The Backcountry Magazine Gear Guide is nothing without its testers—a group of 40 skiers who congregate every year at Powder Mountain, Utah to give the coming season’s skis, boots and bindings a thorough shakedown. After completing up to three runs on a given product, each tester fills out a form with numerical scores and detailed insights. Skis are tested, at minimum, eight times; three for boots and bindings. So when it comes time to choose the products covered in the Gear Guide, we’re pulling from a deep well of tester feedback. To shed light on these individuals and their preferred tools, we present our Testers’ Choice profiles and picks.
Backcountry September 2016
2017 Gear Guide
More than 100 skis, splitboards, boots and bindings reviewed, rated and recommended.
6 feet, 165 lbs.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLO.
Line Sir Francis Bacon skis, Scarpa T-Race boots, 22 Designs AXL bindings
“I don’t get too jammed up about how heavy my backcountry rig is—weight takes a backseat to downhill performance. If you want to save a few pounds, skip the all-you-can-eat buffet the night before.”
“The perfect run includes steeps, wide-open bowls, trees and maybe a couple drops.”
$825 – volkl.com | SIZES (cm): 173, 181, 189 | DIMENSIONS (mm): 141/108/124| WEIGHT/PAIR: 8.8 lbs. (181) | LENGTH TESTED: 181 cm
Despite trimming away a substantial amount of heft, this plank still possesses that buttery Völkl flex. Absolutely dependable in all conditions. This ski is a purpose-built descender that still lets you crush your buddies uphill. It is the perfect ski for anyone who is shopping for the no-brainer backcountry ski. —Shaggy Bailey
$695 – voile.com | SIZES (cm): 171, 178, 185 | DIMENSIONS (mm): 140/106/124 | WEIGHT/PAIR: 7.2 lbs. (178) | LENGTH TESTED: 178 cm
At the risk of sounding like a broken record—Voilé. Did. It. Again. This is a nearly perfect mélange of float, dampness, versatility and tourability. Perfect for anyone wanting a tourable foot-rocket that's made in America for more than a fair price. —Shaggy Bailey
Black Crows Corvus Freebird
$800 – black-crows.com | SIZES (cm): 1175, 183 | DIMENSIONS (mm): 139/109/122 | WEIGHT/PAIR: 7.9 lbs. (175) | LENGTH TESTED: 183 cm
This ski is as smooth, powerful and damp as a Zamboni. Get on, click in and hold on—this stick rips! This ski is optimal for the skier willing to slug a slightly heftier tool into the backcountry in order to maximize the downhill fun. —Shaggy Bailey
Pick up a copy of the 2017 Backcountry Gear Guide today