When kit is king

Our very handy guide to picking gloves, only in the 2014/15 Gear Guide

Publisher’s letter, issue 127

As a long-term attendee of ski tests and trade shows, I can say the real skill is in working out what to try. It’s a bit of a game, though a very pleasant one, being faced with 750 pairs of skis, plus boots, goggles, helmets, clothing… Thank you for your contributions to our social media, your emails and letters and especially those who chew their way through our incredibly searching surveys. These make it easy for us to walk to the right end of the racks and target what’s going to flick our collective switches.
Interesting micro-fact from the research in last season’s Spring issue: 87% of you are looking to replace or add to your skis or boots this season, and just over 90% are looking to acquire new kit of some sort. How very lucky that you’re reading a Gear Guide.
One result is that this year we’ve dropped pure piste skis from the categories. The moment came when we realised none of us (or those we skied with), whatever the conditions, used anything resembling a piste setup now. We almost always ski on 85mm-plus skis with a small avalanche kit – you never know when there’s going to be a little bowl to poach – and use shells, layering and boots with a hike mode. So we probably won’t be testing much Chanel ski gear soon.
Back in the real world of never-ending powder and windless, cloudless mountain days we are sure that the current crop of kit is, relentlessly, pushing the bar higher. Lightweight, high-performance gear is a reality, though you still pay for the privilege of owning it, and snow safety gear is becoming both more available and ever safer.
Here’s something: I was out on my Rossi Scratches – seven seasons old – in March and had a blast. Perfectly powerful and lively enough to give a great day out, and (the useful bit) legally binding proof that good kit lasts, making it a lot easier to justify that next purchase.  You’re currently holding the first component of a wise ski-related purchase; now control the urges and take the time to pick the kit that’s right for you, ideally from a retailer where you can go and see and touch it (don’t forget to tell them where you read about it).