Not so very long ago, all you had to say was, "I'm going skiing," and people knew exactly what you meant. The recipe was easy: a hill, a chairlift, and the simple-but-sublime freedom afforded by a pair of skis on snow. But as with so many sports, the age of specialization has caught skiing, and it's not letting go. In fact, skiing - and the requisite gear - seems to become more fractured every year. You've got all-mountain, carving, and powder. There are cruising models, gender-specific skis, and integrated ski/binding systems. And that's before you consider snowboarding. It's enough to send even the most ardent winter sports enthusiast winging south.
To help you make sense of it all, we've rounded up the best skis and snowboards in each of the five most popular categories. Not sure which category you belong to? Never fear: We've provided skier/rider profiles for each. By the time you reach the end of this article, you'll be able to walk into your local ski shop, pick out your gear, sling it over your shoulder, and say, "I'm going skiing." And know exactly what you're talking about.