For the 2019/2020 ski season, SKI Magazine revised its parameters for brands to win our Gear of the Year award: The product needs to be a new this season, it needs to earn our discerning tester's praise to be, at a minimum, an "Official Selection" in the annual Gear Guide, and our editors act as final judges to determine which brands truly deserve the honor.
Every brand came out swinging this year with technological innovations, Best in Test honors, and perfectly refined products that deserve every skier's attention.
Ski Boot – Salomon S/PRO
The all-new S/PRO is the result of Salomon’s methodical three-year redesign of the best-selling X/Pro. The company used state-of-the-art technology to scan almost 5,000 feet in Europe and North America to ensure the mold accommodates a variety of feet, and Salomon claims the S/PRO will fit 70 percent of Western populations with minimal modification. And thanks to the brand’s fully heat-moldable shell and liner, achieving a custom-fit is quick and easy. The S/PRO uses Coreframe 360, noticeably improving on-hill performance and impressing testers with superior turn initiation and finish. [S/PRO 120 MSRP: $800 – BUY NOW]
Salomon S/PRO Gear of the Year Video
Video not displaying correctly? Watch it here.
Men's Ski – Fischer RC One 86 GT
The resort-specific daily-driver category is seeing a huge amount of innovation for the 2019-2020 season from a number of ski companies, and this brand-new ski from Fischer is at the top of the class. The Austrian-built RC One 86 GT integrates BAFATEX—a high-tensile, lightweight scrim used primarily in sails—in the tip and tail to reduce swing weight and increase edge-to-edge quickness. With two sheets of Titanal sandwiching a wood core to increase torsional rigidity and damp vibrations at high speeds, the RC One 86 GT earned the highest category scores for quickness, stability at speed, and balance of skills. Add in three different turn radii built into the noticeably unique sidecut, and the latest resort tool from Fischer goes down smoother than a pint of coffee stout on nitro. Testers were enamored with the ski’s capabilities in Taos, quipping that strong intermediate through expert level skiers will be enthralled by its obedient performance on lift-served terrain all season long. [MSRP: $900 with bindings]
Full SKI Test Results will be available on September 24, 2019. Looking for even more in-depth gear coverage? Sign up for SKI's Inside Edge Membership.
Women's Ski – Head Kore 99 W
The new Kore 99 W made our lady shredders feel things—good things. As one tester put it: “This ski has some special sauce that blends a feathery, lightweight feel with a strong backbone.” That special sauce is Head’s winning combination of incredibly light graphene in the tip and tail to reduce weight, a honeycomb-shaped material known as Koroyd that adds elasticity and flexibility to the ski, and a karuba wood core that’s dense yet light and incredibly responsive. These elements make the Kore 99 W a seriously special ski, one that not only performs well all over the mountain and in all snow conditions, but one that will perform for anyone, in all kinds of terrain. The Kore 99 W is the ultimate one-quiver ski for ladies who shred the West. East Coasters worried about the hard snow performance of this wider ski will find that the narrower-waisted Kore 93 W features the same revolutionary technology, but with a sidecut better suited to skiing boilerplate. [MSRP: $800, BUY NOW]
Women's Results from SKI Test will be available on September 24, 2019. Looking for even more in-depth gear coverage? Sign up for SKI's Inside Edge Membership.
Backcountry Ski – Blizzard Zero G 95
Just like its race and freeride skis, Blizzard’s carbon mastery is fully expressed in the new Zero G line. Featuring Carbon Drive 2.0, a 3D uni-directional carbon frame in the tips and tails, and an all-paulownia wood core, the ski is damp in chunder and has increased overall performance in better snow. The brand softened up the tip and tail to allow for optimized smearing capabilities when called for, but the Zero G 95 can hold an edge when it counts with some of the best torsional rigidity in the test. With bi-directional carbon reinforcement binding mounting plates, these skis handle a fair amount of speed too, and they tenaciously take on powder, corn, and all other backcountry conditions. [MSRP: $840, BUY NOW]
The full list of Backcountry Skis tested for 2019/2020 will be available in the 2020 Gear Guide, which arrives on newsstand on September 24. For more in-depth coverage, sign up for Inside Edge now.
Backcountry Ski Boot – Atomic Backland Carbon
The Backland Carbon doesn’t skimp on downhill performance like so many others in the superlight category. Featuring a Boa Fit System on the lower shell and a single metal buckle on the upper with a modified power strap, this boot has a true 110 flex and was able to handle skis over 100mm underfoot with ease. Thanks to a fully heat-customizable liner and shell and a whopping 74 degrees of movement in walk mode, the Backland Carbon feels more like a hiking shoe than a ski boot going uphill. Add in crampon-friendly front toe bights and machine-washable liners to fight funky smells, and this boot is the new standard for superlight ski touring and ski mountaineering.
The Best Backcountry Ski Boots of 2020 will be available online in September.