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Specialist Carry :: Snowboarder

Specialist Carry :: Snowboarder

by , August 1, 2014

Big and bulky items can be a real pain to carry – and snowboarding has more than its fair share of such items that need to be carted across airports, to and from accommodation and up and down slopes, all in the quest of breathtaking mountains and unforgettable adventure. So who better to share his insights on hauling snowboarding gear around the world than World Champion snowboarder Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin

So, how’s tricks, Chumpy? What have you been up to in recent months?

There’s been plenty on. I had heaps of fun and crazy experiences during the past northern winter with the Winter Olympics in Sochi and some fun days riding. Since then, I’ve been home getting as much surfing in as I can and working on some exciting new projects for this up-and-coming southern winter. 

Alex Pullin

What’s the next big event you’re working towards?

Really, it’s all about the next World Tour for me. I’m focussed on being at my best for the entire northern winter season, which takes a lot of preparation as well as just getting lots of training and riding in. Our tour kicks off in Austria early December, with stops all around the world. It will finish up in late March. I’m really looking forward to it, plus some fun freeriding in between like always. 

I’m curious about all that pressure and build-up before a race…what goes through your mind when you’re at that start gate?

There’s two different kinds of nerves I find. The feelings that develop due to my expectations and pressures I put on myself. Plus the kind of nerves that come from knowing that it’s all on the line, in a really fast tech course with 5 other really good guys. The combination of the two is healthy I think and I just try to use them as motivation to push myself on the day. Nerves are what make it exciting, scary and fun. 

Alex Pullin

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from competing in the last 12 months?

It’s not about perfection, it’s all about the moment. Sometimes when striving to do something so well, it’s easy to feel there’s just one perfect way to do it. When really, there are endless options and all of them can be great in the right moment. That’s the beauty of our sport. 

Alex Pullin

What makes a great snowboarder?

A passion for riding and making something fun out of every day.

Any guiding philosophies you live by?

The brave and the generous are seldom sorry.

Do you have a favorite saying that you draw on for inspiration?

One thing I’ll tell myself during events, especially around the start of finals day, is that in a few hours’ time I’ll be standing naked in a shower in my hotel and someone will be champion of that day. So make it all count now, don’t hold back a thing because you can smile in a warm shower after a long day’s riding no matter what, if you gave it everything. 

Alex Pullin(photography by Jake McBride)

Who’s really doing rad things in the world of snowboarding and why?

I’m a huge fan of Xavier de Le Rue. He is a legend in Boardercross and he is also a legend of big mountain lines and exploration. I love riding with him because he always has the spring in his ollie, like it’s his first day riding of the season. He still races from time to time and is still one of the best. But following his travels, especially to the Antarctic, is something I find really inspiring. 

What’s the biggest misunderstanding when it comes to the public and your sport?

That we revolve around 1 day every 4 years. The Olympics is something I’m really happy to be a part of as an athlete and as a sport. It provides heaps of opportunity not only to top riders, but allows a lot of younger riders to have a pathway into the sport that without the Olympics they most likely would not have. But, I’d love to see more of our tour that we compete on every season make it back to the mainstream public. This is happening, slowly but surely. I feel this way purely because I love racing and I think our sport with all its skill and action has a place amongst other top sporting news. 

Alex Pullin

What do you dig more: boarding for fun or for competition? Why?

That’s a tough one. I feel like my mind is in a totally different gear when I’m doing either. I’m like a kid when I’m out freeriding, looking for things to hit or a line to drop. I’m more in ninja mode when I’m competing, looking into every little bit of a track or terrain to find more speed or send something faster. It’s a balance of both required to keep me happy. A day of competing is exciting and just a really different way to enjoy a day snowboarding.

Alex Pullin(photography by Jake McBride)

When you’re driving up to the mountains in search of perfect snow what gear do you lug and why?

If there’s some fresh snow around, I love riding my Burton Fish 161 from the Family Tree series, it’s such a fun board! I’d also usually have some food for the day, plus shovel and avi gear in a Burton AK 31L pack. I normally don’t like riding with a pack on, but this AK pack sits really well on my back and I can carry so much for its size. With a lot of compartments that don’t compromise space, I can keep spare gear dry or food stashed in easy-to-reach places. Plus it has a really good board carry option for hikes or when I get out on the sleds. 

Burton AK 31L

What carry challenges do you face? What’s still tricky to carry?

When I’m on the road for so many months, it’s always hard to get all of the gear I want with me. The real struggle is not fitting into a bag, but getting it checked in with the airlines. But usually, I’m able to get a good mix of comp boards along with freeride boards for powder days and pick a nice, happy-looking person at check-in. 

Alex Pullin(photography by Jake McBride)

Being that you spend the majority of your time in sub-zero temps and ice-bound, what does that environment demand from your gear? What’s important design-wise?

I’ve ridden in temps so cold that any exposed skin goes really white and frostbite begins. On days like that, anything that can break, will break. I make sure all my bindings are fresh, with new ratchet straps. They cop so much force and in those conditions I feel you have to give yourself the best chance at getting through the day without something breaking. 

Alex Pullin(photography by Jake McBride)

Is there anything that present snowboarding gear doesn’t cater for?

I’m sure it’s out there, but I’d love to see a two-piece pant and jacket have a full waist zip that turns them into a onesie. It would be like a powder cuff, but just make a complete seal so no matter how bad you wreck in the powder, there’s still no snow in places where it shouldn’t be. Plus it would be hidden from view so you’re not giving away your secret.  

Have you ever had to modify any of your gear to suit you?

Yeah, my comp boards are all custom. Much like surfing, I’ve had the option to work with a company, Apex Snowboards, that are based in Austria and I’ve developed boards that really suit my riding. It’s so fun and exactly like surfing, it helps me to keep testing new things and learning a lot along the way.

Alex Pullin

Are there any features from other carry products (messengers, roller luggage, etc.) that would be beneficial to you, that isn’t being utilized in what is currently out there for your specialized gear carry?  For example telescoping handles, 360 rolling wheels, etc.

I use all Burton gear for my luggage and it holds up so well considering the amount I travel. Their board bags are really well padded and duffles have heaps of space. I have my own way of linking all my bags together like one big train, but it could be cool if there was an option to turn your bags into a kind of trolley for long hikes to rental cars or hotels. 

So, you’ve traveled the world snowboarding since you were 14 years old, logging some serious travel time. What have you learnt about the best ways to travel? Any favorite tips or habits for traveling better?

I used to spread all my gear, thinking it was best to have a bit of everything in each bag in case one was lost by the airline. This is still not a bad option, but I’ve recently been putting all my hard goods (bindings, boots) in one bag, all my boards in my board bag and outerwear in another duffle. I do this because I’ve been able to manage to get more in this way even with weight restrictions and I can pack my board bag better to prevent them from being dinged on the travels. 

Alex Pullin(photography by Jake McBride)

Any nightmare travel stories?

I usually get one hell trip a season. Once I was on the way to South America. I got on the plane, settled in and feel asleep. I woke up 3 hours later sweating, plane still on the tarmac with the air-conditioning broken. Everyone was stuck on the plane for another 2 hours before we were let back off and had to overnight. Those kind of trips make the first day riding once you get there feel really good. 

What do you personally look for in good carry?

I like wheels, even for my carry-on. Good space to fit all my electronics and good access to everything I packed, without pulling everything out on the floor to find something.  

Alex Pullin

What’s your go-to travel bag?

Depends how long I’m away for, but I always grab my Burton Red Eye Roller bag. If I can travel light, I will. This carry-on size roller is always better than a pack when traveling through airports. I always want to get through security as quick as possible, that’s the worst part of traveling, ha ha. The Red Eye has quick access to my computer and tablet to get through security quickly without unpacking all my stuff each time. Plus it’s just more comfortable to not wear a pack when on a long-haul trip.

Burton Red Eye Travel

What are your essential bits of gear when traveling (for example iPod, headphones, guitar) and why are they awesome?

Headphones are a must, to get into my own world when I’m on the plane. Guitar is awesome when I can fit it in, otherwise my ukulele is a smaller option and it’s always cool to have some strings to play.

Alex Pullin

What single snowboarding moment has given you the biggest smile?

Winning my second World Championship title, the moment right before I crossed the line in first and I could see it all happening was the best feeling in the world. 

Alex Pullin

What’s next for Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin?

Splitboard missions in the Aussie winter, I can’t wait to get back out there!

If you weren’t a snowboarder, and all-round rad dude, what profession would you be doing now?

Probably busking my way around Europe…

Anything you’d like to mention that I’ve missed?

I owe a lot to Damon Hayler, who passed on his knowledge of how to travel well. I have altered it a little since then, but he put me on the right track, ha ha. 

*Note: feature image by Jake McBride



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