All-Mountain – Buyer’s Guide 2018

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Splitting the All-Mountain category is hard to do, so we didn’t. If you want to simplify your life by owning one ski to do everything from carving groomers to scoring faceshots, this is where to look. This gear is versatile, practical and ready for whatever the conditions hold and the mountain brings.

photo: ERIC BERGER * snow: Whistler

by Ryan Stuart, technical editor in Buyer’s Guide 2018


    Snag a pole and your shoulder is going to get a jolt, unless you’re using a quick-release pole and strap like Atomic’s AMT Ultra SQS. Less force than it takes to dislocate a shoulder will instantly release the SQS strap system, separating the strap and the pole. Pretty slick: ergonomically shaped cork handle, tough carbon shaft, and a basket just right for skiing the whole mountain. From $100;


    To move the feel of its 100Eight, 90Eight and 90EightW skis from a Chevy Cruze to a Cadillac XT5, Völkl added a layer of fibreglass above the base and wrapped it up and over the edge. The 3D Glass technology helps give the skis a quieter ride with more precision, making it easy to progress on these All-Mountain sticks. The 3D Glass is also on the RTM and Flair skis. From $750;


    How do you make an ultimate versatile All-Mountain tool? Nordica took the powerful square tail of its on-piste Dobermann line and the floaty, crud-busting and turn-initiating early-rise tip of its Enforcer, added a sheet of titanium with hexagons punched out at the tip and tail—for edge grip, energy transmission and chatter-busting dampness—and got a new family of skis ready for the whole mountain. The Navigator series comes in 90, 85 and 80mm waists. They are favoured in both the Rockies or East Coast, but Nordica plays nicely anywhere. From $600;



    The cure for the office blues may be the Line Sick Day. This family of skis were already playful All-Mountain sticks before Line swapped out the core for aspen and tip-to-tail carbon stringers, called Magic Finger Filaments. Stable, light and surfy feeling, each of the three All-Mountain models (88, 94 and 104) can handle everything, from hardpack to blower. And the pastel tropical-isle graphics will have you thinking every day should be a holiday. From $600;


Auclair Diamond Peak Glove

Made for all-weather use this 5-in-1 glove is built tough in goatskin leather, waterproof/breathable Gigatex fabric, 150g Thinsulate Platinum insulation, Porelle Dry membrane and an extra polytex liner. As well, the glove quickly converts to a mitt for extreme conditions!  $140;

Swany Legend II Toaster Mitt

The zipper running along the forefinger of these mitts is good for two things: 1. a hot pack, and 2. unleashing fingers protected in a touch-screen-compatible liner glove—so you can update your Instagram followers on the conditions. $140;

Hestra Army Leather Patrol

With a classic look, these leather-palmed and fabric-backed gauntlet-style gloves are ready for years of heavy use and abuse. A removable liner glove adds warmth and versatility. $200;

Outdoor Research Aksel Work Gloves

One glove for everything—that’s what this all calf leather glove promises. The wool-polyester lining is warm enough for skiing. The pre-curved fingers are dexterous enough for fixing a binding. And the combo is tough enough to last multiple winters. $80;

Black Diamond Helio

This three-in-one glove system is ideal for backcountry adventures. Use the liner glove for skinning up. Slide it into the insulated and waterproof shell for going down. Or just use the shell by itself. $230;



    Blizzard believes backside all-mountain skiers come in two personality types, progressive and traditional, and it has a family of skis for both. Progressives think of the hill as a playground, beelining for soft snow so they can smear their turns and air off everything. For them, there are the Rustler 10 and 11, and Sheeva 10 and 11 for women. These brand-new skis sport a core that’s a mix of wood, Titanal and carbon, with less Titanal at the tip and tail and lots of rocker for playful turn exits. Traditional skiers will want to try the Bodacious, Brahma and Bonafide (Black Pearl for women), all-mountain skis that gravitate to the fall line and finish their turns on edge. Upgraded for this season, they’re a little softer in the tip and tail with some added forgiveness and more versatility without taking anything away from their hard-charging performance. Now all you have to do is decide what kind of skier you are. From $800;


    To improve the on-piste performance of its much-loved 95 and 105 Pinnacle All-Mountain skis, K2 went back to the past. For years ski companies were adding more and more rocker and less and less camber to their skis. But it cost firm snow performance, so to make the Pinnacle skis plough better trenches on-piste K2 reduced the rocker profile and increased the camber underfoot. It takes little away from the off-piste playfulness. K2 has also added a new model, the value-priced Pinnacle 85, a gateway ski to ripping from top to bottom, boundary to boundary. 85: $500, 95: $650, 105: $700; 


    Völkl is known for making no-nonsense precision skis that reflect its German heritage. The exception is the Kanjo and women’s updated Yumi. The wood and titanium core skis have only a little metal in them, making them forgiving and easy to turn. With an 84mm waist, they lean toward the frontside of the All-Mountain category, but don’t shy away from anything that might be fun to ski. $700;


    In humans, flax helps with health. In skis, Salomon believes it’s key to performance all over the mountain. It used flax as part of its CFX technology, developed for its backside and freeride skis. CFX, a combo of flax and carbon, adds vibration reduction without sacrificing stability or weight. It worked so well in those applications Salomon decided to use it in its new-from-scratch All-Mountain platform: the XDR family of skis. Designers started with a wood core, added titanium underfoot for edge grip on-piste, and then dropped in the CFX.  Salomon claims its XDR skis are the lightest skis in the All-Mountain category. They come in three waist widths, 80, 84 and 88mm available with or without bindings. From $850;



    Dynastar took two families of skis, crushed them together, added new technology and produced the Legend. The 11-ski family (five women’s and six for the men) range in waists from 75mm to 106. All share the same mix of tip-and-tail rocker, a five-point sidecut that increases the ski’s sweet spot, and Powerdrive, a core construction that combines TPU stringers for shock absorption, paulownia wood for power transmission and ABS sidewalls for rebound. From $500;


    Few skis garnered more excitement or praise from the trade-show floor and demo days this year than Head’s Kore family of All-Mountain freeride skis. Not only do they look awesome in a stealth-fighter black graphic, they feel cool, too. There’s no topsheet, just a bonded polyester fleece layer. Head tells us the look is also performance-oriented: the topsheet design sheds snow and just the lack of graphics cuts 200g from the overall weight. The result of a 2.5-year project, the construction is a mix of Koroyd, karuba wood, carbon and graphene. Basically it’s a really light ski—the 93 model weighs 1,650g, less than some backcountry-specific skis—that also rips everything from tracked-up powder to groomers. The tip and tail rocker increases as the width grows from 93 to 105 to 117. From $769;


    Nordica skiers loved last year’s Speedmachine, a 100mm-last boot with performance to attack the whole hill and a glove-like fit. To bring the same all-mountain skills to a wider audience, Nordica is adding the Sportmachine to its lineup. The Sportmachine is wider everywhere it counts: two mm in the last, seven mm in cuff circumference, and four mm around the instep. It even opens wide to make getting it on easier. From $350;


    Tyrolia added more letters to its AAATTACK family of bindings: GW and AFD. The two acronyms (for GripWalk sole and a new versatile anti-friction plate at the toe, respectively) mean that the bindings are ready for any alpine norm or GripWalk-sole boot. (GripWalk is Marker’s solution for making ski boots easier to walk in with a more rockered sole and sticky grip lugs.) The key to the compatibility with both slippery DIN and GripWalk’s stickier soles was a new toepiece with a better friction-free sliding plate. Tweaking the sliding plate mechanics created more consistent release no matter the boot. The bindings come in a range of DINs from 11 to the pro-level 18. From $208;

Ryan Stuart
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