Welcome to the Buyer’s Guide
It seems that most years, September rolls around and we can’t believe ski season is almost upon us. But this is 2020 and circumstances are… different, to say the least.
A global health crisis, raging wildfires and widespread social unrest have taken what is usually a short-lived and joyful warm weather break from our beloved snow-sliding and transformed it into one of the most tumultuous, divisive and frustrating six months that any of us have—and hopefully will—ever experience in our lifetimes. Is this the apocalypse? No, it’s not. While the aforementioned problems in our world deserve our attention and will not disappear overnight, our resilience as a ski community will enable us to adapt, overcome and move forward. What the future holds is anybody’s guess but I, for one, am hopeful.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked about the uncertainty of the fast-approaching ski season. I’ve speculated along with the rest of the ski world: Will the resorts open? Will it be worth going if we have to make a reservation? Will I get as many days as I want? Will the backcountry be a total mess? As resorts slowly started to unveil their operating plans and the internet lit up with comments from the usual naysayers, I thought back to March, when ski areas across the country were forced to stopped spinning lifts, our worlds were turned upside down and a new set of rules were thrust upon us, seemingly overnight.
Not only were we prohibited from skiing but we couldn’t shake hands, hug or high five. We couldn’t stand near friends or strangers and, all of a sudden, we had to wear face masks everywhere we went. It was all so strange. Yet, here we are, just a few months later, and I put a mask on before I go anywhere without thinking twice. Not because I want to—it’s what I need to do to go about my daily life. And now this set of rules, so foreign just a short while ago, has become second nature.
Considering all of this, I have no doubt that the ski season ahead will not be in vain. It might even be the best one you’ve ever had. Sure, you may need to plan ahead a little more and avoid chairlift rides with strangers but, more than ever, you’re going to appreciate every moment you spend on snow, and you’ll likely be forced to break a few habits and try something new, which is never a bad thing. Maybe you’ve decided to switch to a different season pass or invest in some backcountry gear. Maybe a new remote work schedule has enabled you to plan on more midweek ski days or to take a road trip to a new resort. Whatever it is, it’s time to stop worrying about what the ski season will look like and start getting excited about the possibilities because it’s almost time to suit up.
With all that in mind, the team here at FREESKIER dove head first into the production of our annual Buyer’s Guide, knowing that when it landed in your mailbox, it would instill that froth and excitement for the season ahead. We started testing this gear long before we knew what strange times we’d be living in this year and got our week-long ski test wrapped up just days before the pandemic hit home. But we didn’t stop because we knew you’d need your gear fix come fall. While we ran an online fundraising auction to raise money for medical workers, we simultaneously had the newest gear shipped to our houses so we could test it on missions close to home [once we were allowed]. Though our review process was certainly a bit strained this year, we never gave up.
As skiers, we welcome challenge. We choose to spend our days in unforgiving conditions, we seek the tallest mountains to climb and we refuse to give up when we things don’t work out the way we planned. We carry on, finding solutions to every problem we encounter. Within this magazine, you’ll find just about every piece of gear you need to meet the challenge of the upcoming ski season. So browse the online Buyer’s Guide, find what you need and get ready to have a damn good season, however it may unfold.