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.

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.

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.

Tried & New: Black Diamond Glidelite Mohair Mix STS Skins

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If you’re the engine of your bc rig, then your skins are the driveshaft: they’re not sexy—at all—and they’re hidden under the prettier bits, but you ain’t going anywhere without ’em. And Black Diamond’s Mohair Mix is my go-to pair.

Testers’ Choice: Dynastar Cham 107 W’s

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Becca started her ski-testing career back in 2003 when the Gear Test Week lodging was at an Alpaca Farm in Vermont. She has met Glen Plake twice, drank tea at Warren Miller’s house and winked at Scot Schmidt. Her pick of the test? The Dynastar Cham 107 W’s.

Testers’ Choice: Atomic Charter

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Road Dust, a 10-year tester, started racing at age 13, telemark raced at the national level during college and is now back on AT gear. He practices law, but dreams of a long-term vacation and is busy planning his revenge on fellow ski tester Shaggy. His pick of the test? The Atomic Charter

Tried & New: MontBell U.L. Super Spiral Down Hugger 0

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A good cold-weather sleeping bag should compress to the size of a cantaloupe; it should be true to its temperature rating; easy to get in and out of and cinch well enough to keep cold out and warmth in. Beyond that, a sleeping bag is pretty simple. MontBell, however, would beg to differ.

Small is Beautiful: The Rise of the Micro Ski Brand

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Niche ski brands are growing fast, and now might be the best time to jump on board with these small-batch companies. Here are five reviews of skis from tiny brands you may have never heard of.

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