After a full day tour in the Sierra, feasting on corn turns and burning my lower thighs from shorts-only skiing, I was worked. Sitting on my tailgate, I drank a luke-warm beer and soaked in the last hour of sun. After six months of non-stop skiing – one of the best seasons in memory – I was ready for a break.
So, in early June, I threw my gear in storage, emptied my pockets of hand warmers, turned off my weather alerts, and washed my long underwear twice, just to be sure. My body was sore, my truck covered in salt, and my brain dreaming of thawed fingers and long summer days. Even a devout ski addict needs a little time off.
That was five months ago and this is now. The powder fever is back, tricking me into deep rabbit holes like old season edits on YouTube and Google searches of new gear, technology and ski industry trends. Even my mom would be embarrassed with my recent search history that includes more references to carbon fiber than it does anything else. But heck, when you have a bug this bad, it’s hard not to itch.
Like every season, there are some flashy upgrades to the ski world in the form of lighter, stronger, and simply better mechanics that offer superior performance. There are also some less-marketable but still worthwhile upgrades that will significantly help your stoke level on the slopes. After crawling the web, calling a collection of my nerdiest friends, and poking around local ski shops, I’ve collected a list of gear that I’m the most excited for this season. With no further ado.
Puffy: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow. The recycled version of last years’ acclaimed Ghost Whisperer jacket, the Ghost Shadow is the perfect mid layer for long tours or full days at the resort. Body-mapped insulation and impressive breathability for a jacket with 80g of insulation make this my go to. A longtime fan of the brand, I’m glad they are working hard to source recycled materials. Photo Credit: Francois Lebeau, Louder Than 11.
Skis: Blackcrows Ferox Freebird. Bi-tip, double rocker, powder-type touring ski is a mouthful of a ski description. The new, 110 underfoot lightweight pair of skis from independent brand Blackcrows is better described as an easy hike up and a party on the downhill. Classic camber gives the ski good stability and maneuverability, but where it really excels is in the deep stuff.
Bindings: Salomon Shift. Ok, sure, the Shifts were actually launched a year ago – but I haven’t tested them until recently and damn was I impressed. These burly bindings ski just like alpine click-ins and swap to a pin-based tour mode easily and quickly. Great for skiers going for the bigger mountains and more committing lines, the Shifts make up for the added weight by being considerably more fun to ski.
Shell: Helly Hansen Sogn Jacket. Gone are the days of obscenely large HH logos and Euro colors, which breaks my heart, but is probably good for Helly Hansen’s bottom line. The Scandanavian giant has begun to scale up their US imports and other ski brands should take note. The Sogn Jacket – along with others in the ski line – are some of the best on the market. Light, breathable, and pockets for all your needs.
Goggles: Smith 4D Mag. The selling point of these new goggles is utterly simple – you get to see more. And that means skiing better and having more fun. The 4D Mag goggles improve the overall field of view by 25% and allow easy lens swapping, too. Fit for any helmet size, they are quickly my new favorite.
Helmet: POC Auric Backcountry Spin. Described as the new standard for on and off-piste performance, the Auric Backcountry Spin uses a multi impact liner and ABS shell along with their patent-pending silicone pad technology system to create one of the safest helmets on the market. Adjustable and breathable, the helmet is good for any kind of skiing you want to throw at it.