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Testing Powder Skis at Snowbird

On Friday, Snowbird, Utah, reported 19 inches in the past 24 hours. Skiing magazine was there for our annual ski test—to collect reviews for our fall Gear Guide—and used the conditions to test next year's powder skis. Here's a sneak peek.

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Over a dozen testers (mainly male, plus three hard-charging women) tested the unisex powder skis, which ranged between 100 millimeters underfoot all…

Over a dozen testers (mainly male, plus three hard-charging women) tested the unisex powder skis, which ranged between 100 millimeters underfoot all the way up to obese skis that were 130 milimeters underfoot. They’d grab a ski from the rack (seen here), and take them for one lap up Snowbird’s Gadzoom chairlift. Then they’d grab a different pair of skis and fill out a test card on the previous ski while riding the chairlift.

Here is the rack of women's powder test skis, which ranged from 90 millimeters underfoot up to 115 mm. There were 17 pairs of women-specific fat…

Here is the rack of women’s powder test skis, which ranged from 90 millimeters underfoot up to 115 mm. There were 17 pairs of women-specific fat skis, which is more than we’ve ever seen in a women’s powder category before (finally!).

We employeed three techs to help turn screws and adjust bindings.

We employeed three techs to help turn screws and adjust bindings.

Here's tester Tim Dyer getting a pair of Black Diamond Megawatts adjusted for his test lap.

Here’s tester Tim Dyer getting a pair of Black Diamond Megawatts adjusted for his test lap.

Skiing's art director, Mark Lesh, stuff his face with powder while testing how the skis react in the white room.

Skiing‘s art director, Mark Lesh, stuff his face with powder while testing how the skis react in the white room.

Skiing's photo editor, Niall Bouzon, on a pair of Atomic Blogs, which are 110 millimeters underfoot. The rockered tip and tail stay afloat in powder,…

Skiing‘s photo editor, Niall Bouzon, on a pair of Atomic Blogs, which are 110 millimeters underfoot. The rockered tip and tail stay afloat in powder, and a good dose of traditional camber in the ski’s midsection assure manageability on groomers and runouts. That camber also provides pop and energy—attributes that a fully rockered ski lacks.

Niall Bouzon testing the skis' pillow compatibility.

Niall Bouzon testing the skis’ pillow compatibility.

We told tester Tim Dyer not to trash the skis he was on, but he didn't listen. Instead, he dropped off a log into a narrow runout in the Get Serious…

We told tester Tim Dyer not to trash the skis he was on, but he didn’t listen. Instead, he dropped off a log into a narrow runout in the Get Serious Chutes off Snowbird’s Gadzoom lift. He claims the skis he was on—a pair by Colorado company, Fat-ypus—had a nice, wide platform for landing airs.

With powder skis, part of what we're looking for is how well they perform both in super-deep snow (shown here). Do they sink? Do they throw you in…

With powder skis, part of what we’re looking for is how well they perform both in super-deep snow (shown here). Do they sink? Do they throw you in the backseat? Do they plow through chopped-up snow? Here’s Tim Dyer, hard at work.

Another thing we look for with fat, powder-specific skis: How they perform on airs, pillows, steeps, and other natural features. Are they stiff and…

Another thing we look for with fat, powder-specific skis: How they perform on airs, pillows, steeps, and other natural features. Are they stiff and planky or soft and light? Do they have a wide, stable platform for landing airs? Are they playful and forgiving (which would be helpful for advanced skiers looking to improve their powder skills) or burly and uncompromising (which would be ideal for strong experts). Here’s tester Mike Britt, putting some Fat-ypus skis to the test.

Atomic rep Jake Strassburger tries out a pair of Atomic Atlas skis, new for 2010-11, on a 20-foot air.

Atomic rep Jake Strassburger tries out a pair of Atomic Atlas skis, new for 2010-11, on a 20-foot air.