Ah, the ski kit. So many variables. Are you bombing the steeps in Jackson or hiking for turns in Whistler? The best set-up will be versatile enough to accommodate different weather, snow conditions, and styles of skiing. "My time is spent fifty-fifty at the resort and in the backcountry, so my gear needs to do it all," says big-mountain skier Kalen Thorien. Here's what's in the pros' quivers—and ours—this season.
Volkl Ones ($649)
Big-mountain pro skier Sierra Quitiquit has a soft spot for these snazzy, lipstick-pink powder sticks. With a generous 116 centimeters underfoot, the fully-rockered Ones float through a foot of heavy powder, but they're equally surefooted navigating early-season hard pack and unforgiving mogul minefields. Rigged as alpine-touring skis, they're plenty light for gobbling up the vertical, yet tough enough to rip the descents—making them the ultimate do-it-all versatile ski.
Dynafit Radical FT bindings ($599)
Kalen Thorien swears by this tech binding for long backcountry ascents and even for the resort. At two pounds, 10 ounces for the pair, Dynafit's Radical FT is made for climbing, with easy-entry, lockable tech toe-piece and a Stair-Step heel riser with three ascending levels that can be switched mid-stride with a flick of your pole. Slightly beefier than the hugely popular Radical ST, the FT shines in extreme terrain, thanks to its locking carbon plate underfoot for added rigidity and stability on big-mountain descents. If you don't plan on dropping icy couloirs and insane vertical, the STs ($499) are a stellar choice for dawn-patrol skinning on your local hill and skiing glades all day with your kids.
Eddie Bauer Vert Pack ($90)
Sun-Valley-based hotshot Lynsey Dyer (most recently of Pretty Faces fame) recommends Eddie Bauer's guide-designed First Ascent packs, including the 18-liter Vert. Designed for the side country and ideal for skiing the resort, too, the Vert crams a lot of options into a sleek package.
The interior holds a helmet on skinning ascents, as well as the requisite safety gear: beacon, probe, and shovel, which fit into separate, easily-accessible pockets for emergencies. A see-through, waterproof interior sleeve protects small electronics, maps, and snacks, the insulated hydration pocket and sleeve keeps your beverages flowing, and exterior straps make lashing skis or a board on your back a breeze. Our only beef: the adjustable shoulder straps could use a little more length snugging onto smaller frames.
Patagonia Pow Slayer & Nano-Air ($699 and $299)
Whether you're riding the lifts or climbing for your workout, Patagonia's Pow Slayer Jacket and Nano Air Hoody are this season's ultimate all-weather combo. Windproof and breathable, with synthetic Full-Range insulation, the Nano-Air doubles as an outer layer for high-output missions in clear, windy conditions—with a snug, stretchy hood that all but makes the beanie obsolete—and a mid-layer for colder or wetter climes. On early morning climbs, the Nano-Air beats back wind and 15-degree temps with aplomb (and vents nicely through the full zip on warmer days, when you'll want to go easy on your base layers so you don't overheat). At the top, zip on Patagonia's waterproof, hooded Pow Slayer hard shell, made from three-layer Gore-Tex Pro and built to survive anything the mountains throw your way. We like the pit zips and a helmet-sized hood for variable conditions.
Arc'teryx Azetta Pant ($475)
This hardshell pant is so capable in all conditions it frees you focus on your experience, not your gear. Made from waterproof-breathable Gore-Tex Pro, the Azetta offers killer storm coverage without compromised mobility, thanks to a roomy-yet-streamlined cut with strategic articulation where you need it most: knees and bum. Cordura powder cuffs keep the snow out, 16-inch-long zippered hip vents let the sweat out on warmer days or steep climbs, and reinforced instep patches mean you can go big without worrying about catching an edge and slicing your pants.