Buyer’s Guide

The best skis and boots of 2019, plus a bind­ing trans­form­ing the fu­ture


The clouds rolled in, the snow came down in waves, and vis­i­bil­ity all but van­ished. With fresh snow falling all week long at Red Moun­tain, Bri­tish Columbia, the ski­ing in any di­rec­tion was as good as you could ask for. But while de­cid­ing our op­tions atop Grey Moun­tain—one of three forested peaks that make up the 4,200 acres of in­tri­cate, steep ter­rain at Red—we lucked out with lo­cal beta.

Kate Ver­ha­gen, a 29-year-old lo­cal in her first time test­ing skis at Pow­der Week, said, “Hey, fol­low me,” and promptly took off. As best we could, we chased her through the storm, fol­low­ing her blond hair over the whoop­ties and around a cliff band be­fore ar­riv­ing at the edge of a quiet bowl pro­tected from the wind. Ver­ha­gen, who works as an ex­plo­ration ge­ol­o­gist in the bad­lands of nowhere Canada, smiled at us, asked us not to tell any­one else, and dropped in. All we could see in her wake was a burst of swirling snow, as if she had whipped up her own tor­nado, be­fore she threaded the nee­dle through the cliffy trees at the bot­tom. We caught up to her on the runout back to the lift, in dis­be­lief at how good it was. De­cid­ing what to do next was easy. We skied that same line on the same run over and over and over, de­light­ing in free re­fills each time as the storm raged on.

Back at the demo tent at the base of Red— where 30 ski com­pa­nies had gath­ered to show­case their top skis for 2019 be­fore the 33 testers who make up the Pow­der Union—ev­ery skier gushed with sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences. The dy­namic ter­rain, ac­com­mo­dat­ing lo­cals, and snow­fall amounted to su­perb con­di­tions for find­ing the best skis of the year. The Pow­der Union—con­sist­ing of 20 men and 13 women—skied bell to bell for four days. They plun­dered pow­der in tight trees and chutes, toured out of bounds, and used proper avalanche pro­to­col to de­scend con­se­quen­tial lines. They crushed bumps in gul­lies and bombed hot laps on the old­est race hill in West­ern Canada.

Testers took notes on ev­ery ski they brought out on the hill—even­tu­ally de­liv­er­ing nearly 450 in­di­vid­ual re­views. All told, the Union spent a col­lec­tive 1,500 hours test­ing and dis­cussing skis, a fig­ure that doesn’t in­clude the un­told hours that go into pro­duc­ing this guide and our more ex­pan­sive ver­sion on­line. The Buyer’s Guide on Pow­ in­cludes ex­tended re­views, videos, and in­ter­views with Union mem­bers hon­estly dis­cussing their fa­vorite skis, with zero in­flu­ence from at­tend­ing brands.

The stand­out skis pre­sented in the Buyer’s Guide are sep­a­rated into four cat­e­gories: Pow­der; All Moun­tain; On Piste; and Tour­ing.

From those cat­e­gories, we iden­ti­fied 13 Skis of the Year—prod­ucts that re­ceived the high­est marks across the board from skiers with a host of dif­fer­ent back­grounds. These skis were ideal for the steep, forested ter­rain at Red: They piv­oted eas­ily when needed, straight­lined through the crux, held tight on the groomers, and kept us charg­ing till the bit­ter end. Es­sen­tially, what you will find in the 2019 Buyer’s Guide are the skis that help make this sport so fun and ad­dic­tive.

What you won’t find, sorry, are direc­tions to Ver­ha­gen’s se­cret stash, just the skis we used to get there.

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