First Look: The 7 Best Skis, Boots and Bindings We Found at Outdoor Retailer

Is it too early to talk about 2021? We believe when it comes to skis, the answer is no.

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Versatility has been a big trend in the ski industry for the past few years, and this year’s spread of hardgoods at the Outdoor Retailer trade show, which took place last week in Denver, keeps that momentum going. We navigated the maze of shiny new products to bring you the stuff we’re most excited about, including one-quiver boots, high-performing skis and revolutionary bindings—and can confidently say: Next winter is going to be fun.


Elan Wildcat Series

Elan Wildcat

Designed by an all-women team, this ski mirrors the playful and accessible feel of Elan’s popular Ripstick series, built in a slimmer, more frontside-oriented package. It has carbon-fiber rods for strength without a weight penalty, and with 82mm, 88mm and 97mm widths, intermediate skiers should find it approachable and fun. The Wildcat collection features Elan’s Amphibio Truline Technology, an asymmetrical ski design that places a camber shape (like a frown) on the inside edge for control and stability and rocker shape (like a smile) on the outside edge for float. (Yes, it has “right” and “left” skis.) $TBD; available on REI.com and in select stores beginning in fall


K2 Reckoner Series

K2 Reckoner

K2’s new Reckoner line will replace the Marksman and Catamaran, built to be a playful all-mountain ski with a directional twin shape. With a full wood core and K2’s carbon Spectral Braid for rigidity tip to tail and side to side, the Reckoner should be stable at high speeds. But with a softer tip and tail, it should still boast that poppy and maneuverable feel that K2 skis have become known for. The Reckoner will be available at REI in 102mm and 112mm widths. We think the 102 will prove to be the most all-mountain-oriented ski in the lineup, while the 112 will be a great mid-winter pow-day companion. Starting at $600; available on REI.com and in select stores beginning in fall


Salomon Shift Pro Boot

Salomon Shift Pro

The counterpart to Salomon’s popular S/Lab Shift MNC Bindings, the Shift Pro Boot is a new offering designed for freeride skiers looking for an aggressive resort boot that still has backcountry capabilities. The Shift Pro will use the inclusive fit system from the S/Pro line, allowing you to customize the shell, liner and cuff for optimal fit and comfort (it has a 100mm last). Tech inserts and the Surelock walk mode allow for efficient climbing in the backcountry, and the stiff 130 (for men) and 110 (for women) flex offerings deliver rock-solid downhill performance. Starting at $850; available on REI.com and in select stores beginning in fall


Blizzard Black Pearl Series

Blizzard Black Pearl

Blizzard overhauled the construction of its Bonafide, Brahma and Black Pearl lines—the brand’s entire all-mountain series. It’s a bold move (the lines are incredibly successful), but we think it will pay off: The Bonafide 97, Brahma 88, Black Pearl 97 and Black Pearl 88 will get full facelifts with Blizzard’s new TrueBlend Wood Core, which strategically patterns different kinds of wood down the length and width of the skis to create a smoother and more well-balanced flex. Denser wood layered underfoot will improve stability and power, while softer wood in the tips and tails will allow for easier steering and quicker response. Starting at $720; available on REI.com and in many stores beginning in fall


Marker Duke PT Bindings

Marker Duke PT

A beefy hybrid touring setup, the Marker Duke PT utilizes the Inter Pivot Heel from the Squire Bindings combined with an innovative convertible toe piece that allows for uphill travel. To ascend, the skier unlocks the 300-gram toe piece and slides it off completely, revealing pins compatible with any tech boot. To transition for downhill, reattach the toe pieces and step in. While much heavier than traditional tech bindings, the Duke PT is a huge step forward for freeride-oriented alpine touring gear, designed to deliver solid downhill performance for hard-charging skiers without the inefficiency and bulk of frame bindings. Still, because it’s compatible with alpine boots, it should be a solid choice for any resort rider interested in high-DIN (12 or 16) bindings. Starting at $700; available on REI.com and in select stores beginning in fall


Volkl Blaze Series

Volkl Blaze

A lightweight series of freeride skis that rise to the occasion in and out of bounds, the new Blaze 94 and 104 skis are more playful than most of Volkl’s traditional skis. They have the brand’s 3D Radius technology, which incorporates longer sidecuts at the tip and tail with a tighter shape underfoot to deliver quick-and-easy turn initiation and stability when riding the edges. The 106mm looks to be a solid everyday option for skiers out West, while the 94mm waist will likely find its home on the East Coast. Starting at $650; available on REI.com and in select stores beginning in fall


Rossignol BlackOps Rallybird Ski

Rossignol BlackOps

Rossignol’s quiet release of the new BlackOps skis over the past season has led to quite the buildup for this new lineup of all-mountain and freeride skis. For the upcoming 2020/2021 season, the BlackOps line will completely replace the uber-popular 7 Series with 14 skis ranging from 86mm to 118mm underfoot. A standout from the collection is the 102mm-waist Rallybird, an all-terrain ski for women and lighter-weight riders with penchants for steeper terrain. The stiff ski should plow through just about anything thanks to Rossi’s Diago Fiber weave, while the lightweight paulownia wood core will deliver a smooth, poppy flex. Starting at $800; available on REI.com and in many stores beginning in fall


Find more Outdoor Retailer trade show coverage here. Read about our favorite winter-camping products, our favorite snow apparel and accessories and our favorite gear for kids.

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