New lens designs are improving the view even on low-contrast days

buyer's guide
(Courtesy Atomic)

Atomic Count 360° HD ($200)

Dual-lens goggles have been the standard in winter sports since the 1960s. Just like with thermal windows, the air between the first and second lens has an insulating effect, reducing fog. But flaws inherent in that construction (refraction, image mirroring) have dogged designers. Despite advances, the view through a single lens is just better. Atomic solves this conundrum with the revolutionary Count 360° HD, which features two lenses fused together. Double-thick plastic compensates for the loss of that thermal air layer, for similar fog-reducing performance. The benefit is immediately apparent. The optics are tack sharp, with (to our eyes) zero refraction or mirroring. And the advantages don’t end there. Atomic's goggles give you a massive field of view—wide enough to see skiers coming up alongside without turning your head—and the lenses are coated in a crystal dye that basically kills flat light. We were able to pick up subtleties in the terrain while bombing a groomer at 40 mph. And our best efforts to get them to fog—like walking straight out of our bindings into a heated lodge—met with failure.

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buyer's guide
(Courtesy Smith)

Smith I/O Mag ($240)

Best Magnetic Frames

Changeable-lens systems are great in theory, but they tend to be a pain to use. Magnetic frames are particularly frustrating. Often, in exchange for a quick swap, you have to put up with watery eyes caused by air leakage below the lens. Smith eliminates this problem with the I/O Mag. Yes, magnets hold the lens in place, but two barely perceptible clips where the strap meets the frames lock it in place. Unlike a lot of ill-designed goggle tech, the clips don't require an advanced degree to operate, and we were able to change lenses in just a few seconds. Best of all, there was no wind channeling or goofy lens dislocation. The I/O Mag comes with two lenses: one for full sun and another for storm days, when the light is gray and flat.

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buyer's guide
(Courtesy Oakley)

Oakley Fall Line XL with Prizm React Lens ($299)

Best Photochromic Lens

Traditional photochromic lenses transition too slowly for skiing or snowboarding—for example, when riding from a sunny open powder field into dense trees. Oakley’s new React Lens changes that. Charge the goggles via micro USB, and with a push of a button you can select one of three lens-tint levels, from clear to dark. The technology is similar to the sort used in cutting-edge electrochromic windows, which manipulate lithium ions to go from light to dark. (Goodbye, crappy blinds!) In Oakley’s goggles, a little vibration lets you know that it’s working. The upshot: we loved them at Jackson Hole when there was a whiteout at the summit but the Hobacks had full sun.

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buyer's guide
(Courtesy Scott)

Scott Linx ($130)

Best on a Budget

At $130, the Linx was the best value performer in our test. It features an optically sharp spherical lens of the same quality used in Scott’s top-of-the-line goggles. Up in the alpine, we found that the Enhancer lens boosted contrast and heightened definition in flat light as capably as any competing brand. The frames rest against your face with the same comfy three-layer foam supplied by Scott’s finest products. We took the Linx out in storms and used it during blue-sky sessions through the spring and completely forgot about the budget price point. It doesn’t allow for quick lens changes like the Smith or change tints on demand like the Oakley, but for daily shredding on the cheap, the Linx is a steal.

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Après

The Best Skis of 2019

A complete revamp of a classic leads the cream of the crop from our test in Snowbird, Utah (Courtesy Völkl) Völkl M5 Mantra ($825) How do you freshen up a ski you’ve been making for 12 years and already redesigned four times? You blow it up entirely. That’s what Völkl’s German engineers did with the brand-new M5. Their goal: keep one of the most versatile all-mountain skis in history relevant. Not only did they succeed, but they created the best ski of the year. How? By bringing back underfoot camber for better glide and rebound, decreasing the width (from

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Après

The Best Alpine Ski Boots of 2019

Comfort and performance in a lightweight package   (Courtesy Nordica) Nordica Promachine 130 ($849) Best for All-Mountain Racing The Promachine’s anatomically shaped liner and shell, which seamlessly blends plastics of varying thickness, improve feel without compromising capability. This helps translate the subtlest movements from your feet to the ski, making it our favorite for tight trees. Buy Now (Courtesy K2) K2 Recon 120 ($650) Best for Gram Counters Just 3.6 pounds but hardly wimpy, the Recon is one of the lightest inbounds boots on the market. It drops weight by thinning the shell where strength isn’t crucial, like the sides and toe, but still

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Après

The Best Snowboards of 2019

Five decks that bring surf style to the slopes (Courtesy Weston) Weston Japow ($599) It’s no secret that snowboarders take inspiration from surfers. In everything from carving technique and aerial style to lingo and board shape, we’re closely aligned with our salty cousins. At Outside’s annual snowboard test at ­Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado, more than 30 riders put 86 decks to the test in variable spring conditions, and the consensus was that, now more than ever, designers are encouraging a surfy approach to snowboarding. Case in point: the surf-inspired Weston Japow was our top-rated board this year,

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Après

The Best Alpine Touring Bindings of 2019

You’re only as good (and as safe) as your connection to your skis   (Courtesy Dynafit) Dynafit ST Rotation 10 ($600) Several years ago, the brand that launched the tech revolution in the eighties introduced a turntable heel to prevent pre-release. The new Rotation improves upon that model, with a centering function at the toe that makes lining up the back of your boot with the heelpiece more precise. 2.2 lbs Buy Now (Courtesy Salomon) Salomon Shift MNC ($650) The Shift, developed in collaboration with Atomic, is like no other binding ever made. It has an alpine-inspired step-in heel and

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Après

The Best Alpine Touring Ski Boots of 2019

The season’s backcountry boots demand to be pushed to the limit (Courtesy Scott) Scott Celeste III ($750) The latest edition of the women’s Celeste is roomier in the lower portion of the shell and in the cuff, making it a tester favorite. Scott kept the smooth forward flex from its previous design, so the Celeste performs more like a ski-mountaineering boot than a four-buckle powerhouse. With 60 degrees of motion, it climbed just as well. 2.7 lbs Buy Now (Courtesy Salomon) Salomon S/Lab MTN ($975) Updated with Salomon’s Custom Shell HD technology, the new S/Lab MTN is heat moldable,

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Après

The Best Nordic Skiing Gear of 2019

Hammer like the gods in this cross-country kit   (Courtesy Craft) Craft PrimaLoft Stow Light Jacket ($160) With 60-gram synthetic fill, this lightweight puffy is loose and breathable enough to keep you warm without overheating. Stuff it into its pocket when the mercury rises. Men's Women's (Courtesy Fischer) Fischer Twin Skin X-Lite EF Skis ($349) If kick waxing gets you down, invest in these skis with wee climbing skins in the bases. The X-Lite EFs aren’t as fast or light as race sticks, but they’re great for a mellow tour. Buy Now (Courtesy Start) Start Ultra Gel Wax ($28) Unlike typical

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Après

The Best Ski Poles of 2019

Six pairs of sticks that can keep up (Courtesy Salomon) Salomon MTN Carbon S3 ($150) Salomon’s ingenious wrist-release system—a hard tug pulls the strap free from the grip—means no worrying that your poles will turn into shoulder-separating leashes in the trees. Tough foam extends six inches below the grip for extra purchase when choking up, and the lower portion of the carbon shaft is reinforced with Kevlar for durability. Buy Now (Courtesy Grass Sticks) Grass Sticks Original Custom ($89) After burning through aluminum poles season after season, we invested in a pair of Grass Sticks. And we’ve used them

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Après

The Best Splitboarding Gear of 2019

Because boot-packing takes too long (Courtesy G3) G3 Alpinist Plus Glide Skins ($184) G3 tweaked the mohair-to-nylon ratio in its Alpinist skins to suit a variety of conditions and terrain. Our favorite: the 70 percent mohair, 30 percent nylon Glide. It’s downright zippy on low-angle tours. Buy Now (Courtesy Arc'teryx) Arc’teryx Beta SL Jacket ($299) A quality shell is a must on any backcountry mission, even if it mostly lives in your pack. Arc’teryx’s Beta SL tips the scales at less than 11 ounces. And with its cinchable hood, slim fit, and two-layer Gore-Tex, we were more than happy

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Après

The Best Ski Helmets of 2019

Preferably one with gobs of comfort and safety features (Courtesy Sweet Protection) Sweet Protection Switcher MIPS ($249) After more than a dozen testers placed the Switcher on their noggins, all agreed that it was the most comfortable helmet they’d worn. It accommodated a wide range of head sizes (pressure points were nonexistent) and handled temperature swings with aplomb. We’re talking 50-­degree corn-harvesting days at Snowbird and ten-degree bone chillers with 60-mile-per-hour winds on the summit of Oregon’s Mount McLoughlin. Credit the abundance of vents—18 on top and two at the front—all of which can be micro-adjusted using a single

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