Winter Buyer's Guide


Pro-caliber pics and video right from your pocket

Smarter, lighter, better-looking wearables to track your data

6 boards to keep you carving hardpack or powder, from dawn to dusk

Durable timepieces for life on the go

From groomers to glades, bumps to short-swing turns in the fall line, these frontside skis do everything you need

From traveling light to going fast and steep, these 8 pairs of planks will help you carve pow all winter long

For pure powder and pure frontside groomers

Do-it-all skis make resort days simpler—and more fun

Flex, lasts, and liners matter. But above all, buy the one that feels good.

Looking for the funnest terrain in North America? Go here.

Three boldly versatile boards for managing the most variable conditions

Buying new skis this year? Lucky you. We tested the latest designs, and these came out on top—so shop wisely.

A behind-the-scenes look at the toughest job at Outside: taking to the slopes of Utah to try out all the latest skis. Someone's gotta do it.

Three tips from expert bootfitter Ari Goosen.

With a tight 14.3-meter turn radius, a powerful system-style binding, and Head’s World Cup race construction, this Austrian setup should have tossed us Yanks around by our Cinnabons.

The 2013 cyclocross silver medalist was aboard the X-Night Ultegra, which was overhauled from last year.

The Annex 108 doesn’t really have a weak spot. The wood core and metal construction make chatter a nonissue.

Rossignol’s honeycombed tip and tail shed mass where it’s vital—away from your body. As a result, it’s effortless to throw the Soul 7 sideways in the trees or whenever you need to scrub speed.

Take a look at these six modern takes on classic styles.

In the market for ski goggles? Here's what to look for this season.

Riders looking for a big-­mountain twin tip will love the Venture Skylar

A closer look at how air bags increase your chances of surviving a deadly slide

The remarkably well-priced Theory features damping wood-core construction, powerful vertical side walls, and energetic carbon fiber stringers.

If you're the kind of skier who books travel based on the 10-day forecast, here's where to go

Make the most of that noblest of winter weekend sports

Ski more powder, score cheap lift tickets, and avoid avalanches

Great gear will only get you so far. Be kind to what you put in it. Here are some tips for taking care of your feet on the slopes.

One pair of thin-to-midweight ski-specific socks is all you need. We’re fans of Wigwam’s Xenon Pro.

Got Gaiters? Our favorites are still Outdoor Research's light, packable, breathable Verglas.

After months of torture-testing the latest crop of outdoor gear, we've compiled a list of our eight favorite items, from the Never Summer Proto CT/CTX snowboard to the Atlas Race snowshoes

Let’s start with nature’s wünderfabric. Not only is merino wool (sourced mostly from sheep in New Zealand’s Southern Alps) a sustainable, bio-degradable fabric, but gear makers have figured out how to make it softer and thin enough to wear on a hot summer day.

If you ski mostly in wet snow, like the stuff in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, then you need something waterproof. In drier climes, like the Central Rockies, a water-resistant soft-shell glove should suffice. The more leather it has, the more waterproof it’s going to be.

Choosing the right bindings is just as important to your snowboard experience as your board and boots. We've selected three of our favorite bindings to help you find what's right for you.

Scaling rock and ice in the winter is serious business. Bring the right stuff.

We put 70 jackets through the wringer—running, skinning, skiing, and hiking. After nitpicking over pocket placement, breathability, and ever other detail under the sun, we settled on these six.

Warm and winterized footwear doesn’t have to be frumpy.

Frigid temperatures, biting wind, blowing snow—if you’re well outfitted, it doesn’t really matter.

From minimalist speedsters to winter-ready mountain scramblers, we’ve got you covered.

Most goggles feature fog-resistant double lenses, but the cheap ones are built flat and bent into the frame, creating distortion, which can cause headaches. Invest in optically correct spherical lenses. Polarization? It cuts reflected light, but it can mask ice, too.

We tested out the best backcountry and alpine boots to help you find the best fit for your ski experience.

Dynafit-style tech bindings, like the Radical and the La Sportiva RT, are the only ones that offer a true free pivot, meaning there’s no hardware attached to your boot heel or sole. They have fewer moving parts, ice up less, and require 15 percent less energy from you than other bindings.

Whether you’re at the resort or deep in the backcountry, if your boots don’t fit properly you’re miserable. Not sure about size or which brand fit you best? Consult a fitter. To narrow your choices, match the boot to the binding you’re pairing it with.

You now have two choices when it comes to telemark bindings: 75mm (traditional duckbill) and the newer NTN. The former is favored for its simplicity, lower cost, and greater variety of boot choices, but NTN is vastly more powerful and releasable, and it’s better-suited to driving today’s fattest skis.

Rather sort your sock drawer than run on a treadmill? Us too. Here’s the gear you’ll need to keep running outdoors all winter long.

While the minimalism trend has shifted the center of the running universe toward lighter, more neutral designs with lower heels, shoe buyers are still faced with one crucial question: Performance or comfort?

It’s all about fit. Too loose and your head is a yolk inside an eggshell. Too tight and you’ll get migraines from all the pressure points. Most of today’s helmets have features that allow you to maximize fit.

Like riding in slippers, the Boa Coiler is one comfy boot.

Our testers raved about the great energy transfer that the DVa delivers.

For a secure, three-closure fit, try the Infuse snowboard boots.

When the results were tallied after our on-mountain evaluations, these were our female testers’ favorite planks.

Twin boards aren't just for freestyle riders anymore.

Our Vermont-based test crew started with a field of more than 30 snowshoes and narrowed them down to these three favorites.

If it’s been a while since you bought telemark or alpine touring gear, you’ll notice that the game has changed quite a bit. Skis that used to be fat are now narrow, almost every new model has some degree of rocker, and Dynafit and Dynafit-style bindings are becoming increasing common at the resort.

Go deeper with our favorite telemark and alpine touring bindings of the year.

Traction, bindings, and weight—these are the biggest differentiators. Let’s start with traction. For steep, icy, or rocky terrain, go aggressive with as many underfoot claws in as many locations as you can get, as well as a heel lifter to save your calves on steep climbs.

We found three fashionable boots ideal for snowshoeing and general winter tomfoolery.

If it’s time for an upgrade, start by answering this question: Do you ski almost exclusively at resorts? The defining characteristic of the ones reviewed here is that they’re built for comfort, not aerobic speed.

First things first: your pack will be heavier. You’ll be packing more food, fuel, and layers. As for shelter, if you’re not expecting high winds or heavy snowfall, you probably don’t need to upgrade to a four-season tent; a sturdy (read: not ultralight or mostly mesh) three-season model should see you through.

As backcountry skiing has boomed, so has splitboarding. In the past five years, participation has quadrupled, and companies from Black Diamond to Burton to K2 have tossed their hats into the ring with split-specific gear.

The first question to ask yourself is: Down or synthetic? Synthetic insulation is water-resistant, dries quickly, and is usually not as marshmallowy as its natural counterpart, which makes for better layering.

The nimble, lightweight Velvet Guru stands head and shoulders above the competition in a park setting.

Those lift-line elitists snickering at your old traditionally shaped skis could use some manners, but they’ve got a point: the new rockered shapes make skiing more fun. Which ones should you buy? There are two schools of thought.

After air bags saved lives in several high-profile slides last year, demand (and curiosity) has never been higher. In 2011, there were five manufacturers making air-bag packs. This winter there are at least 10, and an increasing number of cat- and heli-ski operations are outfitting their clients with them.

Think of your pack as a closet on your back. And just as there’s no right way to fold your clothes, there’s no single pack that’s suited to everyone. But allow us to offer some advice.

From wool-insulated workout wear to the hardest hard shell we’ve ever seen, this year’s backcountry jackets are an eclectic crop. Material upgrades and smart design leaps have made outerwear a locus of innovation. (Molecular-level polymer coating, anyone?) But enough lab-speak.

Six rugged timepieces that are up for any adventure, be it on snow, water, or dirt.

Your skis might be flashier, but your boots are the more critical piece of gear. You could roll the dice and buy online, but we highly recommend getting them the old-fashioned way: in person. The more knowledgeable the shop is, the better.

Unfortunately, you can’t just wear your sorels everywhere. Sooner or later you’re going to have to come down from the mountains and return to civilization. But fear not. Bring the spirit of the slopes with you everywhere with our favorite après shoes.

Sharing powder shots, filming your friend's huck, and keeping in touch have never been easier with gadgets like Fujifilm's XP170 and the DeLorme InReach communicator.

Cyclists, climbers, alpine skiers, and trail runners are all crossing over to nordic skate skiing for two simple reasons—it’s fun as hell, and it delivers a freakishly efficient full-body workout. First know this: skate skis aren’t alpine skis; you don’t choose them by length 

New Balance Winter 110 Trail Boots Like the Salomon Snowcross CS, the uninsulated Winter 110 is essentially a minimalist running shoe (9 ounces; 4-millimeter heel-to-toe drop) wrapped in a waterproof-breathable gaiter. The outsole lugs shed snow like a champ. Got Gaiters? Our favorites are still Outdoor Research's…

Originally created for epic winter races like the Iditabike, fat bikes lately have gotten as big as … well, their oversize tires. In addition to dedicated snow events—and the list of those is ballooning—we’ve seen these beefy bad boys at 24-hour races, on tour in the desert, and, most recently, at the Leadville 100.

It makes no difference to Mother Nature whether you’re a few hundred feet outside the resort boundary or deep in the backcountry. At a minimum, if you plan to ski any uncontrolled slope, you need four things: a buddy, a beacon (worn over your midlayer, not stuffed in your pack), a shovel, and a probe.

Whether you’re looking for glacier glasses, everyday drivers, or racy speedsters, we’ve got the right pair for you.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Arnette Mercenary goggles.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Arbor Swoon Board.

Former U.S. Ski Team moguls skier and director of K2's Backcountry Ski division Mike Hattrup picks his favorite mountains