7 Essentials for Backcountry Skiing
Backcountry skiing is an exciting pursuit where advanced skills and quality gear are essential for performance, safety and survival. Thanks to technological advancement, backcountry gear features lighter material and extra protection for the ever-changing mountain climate. Before you head outback, add these seven essentials to your backcountry checklist:
Also known as “ski skins,” climbing skins attach to the bottom of skis and assist in the ascension of backcountry pursuits. Skins must be removed prior to downhill skiing. Skins are a skier’s railroad up the mountain. Without skins, upward treks result in struggling efforts and possible sinking in the snow. Black Diamond features the Ascension Nylon STD Skins, which are lightweight yet durable to provide a tight grip atop of powder. A pair of skins weighs 1.8 pounds, and leaves plenty of pack space for other important gear.
Every backcountry outing requires a pack to store gear, food, clothing and navigation accessories. However, not every pack is created equal. Serious backcountry pursuits can benefit from North Face’s Patrol 24 ABS Pack. The pack features a built-in avalanche airbag system, which has a 95% real-world track record. The pack uses a nitrogen canister to inflate two large bags that lifts bodies toward the surface. The bag’s color makes it more visible during rescue pursuits and offers a lifetime warranty. Saving a life is priceless and the $1,179 price tag is worth the purchase.
Backcountry pursuits are useless without a GPS system and a weatherproof map. As technology advances, it is advisable to carry both a GPS, map and/or a compass to ensure safety in case technology fails. Trusted GPS brand, Garmin, features the GPSMAP 64s, which comes with a built-in worldwide basemap and 2D or 3D topography maps for computers. If in search for a quality compass, brands such as Brunton and Suunto are ideal for backcountry pursuits due to its quality features that provide more details than a basic compass.
Ski Goggles with Camera
Goggles are essential for any skiing adventure. Keep packs light and avoid camera damage with a built-in ski goggle camera. Zeal Optics feature two modern-technology goggles including an HD Video and Camera and a GPS Goggle. Capture 1080HD Video with a 170-degree lens as you ski, flip and turn down trail-less mountainsides. This ensures skiers capture the best quality video touched with ultimate bragging rights. Camera goggles feature a playback option allowing skiers to relive the sickest runs nature has ever seen.
Upper body strength is just as important as lower body strength when conquering the backcountry. Ski poles and ice axes are ideal for ascension and to trek icy, unpredictable terrain. Poles that feature anti-shock technology and “snowflake” baskets ensure a quality climb. Black Diamond features the Raven Ice Axe with Grip to ensure a durable experience upon icy terrain. The grip leash is an extra bonus to guarantee skier-axe connection during tough “slip-away” climbs. The large top hole allows ample space for carabineers to attach the axe to packs.
A helmet is a must for backcountry pursuits and determines life or death for many unfortunate accidents. Just like packs, not all helmets are created equal. Anon Optic’s top of the line Thompson helmet features hybrid 50/50 construction, which integrates technology, safety and performance into one helmet. The unique component to Anon Optic’s is the built in BOA technology, which smoothly distributes pressure. The active ventilation system also fine-tunes airflow and temperature with a convenient one-handed slider located on the helmet. Ears are protected and covered with a lightweight covering to reduce pressure atop of sensitive pressure points that are located in this region.
Avalanche Safety Kits
An avalanche is every backcountry skier’s worst nightmare. Stay prepared with an avalanche kit, which features a shovel, avalanche transmitter and probe. Mammut offers the Element Barryvox Package and includes simple and easy directions on how to use each device. The unique Alugator Light shovel contains a blade to reduce packing volume to a minimum. The transmitter and probe are lightweight and store easily inside packs. The safety kits are ideal for skiers who tour for days or head to mountains that have a history of avalanches.
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