Gear of the Year This season our team of more than four dozen tested 210 skis, 53 boots, and 13 bindings—and crunched the numbers on 1,400 review forms—to come up with this: the best backcountry gear of the year.The 19 products featured continue the trend toward lightweight performance.The Y-Ride is “amazing at high speeds on hardpack,” said one tester.
Slight rocker up front lets these boards float well in boot-top-deep fluff, too.The French-made Meidjo solves those problems with Dynafit-style tech pins at the toe for unrestricted touring mobility and fewer ounces.Downhill performance was on point, with testers describing the binding as “active and springy, progressive and smooth.” We just wish there were more compatible tele boots.It clings to a boot like Ted Ligety on a giant-slalom course, giving our testers confidence to lay down fast, aggressive turns on hardpack.G3 built in that security by setting the toe arms far apart, beefing up the springs, and simplifying the forward-pressure setting. The Test: Over the past five years, the banana-shaped Wailer 112—with heavy rocker and a tapered fore and aft—has become the ski of choice for backcountry devotees when snow totals measure in the feet.
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The Verdict: The ski to reach for when seeking out hidden stashes. Fritschi engineered the toe to be adjustable, giving testers the option to customize release settings.This year’s model is also wider up front, which makes entry easier than in past generations. The Verdict: Security in a lightweight, innovative, well-priced package. The Test: Chamonix-based Black Crows gutted last season’s popular big-mountain-ripping Anima, replacing its core with a lighter paulownia-poplar blend.The skis all have at least some carbon (although you wouldn’t know it from how they rip), the boots come in well under eight pounds, and only one of the bindings has a frame. With dimensions based on the old V8, with just a bit more tip rocker and a profile like the original Charger, this plank is a “near perfect mélange of float, dampness, versatility, and tourability,” said one tester.So yeah, a lot of brands are making great stuff, but there was one clear winner: the crazily adept Supercharger. It’s surprisingly light given its girth (106 millimeters underfoot), but a new aspen core with carbon stringers adds confidence on steeps.Salt Lake City–based Voilé makes boards for perfectionists, running each design through a bunch of iterations in its U. We found that we could float through powder, then flat-out charge over hardpack back to the lift.
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