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2018 Testers’ Choice: Gavin Cooper’s picks

Testing skis for the Backcountry Magazine Gear Guide can be a grueling endeavor—with hours upon hours of hot powder laps, edge-to-edge action on groomers, the occasional crud-busting run, and of course, flip cup practice—and our testers for the 2018 Gear Guide found it all at Powder Mountain, Utah. Skis, boots and bindings are all put through the ringer to find the standouts, with each ski tested eight times, three for boots and bindings. To get a sense of who’s putting in the work, we introduce Testers’ Choice profiles and picks, so you can be sure you’re getting the info right from the source. 

Want to see in-depth tester feedback on these products? Subscribe now to get the 2018 Gear Guide, packed with reviews of all the Editors’ Choice winners, plus more than 200 other must-have skis, splitboards, boots, bindings, apparel and accessories.

[Photo] Matt Kiedaisch

AGE 35
6 feet, 160 lbs.

Gallatin Gateway, Mont.

CURRENT SETUP
Atomic Backland 109 skis, Hagan Core TF boots, Dynafit Radical bindings

GEAR PREFERENCE
“I rock a two-buckle boot. lightweight skis, bindings with no brakes and 70/30 mohair skins. I look for the right combo to ski 10,000 vertical feet, travel 25 miles or just enjoy the tree skiing behind my house.”

La Sportiva Vapor Nano

$1,299 sportiva.com | SIZES (cm): 168, 179, 190 | DIMENSIONS (mm): 130/105/120 | WEIGHT/PAIR: 5.3 lbs. (179) | TESTED LENGTH: 179

One of the best of its class. The Nano's ability to perform at such a high level of skiing and climbing makes it such a valuable tool. It is damp enough and snappy with a smooth-turning experience. This can get the job done. —Gavin


Völkl VTA 98

$825 – volkl.com | SIZES (cm): 156, 163, 170, 177, 184 | DIMENSIONS (mm): 133/98/116 | WEIGHT/PAIR: 6.1 lbs. (177) | TESTED LENGTH: 177

The VTA is a real workhorse in the sub 100-mm class. The flat camber and long, early rise tip paired with the classic Völkl dampness lets you ski fast and hard. It is plenty light for the climb and forgiving enough to take on whatever challenge lies ahead. —Gavin


Dynafit Carbonio 89

$1,000  dynafit.com | SIZES (cm): 165, 174, 182 | DIMENSIONS (mm): 124/89/110 | WEIGHT/PAIR: 5.3 lbs. (174) | TESTED LENGTH: 174

An ultralight, high-performance touring tool that pushes the boundaries and expectations. Something so uphill dedicated is very damp, forgiving and stiff. This can handle alpine terrain but requires an expert-level skier. —Gavin



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