Tradition dictates that when a storm cycle rolls in, it’s everybody for themselves. No time to lollygag at the top of a bootpack or the bottom of a lift when there are untracked stashes waiting. Producing gear guides has typically gone the same way. Twice a year, a flurry of exciting technical equipment arrives, and editorial teams across the industry scramble to get their hands on it, test it, and review it for the world. It’s an exhaustive—and exhausting—process.
So the Outside Inc. gear team decided to test the theory that, maybe, powder days are best enjoyed with a few friends. This winter, the gear editors at Outside, Ski, Backpacker, Trail Runner, and Climbing—all siblings under the Outside Inc. umbrella—rode the storm of new snow sports, hiking, climbing, and running gear together.
We assembled our go-to category managers into one super gear-nerd squad. Along with teams of testers spread across the country, these folks chased down fresh new equipment and put it through the wringer over the course of an entire season. Ski and Outside also put on a joint ski test, where 32 skiers from around the country spent a week on the slopes of Sun Valley, Idaho, checking out 192 skis from 29 brands.
And reader, let me tell you, the storm did not disappoint. This year, the industry presented us with a dizzying array of products to get excited about, from the new Blizzard Hustle 10 backcountry ski to Ortovox’s LiTRIC Tour avy bag. By May, our 441-person test crew had covered the whole mountain, evaluating 1,300 products across 55 categories, and covering roughly 7,506 miles and 830,247 vertical feet—more than any of one of our titles’ staffs could have on our own. So, when we say that the 203 finalists in this magazine and the 300-plus additional products in our digital guide are worth your well-earned dollars, you can trust that we came to that conclusion the hard way.
As I type this letter, our editorial team is in that final frantic hour before last chair—reading proofs and making last-minute changes, so that when the real flakes start to fly you’ll have the information and equipment you need to gear up for your best season yet. We hope it’s one filled with fast skis and deep stashes—and, of course, good company.
—Ariella Gintzler, Associate Gear Director