The best planks to get you up and down beyond the ski resort boundaries.

We’ll let you in on a little secret: The best time of year for skiing is April. The holiday crowds of December and Spring Break already have bikes or boats on the brain, the days are long, and the snow is the deepest it gets all year. Sure, ski areas might be closing, but the alpine terrain beyond the chairlifts starts to go through melt-freeze cycles that provide delicious corn and late-season storms serve up powder that goes forgotten by the masses.

For these reasons, our staff calls in the most exciting backcountry gear and gets after it in Colorado’s high country and beyond in April, May, and June. This year, we tested in the Indian Peaks, off Berthoud Pass and Trail Ridge Road, and in northern Norway.

Just like in the other tests, our staff compares notes after skiing the same gear, and we also check in with our friends down the hall at Backpacker, who run a different style of test on many of the same skis, bindings, and boots. We test more equipment than is listed here, but only write about our favorites to keep you on the lightest, best-performing gear out there.

Check out the best Backcountry Bindings of 2019 here and the best new backcountry boots for 2019 here.

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