Gearbox: An Editors’ Choice powder setup

For many, sliding through endless, untouched slopes of powder is the ultimate motivation behind ski touring. It’s what fills our autumn dreams and validates any amount of sweat, distance or effort. And when it comes to consistent, smooth conditions, almost any setup will do, whether it’s heavy, narrow, planky or stiff. But if powder skiing is the Holy Grail, shouldn’t a setup for the pursuit enhance the experience to its fullest potential?

For deep-snow float, wider is obviously better—though there’s debate aplenty around how wide is too wide, with proponents of modesty rejecting massive girths that float above, rather than in, fresh snow. Limited or flat camber is ideal for flotation, as are tip and tail taper for enhanced turn initiation. And given powder’s forgiving nature, dainty boots and slight bindings can suffice. This setup, however, clocks in with slightly more heft for increased downhill performance and a dose of versatility. —The Editors

Völkl 100eight – $825
The 100eight isn’t Völkl’s lightest ski of this stature (check out their 7.1 lb. VTA 108 or 7.9 lb. BMT 109), but it earned heaps of tester praise—and a 2018 Editors’ Choice Award—at our Powder Mountain Gear Test Week for its agility, reliability and forgiveness. With no camber, the 100eight pairs carbon stringers and full sidewalls with what Völkl dubs 3.D Ridge construction—a central ridge raised above the ski’s otherwise thin profile for increased strength. Most testers agreed this combination helped the 100eight excel beyond powder, too. 141/108/124, 8.7 lbs. (181),

Atomic Hawx 130 Ultra XTD – $950
For several years, Atomic has focused their backcountry boot offerings on their hyperlight, two-buckle Backland series. But our testers have generally craved a little more beef, and the new Hawx answers those calls. While four buckled and measuring in at a 130 flex with a Grilamid-reinforced backbone, the Hawx remains an adept skinner, with 54 degrees of friction-free striding while in walk mode. Plus, it weighs pounds less than some four-buckle competitors. 6.2 lbs.,

G3 ION 12 – $549
A three-time Editors’ Choice winner, the ION has become synonymous with reliability. This year, G3 updated the toepiece to be even simpler, with a cleaner toe-aligning boot bumper (redesigned for less ice-up potential) and retooled spring tolerances for a stronger, more secure snap from the wide, aluminum jaws. “The easiest, fastest, most confidence-inspiring tech binding on the market,” one tester called it. Save a few ounces by looking to the brakeless ION LT. 2.5 lbs.,

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