We Tested the Best Ski and Snowboard Gear of 2023
There are few guarantees in the world, but rest assured, great equipment equals a great experience. And the best ski and snowboard gear of 2023 is tailor made to improve your time on the slopes. The season is well underway, with spring shredding just around the corner, so you gotta be kitted out.
Best time to buy ski and snowboard gear
If you’re in the market for some upgrades or a total overhaul, late winter and early spring are the best times to find deals on clothing and gear. Chances are you can save 20 to 60 percent on apparel and accessories if you shop around. And, since spring skiing is the best skiing, smart shoppers know that buying mid-season makes good sense. You know what you need and you’ll have your kit ready for summer peak bagging to boot.
Our testing process
Since the first snowflakes fell in late October, our testers have been hard at work putting the hottest new boots, helmets, goggles, poles, and outerwear through their paces. To find the best ski and snowboard gear of 2023, testers spent at least a month using each item, whittling down the starting list to 26 key pieces.
As for our testers, they comprise a dozen outdoor athletes with rich backgrounds in alpine and backcountry skiing, as well as ice climbing, rock climbing, hiking, and fat biking. Four of our testers are former ski racers, two were professional rock and ice climbers, and two are ski coaches based in Bend and Hood River, OR, who brave the elements seven days a week. The latter two have been testing outdoor gear for more than two decades in Oregon, Wyoming, California, Utah, and Canada. We also have a handful of international testers based in the French and Italian Alps for the winter season, where they ski daily. Their destinations are snow-driven, but Val Thorens, Val d’Isére, La Grave, Serre Chevalier, Montgenevére and Sestriére are among their favorite spots.
So far this season, our testers have accumulated more than 150 days on the slopes. In the process, we identified some major trends for 2023 ski and snowboard gear.
2023 ski and snowboard gear trends
Color is making a comeback.
With more people on the slopes, visibility is key (that’s true if you’re deep in the backcountry, too). A pop of color doesn’t just make for more impactful photo ops, it can also help you be seen and saved in a rescue scenario.
To avoid blending in with rock and snow, consider a bright jacket, or add a neon helmet, vibrant mittens, or splashy neck gaiter.
It’s not exactly science, but if you look good, you’ll feel good And if you feel good, chances are you’ll ski or ride with more confidence. Warm feet, a well-fitting jacket, and the right goggles make for better days on the slopes and encourage you to get out more. More skiing or snowboarding means improved technique, increased fitness, and interesting stories for those après tête-à-têtes around the fire.
Alas, we bring you the best ski and snowboard gear of 2023. Select some new pieces or get the whole (ski) kit and kaboodle.
Top Ski and Snowboard Gear of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Best Ski and Snowboard Bibs and Pants
Stio Environ Bibs
Stio’s created a pair of incredibly durable shell bibs that retain mobility while offering robust protection from Mother Nature’s worst. The seam-sealed recycled polyester has a three-layer construction that’s waterproof, toasty, and fashion forward. We love Environ’s high waist, articulated knees, and gusseted inseam, which lends superior range of motion. A stretchy back panel amplifies breathability, while side zippers let you dump excess heat and double as a drop seat. With plenty of pockets, this is our number one choice for all-mountain skiing. Available in Short (30″), Regular (32″), and Long (34″) inseams.
Fly Low Baker Perm Bibs
The material on Fly Low’s standout bibs offers some of the best air permeability we’ve experienced. Lightweight, waterproof, recycled Intuitive Perm HD fabric provides a slight stretch that encourages movement. With both inner and outer thigh vents, these bibs are a great choice if you’re planning on both uphill and downhill travel. In addition to a great fit (no baggy butt), the kangaroo chest pocket is perfect for your phone, beacon, or both. Five additional pockets (with glove-friendly zipper pulls) keep your stuff organized, while reinforced knees ensure these last for many seasons.
Arc‘teryx Sabre Bib
The Sabre Bib features a breathable three-layer Gore-Tex material with a flannel backer for light insulation, providing excellent protection against the elements. We like the roomy kangaroo pocket for easy access to a wallet or phone, while the zippered leg pocket is ideal for an avalanche beacon. The cut is sleek and athletic.
Patagonia Storm Shift Pants
Patagonia and Gore-Tex teamed up to create ePE fabric, a fully PFC-free, two-layer material that’s impermeable to the elements and seems virtually indestructible—without all the harmful chemicals. The pants have an adjustable waist, articulated knees, and mesh-lined thigh vents. “I love the deep thigh pockets,” says one tester. “They have flaps on top so there’s not a chance of water getting in.”
Best Ski and Snowboard Jackets
Patagonia Storm Shift Jacket
Complete your all-weather kit with the Storm Shift Jacket. Testers raved about the interior liner—a soft, fleecy knit that adds warmth while wicking away sweat. The fit is athletic and styling is super clean, complete with a helmet-compatible hood and adjustable pit zips. On the outside, there are zippered handwarmer pockets, a big zippered chest pocket, and a pass pocket on one forearm. Inside there’s a waterproof phone pocket and a big mesh pouch for gloves.
Stio Environ Jacket
The Environ jacket is a piece of mountain armor you’ll never want to take off. It’s the ultimate in all-mountain versatility with a three-layer recycled polyester face fabric called PeakProof that’s waterproof yet breathable. There’s a forearm pass pocket, a removable hood that’s easy to adjust (and fits well over a helmet), and deep pit zips for venting. Well-placed pockets don’t interfere with pack straps.
Colombia Men’s Powder Canyon Anorak
There’s so much technology packed into this parka. Powder Canyon Anorak features Colombia’s new Omni-Heat Infinity, a thermal reflective technology that increases heat retention while upping breathability. (Testers also love the gold “bling” inside the jacket.) Add highly breathable Omni-Tech waterproofing technology and you have a piece of outdoor armor that ensures you’ll be warm, dry, and comfortable in any condition. The anorak design offers plenty of venting (front zipper and underarm zips) and multiple pockets, including a waterproof exterior chest pocket for a phone.
Arc‘teryx Sabre Anorak
At just over 1.5 pounds, Sabre Anorak is amazingly light, sleek, and protective. The material is basically bomb-proof. We skied grabby tree runs and rappelled sharp, rocky chutes that would have shredded most shells. The waterproof, breathable N80p-X 3L GORE-TEX fabric is equally at home at resorts as it is in the backcountry, battling storms with ease. The fit and lines of the anorak are so good you’ll want to wear it everywhere. Testers especially loved the helmet-friendly hood that doesn’t interfere with peripheral vision, and the long side zip that lets you easily tug off the jacket, even when wearing a helmet and goggles.
Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket
This jacket is your daily driver. Wear it under a shell on cold days, stash it in a pack for emergency use, and sport it to the disco at night. The featherweight (16.5oz) jacket has an impressive warmth-to-weight ratio, thanks to 700-fill hydrophobic down that stays dry in wet conditions. Without being bulky, the generous cut gives plenty of room in the shoulders for when you’re swinging an ice axe or striding with ski poles. The shell material is a strong recycled Pertex Quantum ripstop, which is soft and light but not so wispy that the down is always poking through.
Outdoor Research Hemispheres Shell
By using a stretch Gore-Tex fabric in key areas—the upper mid-back, hood, and cuffs—Outdoor Research has built a true hybrid in its Hemispheres Shell. The jacket flexes when you do, so there’s no restriction of movement when swinging ice tools, propelling yourself with ski poles, or scrambling up rocky terrain. The fabric also breathes well under a backpack full of avi gear. This is one high-tech storm shield.
Best Base and Midlayers for Skiing and Snowboarding
Norrøna Lofoten Thermal Pro Hood
We didn’t expect to love this hoody so much. Lofoten is made of two types of Polartec material, keeping it light, warm, and breathable. Polartec Thermal Pro is a soft ribbed fleece that’s used in the collar, front, shoulders, and sleeves. A lighter, more breathable Power Grid serves the back underarms and hood. A two-way quarter zip at the neck lets you vent, even when you’re wearing it with the hood up. There’s a roomy chest pocket that’s big enough for your phone, wallet, snacks, and sunglasses. A super-soft zippered kangaroo pouch keeps hands warm—and you can even stash skins there in a pinch. If you’re buying one layer this season, this is it.
Icebreaker Merino Fine LS Roll Neck Thermal Top
It’s rare to find a baselayer that ups the design game, but Icebreaker’s Roll Neck Thermal Top has one of the smartest new features we’ve seen. The secret sauce is the extended collar or “roll neck.” It’s actually a discreet, asymmetrical mini-hood design, with the front acting as a neck gaiter/face mask. The back is contoured so you can pull it up and under your helmet on cold, windy days. The design is a lifesaver if you forget your neck gaiter, or when you need that extra protection for your nose and ears. The garment’s beefy 15.5-micron merino wool is warm and durable, and it didn’t pill after more than 30 days on the slopes. Pair it with the Merino Fine Thermal Legging ($200).
Paka Sebastian Base Layer
This is the softest baselayer you’ll ever own. Better yet, it’s from a company that’s making a difference in Peru—highlighting traceable alpaca wool and working closely with local farmers, yarn spinners, and designers. Made of 80 percent Tencel and 20 percent Royal Alpaca yarn (the finest, softest wool), this long-sleeve is so comfy you’ll find yourself wearing it 24/7. And, yeah, those alpaca prints on the sleeve are as good a conversation starter as having a puppy.
Kühl The One Jacket
When we heard this jacket’s name, our initial thought was how could a single jacket be “The One?” But after testing in conditions from blue bird days to storm skiing, we get it. The One is your go-to midlayer that can do double duty as an outerlayer—unless you’re battling moisture. It’s constructed with stretchy, lightweight windproof fabric and insulated for all-day warmth. To match your every move, the material is “body mapped”—meaning there are underarm knit gussets for movement and breathability. Inside is an open-loop “AERO knit” fleece that’s soft, warm and, most importantly, breathable. Get the hooded version for an extra $20.
We Norwegians Setesdal ¼ Zip Sweater
No ski kit is complete without a classic wool Norwegian sweater. We Norwegians is one of our favorite brands for its iconic designs and blend of fine merino wool and cashmere. The knit is chunky but light, doubling as a baselayer and après-time fashion statement. The fit is generous, so you might want to go down a size.
Best New Ski Boots
Scarpa Quattro XT
It’s rare to find a ski boot this light, powerful, and comfortable. The new Scarpa Quattro is a “hybrid” boot, meaning it’s designed for both traditional alpine skiing and backcountry skinning. What impressed us is that the boot is stiff enough for fast, steep skiing with no compromise of control, but still comfy for uphill travel. At just 6 pounds per pair, they’re impressively light, while the plant-based Griamid shell, four-buckle closure, and Booster strap give excellent stiffness. This is your one-boot quiver if you want a high-performance boot to handle fast groomers and backcountry steep and deep. The flex rating is 130, though testers found the boot felt softer. Plus, both the liner and shell are designed to be tweaked for a custom fit.
Lange XT3 130 LV Ski Boots
Call it the new generalist: This versatile boot gets five-star reviews from our testers. The performance-specific design lets you charge double black diamond runs, explore off-trail, or skin multiple laps—all in the same boot. Lange’s all-new Active Power Locking mechanism gives you a full 11 degrees of walk mode, but easily snaps into full DH ski mode with all the power you need for well-balanced, stable alpine turns. Note: The liners have a tight fit, so consider bumping up a half size.
Fischer Transalp Pro Ski Boots
Boots are the foundation of your ski kit—and the new Fischer Transalp Pro is a true game-changer. A new shell and cuff material allow the boots to come in a featherweight 1,280 grams per boot (that’s less than 3 pounds), but the lack of weight doesn’t compromise the shell’s race-boot-level power to the edge and stability at speed. A simple, one-hand adjustment lets you lock the boot into touring mode that’s remarkably comfortable, even when earning your turns.
Rossignol Hi-Speed Elite 130 CAR LV Gw
This new shell design with its carbon-infused construction blew away our expert ski testers. Don’t be scared off by the fancy name—these boots are simply the best in class for hard-charging skiers. The low-volume boots are “race inspired,” meaning they have the mega power and control of “plug” boots that World Cup racers rely on, but with much more comfort. “The energy transfer is out of this world,” said one tester, who ski raced for more than 15 years. While the boots fit well out of the box, hard-to-please skiers will appreciate the highly adjustable flex, forward lean, and cant, which allows you to personalize the reel and response of the boots to match your skiing. The five-zone thermoformable liner is pretty sweet, too.
Best Gloves, Poles, and Helmets for Skiing and Snowboarding
LEKI Spitfire 3D Pole
Good poles provide years of performance, so it’s worth finding something you like. We love the new LEKI Spitfire 3D ski pole with its innovative Trigger 3D ProG grip. With LEKI’s multi-directional release mechanism, you “clip in” with one of LEKI’s Trigger gloves—constructed with a small loop between the thumb and forefinger that connects directly with the pole’s grip. In other words: The poles and gloves mate without the need of a wrist strap, though you can also use a regular mesh wrist strap with any glove. The Spitfire pole is light, with an excellent swing weight, and comes with baskets for powder and hardpack. We tested the poles with LEKI’s Patrol 3D ski glove ($130). The soft goatskin construction and anti-slip silicone patch on the palm make them one of the most comfortable gloves on the market. They also boast articulated fingers, a neoprene cuff, and a light layer of Primaloft insulation, making them a happy place for hands.
[Spitfire 3D Pole, $140; leki-store.mwrc.net]
MountainFlow Cork Pro Recycled Aluminum Ski Poles
There are a lot of ski poles in the world, but these are the first made from recycled aluminum. Mountain Flow caught our attention with the world’s first plant-based ski wax. Now, the brand has extended its environmental ethos with ski poles. Made from recycled space-grade aluminum, the new Cork Pro poles are twice as strong as regular poles made with standard 6061 aluminum, and they’re light. Plus, the manufacturing process emits 95 percent less carbon than working with virgin aluminum.
Smith 4D Mags Goggle
The Smith 4D Mags is a go-anywhere, see-anything goggle. Its wide field of view and crisp optics let you crush the bumps, lap the back bowls, and rock après with style. The nice thing about Mags is it doesn’t overwhelm small- to medium-sized faces. There are bigger googles out there, but more often than not, they drop on the nose bridge and inhibit breathing. Lens changing has never been easier, too, thanks to the brand’s new magnetic tech. You can switch out the darker ChromoPop lens for the yellow one when light is flat.
Smith Nexus Helmet
This bomber helmet won’t weigh you down. A hybrid shell construction makes the Nexus lighter and sleeker than other helmets without sacrificing safety features. The impact-resistant exoskeleton gives you increased protection in side impact zones. You can keep the ear pads for warmth, or remove them on blue bird days as well as when you want to drop a few ounces for hotlaps. We like the BOA 360 Fit System that lets you quickly adjust the helmet to fit over a hat or hood.
POC Obex MIPS Helmet
Your helmet is not only essential safety gear, it’s also a sign of freedom and individuality. We love the Obex as it comes in great colors (pink and lime green, to name two), which make you easier to spot on the slopes. The Obex MIPS was light enough for us to bring on backcountry skinning trips, but its real talent is protection when you’re ripping hard and fast. The helmet has an EPS liner, PC shell, and ABS top shell. Translation: You get state-of-the-art protection with sliding vent covers that are easy to deploy on mild days.
POC Nexal Goggles
Inspired by racing and scaled for smaller faces, the new Nexal brings substance to a unique style. The addition of zygomatic bone covers builds on the idea that goggles do more than simply protect the eyes. Nexal also enhances facial coverage and improves sun protection. Despite the goggle’s simple, pared-back design, your vision is never compromised thanks to a cylindrical lens featuring Clarity technology. Lenses are easy to change so you can always ski with the right one for conditions. Also, POC lens/goggle combos never leave you with the dreaded gap. Constructed with frame outriggers, the goggles sit even closer to a POC helmet for seamless head protection.
Black Diamond Sessions Gloves
Sessions Gloves provide all the dexterity, warmth, and comfort you need for a full day on the mountain. The gloves are constructed from luxuriously soft goat leather that’s slightly stretchy, waterproof, and incredibly durable. The cuff is a single-piece knit with a snug fit around your wrist, so there’s no problem with the interface between glove and jacket cuff.
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