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RIDE THE RAILS Good for Groomed RunsEquipped with a race-worthy binding plate and wrapped in the classic sandwich construction, the Cool Heat penetrates the hardest snow with minimal ankle flexion. “You can feel Fischer’s racing heritage when you bring these up to speed,” said one tester. The Cool Heat…

Good for All Mountain Don't let the new costume fool you. El Hombre's guts are unchanged, and he still controls all corners of the ring–er, mountain. “It has good western all-mountain dimensions,” said one tester, “and enough shape and torsional stiffness to rail on variable snow.” It can be…

FAST AND LIGHT Hailed as the lightest snowboard on the market, this all-mountain model’s superior float in the soft stuff made it a tester favorite. But lightness doesn’t equal weakness. Thanks to a synthetic polymer placed beneath the binding inserts—K2 calls the stuff Harshmellow—this setback twin has guts, silencing chatter…

Simple, easy to use, and time-tested, the durable Freeride remains as comfortable inbounds as it is on the Haute Route. Its 6–12 DIN accommodates a wide range of skiing styles and abilities, making this one of the most versatile AT bindings around.4.5 lbs; blackdiamondequipment.com      …

Good for Resort Salomon adapted the technology usually reserved for custom-boot makers for the rest of us. With some heat and the help of a professional fitter, two sections of special plastic on this all-mountain boot mold to your foot for a precise fit.

Fits Any Foot With most snowshoes, it’s just strap ’em on and go. That’s fine, unless you’re a bit duckfooted or pigeon-toed, in which case you’ll likely step on your tails, trip on your tips, and generally stumble around in misery. There’s another way: With the pull of a pin,…

Zeal has carved out a niche for itself in the ultra-high end of the market, and the SPPX Eclipse fits right in. Not only did the lenses get the highest score for optical clarity; they’re also polarized and photochromic. It’s the latter feature that will really blow you away,…

Based on the classic Raichle design from the eighties—with some cool updates—the First Chair has impressive quickness edge to edge and, of course, the trademark progressive flex. But it’s also got new metal buckles (lighter, more durable) and an updated cable system that’s easier to adjust. TAGS:…

LEKI‘s wicked-expensive but wicked-light SUPER SHARK POLES are worth ponying up for.

Hate cold toes? This is one of the first boots with an integrated, rechargeable heating system in the liner—crank it to a cozy 104 degrees for up to six hours. Caveat: The liner lacing always seemed to loosen by midday. burton.com      …

POWDER KING The Gyrator strikes a nostalgic chord with its graphics, but there’s nothing retro about the ride. Reverse-camber construction (the deck has a concave bow) enables the Gyrator to float atop powder with the ease of bigger, wider boards. But it can also tackle groomers thanks to its progressive…

There's a reason Scarpa hasn't made many changes to the T2X over the past few years: It's solid just the way it is. A three-buckle lightweight that comes in at a pound less than Scarpa's bulkier boots, it's most at home far from $12 hamburgers. 6.5 lbs; scarpa.com   Bonus:…

These limited-edition beauties come with their own carrying case and feature Leki’s proprietary Trigger grip system: An integrated harness pops onto and off of the pole’s grip, so you don’t have to constantly shove your gloved hand in and out of the straps. The technology is also available in…

Good for Big Mountain One boot for both AT and tele? Yup. Because the X Pro doesn't have a duckbill like traditional telemark boots, it's compatible with the new NTN binding. But thanks to its standard sole and Dynafit tech fittings, it also works with Dynafit AT bindings.

With a unique V-strap system that uses only one ratchet at the heel, the Contraband is a cinch to tighten. And the toe strap may look like a big rubber band, but it’s more secure than it appears.ridesnowboards.com…

Good for Resort Testers loved the ability to customize the stiffness of the Sonic, thanks to traditional laces. In addition, an inner lacing system snugs tight—and never loosens—which means you don’t have to worry about retying halfway through the day. thirtytwo.com…

Front vents above the goggles force air between the helmet’s two layers, while the back vents draw air away. The result: chimney-like airflow that doesn’t whistle across your head. Flip a lever to open six additional vents on the helmet top, or flick ’em closed when the snow starts…

Fast and Light A standout as one of the most versatile skis in the test, this city kid is really a country boy. Testers found the slightly rockered, variable-sidecut Manhattan quick and snappy in tight trees but at its best with a good head of steam. “Turn it to 11…

WELCOME TO BIG BOY The Sultan 85 features the resilient wood core, powerful vertical sidewalls, and two sheets of vibration-quieting Titanal that elite skiers demand, but thanks to the addition of an “early rise” tip—a hint of rocker up front—you won’t have to muscle it into turns. Which means you…

From day hiking in the Front Range to hut trips in Canada, testers loved the go-anywhere Electra for its new FRS (free-rotating suspension) binding, which, they said, gave the shoe a springy feeling that made walking easier. The squared-off claws bit into steep terrain as well as fanglike crampons,…

  Take a few turns in the Hawx and you’ll notice they don’t feel as clunky and rigid as other boots, due to a radical design that allows the boot to flex underfoot. “The flex translates to a fun, easy ride for intermediate skiers,” said one tester. atomicsnow.com    …

Testers reached for the burly Vector when they knew they’d be in changing conditions—like atop Mount Elbert, a Colorado fourteener. Spiked rails and a bear claw of points underfoot bit into hard-packed snow and ice. “I never had to take my gloves off when adjusting my shoes,” one tester…

From ripping the steeps at Silverton to carving groomers at Loveland, these twin tips were the ultimate hero skis. Their wood core makes them feel indestructibly stiff while bombing descents, yet their lightweight construction means they climb easily too. 128/98/121, 8.4 lbs; rossignol.com   Bonus: Super stable in crud.  …

This lightweight, composite-baseplated binding reacts instantly to commands. With the new Speed Zone strap technology, one pull and the ankle strap cinches tight. Custom-fit the Escapade with tool-free adjustments for strap length and forward lean. burton.com      …

CRUISE MISSILE Good for PowderSchlepping most oversize (and heavy) rockered skis up on a boot-pack can be spirit-crushing. Not so with the Megawatt. At ten pounds six ounces a pair, they’re markedly lighter than the norm. But they don’t ski wimpy. Although the Megawatt sports a rockered tip, it…

Two sports, one helmet. That’s the idea behind WRSI’s highly adjustable snow- and kayak-ready Fresh Roy. The only downside: With no vents, it’s the least breathable helmet here. Get the optional detachable face mask ($40) if you take big risks but like the way your face looks.

TELEMARK Good for Telemark Like all the women-specific telemark and AT skis we tested, the Joule didn't stand up to our most aggressive female skiers. But it held its own in tricky backcountry conditions, and it's impressively light for its dimensions. 125/95/112, 7.3 lbs; bdel.com  …

At 1.9 pounds per pair on our scales, these unisex shoes are remarkably nimble. While they meet US Snowshoe Association racing requirements, they work just as well knocking around your local trails. northernlites.com…

Good for Frontside Last year’s Gear of the Year award winner comes back this season with an updated look, but the same explosive turn shape and no-nonsense edge hold. Essentially a World Cup race ski—wood core and sandwich construction—with a bit more girth, the Classic 80 is…

ALPINE TOURING Good for All Mountain With unrivaled downhill performance, the DIN-16 Duke does anything a resort binding can—huck air, carve rails, hammer bump lines. Just don't think of it as an AT binding. It's an alpine binding with a walk mode. Yes, the Duke will tour when you…

Alpine Touring The Quadrant’s four buckles, consistent flex, and 40 degrees of touring motion make it BD’s best all-mountain option yet. Testers praised the stout overlap upper cuff and the way the Boa closure system in the boot’s liner cradles your ankle. 7.8 lbs; TAGS: all mountain, Boa…

FAT AND FURIOUS The Atlas was designed for guys who charge down 50-degree faces at downhill racing speeds. And what does that mean to you? Only this: The Atlas is fat enough for the deepest snow, but it handles like a traditional ski. So you can load it up and…

All Mountain With a lower cuff, a super-comfortable walk mode, and a grippy sole, the intermediate, all-mountain Delight was a tester favorite. While it’s not quite as stiff as the Inferno (above), it delivers an impressive balance of power transfer and all-day comfort. Plus, quilted down in the lower liner…

Interchangeable lens, done right: Flip open the hinged front gasket, pop in a different lens (it ships with two) and in a matter of seconds you’ve got the right tint for the conditions. carrerasportusa.com…

Julia Mancuso took hers to Olympic gold. On you, foam insulation, a honeycomb Aramid air layer, and multiple pad configurations make for a snugger (and slimmer) alter-native to the traditional bobblehead-style racing helmets. pocski.com…

TURN, TURN, TURN Good for Groomed Runs OK, so most of mainland Europe is still heavily into caaarvvink. That’s a good thing, because it means they’ll keep making detuned race skis like the powerful SX 12pb. In addition to a wood-like synthetic layup buttressed by sheets of…

Good for Touring Though recently bought by K2, 32-year-old Karhu has so far stayed true to its roots, continuing to make some of the best touring skis on the market. Testers found the Storm predictable, versatile, and, of course, an absolute blast in soft snow. “Edgy and stable at…

SAFE AT ANY SPEED With its cap sidewall construction, the Timeless dishes up supersmooth, chatter-free turns at any speed. But it likes to rip, too. At higher velocity, Palmer’s FLF technology (which earned the company a Gear of the Year award last year) slightly lifts the nose and tail, to…

Good for Resort If we had a Most Likely to Succeed in Any Conditions award, the reverse-camber, twin-tip Dreamboat would have been champ. Credit Forum’s old-school philosophy, which eschews the new multiple sidecuts—unlike almost every other board here—believing instead that one constant arc from tip to tail…

The optical quality is impressive, but it’s the frame design that really shines: An internal skeleton gives the frame more structural integrity than most goggles, and it takes pressure off the bridge of your nose for a fit that’s firm but even. oakley.com…

Except for a few tiny holes on the brim and back, the Rival has no vents. The result is better weather sealing during storms but a sweatier head come spring. It’s a high-volume helmet. TAGS: simple, well-priced…

Testers were impressed with the Prophecy’s secure fit and crisp lenses, but the coolest feature is its Porex Filter. This tiny little portal lets air but not water pass through, which prevents moisture buildup between the lenses and also regulates the air pressure, thus decreasing the chances that the…

Testers loved how this intermediate/advanced boot combined a great out-of-the-box fit with a smooth and predictable flex in all conditions. “Great feel without sacrificing ankle flex,” said one tester. Also available in a much stiffer 130 flex with a steel frame for more torsional rigidity. TAGS: intermediate,…

  Telescope this carbon-and-Kevlar pole out for more leverage and better balance while skinning or hiking in the backcountry, and don’t worry about snagging it on a tree (and dislocating your shoulder) on the way down: A new mechanism allows the strap to release under pressure. leki.com      …

Thanks to a luxurious shearling lining, this is the warmest dress boot we’ve seen. It’s ideal for dressy dates in the dead of winter in places like Chicago and Jackson Hole. Be careful on ice—the smooth soles aren’t that grippy. johnstonmurphy.com…

REBEL DESIGN Lib Tech has abandoned traditional geometry and camber design to create a new rocker shape. The result? The Skate Banana has tremendous edge hold and is controlled directly under your balance point, making turns effortless on hardpack. And thanks to its detune-friendly Magne-Traction sidecut, it yielded catch-free balance…

Stiff plastic and a double-injected cuff afford alpine-boot-like downhill performance, but thanks to a walk mode it feels like an alpine-touring boot on the way up. 8.3 lbs; garmontusa.com   Bonus: Further evidence of its split personality: It comes with two interchangeable soles, one a grippier ski-mountaineering sole and one…

If someone forgets or breaks their avalanche probe, these are great insurance. Pop off the baskets, screw the shafts together, and you’ve got a six-foot probe. Bummer: The mechanism that adjusts pole length can be finicky. Bonus: Comes with both winter and trekking baskets. life-link.com…

Good for Big Mountain If we had a Gear of the Year award for boots, the Factor would win it. Constructed with an alpine-like overlap-shell design and progressive forward flex, the Factor was easily this year's most comfortable and best-performing downhill boot. Testers especially liked the liner's Boa closure…

With shock-absorbing base pads, stainless-steel cables, and a time-tested all-mountain design, the Team remains one of the most durable and quickest-securing systems we’ve ever tested. A redesigned strap shifts materials to areas that need more support. Translation: superior response with cradling comfort. flow.com…

Like to move fast? This lightweight snowshoe took top honors among runners and speedier testers on even terrain. The binding’s crisscrossed webbing cinches tight with an easy tug, and the heel strap fits everything from low-profile running shoes to bulky snow boots. On icy days when you…

Call it whatever you want—sidecountry, slackcountry, or frontcountry. But as the line between resort and backcountry continues to blur, the differences are obvious: Where we're skiing is changing, and so is the gear we're using. And just as our favorite alpine ski—the aptly named SideStash —is equally adept on both…

Big Mountain With the surface area of an aircraft carrier, aggressive rocker forward of the boot, and traditional camber underfoot and in the tail, the DarkSide dominates deep powder. “Scary fast and maneuverable in the fluff,” said one Utah tester. The stiff, flat tail provides a solid platform for…

CARVE IT ALL Like every model in Blizzard’s line, the M-Power is overbuilt, with beefy vertical sidewalls. The resulting deep edge penetration and an unwavering stability made the M-Power the best groomer ski in this category. But there was a tradeoff: It was a little hard to handle in soft…

If your main objective is gentle, packed trails or snowy, rolling hills, the Crest is for you. Testers were drawn to it because of a comfortable and easy-to-ratchet binding, enough float for undemanding trails (like Vermont’s Bolton backcountry), and surprising grip. All at less than half the price of…

  Built from the same basic mold Lange has been using for 30 years, these all-mountain (and updated) boots have even more spring and power, thanks to a shock-absorbing boot board and a heavy-duty power strap. langeskiboots.com          …

CARVING CHAMP Essentially built just like a race ski—with solid sidewalls, a full wood core, and a 15-meter turn radius—this aptly named ski is in a carving league all by itself. “Watch out for yellow jackets,” cautioned one tester. But even when this ski was ripping high-speed turns down firm…

Liked last year's Mt. Baker? These are the same, only lighter. By using thinner steel, K2 shaved off almost a pound per ski, which testers noticed on the way up: “I felt like I could run in them,” said one. 120/88/108, 6.5 lbs; k2alpineterrain.com   Bonus: In all other conditions—especially…

The shoe is built lighter and slimmer than the unisex version but with the same unique design: teeth cut directly into the aluminum frame, which flexes and bites into the snow as you press down. The free-rotating binding kept snow kick-up to a minimum. 3.3 lbs; msrgear.com. Pair them…

KING OF SLASH Good for Powder Looser and more nimble than most rockered skis, the S7 is perfect in any snow deeper than your boots. The most versatile of the category, it was quick enough for tree skiing, and the traditional sidecut underfoot (the ski’s reverse sidecut…

More of a Budweiser man than a High Life guy? The Trace is also available in seven colors, each with ten vents. But this is the only style that has a rear vent that conveniently doubles as a bottle opener. redprotection.com…

ALPINE TOURING Good for Alpine Touring Scarpa's superlight, four-buckle Diva still provides the best downhill performance of any AT boot. The Dynafit compatibility allows for ultralight touring setups, and the boot comes with two sets of tongues—one for touring and one for ripping downhill. 7 lbs;…

Good for Alpine Touring All-around mid-fat dimensions make the Shazam our favorite go-to gun for resort-based adventures—it's just plump enough to keep afloat in a foot of powder. On firmer snow, testers found that the wood core provided dampness and torsional rigidity for quick, edge-to-edge responsiveness. 120/90/113, 6.8 lbs;…

Good for Big Mountain It’s a fat ski in a race ski’s body. With no camber at all (either traditional or reverse), a wood-and-metal laminate construction to quiet the ride, and vertical sidewalls for enhanced edge penetration, the Girish likes to flat-out wail downhill. “The stability makes…

ALPINE TOURING Good for Touring The 2010 ST uses a chromoly-steel toepiece that improves strength while shaving nearly two ounces of weight. And the interface between pins and inserts is now more precise, which increases downhill control: “Surprisingly solid,” said one tester. We love the pivot-point efficiency, kick-turn ease,…

Alpine Touring Game-changer alert! The price tag is no joke, but the TLT, with its full carbon-fiber upper cuff, boasts the best stiffness-to-weight ratio we’ve ever seen. It weighs less than five pounds, and it rips: The two-buckle lockdown system yields solid ski-to-boot power. Shave off a quarter of the…

POWDER SPECIALIST The Gambit—by Boulder, Colorado–based custom ski builder Folsom—is part of a new generation of fat skis that are serviceable on groomers, too. Here, the aggressively rockered tip and tail are tapered for a loose feel in deep snow, but the traditional camber and sidecut let you edge with…

Alpine Touring The Starlet lived up to its name and was the center of many testers’ attention. “It’s superlight, but surfy and incredibly fun in pow and snappy on groomers,” said one. It’s also touring-friendly, with an aluminum skin clip and flat tail. 134/100/121, 6.2 lbs. TAGS: all mountain…

With metallic highlights woven into the strap and a distressed-leather carrying case, the Black Boutique is understatedly badass. For flat coastal light, the new Ignitor lens—taken from Smith’s sunglass line—is among the best we’ve tested. smithoptics.com…

What started as a utilitarian whitewater helmet has crossed over to snow sports. With alternating layers of plastic and energy-absorbing foam, the Fresh Roy is the safest helmet for the money. Wear it as is with a thin beanie or Velcro in the included fleece liner with ear…

THE CHANGELING Good for Groomed Runs Twist the Power Switch on the tail 90 degrees from “dynamic” to “power” mode and the Tigershark morphs from a damp, stable cruiser to an unrelenting high-energy carver. The switch engages two slender carbon-fiber rods inside the ski that load up…

Good for Touring Extremely light for its width, the wood-core Manaslu impressed testers most when the snow got funky. While the tip is slightly rockered, the back third of the ski has more sidecut, which allows for quick turns in steep and tight terrain. Note: The pre-cut inserts are…

A SOFTY WITH GUTS This true twin spins like a top with incredible control, but thanks to its predictable flex and soft feel, it’s an extremely forgiving board—and a great choice for intermediates looking to take it to the next level. It won’t let you down: Testers were surprised by…

Good for Resort Whereas most of the boards here have either traditional or reverse camber, the Travis Rice is a combo. The mixed camber—reverse between the bindings; traditional at either end—of this super- aggressive board makes for a remarkably stable and smooth ride that’s quick to…

Would you buy your teenage son a $200 goggle? We wouldn’t either. Optic Nerve’s Antero has a clarity-boosting spherical lens, the likes of which could once be found only on high-dollar units. nerveusa.com…

The Vantage is a freak for climate control, with no fewer than 14 sealable vents; the front four independently close for more or less A/C on the descent. Its slim profile, good interior air channels, and easily adjustable fit made this our favorite helmet of the test. TAGS:…

The Elevate has everything we’ve come to expect from Oakley. Helmet-compatible outriggers. A wide-view spherical lens. An internal skeleton that evenly distributes pressure to your entire face (not just your nose). But also something new at this price: polarization. The effect is a near-total elimination of glare.

The Quest likes to ski the resort, boot-pack, and occasionally go on tours. Sound familiar? While it weighs about 30 percent less than your average alpine boot and has a walk mode, it’s no softie on the way down. “This is truly a go-anywhere boot for better skiers,” said…

  Aluminum poles are heavier, stiffer, and (usually) not as pricey as carbon-fiber sticks. But style don’t come cheap, and if you want the retro day-glo paint job and pimpin’ straps, well, you’re going to have to pay for it. scottusa.com          …

Besides exposing your naïveté, gaper gap—the bit of exposed forehead between your goggles and helmet—also exposes your forehead to ice-cream-headache­inducing cold. Scott’s new Fix, with its strap routed through the goggle’s frame (instead of bolted to it), eliminates that gap. scottusa.com…