The Well-Outfitted Skier

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Winter Travel Guide 1996

The Well-Outfitted Skier

The Outfit
With hourglass-shaped skis, aerodynamic poles, composite boots, and an infinitude of accessories flooding the market, picking gear that's right for you can be an ordeal. What all this super-sidecut and flex-dampening jargon means is that skiing has become easier.

SKIS: The more radical a ski's taper from tip to waist, the faster and more effortlessly you can arc. Buying correctly depends on your skill level and the kind of terrain you like to ski, but always get a rep to help you choose the right length. Beginners to experts can choose skis with a deep sidecut to allow smooth, quick turns. Try Head's Cyber series ($400 to $625), or Olin's Breakthrough series ($450-$565). Good all-around recreational skis include the Rossignol Viper X ($669) and Atomic Beta CarvX 926 ($629), while all-mountain experts will revel in the Volant PowerKarve ($550). Hart's snappy F-17T ($495) is designed with mogul lovers in mind.

BINDINGS: Bindings need to complement your skiing style: Salomon's new S 900 Carbon ($275) releases easily in forward-rolling falls. Ess's 614 SP riser plate ($609) gives you greater leverage to put the ski on edge, and Tyrolia's Power Select ($380) lets you change the ski's flex.

BOOTS: Rear-entry boots are becoming pass‹, and most boots now use a four-buckle, front-entry set-up. Boot buyers should concentrate on fit first, then desired features. Solid recreational choices are Raichle's Flexon Original ($475) and Nordica's Next 77 ($375). All-mountain boots include Lange's X Zero 9 ($545), which uses a cuff reinforcement to increase power. And for added warmth and comfort in any boot, use Raichle's ThermoFlex Dual Density liners ($169).

POLES: When purchasing ski poles, give them the fit test: Turn the pole upside down and hold the tip just above the basket; your elbow should be bent 90 degrees. Good examples of today's light, easy-to-grip poles are Leki's Vision series ($89-$149) and Scott's S-3 series ($60-$78).

CLOTHES AND ACCESSORIES: The ideal outerwear blocks out the elements but doesn't mummify you. Think waterproof and breathable, and look for features like mesh or zip-out liners, and pit

Flashy yet functional:
Descente's World Cup Canadian
Long jacket ($570)
zips. Backcountry skiers need the extra ventilation found in Marmot's Trient ($449) or Mountain Hardwear's Back Country ($299). There's also the ever-adjustable Columbia Stiffy Shell ($110), which lets you add a liner or vest, and the Sierra Designs Gore-Tex Parka ($429), which offers more warmth.

Most skiers want pants features like reinforced cuffs that protect calves from edges, elastic gaiters for a tight seal around boots, and full-length side zippers for easy access and ventilation. Good choices are The North Face's Mountain Light ($255) and Columbia's Ballistic ($170). Bib suspenders like Patagonia's Torre Bib ($375) are a must when you're waist-deep in powder. Or simplify with a one-piece ski suit: Helly-Hansen's Red Line ($750).

High-tech tradition:
Revo Classic Wrap ($195)
To stay in tune with the weather, look for gloves or mittens with removable liners and cinched-down cuffs, like The North Face's RT6 3-in-1 Mitt ($140) and Gordini's Vertex ($75). Goggles like Smith's V3 ($65), Carrera's Carbonflex Racing Cup ($75), and Uvex's Lava ($45) are fog-resistant. On brighter days, wraparound sunglasses stop eyes from tearing up, and shades with grippy rubber templates stay put during a mogul run. Good bets are Oakley's Straight Jacket ($100) and Suncloud's Response Amorphous ($85).

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