Ski Tech Justin Hewitt adjusting Dynafit bindings on Dynafit Manaslu skis

Next Year's AT Skis and Bindings

This week we're at Aspen Highlands testing next year's AT skis and bindings. Here's a look behind the scenes at the ski test, and a peek at some 2011-12 goods.


A.T. Bindings

Alpine touring bindings fall into two camps, tech-style and frame-style. They’re like apples and oranges. But there’s plenty of nitpicking to do within each category. Find your next AT binders here.

ew to Black Diamond’s Efficient Series, the Compactor is the perfect pole for anyone trying to maximize space and efficiency. New Z-pole technology uses internal Kevlar cords that allow you quickly fold and deploy your poles for touring or storage. But gimmicks aside, they’ve also got BD’s easy adjusting FlickLock system and extension grips for when you choke up your grip on the steeps. $120;

Pole Dance

Poles are poles, right? Wrong. New technology and lighter, hybridized materials mean that ski poles have reached an all-time high of technical sophistication. Here are a few new ones you should take a look at.

$435 We love the Marker Baron so much that we borrowed a fleet of them from Marker to mount on all of our backcountry test skis. When the Baron's predecessor, the DIN-16 Duke, debuted in 2007, it was the only alpine-touring binding that truly skied like a real alpine binding. Word spread, and shops literally could not keep it stocked. Marker released the Baron in 2008. It has the same alpine-style performance as the Duke—solid, secure, and confidence-inspiring—but is 150 grams lighter (thanks to the use of nylon instead of magnesium), and $60 less expensive. And with a DIN range of four through 12, it's more of an everyman's binding. If you're skiing the resort most of the time, but want touring capability for occasional side- and backcountry laps, you won't find a better binding.

Backcountry Bindings

Whether you're going on a day-long tour or just heading out the gates, you need a binding that works as well going uphill as it does going down. Here is a collection of some of the best AT and telemark bindings out there.

benchet 12

Prime Powder Skis

In the gear world there's nothing more lust-worthy than super fat powder skis, the kind made of heli drops and snorkel-deep days. These are the best of the year.

La Sportiva RT

2010-11 AT Bindings Explained

We tested five of next year's AT bindings at our gear test. Our Aspen-based gear expert gave us a video rundown of how they work, their touring functions, and what they're best for.

126)/136/115/133/(123) | $900 The new shape of powder skiing debuted in 2008–09: camber and sidecut underfoot; rocker and reverse sidecut tip and tail. The result: loose, slashy, floaty, get-after-it goodness—fresh as ever as the JJ heads into its fourth season. Testers still love it. Everyone loves it.  Lengths: 165, 175, 185 Turn Radius: 14 at 185ABOUT ARMADAHe weighed only about 140 pounds, but when seven-time ESPN Winter X Games gold medalist Tanner Hall stomped his landing on the burgeoning new-school scene, the ski world shook. The Montana-bred Hall, never comfortable with authority, promptly ditched Rossignol and banded with other luminary park skiers to form Armada in 2002. The concept was brilliant: Star athletes would run the show, pimp the brand, design the skis they wanted, and control the message. Sales immediately took off, and now Armada, the giant of indies, rivals some of the mainstream brands for U.S. market share.

The Best Indie Skis

Dozens of new ski companies have sprouted in the last decade. Are they making good skis? Last spring, we went to Aspen to find out. The answer is yes, and here are our favorites.