Snow Sports

Archive

We’re skeptical that the PVC-free Lily G.I.F.T.’s green-tea treatment on the boot’s bamboo footbed will stave off foot funk, as claimed. But testers liked the heat-moldable liner, the plush padding above the foot, and the thin, sneaker-like, rice-based outsole (it allows you to feel much more of your board’s…

Good for All Mountain Like the K2 Xplorer (above), the brand-new SC 87 wowed testers in every condition. “Silky,” “energized,” and “stable but completely maneuverable” were tester refrains. Credit that wealth of positives to Rossignol’s attention to the balance between a ski’s longitudinal and torsional flex, one…

ALPINE TOURING Good for Touring If you want only one ski for the backcountry, the S3 is your ride. An early-rise tip creates lift to plane above mank, crud, and pow like a much wider ski, while the traditional camber underfoot holds an edge on hardpack. The pin-shaped, twin-tip…

Fast and Light Pounds lighter than the competition, the Vertical FT-12 is built to tour and ski anything. “If you’re not touring on Dynafit, you’re missing the boat,” declared several longtime Dynafit cultists. Dynafit introduced a power plate to increase the footprint of the binding from 52 to 74mm for…

THE WORKHORSE Line is best known as a jib-inspired freeski company, but the Prophet 90 is one of the most versatile all-mountain skis we’ve tested. It’s traditionally cambered and as forgiving in powder as it is damp and predictable on hard snow. Plus it’s quick enough for bumps, trees, and…

This lightweight binding is anything but wimpy when it comes to performance. Testers felt stable on steeps and plowing through chewed-up crud in the sidecountry. Plus the redesigned straps, with a cored-out toe strap to cut weight, are more comfortable than last year’s version. TAGS: lightweight, durable…

POWDER KING A 102-millimeter waist allows the Coomba to float easily in powder. But unlike some big-mountain skis, it’s also torsionally stiff enough to dice high-speed, large-radius turns with ease. Credit K2’s proprietary construction—namely, a shock-absorbing wood core with interlocking strands of fiberglass in the topsheet. 135/102/121; k2skis.com   Bonus:…

FINE ART The Wasteland’s topsheet is so beautifully constructed from nine types of sustainably harvested wood that it looks like it could hang in a gallery. But this mid-wide directional twin is made to be ridden—especially in powder. The poplar core with centered carbon strut provides the pop needed to…

Our testers agree: The stainless-steel HammerHead is the toughest, most adjustable binding out there. Pick from five underfoot cable settings for varying terrain, foot size, or skill level. 3 lbs; twentytwodesigns.com   Bonus: Enjoy more than two inches of spring travel for ultimate control on big, steep lines.   Bummer:…

BIG-MOUNTAIN CARVER Good for Big Mountain Plenty plump for powder, the damp MX98 also drew top scores for quickness, edge grip, and stability. Like the four other skis in Kästle’s brand-new line, the MX98 benefits from classic construction and top-shelf materials—a high-end wood core (ash and…

All skis this plump are a blast in powder, but the Goliath won our Gear of the Year award for its performance on firmer snow. During test conditions that ranged from teeth-rattling hardpack to boot-deep powder to crusty leftovers, the Goliath simply outperformed every other ski in its class. The…

EXPEDITION READY Simple. Light. Unbreakable. Infinitely versatile. What more could you ask for in a snowshoe? These hard-plastic classics can be extended with modular tails, so it’s easy to snap on more deck for powder or remove it to save weight. The no-gimmicks plastic-strap binding is effortless (just pull and…

Good for All Mountain Our favorite all-mountain, intermediate to advanced-level boot this year. Based on the company's newest high-performance shell, the HR Pro has a lower cuff for women and a cozy, furry liner for added warmth. The 115 in the name refers to this boot's flex, which is…

Good for Resort Like the 1980s three-piece Raichle classic but with much-improved performance thanks to a stiffer, reinforced tongue. Big-mountain skiers will especially like the way its predictable flex soaks up chatter at high speeds. Tip: Have the liner heated professionally. fulltiltboots.com…

ALPINE TOURING Good for All Mountain The new four-buckle Titan was the toughest of the test—thanks to its overlap construction and progressive flex. “Ultimate ski control,” said one tester. “Stiff as an alpine boot.” Yet it has a comfy walk mode and tech fittings for any binding. 8.8 lbs;…

Mark Landvik’s pro model, the Lando Phoenix is a big-mountain charger built for Landvik’s home playground near Juneau, Alaska. But like the Rome (opposite), it’s no one-condition pony. Testers loved how the mixed camber (rocker between the feet, with traditional camber at the tails) locked onto rails and made…

SOFT SERVE ONLY We know, the name makes you lisp. But if you’re a hard-charging resort powder skier, you’re gonna have to deal. The Obsethed was the fattest ski submitted to our big-mountain test, and, outside of the Sierra or the Pacific Northwest, it’s all any serious powder skier really…

Telemark Designed for the new, smaller NTN binding (above), the Priestess impressed us with its alpine-boot-inspired cuff, buckle placement, and overall ergonomics. Its only downside was that testers felt that the bellows were softer than they are on the men’s version of the boot. 7.1 lbs. TAGS: powerful, NTN-compatible…

Stiff plastic on the sides of the Scarlet make it powerful enough to drive through crud and bumps yet still feel stable on hardpack and ice. But it's the boot's excellent forward flex that makes for precision turning. “Not too soft, not too stiff,” as one tester described it. “It's…

This versatile lace-up has two interchangeable midfoot supports (dubbed the Power Wrap system). Use the stiff version when hiking for fresh, and replace it with the flexible option for park sessions. thirtytwo.com…

MOST VERSATILE This do-it-all shoe scored high marks whether we were strolling a rec path or marching off with a multi-day load. The keys are low weight and a nimble feel made possible by the shoe’s unique crampon design. Small teeth are cut directly into the frame, which presses points…

The Zenith’s redesigned liner feels more secure. And thanks to a tweak in the shell design and a polycarbonate insert under the ball of your foot, it provides excellent snow feel. A confidence-inspiring choice for intermediates. rossignol.com…

Good for Touring Designed, built, and field-tested in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, the Switchback remains the least expensive and lightest free-pivot tele binding on the market. Plus the design is refreshingly simple. “Makes you wonder why other tele-touring bindings are so complicated,” said…

A lot of boot companies use the Boa system, wire laces you ratchet snug, but none better than ThirtyTwo. By moving the tightening wire to the outside of the foot and stabilizing the top with wide strips of polyurethane, the company eliminates the pressure points sometimes caused by the…

Good for Resort As its mouthful of a name suggests, this 686/New Balance collaboration was designed with running-shoe elements: a stability post for overpronation and a foam footbed. While we don’t recommend it for a 5K, it is (generally) the comfiest boot here, though some testers complained…

A small pump on the right side of the chin strap inflates eight EVA-foam pads spread out along the helmet’s interior; a release valve on the other side deflates the helmet. A bit gimmicky, sure, but it works: This lid will not wobble on your head regardless of how…

Big Mountain With plenty of snow to push around during testing at Utah’s Powder Mountain, people didn’t wait long to dig in with Scott’s fattest ski. The general consensus: Most felt its name is somewhat misleading. “Lively … Stay forward and let the rockered tips plow over anything,” said one…

Salomon’s idea is this: A contoured footbed increases circulation, which means a warmer, happier foot. Hard to say if it works for sure, but the beefy, all-mountain Dialogue received high marks for both comfort and, yes, warmth. Testers also praised the pressure-point-free lacing system. TAGS: big mountain, big…

We were equally smitten with ATOMIC‘s top-end SNS setup: THE WORLDCUP SKATE FL SKIS made long climbs a little less painful.

MOST VERSATILE During a week of testing at Copper Mountain, the Mythic Rider’s composite-and-titanal core delivered a smooth, consistent flex on bulletproof groomers, soft bumps, and even manky, wind-scoured snow. And thanks to its thinned-down center and beefed-up edges, it has tenacious grip. Which is a good thing, because this…

Good for All Mountain If powder days are a rare treat, then how your utility ski handles hardpack is your number-one consideration. With its 20-meter turn radius and aluminum-alloy damping layers around a core of ash and silver fir, the MX88 lives for ice. True, all that…

The micro-brimmed, crash-helmet styling of the Holt—often worn with goggle straps on the inside—is the choice for the park-and-pipe set. Come summer, the winter pads are removable for a warm-weather skate setup. smithoptics.com…

Designed by pro freeskier Alison Gannett, this lightweight twin-tipped big-mountain ski satisfied even our most aggressive testers. 134/100/125, 7.2 lbs; karhu.com      …

Giro’s new Pop Top design is quick and easy. Flip the main switch, lift the double lens out of the frame, and replace it with the included low-light lenses. giro.com…

Fatter underfoot than the K2 (below) by 7mm, the Aurora delivers off-piste versatility without sacrificing edge control. Credit goes to the Aurora’s beefy wood core and titanium construction, and Marker’s new iPT WideRide binding design, which sends more power to the edges of fatter skis. “It held, even on…

Testers loved everything about the women-specific Molotov, from the way the winged highback wrapped around their calves to the gel cushioning under the ball of the foot. The downside: This binding is compatible only with Burton’s new (and super easy and quick-to-adjust) EST mounting system.

Good for All Mountain If the Watea 94 were ten millimeters wider, you’d call it a big-mountain ski. From the “powder hull” tip—it’s shaped like the prow of a ship—to the loose and playful feel, this ski was built with the resort powder skier in mind. On…

TELEMARK Good for Touring Finally, a fatter offering from Ski Trab. The handmade Stelvio Light XL outskied every other superlight entry in our test. “A ski mountaineer's dream,” said one of our peak-seeking purists. “It's like it's not even there,” said another, noting how surprisingly powerful the carbon-wrapped, honey­comb…

Telemark Downhill power and touring prowess can coexist. “The best balance of the bigger NTN boots,” said one tester. The Prophet’s muscle comes from its alpine-boot-inspired overlap cuff, while the silky bellows provides an even and predictable flex. Best for bigger-volume feet. 8 lbs; TAGS: big mountain, NTN…

RACE CARVER If you spend 80 percent of your time wailing high-speed carved turns on groomers, the AC50’s are for you. The most powerful and dynamic carvers we tested this year, they’ll track unwaveringly back across the fall line when you lay them over. Despite the ample width underfoot,…

Rome’s new lacing system allows you to tighten down four different zones—the liner, forefoot, ankle, and upper cuff—with just two lace pulls. It’s ridiculously easy, and it works. Plus these boots had the best out-of-the-box feel of any we tested. TAGS: great laces, no break-in…

  This is the stiffest of the Italian company’s new freeride boots. Made for experts looking for gnarly terrain, the low-volume Agent contains shock-absorbing rubber to cushion hard impacts. tecnicausa.com          …

OVERACHIEVER We had to keep looking down to remind ourselves that this is a 152. The Drift blasted through crud that typically slows up similarly sized boards, plus its rubber sidewalls damped chatter. And it’s fast. The Drift kept up with the big boys—some 159s, even a 162. In the…

Thanks to a DIN of 16, an innovative toe-height adjustment, and a beefy plate underfoot, the new Duke outperforms all other AT bindings on the descent. Or, as one tester put it, “The playing field has totally changed.” 5.6 lbs; markerusa.com   Bonus: There's nearly zero ramp angle, so you…

SCARE-THE-TOURISTS FAST Good for All Mountain “It feels like a World Cup race ski and a powder ski had a love child,” said one tester. Part of the completely revamped line of skis from Blizzard, the Magnum 8.7 features the company’s Powerframe construction—essentially stacking more of…

Good for Big Mountain This year's Ravyn received a facelift (new graphics) but otherwise returns unchanged. It remains relatively light for its footprint but still impressed testers with its damp feel and edge-to-edge prowess. “The harder the Ravyn is pushed, the easier it is to ski,” said one tester.

BUILT FOR SPEED A teardrop shape and snappy return make these lightweight shoes a good pick for midwinter running or aerobic hikers. An extra toe claw delivers more power during quick-stepping toe-offs, and the easy-ratcheting binding feels stable in running shoes or low-profile boots. The frame is a magnesium alloy,…

Good for Telemark While not a women-specific boot per se, the NTN-compatible TX is now available in women's sizes, providing testers with their first look at this sleek boot-and-binding system. Across the board, the results were clear: NTN provided our women the most arcing power they'd ever experienced. Bonus:…

Good for Resort The first alpine boot made from sustainable (and recyclable) materials, the Renu has a shell made with a castor-oil-based plastic, a cork insole, and a bamboo-fiber liner. Experts will want something stiffer, but it’s plenty firm enough for intermediate to advanced skiers.

ALPINE TOURING Good for Touring The Virus Tour, designed by extreme-skiing pioneer Glen Plake, impressed testers with a split, hinged tongue that allows seemingly limitless articulation for skinning or scrambling. “Incredible range of motion,” said one tester. We also love its smooth, if somewhat soft, flex. A thermomoldable EVA…

Each size of this all-mountain twin is adorned with a different dude, like John Lennon, Albert Einstein, or Martin Luther King Jr. But all the dudes ride the same: Thanks to a robust poplar-and-beech core, it’s the stiffest and most carve-ready board here. Like the Rossignol One Magtek, it’s…

Designed by Nordica’s big-mountain and park athletes, the brand-new Ace of Spades has an upright stance designed to give you a solid, well-balanced platform for skiing switch and landing big airs. And should you land in the backseat, extra room around the big toe helps disperse some of the…

Ultimate Power Need more leverage on your reverse-camber or mixed-camber board? Rome Snowboards is bringing it to you via a system of interchangeable canting beds in its new 390 Boss binding. Picture a wedge with the thickest part under the outside of your foot—when you push against it, you can…

Good for Frontside “This is the ideal Vermont groomer ski,” said one tester. Indeed, lightweight skis are great for backcountry travelers and mogul skiers, but to hold a 45-mile-per-hour turn on ice, you need some beef under you. With layers of steel and a power-boosting binding plate,…

Stomp backcountry booters with this Recco-equipped, all-purpose powerhouse. The anti-slip lining in the heel pocket kept us locked securely in place. vanssnow.com…

This lightweight true-twin charged in the park and pipe, providing snappy power, easy switches, and smooth nose and tail presses. For improved freestyle performance, it has a softened tail for smooth butters and a wide centered stance (up to 23.5 inches) for riding rails. roxy.com      …

One of the best all-mountain boots this year, the expert-level Blower “feels like an F1 car with monster-truck suspension,” said one tester. And while we don’t normally condone manfur, it’s what makes this twitchy, race-inspired boot so comfy. nordicausa.com…

Good for Touring If you spend as much time going up as coming down, the new Dynafits are the way to go. They're unbelievably light but tougher than they look. “You really can charge on these,” maintained one tester. The Vertical FT12 is fundamentally the same as the previous…

Like old-school Jordans, the One has an air chamber in the heel, which, along with a shock-absorbing insole, helps take some sting out of big landings. Best for narrow feet. flow.com…

Good for Resort The inner lacing system helps keep your forefoot exceptionally snug, but testers were most impressed with how light this Boa-laced boot is. Thanks to an ultralight outsole (made from blown EVA foam), your feet won’t feel like cement blocks at the end of the…

This bike-helmet-esque lid has a barrel ratchet adjuster that fine-tunes to head size with a quick turn. Another quick flip of a lever on the top opens and closes ten vents, and we love how your goggles nestle into the short brim, which has a fog-eliminating vent.

Big Mountain In 2008, NTN turned a thousand years of freeheel thinking on its head. No more duckbilled boot toe. Instead, NTN added a safety-release system, step-in convenience, unprecedented downhill power, and free-pivot touring function. Rottefella lives up to its name, which means “rat trap” in Norwegian. But Americans have been…

Rome’s new lacing system lets you adjust four different areas—the inner liner, forefoot, ankle, and upper cuff. Sounds complicated, but two cords are all it takes. And it works. The Libertine received the highest score for out-of-the-box comfort and chutes-to-kickers credibility. TAGS: customizable fit, supportive…

ATOMIC‘s SNS PILOT RACE SKATE BINDINGS can be equipped with the SNS Wedge ($15), a “gas-pedal” shim that magically balances your weight on both the gliding and the kicking ski.

  This aerodynamically designed pole is flat for speed and light for quick planting action. But fast doesn’t mean delicate. Because it’s made of carbon fiber and molded under extreme pressure, this pole is not likely to snap. swixsport.com          …

NO SNOW TOO DEEP, NO ICE TOO HARD You’ll see old Gotamas, one of our favorite big-mountain skis of all time, with hundreds of days of abuse, still in liftlines everywhere from Taos to Fernie, but the current Gotama (new last year) is a worthy upgrade. Rocker (tip and tail)…

Building off its success in mountain-bike helmets, Giro incorporates ample, switch-closable vents and a style-conscious but functional visor on this freeskiing lid. For $30 more get speakers built into the ear pads. giro.com…

Women-specific gear should never be a softer, pinker version of the men's. That's why we love the four-buckle T1 Lady, which is as robust as the men's T1 but with a narrower heel fit and Scarpa's custom-moldable Intuition liner. 7.4 lbs; scarpa.com      …

Obvious beer-goggle jokes notwithstanding, Scott’s new spherical, all-conditions Natural Light lens might be the most versatile in our test. Instead of a gray or vermilion field of vision, Natural Light shows the world pretty much as it is. scottusa.com…

Although K2 calls the Lotta Luv an expert ski, it accommodates a wide range of advanced skiers. The wood core, topped by a layer of metal, makes for a quiet ride, while the integrated Marker system binding allows the ski to arc naturally through the turn. If that all…

Instead of two straps, the new Essence has one big flap with four mini-ratchets. It’s a time-tested design, and testers loved this binding’s unparalleled feeling of security. flow.com…

Good for All Mountain Are you rather large? Do wimpy skis piss you off? Go to Helldiver! Here’s an all-mountain ski with a big platform underfoot—90 millimeters—and no speed limit. While our biggest and fastest testers loved bombing groomers on it, our lightest testers found it a…

The tour mode still lacks the flexibility of traditional bindings, but the wide range of variously stiff, color-coded cables makes the NTN a good choice for skiers of all abilities. “This binding truly brings telemark skiing to a new level,” said one neophyte. 5.4 lbs; rottefella.com  …

Telemark This year, SCARPA finally adds a walk mode to the powerful, smooth-skiing T-Race. Add that to its downhill chops—four buckles and the best power strap we’ve seen—and you’ve got, as one tester put it, “a full-tilt, full-shred crusher.” 8.6 lbs; TAGS: all mountain, new walk mode…

NO RATTLE, PLENTY OF HUM Another no-nonsense frontside carver, the new Strato 80 Ti is motorhead-fast right down to the flaming Troy Lee Designs graphics. But although you can push into sweeping turns at GS speeds and beyond, it’s not race-ski nervous. The wide-body tip needs only to be rolled…

Big Mountain Our women testers praised the Nemesis as “the go-to ski for anyone who seeks powder at all costs.” But, while the 98-millimeter waist says soft snow, when you hit the hardpack you can hang it way out there with the carvers. New this year, a “slow rise” in…

SPEED DEMON It’s rare for all of our testers to be on the same page, but everyone agreed: The new 888 is unquestionably the best ski the Slovenian company has produced in years. During several days of testing at Powder Mountain, these moderately wide planks (88 millimeters underfoot) effortlessly zippered…

Despite nasty conditions—slushy snow on the way up; a boulder-strewn snowmelt streambed on the descent—one tester reported dry feet and not one slip, even on ice. Credit the Gore-Tex liner, grippy outsole, and stiff midsole. asolo.com…

PARK POUNDER This directional twin is the fix for park junkies. The Choice spins fast and easily, and the quasi-fiberglass topsheet gives the board tremendous pop, putting testers in the air for longer than expected. Other park-friendly features include the blunt-shaped tip and tail and the Magne-Traction sidecut, which has…

Thanks to interchangeable tongues (one stiff, one hinged for touring) and a sole that's compatible with every AT binding on the market, the Spirit 4's are this year's most versatile boot. 7.6 lbs; scarpa.com   Bonus: Smart touches include tour-friendly Dynafit tech fittings and lighter-weight thermo-moldable liners.   Bummer: Some…