What do you like to ski? Powder? Bumps? Backcountry steeps? All of the above? <check> While there is no single ideal setup that will shred in every situation, pairing the right gear with the intended purpose can be the difference between a decent winter and a great one. The trick is in being honest with yourself about how, where and when you’ll be shredding, then matching the right skis, boots and bindings for your specific needs.
With the current breadth of gear—from hyper-light rando racing set-ups to the Marker Duke 16 DIN sidecountry brawn—it’s easier than ever to mismatch your ski kit to your needs. You have to find the proper balance—balance between your expectations of the gear’s performance with the reality of where and how you ski.
Heavier gear performs great with gravity but will require considerable effort getting back up the hill without either a chairlift or heli assist, while lighter gear allows you to climb effortlessly and tour far, wide and fast but will not deliver the same level of bombproof downhill charging prowess of a full downhill set-up.
Make sure your boots, skis, and bindings are all properly matched. An agile touring boot like the Maestrale, is designed for long days in the backcountry, breaking trail and sessioning powder bowls. Pair it with light touring bindings and backcountry specific skis and you’re gold; the weight-saving ergonomics and comfort make for a “totally stoked” backcountry experience.
The same can be said for the more freeride-oriented Mobe, a four-buckle, high performance soldier that excels at driving big skis and charging hard. Match the Mobe with a suitable AT binding and a freeride-performance ski and the rewards are similar.
For a shopping assist, check out the following chart: Boots on the “Line of Balance” are perfectly balanced for uphill and downhill use. The more gravity skiing you do, look at boots further down and right of the ‘Line of Balance’. The farther you like to skin, the more vert you like to climb, look at boots further above the ‘Line of Balance’.
Shortcuts in the balance game can shortchange the overall experience. Be vigilant about choosing gear and honest about the gear’s intended virtues before putting together your kit. The best turns begin with balance.