What path leads to the magazine you’re flicking through?
Nine months of work, that’s as long as it takes for a baby to be born. We sometimes joke about this, but that’s how it feels. Let’s try and list the main aspects of our procedure.
The first step takes place between the end of January and the beginning of February. We take part in specialised press events, where new items are launched, and then meet the company representatives at the ISPO fair in Munich. At this point, it is vital to understand what direction the market is taking and what products we should focus on for the coming season.
The information we gather is analysed and organised according to our parameters. It may happen that modifications to individual categories and the product division with regards to previous years may be put in place, as it happened for this edition.
We ask manufacturers to give us skis, boots, boards, bindings and skins. Taking part in the test is free and no company pays a penny to feature in the Buyer’s Guide. The gear reaching us has to be new, identical to the one you’ll find in a shop.
THE PHOTO LAB
First of all we take pictures of all the products. A part of our warehouse becomes a photo lab and the items are shot from various angles. This happens only after having spent time trying to offer technical images, which are faithful to reality, but at the same time enticing.
All the gear is then carefully put at bench test: firstly in our offices, where we measure them, weigh them, and gauge them with our equipment. Then, at the XL Mountain lab, all this work is put the final touch with the evaluation of the finish of skis and the functionality of boots and bindings.
PREPARATION AND MOUNTING
Every ski is prepared with the same set up: ten Wintersteiger machine uses, infrared waxing, 0,5° tuning and refinement of the edge chosen by the manufacturer. They are then mounted with ATK bindings, which are all the same (according to each category).
THE WORK ON THE SNOW
The testers start working at this phase. The material is brought onto alpine glaciers, where we search for various snow conditions: powdery after a late snowfall, hard transformed, wet, crusty snow. Our professional testers go up and down, tell us their thoughts and compile evaluation sheets.
This is perhaps the most crucial phase: all the preceding work is put together in precise technical sheets, all bearing the same length. Months of work are put into a few lines, which should guide our readers wanting to make a purchase, given them all the possible information and honest, clear and independent evaluations.
After having been so successful last year, we commissioned a translation into English. All the texts (and we mean all of them!) have been translated to craft the new app with an English version of the Buyer’s Guide for the international market.
LAYOUT AND CORRECTIONS
This is another delicate moment, when all photos, technical sheets, evaluations and the corrections are put together in a graphic project which allows you to have all the information under one umbrella, without overlooking the graphic side. And then all the tests and corrections have to be made, an essential part for a product so rich in data, numbers and graphs.
RETURNING THE GEAR
When we’re done with our job, all the gear is sent back to the manufacturers. Nothing of what has been tested stays with us. From this year on, every item we tested has been marked with the sticker “tested by Skialper”
THE FLOOR IS YOURS
Here, our readers can find space for themselves. We hope that this long and thorough job will be of use to people looking for the right gear to best take advantage of their days out in the mountains!