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The Best All Mountain Skis of 2016

The Best All Mountain Skis of 2016

In the gear world, the word versatile is supposed to connote “deft” and “multi-talented.” It’s overused to the point of cliché, but it’s also a totally accurate description of the new all-mountain skis. Finally, after decades of R&D, you can buy one pair of boards—not too fat, not too skinny, not too carvy, not too buttery—to replace a garageful of overly specialized confusion. In fact, the options are so adroit, we had to rethink our Snowbird, Utah, test. When a powder ski can rip a beautiful GS turn, it’s no longer just a powder ski. So, too, with a frontside ski that shralps a breakfast of hardpack and floats through the afternoon dump. Thus the simple premise behind what follows: buy the width you need for your favorite (or most commonly encountered) conditions. Then embrace your newfound versatility and go ski everything on the hill. 


Kastle FX95 HP 

Gear of the Year

Two sheets of aluminium, a silver fir core, and the fastest graphite base that money can buy are staples of this premium brand. In the new FX95 HP, Kastle designers overhauled the ski’s camber and profile, pairing a tapered tip and tail with just the right amount of rocker for a surfy feel in soft snow without sacrificing edge hold on hardpack. Result: the most adaptable all-mountain ski here. At 95 millimeters underfoot, it’s wide enough for most powder days, but with some traditional camber and the aforementioned Kastle engine under the hood, you can also rail groomer turns. 126/95/115 

Price $1,199 Overall 5 Carving 5 

  Photo: Völkl

Völkl Mantra 

Best For: Hunting leftover powder. 
The Test: This is the only all-mountain ski here with full rocker—no traditional camber underfoot. The damp wood-core ski blasts through boot-deep powder and sun-cooked mank when opened up in big bowls. Not that it’s a slouch on groomers. Ski it balanced and the rocker engages the edges for an unctuous midsize arc.
The Verdict: If you were afraid of Völkl’s race breeding, get over it. The Mantra is now easy and fun. 132/100/118

Price $875 Overall 4.5 Carving 4.5 

  Photo: Atomic

Atomic Vantage 100 CTI

Best For: Doing it all—for $350 less. 
The Test: We didn’t think the Vantage line could get much better. Boy, were we wrong. By building a super-rigid woven-carbon mesh into the new Vantage 100, Atomic reduced weight without giving up the silky feel at speed on hard snow. Thicker sidewalls make for enhanced edge hold, while a titanium spine running above the cambered zones boosts stability even more. It’s fluid, fun, and easy. Push it on morning ice and it inspires even more confidence. 
The Verdict: In all likelihood, you’ll run the do-it-all Vantage almost every day next season. 139.5/100/126.5

Price $850 Overall 4.5 Carving 4.5 

  Photo: Blizzard

Blizzard Bonafide

Best For: Going wicked fast. 
The Test: Lots of ski companies are removing weight from the tip and tail to reduce flutter and boost playfulness. Nowhere is the effect more noticeable than on the new Bonafide, with carbon in the front and back. The lower swing weight means the ski pivots in powder and crud, but there’s still ample punch in the belly of the turn for charging on ice. 
The Verdict: This is still a Blizzard—there’s no speed limit. But it’s also very accessible. 133/98/118

Price $840 Overall 4.5 Carving 5

  Photo: Nordica

Nordica Enforcer

Best For: Surfing—with guts. 
The Test: There are two sheets of metal and a wood core inside the brand-new Enforcer, but it’s not a pure carver. Rocker extends 25 percent down the ski from the tip (and 5 percent up from the tail), and it’s got a big 60.7-foot turning radius worthy of a powder ski. We praised it for thunking around in day-old powder and straightlining runouts. But while it excels off-trail, it’s the least groomer-friendly ski here; you need to drop the hip and ski the tail with plenty of pressure to get a nice round arc. 
The Verdict: Ski fast and avoid tight glades. 133/100/121

Price $799 Overall 4 Carving 4

  Photo: Salomon

Salomon Q-Lab

Best For: Flat-out charging. 
The Test: Most Salomon skis fall on the user-friendly end of the spectrum. But the Quest line brings the heat. Our testers favored them for going all-out in chutes and sunny, wide-open bowls. Even the 103-millimeter-wide version has superb directional stability. But that doesn’t mean you’re limited to skiing 40 miles per hour all the time, courtesy of a honeycomb insert in the tip to keep swing weight manageable. 
The Verdict: If you spend a lot of time off-trail but don’t need a massive powder ski to have fun, this is your best bet. 138/104/127; 

Price $900 Overall 4.5 Carving 4.5

  Photo: Dynastar

Dynastar Powertrack 89 

Best For: Varied terrain. 
The Test: When a designer finds the correct balance of rocker (upturn at tip and tail) and taper (subtle narrowing of the rockered sections), it’s possible to reduce width without sacrificing much float. That’s what happened with the Powertrack 89, which skis loose, surfy, and fun off-trail but easily powers up when it bites an edge into icy hardpack. 
The Verdict: If your local hill offers plenty of steep, mixed terrain, these planks were made for you. 126/89/110

Price $875 Overall 4.5 Carving 5

  Photo: Fischer

Fischer Ranger 98 Ti 

Best For: Hiking for fresh turns. 
The Test: Until now, lightweight skis have been a bit of a liability. Rail them at speed and they’d deflect nervously off frozen chunks. It’s hard to shed ounces without sacrificing dampness and stability. The Ranger 98 changes that. A newly designed carbon nose built specifically for the Ranger line reduces swing weight, but classic wood and metal construction from the tip back keeps it powerful on tricky glazed snow. 
The Verdict: The most promising in-bounds-to-out-of-bounds choice. 132/98/122

Price $750 Overall 4.5 Carving 3.5

  Photo: Rossignol

Rossignol Experience 100 TI

Best For: Strong skiers who know how to finish a turn. 
The Test: A few years ago, any board with this much raw power would have smacked you upside the head for every small high-speed miscalculation. Not so the Experience 100, which is both as smooth as a mushy rockered ski and as damp as a big-mountain charger. Thanks go to the honeycomb in the nose that cuts swing weight and the rocker that floats the tip. 
The Verdict: If you already have a powder ski, get the Experience 100 for the rest of the season. 140/100/130

Price $850 Overall 4.5 Carving 4.5

The Best All Mountain Frontside Skis of 2016

This year's planks are more versatile—and fun—than ever. Whatever your style, these four skis can handle anything at your favorite resort, but they're best suited to moguls, glades, and fast hot laps down groomers.    Photo: Völkl Völkl Kendo Best For: Supreme versatility. The Test: The old Kendo was a fall-line machine that excelled at linking arcs on groomers, with occasional off-piste forays. The new Kendo—with tip and tail rocker and some subtle tapering—is all that, just with more off-trail chops. Like its older sibling, it uses wood and metal, but the new shape makes turn initiation far easier, despite the added width. The

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The Best All Mountain Powder Skis of 2016

If you're a skier who spends most of your time out West and wants a one-ski quiver that can handle everything from nine inches of fresh to chunked-up chutes, look at one of the eight planks below.    Photo: Rossignol Rossignol Soul 7 Best For: Having buckets of fun. The Test: For many skiers, this is still the best blend of relaxed playfulness and high-speed stability on the market. The rest of the industry is scrambling to match what Rossi achieved with its weight-reducing honeycomb tips, well-designed taper (the ski enters and exits turns effortlessly), and relatively long effective edge for immense carving pleasure. The Verdict: Probably

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The Best Specialized Skis of 2016

This year, we tested the most versatile batch of skis we've ever seen. But sometimes you need a ski that's right for one job and one job only. No all-arounder matches these two planks for the conditions—powder and fast frontside runs, respectively—that they were designed for.   Photo: Salomon Salomon MTN Lab $950 Best For: Pure powder, face shots. The Test: Let’s assume you own an all-mountain ripper but live to chase winter storms. You need a ski like the MTN Lab in your quiver. Salomon paired a honeycomb tip with a new material called CFX Superfiber—a carbon and flax weave that adds power and dampening

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The Best Snowboards of 2016

Our 45-member test team spent a week riding 94 new snowboards in Crested Butte, Colorado, last March, shredding from dawn till dusk until our legs could take no more. The first few days on hardpack and a choppy mix of ice and snow taught us a lot about how the boards performed in dicey conditions. Then the storm gods dropped a foot of fresh powder. What we learned: today’s top boards are as capable banging through bumps below the lift as they are floating over a powder field. The trick is finding one with a ride that matches your style. 

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The Best Alpine Ski Boots of 2016

There's no perfect ski boot. Really, the only thing that matters at the start of the day is fit. We've narrowed your picks down to six top models, from comfy cruisers to stiff racers. The rest is up to you.    Photo: Head Head Vector Evo 130 Best For: Freeskiers The old Vector was a nice racing boot. This year, Head perfected the family by making the new Evo 130 even more performance oriented, with a forward lean that encourages an upright stance, a relatively steep ramp angle, and a narrower last.  Price $800   Photo: Dalbello Dalbello Avanti 100 Best For: Dialing In Fit Not

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The Best Backcountry Skis and Bindings of 2016

Backcountry gear is getting really damn good. So good, in fact, that it’s time to ditch your dedicated alpine setup if you make any turns on the other side of the ropes. Take boots: even models from traditional alpine companies are getting lighter, and they perform almost as well as their resort-bound siblings. Skis are shedding ounces, too, with clever carbon constructions and skinnier waists. But they still shred. In tech bindings, the concept that Dynafit pioneered 31 years ago has become a ubiquitous platform for others to build upon, and the results are safer and more user-friendly. To help

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The Best Alpine Touring Ski Boots of 2016

Enjoyable skiing comes down to happy feet. From the odd skin up the resort to multi-day tours, these six boots have got you covered.    Photo: Technica Tecnica Cochise Pro 130 Best For: Occasional Missions The Cochise Pro 130 carries over the interchangeable tech- and DIN-compatible soles of last year’s model but gets an upgraded liner. It remains a leader in the AT market, but due to its weight, it isn’t ideal for big-mileage days. That said, if you put a premium on going downhill fast, it can’t be beat. 8.9 lbs Price $840   Photo: Scott Sports Scott Sports Superguide Carbon Best For: Long Tours To

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The Best Women’s Backcountry Skis, Bindings, and Boots of 2016

From skinning up in the morning to shredding down icy chutes, our two favorite alpine-touring setups can handle it all.    Photo: Genuine Guide Gear G3 Synapse 101 W skis  A ski this light and uphill oriented tends to get skittish on the downs. Not so the Synapse 101W, which let testers rip in everything from day-old mank to eight inches of fresh. The superb mix of stiffness and playfulness comes from the carbon-wrapped poplar and paulownia core and the early-rise tip and tail. 130/101/118; 5.8 lbs Price $900   Photo: Black Diamond Equipment Fritschi Diamir Vipec 12 bindings  Last year the Vipec 12 made our list

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The Best Women’s Alpine Skis of 2016

We put these four women-specific skis to the test alongside two dozen others at Snowbird, Utah, this year. They made it into the issue for a reason.   Photo: Atomic Atomic Vantage 90 CTI W  All Mountain Frontside  Even frontside devotees detour into trees and bumps. Atomic’s answer: a ski that pairs on-piste performance with stellar off-trail capabilities. Camber underfoot is backed by a wood core and vibration-eating metal to ramp up carving power. A top-sheet window reveals woven carbon mesh that runs from tip to tail for torsional strength. Subtle rocker makes for supple turn initiation, while the wide 90-millimeter waist means you’ll stay lifted in the fluff.

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The Best Women's Snowboards of 2016

These boards play nice everywhere. All you have to decide is what kind of conditions you spend the most time in, then go ride everything on the hill.    Photo: Gnu Gnu Zoid Best For: Deep CarvesThe asymmetric Zoid comes in two shapes: one for regular footers and one for goofy. Testers agreed it was a joy to ride almost anywhere. “It’s medium stiff lengthwise and charges through corn, bumps, and groomers,” one noted. The serrated MagneTraction edges provide solid hold on ice, and the surf-inspired Ekstrom tail “feels like pumping a wave but carves incredibly well,” our tester said.  Price $650

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The Nordic Skiing Essentials of 2016

Our testers spent several months last winter putting the best 2016 Nordic gear to the test for you. These ten winners make up an ideal cross-country kit, designed to keep you comfortable, warm (but not too warm!), and fast on the trail.    Photo: Louis Garneau Louis Garneau Alpha vest The Alpha’s asymmetrical zipper won’t rub on your chin, and the form-fitting athletic cut won’t impede movement or catch the wind in a tuck.  Price $160   Photo: Swix Swix Down shorts These shorts are the winter equivalent of mountain-bike baggies: a functional statement piece. Keep them on while warming up, then zip them off when temps rise or

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The Splitboarding Essentials of 2016

Race to the top with these nine backcountry tools that will keep your kit fast and light.    Photo: Amplid Amplid Milligram splitboard At 5.5 pounds, this carbon board is light without sacrificing performance. The blunt nose gives it a surfy feel in powder, while the stiff core remains responsive even while riding icy late-season couloirs.  Price $1,100   Photo: Dakine Dakine Heli vest Ditch the pack in favor of the Heli. The slim 1.9-pound nylon top is chairlift-friendly and easily accommodates the essentials (shovel, beacon, and probe), plus an extra layer, snacks, and a one-liter bladder.  Price $150   Photo: Black Diamond Black

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