Welcome to the 2016 Powder Buyer’s Guide. Within this extensive collection of gear, you will find hundreds of skis, boots, and bindings dedicated for the passionate skier. It all started during Powder Week in Big Sky, Montana, where a team of 34 skiers—dubbed the Powder Union—set out for four days in late February testing the best new skis on the market.
Under the shadow of 11,166-foot Lone Peak, the Powder Union cycled through as many different skis as they could, and provided their feedback on every ski they took out on the mountain via one of those fancy digital app things. Big Sky is known for its huge terrain and big variety, and we had ideal conditions: from deep powder to boilerplate to steep chalk to park laps and zipper lines under the chair. The goal was to identify the best skis within three categories: Powder (for, you guessed it, soft snow); All Mountain (hard-snow versatility with soft-snow performance); and Women’s (with special consideration given to those designed specifically for female skiers).
After Powder Week, the Powder staff went through more than 350 reviews from the week to identify the standouts. Those skis are indicated in this guide with our coveted Skier’s Choice logo. Within each category is a wide range of styles and shapes, and each ski will have its own set of strengths and weaknesses. This guide is intended to help you through that often-challenging process.
Boots and bindings are done separately, yet still go through a rigorous process. Throughout the winter, each of five boot testers receive from six to 10 boots to put through the paces. Bindings are handled internally by the Powder staff. Similar to skis, boots and bindings that received high marks are indicated with the Skier’s Choice logo.
Like any good day in the mountains, the products in this guide are cause for celebration. They are the results of countless hours of engineering and design taking place in shops across the globe with one singular purpose—to make skiing more fun. —Matt Hansen