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skis from the 2023 ski test

The 2023 Winter Gear Guide

We rallied 441 testers and 1,300 products across every category of winter gear. After more than 7,500 miles and 830,000 vertical feet, we landed on 500 pieces that stood out for skiing, snowboarding, running, climbing, hiking, and more.



Editor's Letter

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

Skis

From early season laps to encouraging ladies to get comfortable on edge, these frontside tools with slimmer waists take skiing back to the fundamentals

These narrower sticks may have a penchant for carving, but they also like to play in the bumps

Don’t bother checking the snow report—these skis always deliver, no matter the conditions

These skis are party in the front, business underfoot, and designed to charge the whole mountain

These all-mountain skis have a little more underfoot, more rocker, and more fun in powder

We put 26 all-mountain wide skis to the test. These 14 are the best of the best.

These wide, rockered planks will help you milk those powder days for all their worth

These wide, rockered planks designed for the deepest days of the year will do more than float—they fly

Looking for the perfect backcountry ski for deep days and big missions? Start here.

Our favorite backcountry skis of the year aren’t just lightweight skis that power up the skintrack. They’re bonafide downhill performers.

Ski Boots & Bindings

These traditional women's downhill ski boots are built for ladies who charge the resort

If you’re a dedicated resort skier looking for ski boots that are all about downhill performance, start here

Featuring tech inserts, rubber soles, and hike-modes with plenty of range of motion, these boots make short work of long, uphill slogs

Whether you’re looking for a dedicated lightweight alpine touring boot or a hybrid boot to take on the resort and the backcountry, you’ll find something that fits the bill right here

These new alpine, hybrid, and touring bindings come packed with exciting new features

If you liked the Salomon S/Max, wait till you step into this new boot

This high performance ski boot is for those who refuse to sacrifice control for comfort

A high-performance boot for advanced skiers with narrow feet

With this boot, advanced and expert skiers with a wider foot no longer have to sacrifice performance for fit

Snowboards

From freestyle to freeride, these snowboards put fun first

After record- and internet-breaking lift lines plagued resorts nationwide last winter, the splitboard has never looked sexier

Rock’n’roll-ready boots, bindings, and more

We can’t guarantee you’ll ride just like Barrett Christy, but this snowboard might get you a little bit closer

Cross Country Skiing

We had ten testers with 96 Birkie finishes help us identify the top-performing skate and classic skis for all disciplines and ability levels

Ten testers covered 965 miles to narrow down the best gear for skate and classic skiing

Accessories

According to seasoned ski gear testers, these are the most functional and comfortable brain buckets of the year

Looking for goggs with magnetic lens change systems, UV protection, and color-boosting contrast? Look no further.

From shredding powder to climbing ice, these top packs keep your gear secure and dry

Wintry parking lots and cumbersome ski gear have finally met their match

Eight kiddos (and their parents) helped us suss out the best cold-weather apparel for little ones

Seven testers took 45 pairs of sunglasses out into the world. These are the ones that came out on top.

These snow-ready indulgences will revive you after a long day on the mountain

Keep those piggies wiggling, no matter the conditions

It’s the little, forgettable things that make the difference between a good trip and a bad one

Backcountry Travel

Shoes to get you moving down the trail—no matter the conditions

These shelters will keep you warm and dry—no matter the weather

Having the proper equipment is the best way to stay prepared in an emergency—and to help you prevent one

This gear withstood over 10,000 vertical feet of climbing by some of the best in the sport

From lightweight racers to all-day trekkers to deep-powder plowers, there’s something for everyone

It all started with a marine store in Washington and a company called Showa

These boots are the only ones you’ll need all winter long

Six testers spent three months checking out the coolest new airbag tech to hit the market. Spoiler: it lives up to the hype.

Layers

The year’s best women’s jackets are stylish and don’t mess around when it comes to weathering the cold

These jackets are designed to weather any and all days at the resort

Our top picks feature flattering cuts, durable and weatherproof materials, and functional design choices (read, drop-seats that actually work)

From insulated pants to no-nonsense bibs, we have the rugged bottoms you’re looking for right here

We spent all winter testing 50+ outer layers in the backcountry. These ones came out on top.

We had 28 testers check out 30+ pairs of bottoms for winter backcountry adventures. These ones rose above.

Keep your hands warm all season long

We asked 58 testers to put 99 puffies through their paces. These are the best.

Ten testers checked out 50-plus baselayers to land on this list

We spent two months testing 46 products. These are the best.

From herding to hammering, this rough and tumble gear is just as capable as you

From cranking on airplanes in New Mexico to working construction in freezing Alaskan conditions, this apparel held up to all our hardest tasks

Nothing feels better than a bone-dry, ultra-cozy wardrobe change after a bone-chilling day on the slopes

Spilled beer, freezing temperatures, and post-powder-skiing sweat were no match for these garments

Shopping responsibly isn’t easy. We asked an expert for help.

This lightweight, storm-resistant puffy earned an Editor’s Choice award. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

Over the course of last season, this touring shell impressed us with a combination of serious weight savings and surprising durability

We’ve never encountered a zero-degree puffy this light and packable

Fitness

We put 49 pairs through their paces. These 7 came out ahead.

We took 20 shoes out on trails from our doorsteps to mountaintops. These 7 came out ahead.

We put in over 700 miles testing 70 pieces of running clothing. These are the best.

We tested more than 70 items to find the most effective pieces to keep you warm and dry on the run this winter

We tested over 25 products to find the best pieces to help you brave the cold and dark more boldly this winter

We spent two months testing 25 tops and bottoms. These are the best.

We found the most effective tools for getting great workouts in the comfort of your living room, basement or garage

Good news: there’s a new generation of super shoes that are cheaper, just as fun, and might be better suited for your running