2023 Buyer’s Guide — Part 2

Reading Time: 16 minutes



Head and Porsche designers teamed up on two skis worthy of both their names. The Porsche 70 is a carving ski, while the Porsche 88 is an All-Mountain. Both include Porsche-worthy materials: a carbon-reinforced tip and tail, Head’s vibration-dampening EMC system, a carbon riser plate and a Tyrolia Protector binding—Tyrolia’s newest with a third DIN setting for additional safety (see page 55). Bonus: they come with a free ski bag. $1,890; head.com


Just because it’s Swedish, doesn’t mean it’s expensive, it’s just good design. At $299, Montec’s new top-of-the-line Moss bib pant checks all the boxes: ultra-light but durable, PFC-free waterproof but breathable. The versatile design is packed with features, like easy-adjust suspenders, side-entry zippers, fully taped seams and waterproof outer storage. Whether for a warm springtime skin up to the hut or ripping around the resort on a cold January day, the uninsulated freeride design allows you to choose how much insulation you need underneath. Sizing issues? It’s easier to offer XS to XXL in five colour combos when you sell exclusively online. $299; montecwear.com


From the Primaloft Gold insulation to the polymer waterproof and breathable membrane, the supple leather palm and the textured fabric on the back, everything about the Racer AFM Pro Model 4 Mitt says luxury, especially the cozy interior feel. $150; racerglovesusa.com


The Aleck 006 makes it easy to communicate with a group, keep track of everyone, answer calls and talk to Siri, all without taking off your gloves. The hardware is a small puck that fits in the earpiece of most helmets. It partners with an app that connects the puck to your phone. Press the earpiece, just like a secret service agent, and it will answer a call. Hold it to ask Siri a question. It also controls your playlist. When we set up friends and family with their own 006 unit we could do group chats, talk individually and track everyone via an in-app mapping function. It’s pretty simple to use, meaning our hands stayed warm in their gloves and we didn’t risk dropping our phones from the lift nearly as often. $166; aleck.io


Our female test team nearly came to blows in deciding who would get to test the Kari Traa Ragnhild Down Jacket and matching Agnes Ski Pant. Testers loved the hybrid-style jacket, which combines a quilted upper with a flattering three-quarter-length cut and a matte polyester lower. All of it is stuffed with down for warmth and treated with a sustainable water-repellent coating. Testers also appreciated the articulation through the sleeves, hand gaiters and roomy design which allowed them to ski aggressively without restriction. The pants are equally sporty and good-looking, with crotch gusseting, an adjustable waist, articulated knees, colour blocking and a slightly baggy fit. There’s just enough insulation for cold testers to ski happily in -15 °C weather and seam taping of the recycled fabric keeps bums dry on wet chairlift rides. Both pieces are full of ski-friendly features, like boot and waist gaiters, pass pockets and more organizing pockets. Overall, this beautiful pair blends style and function. Jacket: $450, Pant: $225; karitraa.com


Sustainability should concern kids more than anyone, so it’s fitting that some of the most sustainably produced ski boots on the market are for kids. Dalbello’s Green Menace and Green Gaia series of junior boots are mostly made from reclaimed or recycled material and are 100 percent recyclable. In the factory, Dalbello captures surplus plastic scraps, grinds them up and reuses the mass to make the eight models of “Green” boots. In addition, fabric and foam in the liners come from recycled sources. Along with the metal in the buckles and other parts, it’s all recyclable at the end of life. In theory. In practice, ski boot recycling is just in its infancy, but several brands and companies are working on it. Known internally as REBOOT,  Dalbello hopes to expand the “Green” boot collection to their adult boots. From $140; dalbello.it


Hidden behind the Helly Hansen Swift Infinity Jacket’s humble form is a lot to get jazzed about. It’s loaded with technology, like Helly’s proprietary and sustainable weatherproofing and Primaloft Black eco-insulation. It has all the ski-friendly features we look for, like a pass pocket, wide cuffs that slide over gloves and a helmet-compatible hood. And it’s ready for the cold, with an insulated chest pocket to protect phone batteries and a high fleece collar. $620; hellyhansen.com


Whether it’s delayed in the rain on the YVR tarmac or plonked in slush at the ski chalet, one way or another your luggage is going to experience the elements. Which is why we like the waterproof Osprey Arcane WP Duffel. The recycled nylon exterior is treated with an environmentally friendly coating. It’s not submersible, but is waterproof enough for your gear to emerge through a sleet storm at Pearson’s snowplough-paced baggage claim. It comes in two sizes, a carry-on 40L or a 65L. Both have lash straps in case it won’t fit inside the tiny rental car, and pack straps for easy hauling to the third-floor room. From $320; osprey.com


Use it as a ski jacket on cold days or throw it on to warm up after a day on the slopes. Either way, the FlyLow Colt Down Jacket will keep you toasty and looking good. From hem to hood, it has a waterproof outer to keep flakes and moisture away from the overstuffed, 600-fill down. Our advice: snuggle into the high collar, crank down the velcro wrist closures and forget about the cold. $500; flylow.com


The evolution of MIPS is the good old ball and socket. The independent helmet safety system absorbs rotational impacts with a slippery inner sleeve that allows some movement relative to the helmet shell. Evidence shows it reduces brain injuries, says Giro. To achieve the effect, MIPS’s Spherical Technology uses two layers of impact-absorbing foam that work together like a ball and socket, allowing up to 15mm of relative motion between the layers during an impact. Greater absorption of rotational forces may not be Einstein’s theory of relativity, but is still ingenious. The technology is in several Giro helmets, including the new unisex Tor and women’s Tenaya. The awesome-looking lids include plush insulation and abundant vents for all-weather riding. $350; giro.com


Packaging is the worst. Not only does it stand in the way of you handling new gear in the store, it’s all waste that needs to be recycled or chucked. Smith is joining a movement to reduce shipping-focused packaging. Goggles used to come protected in a heavily inked box with a protective plastic wrap and a throwaway film over the lens. Now manufacturers are cutting ink to make the packaging more recyclable and partnering with Whistler-based Gogglesoc to wrap the lens in a reusable product that you should be using anyway. It prolongs the life of your lenses and keeps them out of the landfill. smithoptics.com


The type of snow that falls at -17 °C means that warming up in the lodge is the last thing you want to be doing when cold snow comes. That’s when the Mountain Hardwear Powder Quest Jacket and Pant come into their own. Both pieces are lightly insulated and the pants have a high, adjustable waist, for locking out cold and wandering flakes. Testers found the abundant stretch meant they were never restricted and plentiful pockets made it easy to stay organized without interference from pack straps. The combo packed plenty of warmth for cold days but vents and waterproof fabric provided versatility for milder weather too. Jacket: $450, Pant: $420; mountainhardwear.com


Bollé’s Eco Blanca uses new technology to create a sustainable goggle that will have you feeling as good as you look. The modern, cylindrical-shaped frame increases field of view, while three layers of foam (plus, fleece against the face), a double lens and vents reduce fogging. The Volt lens, developed using AI, is optional. On the sustainable side, recycled or bio-based materials make up almost half of the material. The result is a fashion-forward goggle made to perform. From $140; bolle.com


Our legs rarely get cold, but when they do it’s in our seat and thighs. That’s why Outdoor Research (OR) only insulated those two areas of the Snowcrew Bib. OR uses a stretchy waterproof fabric throughout and breathable Vertical X Eco insulation in the key zones. The result is one of the most versatile resort pants we’ve tried. (Bonus: both materials are mostly derived from recycled content.) The bibs have multiple pockets in the legs, a chest pocket and thigh vents for regulating temperature. Notably they come in a huge range of sizes in both men’s and women’s cuts. $349; outdoorresearch.com


What’s missing from the Orage Alaskan Insulated Jacket? Nothing, according to our checklist. First, Orage is Canadian, based in Montreal. Second, the jacket has everything from cozy wrist gaiters to a pass pocket, twin chest pockets and a powder skirt. The insulated media pocket has a phone leash, and an interior mesh sleeve holds an extra goggle lens. The helmet-friendly hood adjusts with one pull and the bottom hem cinches tight via pulls in the large hand pockets. It’s waterproof and insulated and fits a variety of body shapes well, thanks to articulation in the elbows and a fit that’s roomy without being baggy. A darn handsome piece of clothing in our opinion. Long story short, it’s pretty close to perfect. $585; orage.com


Skiers are no strangers to knee injuries, leading many to suffer the annoyance of knee braces. The Stoko K1 baselayer tights offer a brace alternative and, possibly, a prophylactic. Winding through them is 27 metres of cable that mimic lower body ligaments. Twisting two dials on the lower back tightens the cable creating as much lateral support as a rigid knee brace, but without the chaffing, slipping, and restricting. Donning them takes some effort but, once on, they feel like regular long underwear with some major support. Because the tights create compression they’re meant to help muscle stamina. Perhaps more important, independent researchers are investigating whether the tights can also prevent knee injuries, but Ski Canada reviewers report they keep the body in overall better alignment. Which is why, beyond the winter-ready K1 Snow Sport, they also come in a lighter weight K1 Breath and a running-specific K1 Tempo. $499; stoko.com


The acrylic component in Heat Ultra’s compound D-Tex Thermal fabric offers attributes like good insulation, colour fastness and a cozy, woolish feeling, but without any itchiness. Its cotton content bumps up the comfort level while the Elastane gives 360-degree stretch. The Men’s Crew Neck Top and Long John ring in at $49 each, an ultra cool price at less than half of some baselayers. HeatUltra.co   


Ever wonder why the windows on air traffic control towers overhang? Zeal tapped a quirk of physics, along with other minor miracles of science, to create a goggle that provides better visibility. The bottom of the Hangfire’s frame sits closer to the face than the top. According to Zeal, this airport-inspired angle increases vertical peripheral vision by 20 percent, without distortion. We’ll just say it was noticeable. The spherical lens also mimics the shape of the human eye to reduce distortion. There’s more. The tint level of Zeal’s Optimum Polarized Automatic+  lens changes according to the available light. From blindingly bright to feeling-our-way flat, we always felt cleared for take-off. From $159; zealoptics.com


There’s a cult following in the ski world for work gloves. They tend to be tough, inexpensive and scream mountain momma. Female fans of the style often have to make do with unisex sizing, but Kinco is taking a step forward, offering several of its popular styles in women-specific sizes, including the 1927KW. Combining breathable striped cotton on the back of the hand with durable golden pigskin on the palm, they’re as workwear-inspired as they get—and the price is right. $28; kinco.com


Salomon began revamping its all-mountain QST line of skis last year. Now it’s finishing the job. After treating the QST Blank and QST 98 to a lighter construction and more playful design, engineers did the same for this year’s 106 and 92 widths. After adjusting the construction they moved the widest point of the ski toward the boot, which makes it easier to turn. Combined with extra rocker in the tip and tail it creates more float on soft snow and faster pivoting. On the women’s side Salomon made similar tweaks to the Stella 106, Lumen 98 and Lux 92. From $600; salomon.com


While wearing the Dragon RVX Mag OTG, it feels like any other high-performance goggle. What sets it apart is that it fits over eyeglasses but it doesn’t have the usual overly fat look. Not typical for an OTG goggle, it has all the bells and whistles: unimpeded vision from a super-wide spherical shaped lens, great low light and bright condition performance and the ability to swap out the lens pretty easily. $345; dragonalliance.com


Long story made short: we needed fewer lodge stops while wearing the Camelbak Powderhound 12. The 2L water bladder sits next to the back and has an insulated sleeve so it resists freezing better than most. Ten litres of storage is just enough to carry an extra layer as well as lunch. And it’s easy to access on the lift: pulling up on a loop instantly opens a shoulder strap for swinging it around to the front. For bootpacks, there’s a helmet net and straps on the back to carry skis (or a snowboard) diagonally. $185; camelbak.com


If you claim you don’t film every turn because a GoPro takes up too much room, you’ve just run out of excuses. The Insta 360 Go 2 is the size of a thumb, weighs next to nothing but shoots 1440p photos as well as high-def video. An onboard stabilizer removes the shake and keeps shots level with the horizon. Its magnetized backing makes it easy to mount just about anywhere, including on clothing or attached to skis with stickies and works well with the included remote. We found it simple to operate and durable enough to take anywhere, including into the pool. In fact, it’s so small, it’s easy to misplace. $399; insta360.com


MoonBikes promises to make zipping around in the snow easier and more fun. It’s essentially an electric dirtbike with a front steering ski and a snowmobile style-track instead of a back wheel. At 86kg, it’s a third of the weight of a gas-powered snowbike, making it easier to ride, transport and store. The run time of up to 1.5 hours and top speed of 42kph don’t touch its motorized brethren but with the torque of an electric motor and a low centre of gravity, it promises to be super playful and totally fun. $11,450; moonbikes.com


Whether it was Arctic air or a sou’easter that Mother Nature hurled our way, the Expedition Hood Balaclava from Blackstrap kept our face warm through it all. The double-layer construction is virtually windproof, the hood, neck warmer and face mask combo covers the whole face, and the stretchy fabric and hinged construction keeps it in place without it being constricting. The latter also made it easy to pull down, adding versatility. The breathable and wicking synthetic fabric has an antimicrobial treatment, which helps it resist getting stinky, though it is safe for machine washers. $52; bsbrand.com


The softness of fleece comes from the exposed ends of polyester fibres. But what makes fleece soft also makes it polluting, since those exposed ends easily break off during washing and end up in the environment (and are showing up in the food we eat). There is a solution. Polartec says its Power Air Lightmaterialin the Houdini Mono Air Houdi uses long strands of polyester and protects it between an inner and outer layer that is “hardened” to resist erosion, reducing microplastic shedding by 80 percent. The fleece jacket may have a suposedly harder shell but is still fairly soft, super warm and slides under and over other layers better than fuzzy fleece. $260; houdinisportswear.com


We like the idea of the Buff Tech Bandana because we already have enough layers wrapping around our necks. With base, mid and outer layers being all-too-often hooded it can get crowded around the face, so eliminating one side of our neck warmer provides a bit of breathing room. And with the Tech Bandana we didn’t notice a loss in warmth. The triangular shaped Bandana holds snugly with velcro while the exterior is nearly windproof. Plus, the toasty warm, brushed lining is soft on skin and breathing holes help prevent goggle fogging. $40; buff.com


The Marmot Orion Jacket and Pant may be designed for the backcountry but our testers found they worked just as well for shell-loving skiers lapping the resort. Backcountry features include a lightweight, three-layer Gore-Tex material that’s backed with a soft-to-the-touch material. It feels great next to the skin, is super packable, totally waterproof and very breathable. The combo has a multitude of pockets and sleeves for staying organized and vents in the torso, armpits and thighs for cooling off. For those who like to dress in layers, this is a compelling outfit, whether the destination is near the lifts or far in the backcountry. Jacket: $650, Pant: $500; marmot.com


Hope comes from action and the call to action comes from the brain. So if we’re going to save the planet from ecological catastrophe it makes sense to protect your noggin with a sustainable helmet like the Bollé Eco Atmos. Composed of 25 percent recycled or bio-based materials, it is one of the greenest helmets we’ve seen. It also boasts pre-shaped ear pads for comfort, EPS foam for impact absorption and eight vents and air channels for temperature regulation. That’s bodily temperature regulation, not planetary, but it’s a start. $230; bolle.com


If the comfort factor wasn’t enough on Darn Tough’s Lightweight Ski Sock, the vintage ski poster graphic sealed the deal for us. With multiple prints throughout the line, we’re partial to the craggy summit and the tram. Darn Tough makes all its socks from merino wool with a seamless design and plenty of elasticity to keep them up over the calf. Many have cushioning too, but we like their thinnest socks for better boot feel. From $36; darntough.com


Ski boots are the only things harder to put on a little kid than gloves. To ease this pain-point for parents, Fischer went back to the drawing board for its smallest boots. Instead of shrinking a big-kid boot, designers started from scratch, eliminating any hard plastic they could. The result is a more skeletal shell that provides support against the calf and lots of space in the front for easy entry. Instead of buckles there’s a velcro strap across the shin and a waterproof, double-layer PVC gaiter with a zipper over top. Inside, a moveable toe bumper sticks to the insole to allow size adjustment. Finally, both models, the One and Two, have a GripWalk sole, which is curved for easier walking. It weighs about 20 percent less than most similarly sized boots and might just make the family ski day a little more fun. From $150; fischersports.com


Odlo is working with Nuyarn to make wool clothing that performs better. To get from raw wool to clothing material, Nuyarn has developed a technique that braids merino wool fibres into spiral strands and then spins the resulting wool thread with synthetic fibres. All that twisting combines the best performance benefits of wool and synthetic materials into a loftier, and thus warmer, material. Nuyarn material is faster-drying, stretchier, warmer and more durable than just merino, while retaining wool’s no-stink and moisture-moving properties. Odlo uses it in its Revelstoke PW 150 Top and3/4 length Pants. Top: $150, Pants: $140; odlo.com


With an oversized lens, POC’s Levator MIPS visor helmet offers unimpeded vision from side to side and its huge face shield reaches from ear to ear, from forehead to over the nose. The visor’s shape doesn’t jive with all schnozes but when it does, it creates a solid seal, even during Mach-fast tucks. The Levator is loaded with technology: the Carl Zeiss lens swaps out, pods of padding create a super cozy feel and there are five different kinds of shock absorption. Visibility and comfort here are as good as we’ve encountered. $580; pocsports.com


Columbia loaded the Snow Slab Black Dot Jacket with metal to make it warmer. The most noticeable bits of alloy are the gold dots lining the inside of the jacket. Made with metalicized thread, Columbia says they reflect heat as it leaves the body, containing it inside the jacket. The spaces between the dots allow for breathability, so the inside doesn’t start feeling like a steam room. More subtle is the Black Dot technology. On the exterior are dots of aluminum painted black. They absorb solar heat and direct it inside the jacket. We found the combo increased the jacket’s warmth. Without being overly bulky it was warmer than we expected, while still retaining decent breathability and solid weather shedding. For the skiers who are never warm enough, this is a jacket that promises refuge. $400; columbia.com


Sometimes bigger is better. Sometimes minimalist is best. And sometimes, like with the Sweet Protection Durden, a bit of both is just right. The new goggle from the Norwegian brand combines a super-thin frame with an oversized lens. To ensure the thinner foam stays put designers laminated it to the frame and to improve compatibility with helmets, moved the strap connection to the outside. Meanwhile, the oleophobic, hydrophobic and interchangeable lens provides a large field of vision. $179; sweetprotection.com


Make airline travel easier with a well-made ski bag. Dakine’s top-of-the-line padded Boundary Ski Roller Bag fits two pairs and once you’ve reached your destination, both its tarp-lined boot bag and vented outerwear bag are removable. For Dakine lovers who tend to take more than they need, roll straight to the Bulky Items bag drop while leaving one-hand free for a cup of coffee—the Boundary’s end handle pairs with other Dakine rolling luggage! $275; dakine.com


The Auclair Snow Angel mitt mixes goatskin, neoprene and soft shell on the exterior with 3M insulation inside to create a toasty mitten that’s got eco and modern cred. The leather factory that processed the hides didn’t use chrome, a metal that’s harmful to human health and the environment. As well, Auclair added an e-touch pad to the index finger; we successfully checked phone messages with our mitts on. $105; auclair.com


Decibel builds the Backcountry helmet with the same double in-mould construction and lightweight polycarbonate (rather than heavy ABS plastic) as the big-name brands. They pair it with a soft, wicking, premium liner, too, and equip it with vents and removable ear flaps. And it’s fully ASTM-certified for skiing. But whereas most helmets with all those features would cost $150 or more, it’s a steal at $99. decibelgear.com

from Buyer’s Guide 2023 – Vol 51 #12023 Buyer’s Guide

Ryan Stuart
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