Whether you're slaying groomers, lapping the park, trekking into the backcountry (or using a two-stroke to get there), exploring Nordic trails, or just sipping hot toddies in the lodge, here's some of the best new gear to take your winter to the next level.
In the backcountry, skis and boots are getting lighter every year without sacrificing performance, while the concept for tech bindings developed by Dynafit 31-years ago has become the industry model. The result is safer and more user-friendly bindings for backcountry skiers. Here are a few of the best on the market for 2016.
Marker Kingpin 13: The Kingpin is perfect for those venturing from the resort into the backcountry who don't want to sacrifice power. The Kingpin features a wide-heel piece that releases just like an alpine binding, making it one of the easiest bindings to get into and out of, while six-spring construction in the toe (rather than four) gives skiers more confidence hucking and skiing at speed. However, the burliness comes at a price. This bomber binding tips the scale at 3.2 lbs, so the quads will pay dearly for the ripping fast descent.
Dynafit Beast: The Beast 14 combines the turntable-toe technology of Dynafit's Radical 2.0 series with the clamped-in heel piece of the Dynafit Beast 16, which debuted two years ago and crushed the market for tour bindings. This year's Beast 14 balances efficient touring and confident, hard-charging descents, without fear of pre-releasing in ski mode—and it's about a third of a pound lighter than its predecessor, the Beast 16.
Dynafit Radical 2.0 Series (FT, ST): Culminating three decades of Dynafit innovation, the frameless, low-tech Radical 2.0 binding features a patented pivoting toe that functions as a release mechanism while resisting possible early release from lateral impact. DIN- and ISO- certified, the Radical 2.0 is one of the lightest bindings in its class and a leader when it comes to frameless ski touring bindings.
Völkl Kendo: Offering supreme versatility on and off piste, the Völkl Kendo for 2016 upgrades an old favorite with a lighter, more playful design. While the older version excelled at linking arcs on groomers, the new Kendo features a wider waist, early taper in the tip, and the addition of rocker in the tip and tail, for enhanced off-trail forays. Still constructed with wood and metal, the new shape makes turn initiation much easier, even with the added width. Camber underfoot improves edge grip and stability during fast hot laps on the frontside, while the new design elements allow for more playfulness in softer snow.
Jones Storm Chaser: New for 2016, the Jones Storm Chaser is the powder-surfing love child of pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones and surfboard shaper Chris Christenson. Blending elements of snowboard and surfboard tech, Jones and Christenson incorporated their favorite snow and surf designs as they sketched the board's shape and rocker profile by hand. The result is a brilliant work of art that also happens to explode through powder, packing insane float and nimbleness into a short, wide profile with a swallow tail and rocker from just inside the front foot to the pointy-yet-blunt nose. Although it's designed for waist-deep powder, the Storm Chaser can hold its own on hardpack, providing plenty of support across the crust when untracked powder lies just on the other side of a wind-scoured face.
Rossignol R-Skins: The all-new Rossignol R-Skin classic skis are built for speed with little upkeep. Replaceable mohair-skin inserts provide great kick in all conditions, with only occasional waxing needed in the glide zones, so when the snow falls, the R-Skins are ready to go—day after day. The race-ready Nomex Honeycomb core is lightweight, with excellent compression behavior and strength for high performance. Extra fiberglass laminate provides stiffness and power for seasoned athletes and expert skiers, and the K7000 race-finished base promotes glide in all snow conditions and temperatures. Expect to replace the mohair inserts after about 100-150 days of use.
Arctic Cat ZR 8000 Limited 137 Snowmobile: Nothing ruins a perfect powder day like a snowmobile that's dead in the parking lot. New for 2016 is the Arctic Cat ZR 8000 Limited 137 snowmobile, with an improved clutch, as well as updated shocks and suspension, for a smoother and more reliable ride. Arctic Cat partnered with TEAM Industries to develop the Rapid Response CVT clutch system for improved durability and reliability. Wider rollers and bigger buttons provide stability, consistent operation, and smooth clutch engagement. New Fox shocks provide a noticeably smoother ride with an easy external adjustment that keeps ride height and bump damping settings separate. Updated dual-rate springs in the rear suspension improve compliance and bring flatter cornering. Added tunnel flares direct flying snow debris back to the trail, correcting an issue in other Arctic Cat models.