GearSnow Sports
Gear Guy

Can you help an intermediate skier scope gear for winter?

I feel overwhelmed by all the different types of ski equipment. As someone who skis hard maybe a dozen times a year on mostly East Coast snow (probably once out west, too), what kind of boots, bindings, and skis would work for me? I know I'm a little early here, but I'm already dreing of that first snowfall. Ron Washington, D.C.

A: You don't tell me your ski level, so I'll peg you as a high intermediate, possibly with aspirations to greater things.

Nordica Beast

Of course when buying ski gear, it all depends on the amount of dough you wish to drop, as even a basic boot/binding/ski setup runs $600 or more. That, and the type of snow you expect to encounter. Back east, of course, you get a lot of hard machine-made snow, so you want a ski that carves well in crud and ice. In the west, you're more apt to run into powder, which requires a little more flex in the ski. So that's a tough combo for one ski.

Still, I'd say any good-quality "all-mountain" ski would suit you well. An example: the Salomon Streetracer 9 ski ($600; They tip a little in the direction of favoring hard snow, but won't let you down when the stuff is softer. Good all-around ski, with a big sidecut for easy turn initiation. Take a look as well at the Völkl 7-24 EXP ($650;, a true all-mountain ski that nicely balances stiffness and flex, along with a new sidecut design that Völkl bills as helping maintain edge contact. For $200 more you can get the 7-24s with a ski-specific Marker binding.

For boots, probably look at something in the "performance" line—not entry-level, nor an over-turned racing boot. Nordica Beast 10 boots ($369; will match up well with either of the above skis, giving you good stiffness for easy skinning but also decent comfort. I like Tecnica boots, and the Rival X10 Ultrafit ($525; would work great. It comes with a heat-molded liner for better fit. And fit is everything, so take the time to find a boot that fits great.

The bindings should match up with the ski and boot. Candidates would include Marker Titanium 1200s ($200;; Rossignol Scratch 100s ($180;; or Salomon's SA10s ($160). All offer good performance at a reasonable price.

Filed To: Snow Sports
Lead Photo: courtesy, REI