What’s Next: 2015 Gear Primer

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Last week was the annual Winter Outdoor Retailer trade show, the Consumer Electronic Show for outdoor nuts. And the only thing more glaring than the convention center’s fluorescent lights was the prevalence of backcountry gear. Here are a few highlights.

Testers’ Choice: Atomic Charter

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Jay Prentiss has eight years of racing, 18 years of touring and six years of ski testing experience—plus a first descent of the East Face of Pyramid Peak, Colorado. He skis between 60 and 100 days, and spends down days surfing, mountain biking or sipping tea. His pick of the test? The Atomic Charter.

Dig Safe: Proven Steps to Fast Excavation

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Beacons get all the glory. They’re expensive, tech-packed pieces of gear that backcountry users covet for finding partners and getting found. But shovels and shoveling deserve more credit. After all, when avalanche debris sets up like concrete, and your partner is buried deeply, your job doesn’t stop at pinpointing them with a fine search and a probe strike. Here’s a video of how to dig safe and dig fast.

Testers’ Choice: Voilé V8

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Gregg Davis has skied 100-plus days for the last 21 years and has tested skis for the past six. His home in the Wasatch Mountains offers powder, chutes and spring corn, all of which Gregg is down to hike for. His pick of the test? The Voilé V8.

Kickstarting “Pretty Faces”

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“As a young ski racer, I couldn’t find any women I could relate to as role models in the sport,” Lynsey Dyer writes in the our January issue (which hits newsstands on January 7). So she sought out women who followed their passion fearlessly, whatever that passion was. Now Lynsey is one of those role models, and she’s bringing together others like her to produce “Pretty Faces,” an all-female ski and adventure-sports film.

Testers’ Choice: G3 Empress 115

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A Nordic ski racer, Holly Howard picked up telemark skiing in college. She recently added an AT setup into the mix. Holly favors low-angle powder and trees, and enjoys making smooth, graceful telemark turns. Her pick of the test? The G3 Empress 115.

Testers’ Choice: DPS Lotus 120

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Elliot Dale’s spirit animal is a mountain goat. Why? Because mountain goats don’t ride chairlifts. Elliot, a second-year tester, tours for all his turns, skiing 30 backcountry days annually and prefers steep powder and trees. His pick of the test? The DPS Lotus 120.

The Art of the Up: Tips for Skinning Ease and Efficiency

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Look at any beginner skinner, and you’ll likely see an act of distress akin to uphill roller-skating on black ice. Look at someone who’s been at it for a while, and they might appear as comfortable sidehilling a sheen of breakable crust as a child frolicking through a meadow. Here’s how to become that skinner.

Ruthless Ambitions: Scouting steeps in Alaska’s Ruth Amphitheater

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Like a trip to Chamonix, one to Alaska’s Ruth Amphitheater is a prerequisite to earning your “Serious Alpinist” merit badge. Andrew McLean had never been to either, and was painfully aware of his lowly Webelo (We Be Loyal Scouts) status until last spring when he had a chance to redeem himself with a trip to the Ruth. The Powderwhore’s captured the trip in this year’s film, “Elevation.”

Working for the Weekend: Meathead Films’ New Series

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Can you spend an entire season just skiing backcountry out East? Can you make it happen only on the weekends? Ben Leoni, an attorney from Portland, Maine, thinks so. And the new web series, Working for the Weekend from Meathead Films, captures his story.

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