The 2016 Gear Guide is here. And with 77 skis, 21 splitboards and almost every backcountry-specific boot and binding out there—and Editors’ Choices in each of those categories—the Gear Guide has everything you’ll need to ski, ride and tour this winter. For two weeks in March, our 80-person team of skiers and riders descended upon Powder Mountain, Utah and Crested Butte, Colo. to shred, assess and rank more than 400 skis, splitboards, boots and bindings, evaluating the newest carbon construction, binding innovations and rocker profiles along the way. Read all the reviews, plus stories of how Whistler’s Chris Prior changed the snowboard industry, why a French engineer quit a real job to build telemark bindings and what last season’s avalanche cycle means for this winter in the Alps.
’16 SKI TEST & GEAR GUIDE
he annual Gear Test Week returned for its eighth consecutive year to Powder Mountain, Utah, and this time, 14 inches of Powder’s namesake greeted our 40-person test team. Temperatures warmed throughout the week, and the varied weather—and Powder Mountain’s wide-ranging terrain—gave testers ample chance to ride and assess some 200 skis and almost every backcountry boot and binding out there. And after boiling down more than 1,200 test forms, we’ve selected the top 120 skis, boots and bindings for 2016.
’16 BOARD TEST & GEAR GUIDE
ast March, 45 riders headed to Crested Butte, Colo. with one directive: to seek out the best splitboards and board accessories for 2016. They found exactly what they were looking for—specifically 21 standout splits, including nine top-performing Editors’ Choices—and one noteworthy trend: versatility. Sure, the big gun pinned big lines, but how nimble was it maneuvering between rocks? How well did the pow surfer handle frozen mank? And was the flex deck stable at high speeds? Find out on p. 100.
A thank you to ski resorts, charting the unknown and the plea for more telemark
BACKSTORY: POWER LINE
While learning to ski the backcountry, turmoil turns to tranquility
While Europe endured high rates of avalanche fatalities last winter, the U.S. saw a substantial drop in deaths. What factors caused the disparity? And what does it mean for the upcoming season? Devon O’Neil investigates.
BOARD ROOM: PRIOR’S SILVER ANNIVERSARY
One of snowboarding’s longest-standing brands celebrates 25 years. And while Whistler’s Chris Prior pauses to reflect on the past, he and his business don’t show any signs of slowing down.
THAT GUY: PIERRE MOUYADE
What happens when a nuclear engineer takes up backcountry skiing? A new telemark binding, the Meidjo, is born, and along with it, a revolution.
As summer burns to fall, these photos stoke the fires of winter.
When chased by an unforeseen rival, Biff considers the best gear for squaring off in the skintrack.
True grit and blisters