Backcountry boots are stiffer and more powerful than ever.

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(Courtesy Salomon)

Salomon S/Lab X-Alp ($1,000)

The Arc’teryx Procline was the first boot with side-to-side flex in touring mode. Now there’s the X-Alp as well, which gets 23 degrees of inward flex and 13 degrees of outward, to help you skin across angled terrain. The biggest difference between this Salomon and the Arc’teryx is that the X-Alp is stiffer, better for driving a big ski. 2.9 lbs

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(Courtesy Lange)

Lange Women’s XT Freetour 110 LV ($750)

A 110 flex might sound a little soft, but all of our testers raved about the Freetour’s power. “Zero loss of energy laterally and forward,” one said. That power comes from a light but stiff Grilamid-injected shell. We also love the uphill-specific Dynafit insert and Ultra Grip sole. The gripe: not enough range in the 43-degree walk mode. 3.8 lbs 

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(Courtesy Scarpa)

Scarpa Women’s Gea RS ($795)

The Gea, sister of the men’s Maestrale, has long been the bestselling AT boot for women. This year, Scarpa used a carbon-infused plastic closure system to create a stiffer 125 flex, and we dig it. Thankfully, Scarpa also significantly increased the walk-mode range of motion from a pathetic 27 degrees to an easy-striding 60 degrees. 2.8 lbs

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(Courtesy Atomic)

Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130 ($950)

With the Hawx Ultra XTD 130, Atomic tried to create the perfect mash-up of a strong alpine boot and a flexy backcountry slipper. They came awfully close. Thanks to a 54-degree range of motion and a thinned-out but strategically reinforced polyurethane shell, the boot tours exceptionally well, considering how burly it is on the descents. 3.4 lbs

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(Courtesy Tecnica)

Tecnica Women’s Zero G Guide ($840)

New-boot pain, begone! Tecnica specifically designed the lower back cuff to fit around a woman’s calf, which is often wider and lower than a man’s. And 115 flex got high marks for being just powerful enough. The main downside: the 44-degree range of motion limited this boot’s capability for long tours. 3.3 lbs

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(Courtesy Scott)

Scott Cosmos III ($750)

The 125-flex Cosmos III is the least expensive four-buckle boot for men in this category. Some testers thought its flex might be over­sold, but for 90 percent of our skiers, the Cosmos provided the performance they needed to run mid-width to fat skis, in- and out-of-bounds, with confidence. 3.4 lbs

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Fitness

The Best Resort Skis of 2018

Thanks to a plethora of new materials, skis are getting way more versatile. (Courtesy Blizzard) Blizzard Rustler 10 ($780) “Ski of the future.” When multiple test cards make that claim, you know an engineer just blew up the status quo of ski design. That’s the case with the Rustler 10. Until now, strong western skiers had to choose between burly big-mountain sticks made for charging steeps and playful freeride ones built to pivot and slough. Austria-based Blizzard decided to fill this void. Thanks to an entirely new construction with carbon in the rockered tip and

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Fitness

The Best Snowboards of 2018

Seven boards that put fun first. (Courtesy Salomon) Salomon Sick Stick ($650) Snowboarders just wanna have fun. Thankfully, designers are putting a premium on pleasure for 2018, focusing more on playful, enjoyable models that pop like tarts and slash like surfboards. Of the more than 100 planks we tested at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, the Sick Stick best epitomizes the return to snowboarding’s fun-loving roots. Salomon revamped this decade-old staple, most notably by getting rid of the board’s characteristic pintail in favor of shapes specific to each model size: the shortest deck (the 151) has

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Fitness

The Best Backcountry Skis and Bindings of 2018

AT gear keeps getting better and better at handling the down. (Courtesy Volkl) Völkl 100Eight ($825) Backcountry-ski makers have spent years pursuing the holy grail of the alpine-touring world: a ski that’s light enough for touring but still rips on the down, no matter the snow conditions. While no one has nailed it yet, the Gear of the Year–winning Völkl 100Eight comes closer than most. You’ll often see this ski in-bounds at the resort because of its downhill prowess, but our out-of-bounds testers have adopted it, too. Its construction keeps the weight manageable for touring, with

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Fitness

The Best Alpine Ski Boots of 2018

“I love my ski boots,” said no one. Ever. Complaints are common in this category, but brands are determined to stop skiers’ moans. This year’s models solve virtually every gripe, from cold toes to slippery soles.  (Courtesy Fischer) Fischer RC4 Curv 130 ($699) Solved: Pinched feet. Moldable liners are so 2005. Conformable shells are the new custom-fit frontier. The Fischer RC4 Curv 130 uses an exoskeleton made of a plastic that’s vacuum-molded at a specialty retailer to your unique foot shape.  Buy Now (Courtesy K2) Spyne 120 Heat ($900) Solved: Frozen toes. K2 plugged a furnace into

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Fitness

The Best Splitboarding Gear of 2018

Two sticks up, one down. (Courtesy Weston) Weston Backwoods Splitboard ($899) Slashy even in tight trees, this poplar-bamboo board hails from a boutique maker in Weston, Colorado. Its fun, surfy feel comes from a tip that’s wider than the tail, plus camber underfoot and rocker at the ends. BUY NOW (Courtesy ThirtyTwo) ThirtyTwo Jones MTB Boots ($600) With full-zip gaiters, a crampon-compatible Vibram outsole with heavy lugs for hiking, and a collar that folds back to allow longer strides while skinning, these boots are tough enough to get you anywhere you think

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Fitness

The Best Nordic Skiing Gear of 2018

Keep fit all year with this fast-gliding skinny-ski gear. (Courtesy Rossignol) Rossignol X-ium Premium Skate S2 Skis ($805) Designed in collaboration with Rossignol athletes, the X-ium S2 has a rigid waist and flexible tail to deliver powerful energy transmission while reducing pressure in the shovel for enhanced glide and steering. The longer glide zone makes accelerating a breeze. BUY NOW (Courtesy Swix) Swix Triac 3.0 Poles ($600) These are the lightest, stiffest carbon poles on the market. Swix eliminated stretch in the wrist strap and added an index-finger platform to help

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