Spring is arguably the best time to be a backcountry skier. The snowpack has solidified (more or less), the sun is usually shining and the corn-snow is beckoning. As we kick off spring backcountry ski season, we’ve rounded up a certified buttload of products to aid you in your adventures as we transition into the warmer months. Don’t forget your essentials, however: beacon, shovel, probe, partner and brain.
Snow Shed Anti-Stick Top Sheet Spray
Snow gets sticky in the spring and can build up on your topsheets, weighing you down on your ascents. This product from Snow Shed is a great solution. Just spray it on your topsheets before you head out and it’ll create a hydrophobic layer that will keep any build up from occurring.
The F1 has a carbon-fiber frame running the length of the boot, under and around the sides of the foot, improving stiffness and subsequently, its downhill performance. A ribbed cuff and X-shaped spine construction also aid in the descent, providing support and drive, while a BOA closure system dials in the fit. The “EVO tongue” is made of Pebax material, with a flexible top portion for comfort and easy movement in walk mode, which has a 62-degree range of motion. The weight savings on the F1 can’t be understated, as it comes in at 1,230 grams per boot in size 27.
G3 Scala Climbing Skins
The Scala Climbing Skins are a hybrid, utilizing traditional mohair in the majority of the construction with a plastic, scale-shaped pattern towards the tip. The mohair provides traction and grip underfoot, while the scales help cut through deeper snow when breaking trail on the deep days, while also offering edge control on technical ascents.
Hestra Ergo Grip Patrol
The Ergo Grip Patrol boasts everything you need in a backcountry glove: It’s leather build provides durability, a merino wool/fleece polyester liner provides warmth in deep winter, yet it’s removable to adapt for spring skiing excursions, and pre-curved fingers allow for optimal range of movement in the extremities.
Armada TST evoAIR
evo teamed up with Armada for this badass co-lab ski. The ski combines two Armada models, the TST and KUFO. It takes the lightweight Karuba wood core of the KUFO and the tapered shape and nose rocker-camber underfoot profile of the TST, resulting in a ski that is efficient uphill and ultra ski-able on the downhill. The topsheet graphic is done by local Seattle artist Kyler Martz, who created the artwork on the restaurant next to evo Seattle. For more on the creation of the ski, click here.
Oakley Canopy with Prizm Jade Iridium
The oversized, spherical Canopy provides incredible field of view and is damn stylish, to boot. We’ve also found that it also has an optimal fit with most helmet brands. The highlight, of course, is the Prizm lens that boosts contrast to allow its user to see any and all natural obstacles in their path.
The North Face Women’s Fuseform Brigandine 3L jacket and pants
This bombproof combo from The North Face was developed with input from big-mountain skier Angel Collinson. The Utah native is consistently exposed to extreme conditions and the Fuseform Brigandine 3L kit protects her from it all. The jacket features a seamless, robust jacquard weave in the hood, elbows, pocket openings, chest, lower side panels and back to reduce wear and tear, prevent moisture penetration and ensure an optimal fit when wearing a pack. The pants also boast the jacquard weave in the seat, belt loops, waist tabs, pocket openings, knees and thighs. Be on the lookout in the fall of 2017, when the updated Fuseform Brigandine line hits stores, complete with an incredibly ergonomically sound fit, ideal for moving through the mountains
Under Armour ColdGear Reactor Hooded Jacket
While springtime is often reserved for warm weather and less reliance on midlayers, there are times when nasty, cold weather will roll in. The garment utilizes Under Armour’s ColdGear Reactor intelligent insulation that ensures you warm when the weather is not, but also adapts to warmer days to ensure you don’t overheat. It’s also water repellent to keep moisture at bay during spring storms.
Backcountry Access BC Link Radio
Communication is one of, if not the most important aspect of successful days in the backcountry and the BC Link Radio is a very effective tool in aiding group conversation. Your pack houses the base unit, while the microphone clips onto your shoulder strap (it’s compatible with all backcountry packs, but works particularly well with the BCA Stash Packs). The base unit utilizes a rechargeable lithium ion battery, is waterproof and compatible with all standard FRS/GMRS radios. The microphone unit features glove-friendly controls including a push-to-talk button, power switch, volume control and channel selection.
Deuter Rise Tour 45+
This pack is ideal for multi-day touring excursions in the backcountry. The 45-plus liter Rise Tour 45+ is built using crossed aluminum stays (which are removable) in the back, which allows for optimal load transfer, allowing you to comfortably and safely carry the essentials for an overnight stay in the wilderness. An extra-long side zipper allows for fairly easy access to your goods and a Hyperlon material front ups the durability.
Julbo Vermont Classic
Every backcountry skier should own a pair of glacier glasses, for the function and the style. The Vermont Classics from Julbo feature polycarbonate lenses to protect your retinas as well as a leather nose patch (for comfort) and side shields to keep your face blocked from the sun’s brutal, high-elevation rays.
Outdoor Tech Kodiak Mini 2.0
Keeping your phone and other devices charged in case of emergency is vital when in the backcountry. The Outdoor Tech Kodiak Mini 2.0 is waterproof and shockproof, can boost the charge to your phone (“Hello, Search and Rescue?”) and comes with a built-in 5-LED flashlight with 100-lumen and 65-lumen emergency strobe modes.
Flylow Genius jacket and IQ pant
Perhaps the most alluring aspect of the Genius and IQ is that they weigh almost nothing—perfect for long days in the backcountry. The jacket weighs just over a pound and the pant just under a pound. Constructed with Polartec Neoshell fabric, both pieces are incredibly waterproof and breathable, and four-way stretch ensures movement isn’t inhibited no matter where your adventures take you.
Hydrapak Shape-Shift 3L
Hydration in the backcountry is key, everyone knows that. The Shape-Shift water reservoir comes in two sizes (2 liter and 3 liter), is incredibly slim for comfortable insertion into your pack and its sliding seal up to allows it to open wide to easily fill it, then close tight to ensure no leaking occurs.
Petzl Irvis Hybrid crampons
With a steel toe piece and aluminum heel piece, the Irvis Hybrid is able to straddle the line between weight savings and supreme functionality. The steel is adept at providing traction on ice and steep snow, while the aluminum sheds some grams, resulting in a weight of 505 grams. Its flexible cord linking system also allows it to pack down nicely for storage in your pack.
Thule Upslope 35L
With two jumbo side pockets, the Upslope 35L has some creative storage solutions. We like to store an extra 1-liter water bottle in one and save the other for skin storage when lapping in the backcountry. Additionally, the 35-liter pack boasts an insulated hydration sleeve, two ski-carry options, fleece-lined goggle pocket, ice axe loop and back panel access.
Darn Tough RFL Over-the-Calf Ultra-Light
This minimalist ski sock is great for the skin track. It’s built with a combination of Merino wool, nylon and spandex, resulting in a sock that wicks moisture, is antimicrobial, super durable, breathable and stretchy.
Brooks-Range Mountaineering Drift 15
Ideal for late-winter overnight trips, the Drift 15 is designed with 20.5 ounces of 850-plus fill DownTek down to keep you warm down to about 15 degrees Fahrenheit. A specialized neck collar helps bundle you up and trap heat within the bag, too. It weighs a manageable 32 ounces, packs down small and is treated with DWR to help keep any moisture you might encounter at bay.
Le Bent Le Base 200 Lightweight Baselayer Crew top and bottom
These baselayers have everything you need for an enjoyable day in the backcountry. They’re built with a combination of Merino wool, Bamboo Rayon and Elastane, which results in a lightweight, soft, moisture-wicking, stink-free and mobile pair of baselayers.
MSR Access 2 Two-Person, Four-Season Ski Touring Tent
Winter camping is hard, but the Access 2 makes it easier. It sits right in the middle of MSR’s mountaineering and backpacking tents, lighter than the mountaineering and warmer than the backpacking. A bit of mesh in the body provides some warmth on the coldest nights, the interior is big enough for two people to comfortably de-layer and sleep and the robust frame will hold up against snow loading. It also sets up incredibly fast, which is key when a storm happens to roll through.
The Vuarnet Glaciers can be worn high in the alpine or down low on the town. Just remove the leather shields and nose bridge and you’ve got aviator style for après. The Glaciers were also worn by James Bond in the movie Spectre, and if it’s got 007’s stamp of approval, it must be top-notch.
Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro
Both the toe and heel of the Sabretooth Pro are built with stainless steel, ensuring you’ll remained gripped on whatever snow condition you’re climbing on. The steel also resists snowballing and prevents against rusting out. The combination of horizontal front-points and technically-focused dual secondary points provides a super stable platform that can also perform in more technical terrain.