2015 Editors’ Choice Awards: Skis

From a crop of nearly 200 skis tested in March at Powder Mountain, Utah, we’ve selected the best 12 models for 2015 based on overwhelming tester feedback and cutting-edge innovation. Looking for the lightest, carbon-infused powder ski or the most versatile front-and-backside ski? You’ll find it among these 12 standout skis.

But these aren’t the only skis that rose to the top at Gear Test Week, and this isn’t all we have to say about them. Subscribe now to get the 2015 Gear Guide or order a copy, here, for the full reviews of these products, plus more than 50 additional Gear Guide Selects.

 

BLACK DIAMOND EQUIPMENT CARBON MEGAWATT

Black-Diamond-Carbon-Megawatt_web
$1,000 – BLACKDIAMONDEQUIPMENT.COM
SIZES (cm): 178, 188
DIMENSIONS (mm): 147/120/1127
WEIGHT/PAIR: 7 lbs. 6 oz. (188)

+ “Really light option for days devoted to going uphill with guaranteed powder.”
- “Rocker and weight make it hard to hold a turn in the chunder.”
= A specialty ski for dedicated touring on the deepest days.

G3 EMPIRE 115 CARBON

G3-Empire-115-Carbon_web
$980 – GENUINEGUIDEGEAR.COM
SIZES (cm): 175, 180, 185, 190
DIMENSIONS (mm): 145/115/126
WEIGHT/PAIR: 7 lbs. 4 oz. (175)

+ “Super light but laterally stiff. Damp enough to plow through crud.”
- “I wouldn’t want these on refrozen spring snow.”
= Light yet powerful carbon construction for less than a grand.

 

DPS YVETTE 112RP.2

DPS-Yvette-112RP.2_clip
$1,299 – DPSSKIS.COM  
SIZES (cm): 168, 178
DIMENSIONS (mm): 141/112/128
WEIGHT/PAIR: 7 lbs. 6 oz. (178)

+“Easy on the feet and knees, which is an important element for a touring tool.”
- “They’d be a touch heavy for longer tours.”
= A major contender for resort-based and trailhead adventures.

VÖLKL V-WERKS KATANA

Volkl-V-WERKS-Katana_web
$1,275 – VOLKL.COM  
SIZES (cm): 177, 184, 191
DIMENSIONS (mm): 143/112/132
WEIGHT/PAIR: 7 lbs. 11 oz. (177)

+ “Skis great tip to tail. Lightweight yet aggressive.”
- “Not for the timid, or those strapped for cash.”
= Will appeal to a wide range of skiers looking for might with the light.

ATOMIC CENTURY 109

Atomic-Century-109_web
$700 – ATOMIC.COM    
SIZES (cm): 159, 167, 175
DIMENSIONS (mm): 132/109/122
WEIGHT/PAIR: 7 lbs. 4. oz. (167)
 
+ “A fantastic all-around ski that’s light enough to be a serious touring contender.”
- “Their performance was mostly consistent, though they could get a little sloppy in the chop.”
= Whatever bindings you throw on it—tech, touring or alpine—chances are you’ve got the right setup.

MOVEMENT TRUST

Movement-Trust_web
$750 – LIBERTYMOUNTAIN.COM  
SIZES (cm): 178, 186, 194
DIMENSIONS (mm): 140/108/128
WEIGHT/PAIR: 8 lbs. 12 oz. (186)

+ “Aptly named, it inspires all kinds of trust at any speed. Super fun!”
– “Maybe a little heavy for long tours, but worth the weight.”
= “This ski made me a faster, more confident, happier skier.”

LA SPORTIVA VAPOR NANO

LaSportiva_VaporNano_web
$1,200 – SPORTIVA.COM     
SIZES (cm): 164, 172, 180, 188
DIMENSIONS (mm): 130/103/120
WEIGHT/PAIR: 5 lbs. 4 oz. (180)

+ “Lightest weight per surface area. Period.”
- “Rocker seems too long and the boot center [line] too far forward.”
= A “ghost” of a ski that can actually hold an edge on hard snow.

VOILÉ V6

Voile-V6_web
$650 - VOILE.COM       
SIZES (cm): 163, 173, 183, 188
DIMENSIONS (mm): 124/100/109
WEIGHT/PAIR: 7 lbs. 6 oz. (183)

+ “All-day, almost all-conditions board.”
- “In really deep snow, ‘I should’ve had the V8.’”
= An exceptionally versatile ski for nearly all ambitions.

SALOMON STELLA

Salomon-Stella_web
$700 - SALOMON.COM  
SIZES (cm): 158, 165, 172
DIMENSIONS (mm): 127/102/119
WEIGHT/PAIR: 8 lbs. (172)

+ “Effortless transitions between crud, powder and groomers.”
- “It’s not necessarily what I’d call a charger.”
= A super fun and playful ski with an easy learning curve.

DYNASTAR CHAM 97 W

Dynastar-Cham-97-W_web
$650 - DYNASTAR.COM  
SIZES (cm): 152, 159, 166, 172, 178
DIMENSIONS (mm): 133/97/113
WEIGHT/PAIR: 7 lbs. 15 oz. (178)

+ “This ski can do anything and make you look good in the process.”
- “Skis extra short—consider rounding up.”
= Simply a standout ski for women of all abilities and ambitions.

K2 WAYBACK 96

K2-WayBack-96_web
$840 - K2SKIS.COM
SIZES (cm): 170, 177, 184
DIMENSIONS (mm): 128/96/118
WEIGHT/PAIR: 6 lbs. 13 oz. (177)

+ “Very poppy, quick, nimble and stable on soft snow.”
- Tip and tail rocker makes is ski a little short, so size accordingly.
= Light, damp, a quiver killer for day in, day out tourers where inconsistent snow is the norm.

BLIZZARD ALTITUDE

Blizzard-Altitude_web
$800 - BLIZZARD-SKI.COM    
SIZES (cm): 166, 173, 180, 187
DIMENSIONS (mm): 128/88/110
WEIGHT/PAIR: 6 lbs. 11 oz. (180)

+ “Inspires instant confidence for an aggressive skier to bag peaks and rip couloirs all season long.”
- “Not much float. May dive in powder.”
= For anything but deep days, a palpably light, versatile ride.

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Comments

  1. Paul Arnold says:

    Feels like you guys pick at least one from each of your advertisers, which is disappointing. I’d like more guidance choosing between brands each season.

    • Tyler Cohen says:

      Paul, We pick our Editors’ Choice Awards and Gear Guide selections based on tester feedback, and we do this in early summer, long before most brands have even purchased their ads. In fact, the editors, myself included, often don’t know which advertisers are in the magazine until the final, printed product arrives in the mail. What would be more helpful for you to choose between brands or products each season? —Tyler Cohen, Editor

      • I think one often overlooked aspect of ‘backcountry’ ski reviews are verified weights, given how crucial that factor is for our sport . It’s common for most manufacturer’s to provide this now, but my experience is that those can often vary from reality so it would be nice to have an independent check. Aside from conveying more confidence in the absolute weight, it would provide consistency for the relative weights of gear against their competitors, which is probably the more important factor when sorting through the tidal wave of products coming out every year. Perhaps BCM already does this but if you do, it’s difficult to find that out – perhaps a note near the weights or an asterix/footnote would be good. Along the same lines it’s great to see you guys comparing similarly sized skis when providing weight. That’s not always the case in reviews and nothing quite as useless as providing weights for two similarly dimensioned skis on opposite ends of the manufacturer’s size offerings.

        Further down on the wish list is some analysis that compares/quantify the amount and type of rocker on a particular ski. A close second is providing the effective edge length.

        • Verified weight is not “Crucial.” Getting out and skiing the skis is crucial. The weights, if they vary by an ounce or two is just a detail that you should quickly overcome by getting tougher and training harder.

  2. Great to see sportiva in the line up. While the vapor is The newest the sportiva hI5 is still thier best. It is a lightEr, wider, uni-directioNal ski with more rocker made for Moutaineering. I have toured three of the above braNds and thE hi5 Does it better In all areas and conditions.

  3. there is only 1 sub 6 lb pair on your review list. most of the skis you reviewed would be resort/sidecountry skis or powder skis only because of the weight. why no mountaineering skis? no dynafit, no trab, movement, etc. i’m sure all of the skis you reviewed are great skis, just not for much touring in the, you know, the backcountry.

Trackbacks

  1. […] at speed. The Trust earned high scores in Backcountry Mag’s 2015 Gear Guide, gaining the coveted Editor’s Choice award for its speedy, confidence-inspiring character. Offered in 178cm, 186cm and 194cm […]

  2. […] La Sportiva Vapor Nano This is a new wide and very light ski (130-103-120). The weight per pair is only 2.4kgs. While I have not skied this one, reviews have been favorable: http://offpistemag.com/2015-ski-reviews-off-piste-magazine/ or http://backcountrymagazine.com/gear/2015-editors-choice-awards-skis/ […]

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