You probably don’t want to hear about it, but we get to try out a lot of gear. A lot of gear. Some of it is great and some of it is schwag, so we tend to get picky. This is the gear we’ve gotten attached to, the things we actually ski in and love. Consider this our stuff-centric winter MVP list.
It’s no secret that I have a large dome (because of my huge brain). That means not every goggle on the market fits my hefty head. Thankfully the EG2 does the trick. The oversized lens provides incredible peripheral vision for snow specs. And the goggle bag that comes with the goggles is second to none, keeping the goggles dry and protected. The EG2 is the terrarium for my cranium. –Mike Rogge, Managing Editor electricvisual.com
Subaru Outback Wagon
I put my Subaru in a snowbank once in 2008 while driving toward Jackson Hole with Laura Ogden at 2 a.m. It took us an hour to dig out. Since then, my 2000 Outback and I have had a smooth run, even as the odometer approaches 200k. Driving in the mountains can be stressful. But driving a Subaru in them isn’t. This winter I drove 6,000 miles from one ski town to the next with confidence and had plenty of room for all my gear. Yeah, the Suby is a cliché, but there’s a reason that everyone has one. Digging your car out of a snowbank can be embarrassing.-John Clary Davies, Associate Editor
$23,295 (0r $1,000 and up on Craigslist); subaru.com
Tecnica Cochise Pro 130
This past season, while wearing the Dynafit TLT Performance (known as the “Magic Elf Shoe” according to The Jaded Local), I heard rumors about the first alpine shell boot with a legit touring function. I love the TLTs for what they are, but for my racing-background-pressuring-the front-of-the-boot style, I need something stiffer. Enter the Cochise Pro 130. Here’s the fine print that matters: Interchangeable DIN-compatible and tech soles for alpine and tech bindings; 45mm Velcro Powerstrap buckle, which you can unbuckle for more range of motion when touring, that’s nearly twice as strong and tight as the ol’ Booster straps I used on past boots; three ALU buckles that are easy to use and not some plastic piece of garbage that’ll break down after 20 days; a 98mm last made of polymer that’s 20 percent lighter than PU; a 130 flex that’s stiff but not race stiff; and, most importantly, the most range of motion of any tour/ski switch mode on an alpine boot. It’s the Magic Elf Shoe for alpine chargers. For my style of skiing, which includes a lot of resort steeps and park play in addition to tours outside the boundary, this is the boot of the year.-John Stifter, Editor
Smith Phase Goggles
I have a toddler-sized head. My brains are huge, obviously, but I wear a children’s bike helmet (don’t judge) and I have trouble keeping sunglasses on my face. Despite my genetic predispositions, I hate small girly goggles. They make me feel cross-eyed and nervous. Can you get eyeball claustrophobia? Because I think I have that. The Phase, with their small frame and big lens, are the first women-specific goggles I’ve worn that are big enough to not crowd my vision, but not so big that they make me look bug-eyed. –Heather Hansman, Online Editor
Remember Chompy the Goat, Nick Mercon’s pet pal that accompanied him on park shoots in the early days? Me too. Turns out Phil Casabon and Armada killed one of his cousins to produce the goat leather B-Dog Mitt. With a microfleece liner and Thinsulate insulation, these mittens kept me warm from early season at Killington through Powder Week and till those dicks at the Pain McShlonkey (I see you Greg Lindsey and Mat Jackson) sentenced them to a premature death in an unfortunate urination/snowball/cliff accident. Don’t ask. Technically, this new pro model mitten from Armada won’t be available in shops till the fall but that seems like more than enough reason to tell you about it now. Keep these awesome mitts on your radar. –M.R.
TREW Gear Trewth Bib Pants
I rarely wore pants this winter. Like real pants, I mean. I skied in my TREW bibs. Went to the bar in them. Drove in them. Even slept in my bibs a couple times. That’s why I like TREW gear—it’s durable as hell—and you can wear the shit out of it without wearing anything out. The Trewth bib has a waterproof, breathable three-layer fabric, with full sidezips for when you overheat, fully protected insteps to prevent tatter, and pockets everywhere. At 33 ounces, they’re a bit much for a big tour, but ideal for a day of hill-bangin’.-J.C.D.
Soul Poles Original Soul
I’ve received more inquiries from both know-it-all hard cores and Texan tourists about these poles. They’re light, stylie, eco-friendly, and most importantly, durable. I tend to fall hard a lot and break a lot of poles. But not these ones. Founded by former U.S. Ski Teamer Bryon Friedman, these poles allow you to brag about saving the planet and your healthy conscious with the renewable bamboo construction. Rubber grips with hemp wrist straps (which don’t rip or break, either), semi-old school recycled plastic powder baskets, and metal tips round out these unfinished poles. Save the planet and swell your soul. –J.S.
Black Diamond Ascension Skins
Here’s what I like to think about when I am skinning uphill: pretty mountain, what snacks I’m going to have at the top, how much I like this song. Here’s what I don’t like to think about: slipping backwards, unhooked tail clips, sweating. I’ve toured at least a jillion miles on my BD skins. They only get slippy on really awful stuff, they stay hooked, and they’ve iced up, like, twice. Those are good averages. It’s worth noting that I’m not particularly nice to my skins, the glue is covered in pine needles and small rocks and I leave them soggy and balled up in my pack. Still, they stick. If they could do something about my sweatiness that would be great. –H.H.
$84 and up; blackdiamondequipment.com
Orage Malik Base Top/Marvin Bottom
This winter I spent a lot of time in Montana, where it’s easy to freeze your tits off. That’s why I like these mid-weight Orage base layers. They are a bit thicker and warmer than what I’ve worn in the past, yet still dry quick and somehow mask my putridness. The fact that they are made out of 92 percent recycled polyester and come packaged in recycled materials isn’t a bad thing, either. So is keeping my tits.-J.C.D.
Arcade Standard Belt
My love for Arcade Belts has been published on this site before so it should come to no surprise that it’s one of my picks for Gear of the Year. I wear mine daily and truth be told, what can be written about the stretchy belt that hasn’t already been written? How about this.
The Arcade Standard will get you laid.*-M.R.
*Ed.’s Note: POWDER and Arcade cannot guarantee that wearing The Standard Belt will get you laid.
Arc’terxy Stingray Pants
Girls ski pants typically fall into two camps: cool looking, but totally non-functional, or technical but super dorky (insert rant about the state of women’s ski gear here). The Arc’teryx Stingray pants are the best middle ground I’ve found. I wear ‘em in the backcountry and at Breckenridge. They’re made of three-layer GORE-TEX® and have big vents, so they’re ideal for hiking and skinning, but they don’t make me look like I’m about to climb Ama Dablam. —H.H.
To be frank, I had a shitty winter (f*ck avalanches!). I was freaked out, pissed off, sad, anxious, and questioning everything. It took me a while to decide to buckle up, click back in. Before I did that, I knew some trusted denim would assuage the anxiety and perpetuate the skiing-is-not-serious approach. In October 2006, I purchased these 32-inch waisters at a Quiksilver store adjoining the Surf World Museum in Torquay, Australia, near the infamous Bells Beach (“Vaya con Dios, Bodhi!”). They immediately had a serendipitous start, as I surfed Bells later that day, and then saw the Kings of Leon open for Pearl Jam a few days later in Sydney. (Footnote: This was 2006 when the Kings wore ratty jeans and stained tank tops and toured with The Strokes, Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam. In other words, it was before they started filming music videos with some random actor chick pouring water out of a pitcher onto their fish-net shirts. I’m still pissed off they sold out so hard because, for about a year after their second album, they entered my top 10 favorite bands of all time). Fast forward to this season at Powder’s 40th Anniversary party and then Mammoth two weeks ago, and this pair of jeans brought the fun. So much so, I might wear them on powder days next year. Not that faux Shaun White Gore-Tex rip off crap, but the real denim, with the ratty rips on the cuff from my commuter bike or the hole on the left thigh from boosting a fence at the Gorge, WA, for a Modest Mouse show. (In other words, jeans that the Kings of Leon used to wear before they had them made by some New York designer.) These are my Comeback Jeans. Take that 2011-12 winter! –J.S.
$35 AUD (2006 price); quiksilver.com
High Fives Gear
With High Fives Non-Profit Organization’s gear, you’re not so much buying a product as you’re buying into a state of mind. When rocking my High Fives swag, I’m feeling good that the money spent is going to rehabilitate winter sports athletes that suffered a spinal cord injury while pursuing their dream. Click-in to their site, donate today and pat yourself on the back you philanthropist you. High Five! –M.R.