The 2017 Buyer’s Guide is a special issue of Skialper magazine, entirely dedicated to ski touring gear tests (we’re talking skis, boots, bindings and skins) in all shapes and sizes: skialp race, ski touring, freetouring and freeride. We also have a significant feature dedicated to splitboards.

This is a thorough, meticulous job, for a hefty 400 pages, with tests involving more than 250 products. Undoubtedly an exhaustive, in-depth analysis of mountain gear (tested on the snow and in the lab) at an international level.

WHERE TO BUY THE BUYER’S GUIDE 2017

The international edition of the Buyer’s Guide 2017 is available in english language for mobile devices.
We launched a new app for smartphones and tablets. But it’s also possible to buy a digital edition for PC/Mac.

Look at the video preview!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW ARE THE PRODUCTS DIVIDED?

Last season we introduced the Skialper Chart, a rational division of skis and boots according to their dimensions and weight, so that the products can be precisely divided into the main categories of use. This choice worked rather well, so much so that we only slightly adapted some parameters and divided the Ski Touring category in two sub-categories, introducing Speed Touring, that is a part dedicated to lightweight gear, halfway between traditional ski touring and the racing world. This was a necessary division, considering the rising number of products put forward by manufacturers with those features.

 

SKIALP RACE *

Description: classic outdoor competitions, uphill-only, night races, vertical

Ski: weight ≤ 700 gr – waist ≤ 70 mm

Boots: weight ≤ 750 gr

 

SPORT*

Description: training, races in the “heart of the group”, piste fitness activities, fast&light outings with big elevation gains.

Ski: weight between 700 and 900 gr – waist width from 70 to 80 mm

Boots: weight from 750 to 1.100 gr

 

SPEED TOURING

Description: half way between classic ski touring and the sport world. Going long distances fast, two or three skinning up and down or simply the pleasure of a traditional outing with ultra light, though performing gear.

Ski: weight between 900 and 1.100 gr – waist width from 70 to 85 mm

Boots: weight between 900 and 100 gr.

 

SKI TOURING

Description: ski touring in its old-fashioned conception, taking care during ascents, controlled speed and closed arcs during the descent, big elevation gains, with all types of outings.

Ski: weight between 1.100 and 1.300 gr – waist width between 80 and 90 mm

Boots: weight between 1.100 and 1.400 gr

 

FREETOURING

Description: not opposed to classic ski touring, in fact it stems from it. Same range of activities, with an eye for the descent and the steep, with regards to going up and long distances.

Skis: weight between 1.300 and 1.650 gr – waist width between 90 and 115 mm

Boots: weight between 1.400 and 1.700 gr

 

FREERIDE

Description: freeride using skins to go up, maybe after having taken the lifts. “By fair means” and without making use of helicopters.

Skis: weight between 1.650 and 2.250 gr – waist width between 100 and 130 mm

Boots: weight over 1.700 g

 

* These two categories have been put together in the SKITOURING RACE chapter of this Buyer’s Guide.

PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE CARRYING ON!

 

EXPANDED RACE CHAPTER

The skialp race chapter in this year’s Buyer’s Guide entails pure competition models (weight lower than 700 gr for skis and 750 gr for boots), and also those for endurance activities in the mountains, as well as big elevation gains (750 to 900 gr for skis and 750 to 1100 for boots). We thought such a specific category was diminishing, moving against the tide of our intention to simplify matters. In the “use” section of each of them, you’ll see what models are indicated as 100% race, and which ones may have a hybrid use in the mountains.

 

WEIGHT OR DIMENSION TOLERANCE

Some ski or boots models do not fit into our proposed categories 100%. Or do not coincide with one of the two values. This happens with borderline skis and boots, which lay between one or more categories. After having evaluated them off snow and having then tried them on the snow, we “forced” the positioning on the category we deemed suited them best. Be aware of the fact, however, that they may well be part of another one.

 

THE DECLARED DATA ARE DEEMED AUTHENTIC

Items have been divided following specific weight and sidecut measurements, as supplied by the manufacturers on their official catalogues. Sometimes we remarked discrepancies with the supplied data and the ones we measured with scales and calibre. We however wanted to respect the starting choice of the manufacturers.

 

INDIVIDUAL PIECE

All the weights indicated in the chart refer to the individual ski (bare, without bindings, the middle size in the range).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUR PROCEDURE

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.

 

CHOOSING

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.

 

CATEGORISATION

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.

 

REQUESTS

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.

 

ANALYSIS

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.

EDITING

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.

 

 

TRANSLATION

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!

 

 

We awarded each category with our special mention:
– Ski of the Year in each of the 5 listed categories;
– 4 Selections in each of the 5 listed categories;
Boot of the Year in each of the 5 listed categories;
– 2 Selections in each of the 5 listed categories;
Lady ski of the year in ski touring, freeouring and freeride categories;
Lady boot of the year in ski touring, freeouring and freeride categories;
Binding of the Year in each of the 5 listed categories;
Split of the Year and some other special awards in the category.

You’ll be able to spot these awards by flicking through the pages of the 2017 Buyer’s Guide. The logos have been crafted by our designers.