Best Ski Gear of the Past Decade

Intro

We recently posted a conversation on our GEAR:30 podcast where some of us discussed our picks for the most influential — and the best — ski gear from the past decade. Check out that conversation here, and then here we’re having several of our other reviewers offer their nominations.

As always, we’re curious to hear what you think, so let us know in the Comments section below what you’d pick.

Luke Koppa

Most influential ski of the last decade?

Rossignol Soul 7: Led the way for light, very tapered, inbounds-oriented skis that were very easy to ski but that could potentially fit a wide range of skiers. Nowadays, we still see a ton of skis that arguably draw at least some, or a lot of inspiration from the original Soul 7.

Best ski of the Decade?

​1st: Nordica Enforcer 100: because it works for so many different people, and has been competitive in its class since it was created, despite not having been changed since then.

2nd: Rossignol Sickle: Mostly because we continue to get so many questions along the lines of “what’s the current replacement for the Sickle???” It was playful and still quite stable, versatile across most conditions, and everyone from directional chargers to freestyle skiers to beginners and intermediates seemed to like it.

3rd: Rossignol Black Ops 118: Just because it’s the most fun chop ski I’ve ever used and almost no other ski has been as fun in so many regards. Definitely some recency bias here, though.

Most Influential Ski Boot of the Decade?

Dynafit Vulcan or Scarpa Maestrale line: boots that walked well enough for longer tours, but that could actually aggressively drive big skis on the way down. Paved the way for all of the excellent AT boots we now see on the market.

Best Boot of the Decade?

Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro: There are a ton of boots that could easily take this spot, but in my experience, the Zero G Tour Pro is one of, if not the most versatile boots I’ve used in terms of walking well enough and being light enough for very long tours, but also strong enough to use for more aggressive skiing with bigger skis.

Most Influential Ski Binding of the Decade?

Dynafit Beast 16: While, in hindsight, the Beast is not the most versatile or dialed binding, it was one of the first “tech” bindings that let you skin up in toe pins but that had a high release value and was designed for very aggressive, high-speed skiing on the down.

Best Ski Binding of the Decade?

Salomon Shift MNC: There are now lots of great bindings, but the Shift seems like the best binding in terms of truly being a breakthrough — it offers alpine-binding downhill performance and safety standards, yet still lets you skin in toe pins. There were many other systems before the Shift that attempted to accomplish that same goal, but the Shift seems like the simplest and most dialed version as of right now.

Most Important Apparel Development of the Decade?

Air-Permeable, waterproof / breathable laminates: While eVent (an air-permeable membrane) came out before the start of this decade, the past decade was when we saw air-permeable fabrics truly gain popularity. People began to realize that, in many cases, you don’t need the most waterproof fabric, and giving up a bit of weather resistance in exchange for much better breathability can create a much more versatile garment.

Most influential Fabric of the Decade?

Polartec NeoShell: while NeoShell seems to have dropped in popularity, it ushered in a huge range of more breathable / slightly less “waterproof” fabrics from other brands, and each year we see many companies marketing highly breathable and highly water resistant fabrics. eVent paved the way for NeoShell, but I think NeoShell was the “breakthrough” fabric for a lot of people who participate in high-intensity outdoor activities.

Best Fabric or Best Apparel Piece of the Decade?

Patagonia Knifeblade Kit: I definitely have a biased opinion since I’ve spent most of this past decade in a fairly dry climate (Colorado), but the Knifeblade was the most versatile “shell” that I’ve come across. Its Polartec PowerShield Pro fabric was water resistant enough for drier climates, but breathed far better than any truly waterproof shell. Sam Shaheen and I still reminisce about the Knifeblade kit on a weekly basis, which I think is a testament to how good that kit was. If any apparel companies out there are listening, please don’t forget about PowerShield Pro. It’s a phenomenal fabric.

Sam Shaheen

Most influential ski of the last decade?

I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but the Rossignol Soul 7 was definitely the most influential ski of the last decade. The concept of taper and rocker in a lightweight all-mountain package inspired almost every single ski that came after it in some way. Its influence is impossible to ignore.

Best ski of the Decade?

1st: Nordica Enforcer 100. As I said on the podcast, it’s hard to ignore a ski that went unchanged for the better part of a decade AND remained at the top of its class in so many respects.

2nd: Rossignol Soul 7 HD (latest iteration). So many people around the world have had amazing days on this ski. It’s one of the few skis that I think beginners can enjoy as much as experts — personal opinions aside, that’s enough to make it one of the best skis of the decade right there.

3rd: Volkl Mantra M5. The Mantra lineup has been a mainstay in the ski world for the past 10 years and the latest version of the ski is one of my favorite skis of all time. It is so dialed and has a rare combination of damping and energy.

Most Influential Ski Boot of the Decade?

I’m going with the Scarpa Maestrale RS. In my opinion, this was really the first commercially successful boot that hit the balance of weight and performance we see in most AT boots today. The boot was stiff enough to charge rather hard but also came in at a weight that was just low enough to take on very long tours. Ten years ago Scarpa made a boot that looks pretty similar to most of the freeride touring boots on the market right now. That’s impressive, and very influential.

Best Boot of the Decade?

I’m sticking with the Maestrale RS (current version). This is probably a bit of personal bias, but it fits me pretty well and I’ve had some of the best days of my life wearing this boot. It walks incredibly and skis just as well as it walks. Homerun, Scarpa.

Most Influential Ski Binding of the Decade?

Just like the Maestrale paved the way for “freetouring” boots, the Dynafit Beast did the same for freetouring bindings. Though it wasn’t a great binding, it hit on the exact features that everyone is trying to build into their touring bindings today: elastic travel, defined release, and capable of aggressive skiing.

Best Ski Binding of the Decade?

I’m going with the G3 ION. There is nothing flashy about this binding. It wasn’t influential, it didn’t use new technology or a crazy new design. But in my experience, it has been such a solid, reliable, easy to use, and confidence inspiring pin binding. It’s not perfect (we know others who have had durability issues with it), but during my time with it, it hasn't been far off.

Most Important Apparel Development of the Decade?

I haven’t read Luke’s answer to this but I’d put money that he said the same thing as me: air-permeable waterproof membranes. This was such a big development that from 2010 to 2020, Gore-Tex went from labeling EVERYTHING they made with their 100% waterproof tag to developing a whole new line of non-waterproof membranes and air-permeable membranes in their flagship product: Gore Pro.

Most influential Fabric of the Decade?

Piggybacking off my previous answer, the fabric that started the whole air permeable revolution was, in my opinion, Polartec Neoshell. It’s impossible not to have that fabric in this slot.

Best Fabric or Best Apparel Piece of the Decade?

Lame answer alert. I’m going to say the (discontinued, RIP) Patagonia Knifeblade kit. That kit just hit every single aspect of good apparel right on the nose and every season Patagonia goes without bringing it back, I probably lose a few years of life expectancy. Honorable mention: Patagonia Nano Air — such an amazing mid layer.

Kristin Sinnott

Most influential ski of the last decade?

For me, it’s the Armada VJJ (which I believe was released in 2012). Not because it was the first ski designed with lots of taper, rockered tips and tails, and positive camber underfoot, but it was the first ski I — and arguably many other skiers — tried with these features.

Best ski of the Decade?

1st: Nordica Santa Ana Series. Between the Santa Ana 110, 100, and 93s, there is very little reason to stray from the line — unless you want a lightweight ski. With two sheets of metal and an energetic feel, the Santa Anas are fun to ski, handle just about any condition well, and still aren’t all that demanding.

2nd: Blizzard claims the Black Pearl 88 is the best-selling women’s ski in the world and while I can’t verify this, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true, based on how often I see that ski in lift lines. At 88 mm underfoot and with a low-profile rocker / camber / rocker profile, this all-mountain ski is accessible to a wide range of skiers from beginners to experts.

3rd: Line Pandora (any version). I can’t think of one female friend that has not owned a pair of the Pandoras and most of them still have a pair in their quiver. For years I skied the Pandora 110 and loved them because they were predictable, stable, and playful. While the Pandoras have undergone changes over the years, I don’t recall an iteration that most people disliked. A ski that has been persistently popular for almost the entire decade and continues to be a well-loved ski certainly deserves a place on this list.

Most Influential Ski Binding of the Decade?

I’m not an expert on ski bindings and would trust other reviewer’s answers as being correct, but like my first response, I will answer this based solely on my experience. The Marker Kingpin, with its alpine-style heel piece, definitely motivated me to switch my AT setup from the extremely clunky Fritschi Freeride Pro to the slightly lighter (and much more efficient) Kingpin. Having never been interested in pin technology due to the less consistent release characteristics, the idea that the heel piece would release and feel similar to an alpine binding made me a fan. While there have been slews of issues with the Kingpin over the years, I haven’t had any issues and I trust them enough to carry my son while wearing them.

Best Ski Binding of the Decade?

Same answer as above, based on my experiences — the Marker Kingpin.

Kara Williard

Most influential ski of the last decade?

Armada TST: Like Kristin, I’m going with a bit more of a personal bias for this one. While the JJ and S7 came before the TST and arguably brought about the popularity of taper (at the time referred to as 5-point contact), I skied the TST for hundreds of days during the first half of the decade, and it offered a level of versatility that many skis couldn’t compete with at the time. The TST was interesting in that it was very tapered and rockered in the front, but with a much more traditional shape and rocker profile through the rest of the ski, at a time when taper and rocker were getting pretty crazy on other skis. In my mind, the TST was very influential in that it was a step toward more the moderately tapered and rockered skis we see today.

Best ski of the Decade?

1st: Nordica Santa Ana 100: I agree with everything that Jonathan, Luke, and Sam said about the Enforcer 100, and I’ll add the women’s version which was extremely similar. For someone who often felt let-down by many women’s skis through most of the decade, and as someone who skied men’s skis through most of the decade, I was so damn happy to step on the Santa Ana 100 and feel a ski as damp, versatile, and reliable as the men’s version.

2nd: Rossignol Soul 7: I probably sold a couple hundred Soul 7’s to a couple hundred happy customers over the last ~6 years. This ski was brilliant, insanely influential to the entire industry, skied well, and as long as you weren’t a mega person or prioritized lots of stability and damping, the Soul 7 would probably work for you. It was one ski that I I had few qualms about in terms of putting a huge range of skiers on it. And to this day, with some minor changes, it still totally rips.

3rd: Armada TST: Thankfully, my skiing style has changed a lot over the last decade, and while I have also evolved in terms of what I like in a ski, the TST was a pretty rad ski. As I mentioned above, the TST was a rare ski at the time in that it featured lots of taper and rocker at the tips, but with a more traditional shape and camber profile at the back of the ski.

Most Influential Ski Boot of the Decade?

Atomic Hawx Ultra: There’s no doubt that the evolution of the AT boots throughout the last decade has been riveting, with major advancements being traced back to some of the aforementioned boots. But I am always thinking in the world of bootfitting, and the Atomic Hawx Ultra was a revolutionary concept that not only opened doors for what lightweight alpine boots could be, but also what a truly heat moldable shell could do for people with, well, really really messed-up feet. If I am going purely off the concept of heat moldable shells, the original Salomon X/Pro and X/Max deserve some credit. However, I got to witness some pretty remarkable fit-miracles within the first couple seasons of the Hawk Ultra. Scenarios that would have once required 10+ hours of rudimentary bootfitting could suddenly be solved with some creative placement of foam on the foot to create some voids, and a few minutes in an oven. For people who may have struggled with boots their entire life, this was a shocking solution. Also, the Hawx Ultra was not only light and moldable, it still offered solid downhill performance.

Best Boot of the Decade?

Lange RX series: At the beginning of the decade, Lange released the complete overhaul of their alpine ski boot line, in the form of the RX series. This was also around the time I started bootfitting, and since the RX’s creation, I think Lange has done an excellent job of maintaining such an unapologetically authentic alpine boot. No crazy technology has since been integrated into this series (except Dual Core, which I would say is a minor, but valid enhancement), and it really doesn’t need to be. I am impressed that Lange has stayed away from heat moldable shells and lightweight plastics. The RX series offers a versatile fit, excellent performance, and has stayed the most consistent throughout the decade compared to many of the other boots in its class. I would also mention, annoyingly, that it’s now been a decade with the RX shell, and people are still referring to issues that they experienced in their Lange boots from 20 years ago. It’s a new era, people.

Most Influential Ski Binding of the Decade?

Marker Duke/Baron: Even though these bindings were initially released before the start of the decade and are pretty rough in comparison to what we have now, the Marker Baron and Duke opened up a world of backcountry access that didn’t before exist. If you wanted to get into touring without investing in a boot with tech / pin fittings, these frame bindings made it possible. By opening up the accessibility of backcountry skiing, the entire industry was changed. Yes, they did not tour well and yes, they were heavy, but consumers suddenly had the option of investing in a binding and some skins, and getting the uphill experience without having to change their entire setup or invest in a second setup, and this was revolutionary in my mind. To this day, people are still investing in frame bindings as their introduction to alpine touring, and they are still a viable entry point into what can be an excessively expensive realm.

Best Ski Binding of the Decade?

Definitely the Shift. I have no qualms about this binding. It’s an amazing concept, it works for me and my preferences, and it is the perfect testament to just how far we have come in the last decade, as well as opening doors to the potential of this next decade.

Cy Whitling

I’ll preface my response by saying that I think there are “right” answers to these questions, and most of them have probably already been given a few times. So instead of just reiterating the answers everyone else is already putting down, I’m going to throw in some contrarian ideas that are probably “wrong” but represent products that I think pushed the industry as a whole in interesting ways. So with that said, don’t shake your fist at me for being an impudent rascal.

Most influential ski of the last decade?

Yeah, it’s probably the Soul 7, or something like that. But let’s talk about the Eric Pollard and Chris Benchetler skis of the early 2010’s (and sure, let’s count the K2 Hellbent, too). In my circles at least, those were the most highly coveted skis out there. We all wanted something that looked, and skied like they did. Also, look at the fact that Eric Pollard has had at least one (and sometimes as many as four) pro models with Line every year since 2003. And they’ve all been part of the overall industry push toward more versatile, fun, playful skis. The cumulative impact of all those Nimbus-esque skis is impressive.

Best ski of the Decade?

1st: Moment Deathwish. I’m not going to try to be some arbiter of taste here, saying what the “best” ski of the decade is. But this is my favorite one, and I bet if you skied a day or two on it you’d really like it, too.

2nd: Atomic Bent Chetler 120 & Moment’s touring skis. I’m giving this second-place award to a general category, not a specific ski. It’s really cool that, by the end of the decade, companies are figuring out how to translate all the best parts of their inbounds skis to a very lightweight package that is an absolute blast to ski. Here’s to more touring-friendly playful skis!

3rd: K2 Shreditor 112. Again, I know this isn’t the “right” answer, but I really loved this ski, and I miss it. I still think K2 really nailed it with their whole Shreditor line, and it was really cool to have the option of a good 102, 112, or 122 mm underfoot ski that all felt really similar and skied well. In retrospect, I personally think the Marksman is a let down compared to the 102 and 112 it replaced. Fortunately, it sounds like something like the Shreditor series will soon be coming back under a new name. Here’s to hoping K2 starts the new decade out with something cool.

Most Influential Ski Boot of the Decade?

Yeah, it’s probably something by Dynafit, but how about that Salomon MTN Lab? It’s not my type of boot, I’ve never skied it, and I don’t want to, but it was a nice push to the industry as a whole to make real, inbounds-capable touring boots that didn’t weigh a zillion grams, and didn’t require removable tongues. Now most boot brands have something comparable in their portfolios, or at least, they say they do. Thanks for leading the way on that, Salomon.

Best Boot of the Decade?

I think both Atomic’s Hawx Ultra and Hawx Ultra XTD lines are pretty freaking rad. Now everyone is blabbing about their inbounds boot being super light like the Hawx Ultra, and the XTD version came out of the gate as a legit downhill contender to the MTN Lab that walked better, and was fully heat moldable. Atomic’s boot line is really smart, and has something for almost everyone.

Most Influential Ski Binding of the Decade?

It’s probably the Dynafit Beast. But also, the Marker Kingpin did what the Beast was supposed to do, but better, without having to bolt stuff onto your boot, and despite its many failings still exists on the market today. The fact that I’m still having to yell at acquaintances who think they should charge all day everyday inbounds on Kingpins speaks to the binding’s success and strong downhill performance. Sure, it wasn’t the first touring binding to promise the power transfer and reliability of an alpine binding, but it delivered better than the competition at the time, and still deserves its place in the binding landscape.

Best Ski Binding of the Decade?

Probably the Shift. My guess is that in five years we’ll look at the plethora of “pins on the up, alpine bindings on the down” bindings available and say “man, remember when there was only the Shift?” But there wasn’t actually a time when there was only the Shift because CAST did it first. You can joke about the fidliness of parts of their system all you want, the fact remains, CAST saw the need for “pins on the uphill, alpine binding on the down” bindings very early, they somehow manage to bring a viable product to market before the big guys, and they managed to release their updated second edition at the same time as the Shift. The fact that a couple guys in Idaho / Wyoming managed to come up with not only the first, but also the second generations of their product before Marker came along and marketed the same idea (but with a more Transformers-looking finish) is insane. Major kudos. The annals of binding history may not fully credit them, but in this corner of the internet at least, their names will not be forgotten.

Bonus question: Best ski movie of the decade?

Idea was the best ski movie of the 2000’s, so it’s only fair that I push After the Sky Falls as the best movie of the 2010’s. I think that film does a great job of summing up a specific time in skiing for so many of us. It’s a work of art that presents itself as an entirely coherent and consistent view of what skiing can and should be. And if ski movies die off in the 2020’s, as it seems they may, I’m glad we were left with After the Sky Falls.

Eric Freson

Most influential ski of the last decade?

The Armada JJ. While the Armada JJ and Rossignol S7 were released at roughly the same time, I’d give the JJ credit for making the “very tapered, rocker / camber / rocker” design cool and desirable. You probably didn’t understand what all that taper, rocker, and the JJ’s “AR50” sidewall were intended to accomplish at the time, but you knew that you wanted it because it was *the* hot ticket item in 2010. Armada made this tech desirable in a way the S7 failed to for most. And regardless of whether or not you liked how the JJ skied, you were talking about it.

Best ski of the Decade?

1st: 4FRNT Renegade: Fast, loose, and adaptable. What’s not to like? “ReflectTech” works, thanks Hoji! It was a very good, very pow-specific ski that does a lot of things a very pow-specific skis isn’t really supposed to be able to do. I’ve been a huge fan of most iterations, and am eager to try out the current one.

2nd: Blizzard Cochise: The early Cochise models hit the sweet spot of what a silky smooth weapon of a ski is supposed to be. Later models lost the magic a bit as they got more tapered and more carbon-y, but I think the Cochise set the stage for a renaissance of big-mountain chargers to follow.

3rd: Volkl Mantra: If you picked up a pair of Mantras from any year this decade, you’d be on a pretty good, versatile ski. The spiritual successor to the immensely important Volkl Explosive, the Mantra had a lot to live up to and a lot of people wanting to see it fail. But how many skis have been in a manufacturer’s lineup for 15+ years? There is a reason the Mantra is still here.

Most Influential Ski Boot of the Decade?

Dynafit Vulcan. The Vulcan was one of the first AT boots that showed the potential for moving away from the compromises that backcountry skiers had been forced to make up until that point. 130 flex AND tech compatible, light AND supportive, until the Vulcan these were “pick one” choices you needed to make with your bc boots. Black Diamond, Garmont, and others had already made beefy boots with walk modes, but the Vulcan was so influential because it showed you could have your cake and eat it too.

Best Boot of the Decade?

Full Tilt First Chair/Morrison Pro. And the decade before that, and before that. Full Tilt took on the Raichle mantle and molds, providing a boot that is easy to get into, light weight, linear flexing, highly customizable, easy to repair, and generally very easy to live with. Not the stiffest, dampest, or the most precise, but for many years, Seth Morrison skied them exclusivly. So, there's that.

Most Influential Ski Binding of the Decade?

Dynafit FT12. Released in 2009, this is a bit of a cheater, but I like what they stand for. The FT12 was the first instance of Dynafit beginning to change its marketing & design language to insinuate that Dynafit bindings were for “freeriding.” We had already been skiing Superlights with locked-out toes for years, but now we were seeing a carbon base plate for “added stiffness,” a release value of 12, and other hints that tech bindings could be used for jumping off stuff. The FT12 set the stage for Dynafit’s Beast series, and that proof of concept led the way for things like the Kingpin and Shift. The FT12 was just a step in the process, but it was an important pivot that would open the doors for the backcountry-freeride products which we now appreciate.

Best Ski Binding of the Decade?

Look Pivot 18. They just work, and keep on working. The Shift is the coolest binding of this decade, but it’s too new to be the “best,” in my opinion. I think the 2024 Shift is going to be a much more refined product. The Look Pivot 18 has good / positive engagement, a lot of elasticity, and is made of metal. Not for everyone, nor needed by everyone, but if you ask for “the best” alpine binding , this is what many aggressive skiers would hand you.

Sascha Anastas

Most influential ski of the last decade?

While I agree with what Kristin & Kara said above, I also think it’s worth mentioning the Volkl Aura. Since the inception of “women’s-specific” skis, Volkl has always had some decent offerings, though their early women’s skis were often really light and really soft (like many early women's skis). When the Volkl Aura was introduced it was a total game changer for many skiers. It was a stiff, damp, "women's-specific" ski that could charge. While it was introduced prior to 2010, it continued to be a reference ski throughout the decade.

Best ski of the Decade?

1st: Duh — Line Pandora. As Kristin said, there are very few female skiers I know that didn’t own a variation of this ski. And despite changing over the years, I’m still a massive fan of the current Pandoras.

2nd: Blizzard Black Pearl 98. It’s such a versatile ski that’s light and easy enough for some beginners, but strong enough for some experts.

3rd: Rossignol S7. Now, there are much better skis than the S7 at this point, but for many people, it was the first very tapered and rockered ski they got on and made skiing much easier for many folks.

Most Influential Ski Boot of the Decade?

Scarpa Women’s Freedom SL AT Boot. This was the first AT boot I used that performed like a downhill boot and that was offered in smaller sizes (smaller than 23). The boot also came with a heat-moldable Intuition Liner, which was and still is rare. The shell itself felt much like a race shell (as close to a race shell as a boot with walk mode could) but was still pretty lightweight. I spent at least two full seasons in this boot — mostly using it as my everyday resort boot but then could keep the boot on to skin a lap up the hill before or after riding lifts.

Best Boot of the Decade?

My small foot limits the variety of boots I am able to fit into so my list is somewhat limited. But I have used very few boots that have skied as precisely and needed as little boot work as the Atomic Hawx Ultra. But more importantly, as light as these boots are, they are still quite stiff and responsive.

Most Influential Ski Binding of the Decade?

This was the decade that we could finally abandon the heavy Fritschi Freeride bindings for a tech / pin binding that could support aggressive freeride skiing. For me, the Marker Kingpin was a game changer, and then the Shift. I am certainly not a big telemarke Skier, but growing up in a family of mostly tele skiers, I also think the NTN binding deserves an honorable mention here.

Best Ski Binding of the Decade?

Same as above.

Jonathan Ellsworth

I discussed in detail all of my picks, rationale, and honorable mentions in our GEAR:30 podcast, so here I’m going to keep things brief. But if you want to hear more about why I picked what I did, I highly recommend listening to our GEAR:30 conversation.

Most influential ski of the last decade?

Rossignol Soul 7

Best ski of the Decade?

Most Influential Ski Boot of the Decade?

Dynafit Vulcan & Lange RX

Best Boot of the Decade?

Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro & Head Raptor 140 RS

Most Influential Ski Binding of the Decade?

Dynafit Beast

Best Ski Binding of the Decade?

Salomon Shift

23 comments on “Best Ski Gear of the Past Decade”

  1. Some Full Tilt boot commentary.
    I love that they are lively rather than damp.
    “not the stiffest”? They have recently released a “12” flex tongue.

    • Hey GW- Same here. Love the pop. I have been spending time on the 12 flex, and they are rad. But they still aren’t the stiffest (FT’s in general, in any direction really). The much more popular 8/10 flex tongues are pretty mellow overall.

  2. Came here to second what Kristin Sinnott said about the King Pin. Helped me (and assuming many others) to consider/try pin bindings in the first place.

  3. I know your guys’ hearts are in the right place, but I personally can’t believe how sold you all still are on the SHIFT. Sure, it looks great when marketed to newer skiers (it has “alpine like performance”, woho!), but I continue to be shocked how a large group of strong skiers, who have obviously spent significant time on tech bindings, can continue to recommend it to average skiers.

    I’ve spent time on frame bindings, the SHIFT, and lightweight tech bindings, and the biggest difference between these bindings remains weight and touring efficiency. Sure, there are minor, although perceptible differences in downhill performance, but nowhere near large enough to actually matter when in the real world when considering the differences between skis and boots. At the end of the day, I can get to places on tech bindings that I just plain couldn’t on the SHIFT, and can ski the tech bindings as hard as I need to after I’ve gotten there. This is also coming from a 190 pound guy who regularly hucks, does backflips, and skis “really hard,” not some total skimo gram weenie.

    I’m willing to concede that if you’re regularly filming and trying to trick natural features in deep snow (while still touring up to the top of your lines), SHIFTs will release marginally more consistently than traditional tech bindings, and that SHIFTs are lighter and more efficient than the frame bindings that this is traditionally done on. But, come on, when people are being honest with themselves, how many skiers (ESPECIALLY those first getting into touring, who are usually those interested in the SHIFT) are really doing that? And do you really think that Hoji wishes he was on more “alpine like” bindings when filming for MSP? Because he does things on pins that 99.9% of skiers can’t, and they don’t seem to bother him too much.

    This whole discussion is also ignoring the problems that the SHIFT has had. To name a few, the brakes don’t like to stay locked, the binding often releases boots even while supposedly locked out in touring mode, and it’s really hard to get the AFT to stay in the right height. To be fair, bindings often have problems early in their lifecycles, so I expect many of these problems to be fixed. But it’s still a complicated binding, and has caused one of my friends to have fairly severe issues using it that really made it not fun to ski on.

    The average expert skier getting into backcountry would be so, so much better on a light binding that they can do more laps on, and be less tired on. If they’re still concerned about their setups’ downhill performance, well, they can put their foot in a Lange FreeTour and mount up some heavy skis. But my guess is at the end of the day, the only thing they’ll notice about their bindings is how much they slow them down on the way up.

    • Hi, Roger. Thanks for the comments. But this statement, “Sure, there are minor, although perceptible differences in downhill performance,” I think significantly downplays things. The Shift skis exactly like a good, dedicated alpine binding. Having A/B/C/D/E-ed them against a lot of tech bindings, and if you’ve done the same and still think the difference in terms of feel and power transmission is only “minor” … then I’m not sure what to say.

      I’m also on record as saying that, given the choice, I don’t want to ski downhill on tech toe pins. I definitely still sometimes do and will, but given the opportunity not to, I will take it. And again, I don’t love the way tech toes feel, and I don’t trust as much the way they release.

      Each of us is free to make their own calls — and the entire purpose of our long reviews is to try to provide the pros and cons of all gear. But in the case of the Shift, I think we’ve been exceedingly clear about our rationale.

      Finally (and as I keep repeating) I’ve skied a lot of days on multiple sets of Shifts, and I personally have had zero issues with them. And as you say, I suspect that the issues that others have experienced will be reduced.

      • Hi Jonathan,

        Thanks for the reply. While I haven’t done as exacting A/B testing as you, I wasn’t able to notice what I would consider a significant difference between tech style bindings and alpine style bindings. I guess I’m framing significant in terms of the differences between skis or boots with similar weight differentials… I feel confident that in some kind of blind test, I could notice the difference between similarly shaped skis with a 500g weight difference, whereas I don’t think I could say the same for a shift vs. fairly lightweight tech binding. I’m sure you have more finely crafted senses than I do, but I have skied a fair number of skis and boots, and feel like I have some sense of what I like and don’t in a ski.

        At some level, you’re right, this is just a matter of opinion, but I guess I continue to be confused about how a large group of opinion makers in the ski industry continue to not like skiing on tech bindings… it often comes off like tech bindings are for people who can’t ski well, or don’t care about downhill performance, which I don’t think is fair any more.

        I’ll close by saying that of all the people I’ve ever toured with, from total beginner to veteran crusher, only one (a professional skier who has filmed in Alaska) has said that they were glad to be on a heavier “higher performance” binding. I can’t even count the number of people who, huffing and puffing on top of a skintrack, wished they were on lighter gear. I wish that all of those people had been encouraged to buy one of the many light and in my opinion excellent skiing tech bindings currently on the market, rather than a heavier, “higher performance” binding.

        Thanks for all you guys do! Despite my disagreement on this point, l really respect your opinions and methodologies, and have really benefited from all your hard work over the years.

  4. I’ll comment here instead of the Gear:30 Ep: 81 posting because it’s newer and has more than Jonathan, Luke, and Sam’s choices.

    In life, we tend to find the errors and mistakes and then we comment. Agreeing isn’t sexy per se, but sometimes it’s necessary. I can’t find a huge issue with any choices both on episode 81 or on this article. Really, really good choices all the way around.

    I remember the first time I skied a Soul 7. It was at Crystal Mountain in WA on a day where around six inches of Pac NW concrete fell quickly. It was revelation. It would NOT be in my list for best three skis of the decade (sorry Sam), but the combination of taper, rocker/camber/rocker, and low swing weight immediately drove the industry and still does. It is undoubtedly the most influential ski of the last decade and I still remind myself of how much different that day at Crystal was because of this new ski.

    There’s a miss by the industry from 2010-2019 that I wish would‘ve been discussed further as influential. Reverse camber, all-mountain 95-105mm skis. Volkl tried it on the Mantra. Black Crows followed later with the Daemon (fighter of the night man). There’s a couple more out there. But in the end, it hasn’t really revolutionized anything. I get it, this episode and article was about best or most influential. But to be fair, most influential could mean influencing the industry NOT to do something. Bottom line, Mantra v4 was very influential in my opinion.

    Influential boot? Pick any light-ish, four buckle, hike mode, tech binding insert boot that’s been released in that last three years. The one boot quiver movement in the later half of this decade will drive boot development for a long time.

    Thanks Team Blister for another fun episode/article.

    • I hated the Wailer 112 but it certainly had a huge impact on ski design… you’d see so many of those yellow banana rockered skis around. Fortunately designers realized that more subtle rocker lines were superior but still have to give DPS credit.

      • The question wasn’t, “What products were influential,” the question was what products were *most* influential. And in that sense, the DPS Wailer 112 really was a response to the Rossi S7. (Not *Soul 7*, but the original S7. So while the Wailer 112 became quite a *popular* ski for sure, I think it’s a bit of a category mistake to call it the most *influential* ski.

  5. I was a tried and true Lange RS130 guy, until I put the Head Raptor 140RS on. It’s the best skiing boot I’ve ever been on.

    The JJ is amazing. I could have it as a one ski quiver for a deep resort out west, I’d give up some hard snow performance that the Kastle MX 98 gives me, but the rest of the time, the JJ does everything else I want.

  6. I think you guys are kind of forgetting how important the original Tecnica Cochise Pro 130 was back in 2012, with swappable soles. It really created a whole new market for the concept of hybrid boots that could do it all… and without it the ZeroG doesn’t exist.

    • It seems very odd to talk about the connection between the Cochise and the Zero G — especially if you want to emphasize swappable soles, which the Zero G doesn’t have?

      FWIW, I’m in full agreement with Paul Forward’s take on the Cochise, which we discuss at the start of GEAR:30, episode 82.

  7. Don’t let this go to your head, but I second all your picks, Jonathan. Special mention to some very good front side skis on your list.

  8. I also thought the DPS 112 came before the S7 and the S7 copied the DPS design but I’m probably wrong. The 112 came out in 2010, when did the S7 me out?

    Also, I agree with Jay above,the Cochise and the BD Factor at the begininning of the decade brought side country and touring to a whole new group of people. Before these 2 boots there were only Alpine and Touring boots and no real middle ground…. with the exception of probably the Maestale (if it fit your foot) which also deserves the recognition you have given it above.

    The same can be said about the Duke/Baron bindings (were they the previous decade or this decade?). They opened the doors for a lot of people to try touring without fully commiting to a full touring set-up much more so than the Beast.

    Other than the weight element, why are people so down on the Dukes and Barons? I had a close call with death due to a pin binding malfunction, so I now refuse to use them unless its going to be a very long touring day but I know lots of people that use them inbounds. They don’t work well when the snow is firm! Use at your own risk, you have been warned! Jonathan speaks the truth!

    • The Rossi S7 was launched in January, 2008, then was made available for purchase before the 08/09 season.

      And the Duke / Baron came out in 2007.

  9. Personally I think Blizzard’s decision to take their awesomely successful and popular hard-charger AM skis (both men and women lines) and create softer, more-playful lines with very similar if not identical measurements (ie: Sheeva and Rustler lines) was the greatest move in ski design over the last decade. I’ve really loved the R9 and R10 for all-day skiing as I’m a weekend warrior these days – and just not having as much fun trying to drive a Cochise or Bonafide all day long. Brilliant idea and I’d guess Blizzard sold just as many Bonafides as Nordica did enforcers.

    Also a HUGE fan of Rossi’s Soul and Super series. They redefined pow skiing for me, but with tiny effective edge lengths are clearly pow skis IMO. So what was with the rest of their (clearly lacking) AM effort? As a fortunate person who can get them for cost, understand I walked away from the Experience line and started paying retail for other brands. Seriously Rossignol: wtf. Black Ops? Please. I hear great skis – from magazines and those who could find a pair to demo…

  10. This may go back just a bit further than the last decade, but the introduction of the 22 designs vice binding offered up a significant change by introducing a beefy, simple and durable freeheel binding to the the mass market. As a freeheeler for the last 40 years, I sure remember the finicky, unreliable evolution of the cable binding. Having rejected the AT setup, (I still prefer my heels unlocked) I still ski the vice/axl on all my skis, inbound and backcountry. They have held up extremely well, provide excellent control from boot to ski, and have caused little to no problem over many years. I still marvel on how strong a duckbill binding can be with this design, and have had no desire to swap over to AT gear.

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