Powder Magazine Review – Thoughts from the First Issue

D’Arcy McLeish |
powder magazine september 2013
Powder Magazine’s September 2013 issue.

It’s been a long time since I bought an issue of Powder. I let my subscription run out about ten years ago; a subscription I had since I was thirteen years old. As a blossoming ski bum, I remember waiting all summer for the first issue to come out, trying to cope with snow withdrawal and teenage ski angst. When it would appear in the mailbox in August, I’d be like a kid on Christmas morning. I would bring it inside and pour over the articles and the gear guide, drooling at what was possible in a world of snow. But my beef came in the early 2000’s when I found Powder had morphed from being The Skier’s Magazine to The Skier’s Tabloid. So after a long hiatus, I decided a few weeks ago that I might give Powder another chance. I thought that  maybe what Powder was reporting in the ski world had finally come full circle and migrated back to something less steeped in jib and more steeped in soul.

This is why we read Powder. Photo - Kenjiro Matsuo
This is why we read Powder.
Skier – Miles Clark.  Photo – Kenjiro Matsuo

Standing in line at the grocery store with my fresh copy, those feelings, like old friends come to visit, returned from my adolescence. I could feel my ski stoke ramping up as I flipped through the issue. I never made it home. I sat outside the grocery store and read the whole issue, cover to cover. And what I found in there was something I could relate to; a magazine written by skiers, for skiers and about skiers.

The Shooting Gallery, always a favourite, was still a pro athlete/photog showcase, but even then there were lines and places that I could relate to. The feature piece, DEEP, The Future of Snow, was a well-researched piece on climate change and the future of skiing. Scary reading for those of us that love snow, but it was timely and accurate. The Morpheme section, which showcases short writing pieces from local skiers doing one thing over one day is by far my favourite section. The writing is crisp and to the point and each piece is about something a skier can relate to. Check out Dream Waver and the Monday Morning Commute, both pieces give a glimpse into what we experience as skiers.  Trip reports from New Zealand and South America only made me want to get on a plane and start my ski season early. Finally, there was the Gear Guide.

Once the annual encyclopedia for all things gear and ski stoke related, Powder’s annual Gear Guide was once the place I went to for serenity. But I have to say, I haven’t read a gear guide, let alone Powder’s, in years. Sure, I read reviews online about gear, but actually going out and purchasing a magazine with a gear guide in it is a rarity. Was it helpful? Absolutely, but it was similar to a lot of what is out there. According to the testers, every ski and boot in the magazine is fairly amazing…so nothing truly stands out or is left behind, which I get; you can only go so far in dissing your advertisers. On the flip side to that, I was happy to see a lot of indie ski manufacturers in there.

An issue from back in the day... Image - Powder Magazine
An issue from back in the day…
Image – Powder Magazine

My only beef is with the Shot in the Back and the fact that it’s not, in fact, on the last page anymore. Instead, that space is an ad. Really? Just put in on the back page, man. You can still sell the back cover and inside back cover. Don’t be greedy. I seem to remember that Shot in the Back was always a photo of some aspect of the ski world that actually exists out there in joe skier land, and it was always on the back page.

It was nice having a real skier’s magazine. For years now, I’ve tried a few different magazines and some of them, like Kootenay Mountain Culture, are great, but they deal with every aspect of mountain culture, not just skiing. The other ski magazines out there are either geared toward middle aged rich people, park rats or wannabe Redbull athletes and showcase a side of skiing that doesn’t really even exist outside a film shoot. But this issue of Powder brought me back to my early days as a skier, when I was looking into the future and seeing skiing as my lifestyle and maybe even my job one day. It didn’t disappoint but re-affirmed why I have spent my life on skis. So go out to your local shop and pick up a copy. Take a moment with a long espresso and have a read of what’s happening in the world of snow stoke. Savour it, because soon the snow will actually be falling and magazines will give way to untracked lines and weekday mornings playing hooky from work.

Be safe, ski hard.

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4 thoughts on “Powder Magazine Review – Thoughts from the First Issue

  1. Powder’s been pretty solid for the last several years.

    I just got a sub to The Ski Journal. Pricy, but sweet.

  2. Stopped reading Powder about the same time as you. I remember reading, or at least attempting to read a one of the Gear Review issues in the Early 2000’s. It was as if it had been written by a stoned 16 yr old, speaking dub step. It was as if Powder had swung so far one direction in trying to “be cool,” that they had completely missed the point. Glad to hear there has been some swing back to center. Look forward to checking it out.

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