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The Best Snowboards of 2016

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. 

High Society Temerity snowboard
  Photo: High Society

High Society Temerity

Gear of the Year

Merriam-Webster defines temerity as “foolhardy contempt of danger.” That about sums it up. Testers found this all-mountain hero to be solid in even the nastiest conditions. It’s a robust platform that dampens hard landings and offers a firm grip in no-fall zones. The directional twin shape makes it adept going switch without losing its freeride characteristics, and it manages to be soft and playful but also impressively stable. It’s too stiff for beginners, and you’ll want something else on powder days, but for all other situations, it’s a near perfect daily driver.

Price $450 Response 4.5 Versatility 4

Lib-Tech TRS Snowboard 2016
  Photo: Lib-Tech

Lib Tech TRS

Best For: Freestyle riders conquering big terrain.
The Test: The Total Ripper Series is for advanced riders who see the entire mountain as their playground. Just enough rocker between the feet keeps this board afloat in soft snow, while extended camber offers what one tester described as “reliable stability” and another simply called “boing!” on harder snow. It carves quickly and fluidly from one edge to the other, and the low swing weight and high energy made for a playful ride. Seven serration points along the edge increase grip on hardpack and add stopping power. The board comes in a smaller size for shorter riders.
The Verdict: The ideal blend of flex and power for hard chargers. 

Price $560 Response 4 Versatility 3

Never Summer Funslinger snowboa
  Photo: Never Summer

Never Summer Funslinger

Best For: Parks and pipes.
The Test: The aptly named Funslinger excels in the terrain park. Riders who prefer soft rides that can absorb heavy impacts said it was their favorite board of the test. “Smooth as butter and makes you want to rip,” said one. It turns on a dime, with a long sidecut that initiates edges with minimal pressure. The wide platform keeps ollies and landings aligned and simplifies rail slides. Outside the park, the Funslinger is a bit noodly in steep, technical terrain, but it’s responsive enough to handle moguls. Concluded one giddy tester: “Pop. Snap. Spin. Stomp.” 
The Verdict: A playful park board that absorbs impact. 

Price $510 Response 5 Versatility 3

Capita Mercury snowboard 2016
  Photo: Capita

Capita Mercury

Best For: Going fast and hard. 
The Test: On powder, groomers, and steep terrain, the Mercury is a beast. “As soon as you put down the landing gear, you know it was made to stomp big airs,” said one tester. Camber between the feet gives it energy with powerful recoil, and Capita added bamboo rods and carbon stringers to lighten the load and further boost spring. Testers reported little to no chatter in crud and found the Mercury extremely stable at high speed. The nose and tail are flat but rock upward symmetrically, so the directional profile floats in powder. Freestyle riders wanted more flex for flatland tricks, but it excelled in the pipe. 
The Verdict: An energetic board for heavy hitters. 

Price $520 Response 3 Versatility 3

Jones Storm Chaser snowboard 20
  Photo: Jones

Jones Storm Chaser

Best For: Powder parties. 
The Test: Jeremy Jones partnered with a surfboard shaper to design this powder hound with a wide profile and rocker from just inside the front foot to the blunt nose. Combined, those elements make for a lean, mean carving machine. “I didn’t think riding powder could get any more fun. Then I stepped into the Storm Chaser,” said one tester. Not that this board can’t handle the hard stuff. “Surprising support on crusty traverses,” noted another. And don’t let the two length options (147 and 157) throw you: the Storm Chaser rides about ten centimeters longer than it is. 
The Verdict: A premier powder board that doesn’t mind hardpack or even catching air. 

Price $599 Response 4 Versatility 3

Nitro Diablo snowboard 2016
  Photo: Nitro

Nitro Diablo

Best For: All-mountain freestyle. 
The Test: Serious shredders who prefer twin tips for riding big, rowdy lines swear by the Diablo. It likes being driven with force, so lighter riders need to steer like they mean it and give it a good strong pop to catch decent air. The camber extends to the nose and tail before rocking upward, so the Diablo is damp over chunder and holds a great edge. The shape begins tapering out at the inserts to add even more direct control, and riders with large feet said they felt absolutely no toe drag. All our testers reported that landings were extremely solid, giving them the confidence to go big. 
The Verdict: A devilish board for skilled big-mountain riders. 

Price $500 Response 3 Versatility 3

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

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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 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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