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Gear We Used to Test the Skis of the Year

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Testing skis isn’t easy. Especially when there are 27 brands and over 150 pairs of skis that need a fair shake. We invited a crew of 32 industry professionals to descend on Sun Valley, Idaho in early March of 2022 to determine the best Skis of the Year in the 2023 Winter Gear Guide. These is the gear we used along the way to protect our heads and limbs and make sure our cups were full at the end of a 30,000-foot day.

Dermatone Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF30 ($)

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Even in the dead of winter, protecting our skin from the sun’s harsh rays is extremely important, especially at high altitudes where the sun’s rays are more intense. (For every 1,000 feet you gain in elevation above sea level, the sun’s rays increase in intensity by up to 10 percent). So when we spent a week at week skiing from the 9,150-foot summit of Sun Valley to test more than 100 pairs of skis for the 2023 Gear Guide, we protected our testers with Dermaton’s broad-spectrum sunscreen. Because while these 9 Skis of the Year are in, sunburn is out.

Sweet Protection Igniter 2Vi MIPS helmet ($230)

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Sweet Protection calls its new Igniter 2Vi MIPS one of the brand’s lighter-weight helmet models, and for them, that’s true. But, compared to other helmets, this thing is a beast, a powerful hard hat that testers described as “burly” and “heavy-duty.” One tester said it reminded her of a motorcycle helmet. The shock-absorbing liner can be snapped out and washed, in case you sweat profusely, and if you’d rather not ski with ear coverings, those can be popped out too. Though it’s highly breathable with 10 oversized vents, the sliders can feel a little sticky and hard to open with gloves on. Due to its hefty feel, this helmet, with its two-layer MIPS brain-protection technology, is best suited for inbounds shredders who want sturdy protection above all else. Standout feature: The bomber rubber strap on the back means you’ll never break a flimsy plastic goggle holder again.

Helly Hansen Swift Infinity Jacket ($500)

Helly Hansen Swift Infinity Jacket

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It’s the little things that propelled this jacket from good to great. Let’s start with the hood and collar. Instead of being integrated, the two operate separately, which actually improves both. “Zipping up the fleece-lined collar creates a cocoon around my face,” noted tester Derek Stuart. That was perfect for protecting against the minus-20-degree-Fahrenheit cold he experienced at Lake Louise, Alberta, especially since there’s plenty of room at the collar for a neck gaiter. When the wind blew, Stuart could hoist the hood over his helmet without having to drop the collar first, and a single pull cinched it nice and snug. The PrimaLoft Black Eco insulation throughout the jacket kept him toasty, and, on a warmer day, the mesh-backed armpit vents allowed him to cool off without risking a snow shower if he fell. The cuffs happily sync with gaitered or gauntlet-style gloves. It’s a good pick for chilly areas or skiers who run cold. Note: The short, tailored style fits a bit small.

Helly Hansen Women’s Alphelia 2.0 Pants ($300)

Helly Hansen Women’s Alphelia 2.0 Pants
(Photo: Courtesy Helly Hansen)

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Deliciously warm and delightfully soft, Helly Hansen’s Women’s Alphelia 2.0 Pants are a fitted resort option for skiers who want to stay warm, move freely, and tread lightly. The flattering cut, adjustable waist tabs, and belt loops let them flex to match how you want to wear them and what you want to pair them with. Articulated knees move with you, whether you’re shredding greens or double-blacks—or testing 30+ skis a day for a week straight like our crew. The pants are fully seam-sealed for total waterproofness, and we love the boot-gaiter design, which features gripper silicone on the cuffs to keep them from riding up, plus a mesh panel to release heat without letting in snow. Testers praised the Alphelia’s oversized glove-friendly zipper pulls and the pants’ high-warmth, low-bulk PrimaLoft Black Eco insulation. Helly’s proprietary waterproof, windproof, and breathable fabric keeps the weather out, yet lets sweat evaporate. Bonus: The pants are PFC-free. If you’re on the cusp between two sizes, size up.

Odlo Base Layers

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Odlo began in Norway over 70 years ago out of a need to create layers that could function in notoriously harsh conditions. Our testers ski hard in cold weather, so we needed baselayers that can perform against the elements and wick away sweat from skiing 30,000-plus feet of vertical every day. The lightweight merino wool is fast drying and reduces odor … great for a week of skiing without laundry in between. We recommend the Revelstoke Performance Wool Warm long-sleeve top for men and the The Blackcomb Eco bottoms for women, two of our testers’ favorite pieces.

Athletic Brewing Run Wild IPA ($14)

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This hazy brew was one of the first non-alcoholic beers we tried—and liked. It’s brewed with Amarillo, Citra, and Mosaic hops in a classic hazy style that mellows the sharpness but maximizes the flavor of the hops so you can join in on apres without any of the drag-ass feelings the next morning. We believe however you choose to celebrate the end of the ski day is great, as long as you’re being true to yourself.

Woodchuck Cider Bubbly Pearsecco ($11)

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Ever heard of having a champagne taste on a beer budget? Yeah, that’s most of us. But thanks to Woodchuck’s range of delicious ciders, we can have both! Inspired by sparkling wines, this dry pear cider is full of bubbles with a clean, crisp finish that’s just the thing to toast to 30,000 feet of vertical in a single day at Sun Valley!

Miir Pint Cup ($10)

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Waste not, want not. We did our best to keep the SKI Test low-waste by taking our Miir reusable camp cups to the beer taps and water jug as needed. If you’re like us, you have at least a dozen of these around the house and while you probably only need one or two, they sure came in handy when we busted out the bottle of sunset bubble at the summit of Dollar Mountain. Here’s to you, skiers!

Cup, vase, snack stash, fort for ants, the MiiR Pint Cup dominates whatever task you assign it.