If you’re one of the many loyal readers of this snow-bound publication, you are very likely tearing up the pavement—dodging paperboys, elbowing commuters in the face—in order to get to the newsstand for the first issue of the 41st volume of POWDER magazine. It’s hitting shelves next week, and is shaking with the giddy gear knowledge of the annual Buyer’s Guide. The pages are dripping with sage wisdom about how to execute your power as a consumer to maximize the smile factor of your time on the hill this upcoming winter.

POWDER does gear a little differently than the rest of the skiing world. We break down the Buyer’s Guide by individual tester picks in “The Draft.” I’m one of those lucky souls. And while the self-written bio gives readers some perspective about my abilities—shedding light on my preferences for all things small and non-threatening—it does not show you how entirely amateur my on-snow abilities really are. Like a lot of you, I am really not that rad.

Therefore, in order to give you passionate snow sliders the best possible purchasing counsel, here is a guide to calibrating my picks guide based on your skier type/ability:

Skier Type #1: First in the Tram line; have a beard; refuse bindings that aren’t metal; have zero sympathy for tourists and will punch them in the face or spit on them without hesitation if they try to follow you out the gates. You actually jump cliffs over 20 feet, and you actually straightline entire lines. You have a ton of points in your local TGR forum and live off food stamps because the ski town you reside in doesn’t have any jobs and certainly not any that let you ski enough. Your parents think you died in an avalanche ten years ago.

Calibrate by: Picking skis that are stiffer and longer. Keep the top screw in the back of the Lange XT 130 that keeps the flex stiff instead of taking it out so you can look real badass while actually skiing something park-boot soft. Laugh any time I use the word “aggressive.”

Skier Type #2: You’re in the park when you’re not texting the girl from science class that you sold vodka to after you stole it from your parents. You think hip-hop, reggae, and skiing are all the same thing. You can do a 450 onto a rail but don’t know what pole plants are. You can walk comfortably to and from your car to the slopes with your boot buckles all the way tight. You’ve never waited in a lift line before the chair opened.

Calibrate by: Picking a stiffer park ski and softer boots. Realize that that Star Trek-looking thing called a “touring boot” is actually meant for skiing. Pick shorter powder skis and don’t bother with my all-mountain ski selection until you’re willing to try and ski all the mountain.

Skier Type #3: You suck. You ski only on the weekends, and rarely stomp, shred, or nail “it.” Silence ensues on the chairlift after you tell the kid next to you you’ve been spending your season working on your “turns.” After reviewing last season’s GoPro footage, you throw the thing in the trash because how you really ski is too depressing. You don’t like falling. You’re pumped when you land a 360 without washing out, and believe more and more that skiing is about hanging out with your friends because most of your ambitions beyond that go unrealized. Some joint, muscle, or ligament is either stiff or painful all the time.

Calibrate by
: No adjustments necessary.