample. I was hooked right away. Not just because the man who created them loves to snowboard in deep pow, or because he’s a really nice guy, or because he doesn’t care whether you ride sideways or forward on one plank or two, just that you’re having fun and living like you mean it. I wear the shields and balaclavas for all those reasons, but mostly because they’re better than anything else I’ve tried.
Kingwill calls the fabric he uses “Softstretch,” which is 100 percent seamless polyester. Like a lot of similar products, the faceshields are tubes that can be worn as a face mask or headband. But these don’t itch or pull or get bunched up under your hat or helmet. In fact, I didn’t really like wearing a helmet until Avalon7 came along. It made everything feel that much better under the dome. The lightweight material allows you to breathe through it on cold days, though it won’t fog your goggles. It also keeps frostbite and windburn at bay and provides sun protection of plus-20 SPF. Kingwill is starting to market the “A7 Faceshield System” where the balaclava is a base layer, while the tube is worn on the outside. This means that when you’re getting face shots all day, you can stay dry by rotating the outer layer or swapping it out. Throw in some unique designs and styles crafted by Jackson artists and a 1% for the Tetons commitment, which gives back one percent of profits to help sustain the area’s natural resources, and this is an easy small brand to get behind.
As for the Banked Slalom a few days later, Kingwill won the Pro Master’s Division, just a second off the winning time in the Pro Division, which is where the fast kids ride who have no concept of mortality. Nice job, Kinger.