No, thanks
The Nordic Skiing Essentials of 2016

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. 

Louis Garneau alpha vest
  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 

Swix down shorts
  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 it’s time to go fast. 

Price $90

Madshus Nano carbon race uhm
  Photo: Madshus

Madshus Nano Carbon Race UHM poles

Stiff, lightweight poles are to nordic skiers what carbon wheels are to cyclists. The Nanos let you quicken your poling cadence, adding power to push. 

Price $280

Swix carbon jacket
  Photo: Swix

Swix Carbon jacket

The Carbon is one of the most versatile tops ever made. Essentially a simple full-zip shirt, it has enough wind blocking to protect you during chilly descents, while still being plenty breathable for hard efforts.

Price $199

Craft storm tights
  Photo: Craft

Craft Storm tights

These tights are purpose-built for cross-country. The cut won’t hinder your diagonal stride, and the DWR-treated stormproof fabric up front protects you in wet squalls. 

Price $125

Helly Hansen softshell smart gl
  Photo: Helly Hansen

Helly Hansen Softshell Smartgloves

We like these gloves for their dexterity and lack of insulation, which means our hands never overheat. Plus, the neoprene cuff and water-repellant shell keep out wet, sloppy snow. 

Price $45

Fischer RC7 classic boot
  Photo: Fischer

Fischer RC7 boots

The race scene drives nordic gear, which means solid trickle-down. The RC7 has an anatomically snug speed-lace system, thermo-fit sole, and well-crafted internal heel cups—features that let recreational skiers leave the shop with a competition-ready boot. 

Price $200

Salomon escape beanie
  Photo: Salomon

Salomon Escape beanie

Your alpine ski hat is too thick, but a cycling beanie is too thin (plus, no pompom). Cross-country skiing requires a simple, breathable acrylic cap like this one from Salomon, which kept our ears warm (but not too warm) and comfortable while doing intervals on the track. 

Price $27

Julbo Sniper sunglasses
  Photo: Julbo

Julbo Sniper sunglasses

Nothing about the Sniper says casual skiing. The styling is classic 1980s Euro, and you can flip the lens up if you need to shoot at something (like a biathlon target). Bonus points: the high-contrast, polarized Zebra Light Fire lens offers goggle-quality optics. 

Price $150

Rossignol R-skin skis
  Photo: Rossignol

Rossignol R-Skin skis

The R-Skin is part of a new breed of fast, high-end classic skis built around mohair skin inserts. Beyond occasionally waxing the glide zones, there’s no upkeep. Leave them in storage until conditions look good, then step in and go. Replace the inserts after 100 days of use.

Price $405



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

Read More

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

Read More

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

Read More

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

Read More

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. 

Read More

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

Read More

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

Read More

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

Read More

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

Read More

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.

Read More

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

Read More

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

Read More