The most honest and in-depth reviews of outdoor sports equipment on the planet.

2014-2015 Blister ‘Best Of’ Awards

Blister Gear Review's Best Of Awards 2014-2015

[Note: To see the 15/16 edition of the Blister ‘Best Of’ Awards, download our 15/16 Winter Buyer’s Guide.]

If you’re familiar with how we operate at Blister, you’ll probably understand why awards like these make us nervous.

“Best” can be a very arbitrary term. Some piece of gear might be great, but it typically isn’t the best at everything, and it may not be the best option for you.

That’s exactly why our regular reviews aren’t short. The devil is in the details, and the sum of those details is what determines whether a product will be terrible for you, okay for you, or perfect for you. Without specific, accurate details, reviews are pretty useless.

Still, we do like to acknowledge great work. And the Blister ‘Best Of’ Awards point to those products that have really stood out.

We’ll also then direct you to our full reviews, where you can do further research to decide if these selections are the best fit for you, or whether you should spend more time in our Ski Review Index, or our One-Ski Quiver, Two-Ski Quiver, or Three-Ski Quiver Selections, etc.

 

Four Rules:

1) We are not assigning 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place rankings within a particular category.

If a product is listed here, it means that we believe it ranks among the very top of its class.

2) We’ve only considered products that we’ve spent real time with.

This should, of course, be obvious, but the review world is a funny place. Some review outlets give awards to stuff that they’ve hardly tested (or haven’t at all). We don’t. If you want to brush up on how we do things, check out the Blister Manifesto.

3) Selections must be of current products.

However, products that have undergone minor tweaks and are currently available are fair game.

4) No company has paid to get their product on this list.

Blister is different. We don’t accept any money from any of the manufacturers we review. We don’t allow them to buy advertising on our site. We’ve created a truly level playing field so that you can be certain that our selections are based on merit, not marketing budgets.

Ok, enough rules and caveats. On to the Blister ‘Best Of’ Awards:

 

Best Goggles

 Anon M2

Anon M2, Blister Gear Review

Anon M2

There are a number of good goggles on the market, but there is nothing this good. In fact, the Anon M2 goggle might be the best product in the entire snow sports industry.

 

Anon WM1

Julia Van Raalte Reviews the Anon WM1 goggle, Blister Gear Review

Anon WM1

 

The WM1 has the same interchangeable lens technology as the Anon M1 and M2, but has a smaller frame designed for narrower, female faces. The WM1 is the simplest and fastest google for women when it comes to changing lenses, and has great optics and a stylish, clean look.

 

Best Ski Jackets

• Arc’teryx Caden

Will Brown reviews the Arc'teryx Caden Jacket, Blister Gear Review.

Arc’teryx Caden Jacket

The Caden is an excellent, fully-featured hard shell that can guarantee you’ll stay dry in sustained rain or snowfall.

 

• Fly Low Lab Coat 2.0

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the FlyLow Lab Coat 2.0 for Blister Gear Review

FlyLow Lab Coat 2.0

The FlyLow Lab Coat 2.0 has our favorite freeride fit, is also fully featured, and while it wouldn’t be our first choice for sustained, severe weather (see the Caden above) it breathes better than the Caden, while still offering very good weather protection.

 

• Westcomb Apoc

Blister Gear Review's Best Of Awards 2014-2015

Westcomb Apoc

While both the Arc’teryx Caden and the Lab Coat 2.0 can be used for resort riding and backcountry touring, the Westcomb Apoc gets our award for Best “50/50” jacket, and Best Touring Jacket. It doesn’t have all of the pockets of the Caden or Lab Coat 2.0, but it is also quite a bit lighter and more packable than them. If you spend equal or more time touring than skiing between the ropes, this is our top pick. (Full review coming soon.)

 

Best Midlayers

• Patagonia Nano Air

Will Brown reviews the Patagonia Nano Air Hoody, Blister Gear Review.

Patagonia Nano Air Hoody

Super breathable, super comfortable, and super versatile for a broad range of activities.

 

• The North Face Radium

The North Face Radium, Blister Gear Review

The North Face Radium

The Radium isn’t a standard fleece jacket; it’s made from Polartec Thermal Pro High Loft, a very low density, relatively thick fleece fabric with a great warmth-to-weight ratio. It doesn’t block wind well as an outer layer, but the Radium is our benchmark for warm, highly breathable midlayers.

 

• Women’s Arc’teryx Cerium LT

Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody, Blister Gear Review

Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody

The Arc’teryx Cerium LT provides a whole lot of warmth in a relatively light package.

Next: Ski Boots

 

28 Comments

  1. Rob November 12, 2014 Reply

    Any opinion on the Marmot Nabu vs. the Flylow or the Apoc?

    • Author

      We haven’t reviewed the Nabu, Rob. But the stated weight of the Nabu (though Marmot doesn’t specify the size) is 592.5 grams. We weighed the size Large Apoc at ~425 grams. The Lab Coat 2.0 weighed 810 grams with its powder skirt attached. So I suspect the Apoc is still more packable and might have a thinner fabric than the Nabu, while the Lab Coat 2.0 is the more fully featured (and heavier) jacket.

  2. Skizzle November 13, 2014 Reply

    I’m surprised that you didn’t go with the Marmot Quarsar down over the Arcteryx. When I was searching for a down jacket, I couldn’t get over how bulky the Arcteryx was. I really enjoy the Marmot, it is so warm and so light.

  3. Marshall November 14, 2014 Reply

    Just wanted to let you know you guys do a great job. I really appreciate the unbiased and detailed reviews. Keep up the good work!

  4. Bryan November 14, 2014 Reply

    Wait…what?

    “There are a number of good goggles on the market, but there is nothing this good. In fact, the Anon M2 goggle might be the best product in the entire snow sports industry.”

    That is a very un-blister like comment…can you tell us more? I need new googles so that I can scratch the s**t out of the lenses on day 3.

    • Author

      It’s not un-blister like, actually, because we’ve literally written thousands of words about the M2, M1, and WM1 that provide a rationale for the claim. Click on the blue link right next to the product images to see the full reviews.

      • Matt November 15, 2014 Reply

        Jonathan, if you ever get a chance to talk to the Anon people, tell them they need to put silicone grippers on the inside of their goggle straps. The M2 has excellent optics, fit, and by far the best lens changing system on the market… but the lack of silicone on in the inside of the strap drove me absolutely berserk last season. Every time I lifted the goggle to put it on my helmet for a few minutes it would slide up and flip back. This was made worse by the brim on my Smith Vantage helmet. This is one of those features you take for granted on Smith and Oakley goggles.

        • Author

          That’s valid, Matt. I’ve used that M2 / Vantage combo quite a bit, and I know what you’re talking about. Didn’t happen to me much, and we care a whole lot more about fit + optics + changeability, but you’re not wrong. We will pass that suggestion along to Anon.

        • Author

          …and Matt – in case you’ve missed it, for next season, Anon has added silicone strips to their goggles. I’ve been using the new M2s, and there is now zero slipping. Dialed.

  5. Davyn November 14, 2014 Reply

    Hi guys – loving your reviews and advice as always. Bit surprised not to see the Blizzard Gunsmoke in your ‘best of’ list with it sounding like a unanimous top one or two versatile powder skis in previous reviews?

    • Author

      Good question, Davyn. We spent a lot of time debating whether to include the Gunsmoke in this very stacked category. It’s a really good ski. What it came down to for us is that (and Will Brown wrote this in his review of it) the Gunsmoke feels like a fat all-mountain ski, not a full-on pow ski. The Bodacious and Blister Pro and SMB, however, are skis that we would be totally happy to take out on a very deep day. So the skis in this category have to be versatile (the Gunsmoke certainly is) but the tie breaker came down to “and also be something we’d be jonesing to ski on deep days.”

      Now, the big caveat: we haven’t skied the 193 Gunsmoke, and that ski would seemingly close the distance on the 186 Bodacious and 190 Blister Pro. Hopefully we can get on the 193s this season…

  6. Davyn November 14, 2014 Reply

    Makes sense Jonathon, thanks for your reply. I got them basically as a west coast one ski quiver that could handle Alaska so hopefully I’ve done the right thing (haven’t been on them yet).

  7. Clay November 15, 2014 Reply

    How does the Arc’terx Sidewinder SV jacket compare against the Caden jacket?
    In what respects does the Caden win?
    Thanks

  8. Gabe November 17, 2014 Reply

    This is why I love Blister and read it religiously. Just solid info for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to test gear for a living! Jonathan if you could expand a bit on why you picked the Soul 7 for beginners I would love to know, just because it’s so easy and fun? Most places list it as an advanced ski but you’re the 2nd person I’ve heard say its great for people learning and wanting to have fun all over the mountain.

    I’m not quite a beginner, more intermediate but back to skiing at the end of last season after 15yrs snowboarding. Was about to get some Moment PB&Js but the Soul sounds so easy and fun and I’m worried about getting something too stiff while I try to get better. I don’t ski super fast and look for soft stuff whenever possible but gotta have groomer days too. I want a one ski quiver to handle both east and west around 30-40 days this year. Any advice you could provide would be great.

    • Author

      Hi, Gabe – if you haven’t already, check out our GEAR 101 article, “Best Skis for Beginners.” In short, the Rossi Soul 7 fits nearly all of our criteria, though it is slightly wider than we’d recommend for an everyday, EC ski. The narrower Rossi Sin 7 (review to come), or the Atomic Theory (see Will Brown’s review) are two other skis that you might consider

  9. James McCarthy November 20, 2014 Reply

    Not much to say other than “keep up the good work Blister guys and gals”. I’ve been visiting the site for a few years now; you’ve worked hard for the credibility you’ve earned and it’s well deserved.
    Re: the Anon comments above, the fact that you’re willing to pick up the phone to manufacturers and pass on comments on our behalf is a boon. It’s good to know that there’s another way to get users’ views across to the larger / international manufacturers, who can sometimes be a little hard to reach. I’m sure the manufacturers will appreciate the role you play in facilitating this sort of exchange.

  10. Dave November 20, 2014 Reply

    This site is so good I’ve neglected my children… Looking for two new skis – Pow and Crud. I’m the same age and size as Jonathan, though I’m sure he’s a better skier as I’m still stuck in Chicago. I think all the reviews have convinced me that for Pow to go with the Moment Blister Pro 190. The Bodacious is also intriguing, but its bad-ass that you guys got one of your favorite skis back into production – there must be something special here. For Crud I’m leaning Cochise 185 as it’s universally liked on this site. I’m also considering tracking down a 13/14 Katana. I already have the 09/10 Katana in 183, but as you have noted the year after mine the ski was tweaked, production moved back to Germany and they won’t be around much longer. Thoughts on the crud ski choice? And if you say Katana do I man up to the 191? Thanks for the advice.

    • Author

      Ha, that opening line is my new favorite comment on the site. Thanks, Dave.

      As for the crud ski, we’ve only skied the 191 regular Katana – though I have skied the 184 V-Werks Katana. I’d say that if you never found your 183 Katanas to be too little ski, then I’d see no reason to size up.

      So I’m afraid that we can’t answer the ‘185 Cochise vs 184 Katana’ question, but if we were going to go ski crud, I can say that I would be excited to do so on either ski.

      • Dave November 26, 2014 Reply

        Thanks for the timely response Jonathan – the kids have now been fed, bathed, and put to bed. I may pull the trigger on the 191 so that it’s reasonably different than my old 183s. If it’s a poor vis day with more tree skiing I can always take out the old ones. Did you ski the 191 mounted +2CM of factory line like Will mentioned in his review and if so was this your preference as well? Thanks again.

        • Author

          I skied them on the line and at +1. If I were mounting up a pair today, I would likely go +1. (And as a point of comparison, I’ll be mounting up my 190 Blister Pros on the line, and skied the 185 Cochise and 186 Bodacious on the line.)

  11. Hart November 20, 2014 Reply

    Have you tested any of the Black Crows line?

  12. Sam December 16, 2014 Reply

    Why no review on the Westcomb Revenant Jacket? It seems like the ultimate ski touring jacket with the combination of Event and NeoShell fabrics for great breathability and waterproofness.

  13. David February 25, 2015 Reply

    Hi,

    Did you test the Rossignol Sin 7 ??
    I’m a very agressive skier, and I like so much off piste ski, couloirs,… But in the Pyreenes we do not have a lot of powder :-( Do you think The Ross Sin 7 could be a good option for me ?? Or better go for Soul 7 ?? Other possibilities ??
    Thans in advance

    David

  14. Blister Member
    amit April 19, 2016 Reply

    any chance a new 2015-2016 list is coming up? or perhaps a more relevant 2016-2017?

    thanks!

    fwiw, i read all your reviews (more than once) and if i had children i would probably neglect them, too. xD

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