Backcountry Magazine 128 - The 2020 Gear Guide

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We don’t use the term quiver-killer lightly, but at the Backcountry Magazine 12th annual Gear Test Week this past March, the ski racks were full of all-mountain standouts. The mid-fat widths, ranging from 108 and 90 mm underfoot, slashed the lines between nimble carver, chunder crusher and powder slayer. And that’s not to say there weren’t ski selects on the either edge of all-mountain—ultra-lightweight outliers excelled in the skintrack and bulked-up heavyweights charged on the deepest days diversify out the 2020 Test.

Also present were well-rounded boots to push the pace on the up and the down, tech bindings with high marks in skiability and splitboards so good you might mistake them for solids—with the bonus of jet-fueled ascents. And to have a fully comprehensive test, we ran through the newest apparel and accessories to keep you warm, dry and safe in any weather or terrain condition. The following 2020 Editors’ Choice Awards represent our picks for the best—in any category—this coming season has to offer.


Wants and Needs
During Gear Test Week's 12th visit to Powder Mountain, Utah, winter '18/19 lived up to its hype. Seventeen inches of snow fell on testers during the mid-March week, providing ideal conditions to charge, skin and carve on 157 skis and 41 boots. Our 31 ski testers found an undeniable abundance of gear designed to do it all, from boots that charge on the up and down to mid-fat skis that claim all-terrain status, with a few niche selects for the single-minded set. The final verdict, starting on p. 26, includes more than 20 Editors' Choice Awards and showcases boundary-breaking standouts and the outliers that own their quirks.

AT Boots
AT & Telemark Bindings
Fitness Skinning Gear

Social Shredworking
Back for a second year, splitboard testers joined the skiing set to test gear side by side, old-school rivalries be damned. And once again, the integration was seamless, from jovial chairlift chats to late-night revelry. Libations and jokes aside, our 10 splitboard testers cracked down and focused to discover standout boots, boards and bindings from this season's lineup. They found trends and technology that shows the refinement of age in this established sport.

Splitboard Boots & Bindings
Splitboard Accessories

All the Essentials
The 2020 Apparel Test was filled with significant snowfall and long days railing edges and pushing the pace, ideal conditions to test the limits of any jacket, pant or helmet. More than half our testers donned head-to-toe apparel and tackled bell-to-bell laps at Powder Mountain to parse out the standouts within the softer side of backcountry gear. We then sent them home to gather more detailed feedback during spring skintrack missions to find the most versatile layers—with Editors' Choices for every category—to get the up- and downhill job done.

Safety Gear
Wellness Gear
Camping Gear
Travel & Tech

For two and a half decades, Backcountry’s kept a close pulse on skis, boots, bindings, splitboards and more.



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