NORDICA HELL & BACK
Designed to take you to hell and back, or from sidecountry powder bowls to frontside groomers, this light touring ski is meant to perform as well going uphill as it does charging down (Nordica sells precut skins for $299). The company's metal-free I-Core construction, which combines lightweight wood with weight-reducing polymer, puts some spring in your uphill steps, but it has an aggressive enough sidecut to maintain edge grip and stability when carving. The other whiz-bang technology at work here is early rise CamRock, which moves the ski-snow contact points farther back on the ski (closer to the binding), which increases float in the soft stuff and makes the skis more responsive. This ski achieves that rare level of versatility that causes reviewers to utter the words "one-ski quiver." And, this time, they might not be bullshitting you.
Best For: Riding hard to hell and back, or at least to the sidecountry stash and back to the groomers.
Overall: 3.96 | Carving: 4.19 | Float: 3.44
Length (cm): 161,169,177,185
Tip/Waist/Tail (mm): 135/98/125 (@177)
$900; nordicausa.com (on sale for $700)