Practical Advice

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Poles
The Classic Scott's Team Issue poles ($120; scottusa.com) are made from aircraft-grade aluminum (translation: twice as strong as cheapies) and have a really simple and durable strap. BACKCOUNTRY READY Need extra leverage? A quick flick is all it takes to extend Black Diamond's aluminum Boundary poles ($80; blackdiamondequipment.com). Smart: The top of the grip is reinforced, so it's sturdy enough to pry open frozen buckles and such. QUICK-RELEASE Depress the top of the grip, and the straps on Leki's Triton S poles ($120; leki.com) click in and out conveniently. They also release automatically should you snag your pole on a tree.

Do You Need a Powder Freak?
The short answer: probably not. Featuring big tip and tail rocker and waist dimensions above 110, specialty powder skis are purpose-built for unskied snow. But unless you're a semi-retired Snowbird local (you bastard), you're better off with a rockered big-mountain ski that can handle hardpack as well. Among the super-fats, the now-classic K2 Pontoon ($875; 160130/120) and Black Diamond Megawatt ($825; 153/125/130) are tester favorites. We also really liked the aggressively rockered tip and swallowtail of the new Salomon Rocker ($1,125; 147/127/137).

Bindings
ULTIMATE ADJUSTABILITY Bent Metal's Restraints ($219; bentmetal.com) are made out of an aluminum blend, which makes them a bit heavier but also more flexible than the usual plastic. But our favorite feature is that nearly everything, from the heel cup to the toe ramp to the highback, can be adjusted on the fly, sans tools. BEST FOR PARK AND PIPE The split baseplate essentially a disk hinged in the middle on Forum's Shaka ($240; forumsnowboards.com) is designed to let you feel the natural flex and movement of your board. Testers were skeptical but immediately noticed a difference. QUICK AND EASY Two straps. One ratchet. That's right: You can tighten both of the straps on K2's stiff, carbon-chassis Auto Ever ($300; k2snowboarding.com) with one crank.

Cold-Weather Hydration
How you get your fluids depends on the temperature. Here's your guide. MORE THAN 20 DEGREES A hydration bladder is safe, as long as you blow into the nozzle after every sip to force all the water back into the bladder, where it won't freeze. CamelBak's bladders with straight bite nozzles ($30; camel­bak.com) are the least freeze-prone. 5 20 DEGREES As the mercury falls, you'll also need to insulate the hose, either with a foam sleeve, like Platypus's Bite Valve & Drink Tube Insulator ($16; platy.com), or with a pack that has one built into the shoulder strap, like the Gregory Targhee. LESS THAN 5 DEGREES Ditch the bladder for a double-walled Thermos. We like Primus's 25-ounce C&H Duo Vacuum Bottle ($37; primuscamping.com) because it's lightweight enough (1.5 pounds) for backcountry forays.

Winter Traction
If you just need a little grab for shoveling the sidewalk or getting to the coffee shop, YAKTRAX is a low-profile, steel-wrapped, stretchy rubber web that slips over any shoe. We like the pro model ($30; yaktrax.com), which adds a Velcro strap for extra security. If you're looking to tackle icy but not necessarily snowy trails, KAHTOOLA'S MICRO­SPIKES ($60; kahtoo­la.com) are essentially winter chains for your feet. They've got enough bite for all but the steepest, most treacherous terrain. And then there are ICE SPIKES ($25; icespike.net). Get these semipermanent cleats (you can remove them once the ice melts) if you want to winterize your running shoes or add extra traction to your favorite waterproof hikers.

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