March 16, 2013

The Microchill Jacket

The Microchill Jacket

Mountain Hardwear’s Microchill Jacket is much more a midlayer than true outerwear, but however you wear it, the warmth to weight ratio and comfort are excellent. In terms of thickness, the fleece Microchill is in the same range as expedition-weight underwear. It is highly breathable, with just a hint of wind resistance thanks to a clever front nylon lining. The full zipper adds versatility (more…)

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March 8, 2013

Volkl Shiro

Volkl Shiro

Volkl’s Shiro is unquestionably a powder specialist, built to thrill in steep, deep, and preferably expansive Big Mountain terrain. Objectively and subjectively I noticed the Shiro’s size right away—a hefty 119 millimeters underfoot. Even at the 170-centimeter length I tested, the Shiro feels big, water ski big, like pontoons on your feet big, and all that size translates directly into incredible flotation (more…)

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March 7, 2013

Volkl Katana Carbon

Volkl Katana Carbon

New for the 2013-2014 season is Volkl’s Katana Carbon, a V-Works carbon-fiber version of Volkl’s Big-Mountain Katana. What the heck is ‘V-Works’, you ask? It’s a light-is-right design/construction ethic that Volkl is introducing to its Alpine line. Admittedly, the Katana Carbon is something of a odd bird: weight would seem to be an asset—not a liability—for a Big Mountain ski (more…)

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March 1, 2013

Blizzard Bonafide

Blizzard Bonafide

The word is out: Blizzard’s Bonafide is one of the best skis on the mountain today, a versatile All Mountain masterpiece that consistently surpasses expectations. With the Bonafide, Blizzard gives us perhaps the very best realization to date of the one-ski-quiver concept. On-trail, the Bonafide is a confident carver, with an smooth, easy ride that never feels sluggish or sleepy. Like Blizzard’s Cochise (more…)

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February 28, 2013

Blizzard Scout

Blizzard Scout

The Scout enters the 2013-2014 All Mountain/Big Mountain class as essentially a metal-free version of Blizzard’s award-winning Cochise. If the prospect of a lighter, more touring-friendly Cochise fills your heart with glee, you’re not alone. The Cochise remains a formidable ski—one that has clearly altered consumer expectations and ski design standards across the industry. What does the Scout feel like? (more…)

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February 25, 2013

Salomon Rocker 2 108

Salomon Rocker 2 108

Salomon’s Rocker 2 108 returns for the 2013-2014 season as your go-to “everyday powder ski,” replacing Salmon’s excellent but highly specialized Czar. Compared to the Czar, we get undeniably better versatility in the Rocker 2, though perhaps at the cost of some of the Czar’s deep-snow magic. Both skis employ twin tip designs, adding park rider playfulness and looseness in the tail, and both skis (more…)

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February 23, 2013

K2 Backdrop

K2 Backdrop

K2′s touring-oriented Backdrop feels a lot like a big, heavy, in-bounds powder specialist. But surprise: the ski weighs only eight pounds per pair. The good news, then, is that the Backdrop does indeed fall into exactly the same category as skis like Volkl’s Nunataq or Black Diamond’s Justice—it’s a wide-bodied floater, tuned for powder performance at a touring-capable weight. In fact, the Backdrop gives you more (more…)

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February 18, 2013

Nordica Patron

Nordica Patron

Nordica’s much-heralded Patron Freeski/Big Mountain ski returns unchanged for the 2013-2014 season—it’s still a powder-devouring monster. Whether or not the Patron is a good or even great ski is not the question. What you should be asking is whether or not it’s the right ski for you. I can’t help thinking the Patron and I just didn’t meet under the right circumstances. We got acquainted on a sunny day (more…)

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February 17, 2013

DPS Wailer 99

DPS Wailer 99

A key task of an All-Mountain ski is dealing with challenging conditions. By that standard, DPS’s Wailer 99 is a big success, even a class leader. This is the ski you want to be riding on those days when the mountain seems committed to making you look bad. The Wailer is a tough snow specialist, employing experimental, non-traditional geometry (let’s call it “bent French Fry” tip and tail rocker) that makes the ski (more…)

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February 16, 2013

Dynastar Cham HM 97

Dynastar Cham HM 97

Dynastar’s oddly-shaped Cham 97 returns unchanged for the 2013-2014 season, in both standard (metal) and High Mountain (Paulownia) editions. The High Mountain versions of the Cham line were initially sold as touring-oriented skis. However, following their debut season, Dynastar realized skiers were finding the metal-free HM models to be outstanding (more…)

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