Best of the Backcountry Gear

02 Jan 13
backcountry gear

There’s no time where gear means more than when you are out on your own in the wild. To that end, here’s the stuff that not only made the backcountry safer but also more enjoyable this winter.

1. DPS Wailer 112RP

In the early ’00s, DPS’s Peter Turner worked with Shane McConkey to develop the legendary Volant Spatula, the original reverse-camber, rockered deep powder ski. The quick-turning Wailer 112 is the evolution of that now-ubiquitous aesthetic. It’s rockered, but unlike those prototypes it features lots of sidecut and a touch of camber. And we know we say this about every ski these days, but it really can do it all—on an early-season trip to Whistler it was  shockingly stable at speed and effortless in pow. But the deal-breaker is the weight—the carbon and nano verison ponies up at just 4.19 pounds each in a 190 cm ski, making it simple to schuss up the skin trail. $1,249 (Pure construction), $799 (Hybrid construction); dpsskis.com

2. Black Diamond Carbon Megawatt

This fat boy—125 mm underfoot—does not move like a Clydesdale. The carbon construction keeps the latest iteration of the popular Meg down to 9 pounds, 5 ounces in a 188-cm pair. The rockered tip and slightly rockered tail give it floatation. You just won’t find another ski this wide that tours this well. $829; blackdiamondequipment.com

3. Liberty Variant

Avon-Colorado-based Liberty skis added titanal along the edges of its new Variant (145/113/132). Pair that strength with the brand’s bamboo constructon and you get a big, stable touring ski that serves day-to-day duty in the wildly varying snow conditions of the Front Range backcountry. $839; libertyskis.com

4. Jones Hovercraft Split

Don’t be fooled by the shorter length of the oddly shaped Hovercraft. This baby can lope thorugh deep powder fields just as easily as it can rip off freestyle moves on natural backcountry terrain features. The spilt capability makes it an effective mountaineering tool, too. $699; jonessnowboards.com

5. Drift Innovation HD Ghost

The HD POV cam has become required gear these days and the easy-to-operate Ghost will record video and snap off still photos on the go, thanks in part to a two-way LED remote control that makes it easy to focus on the riding at hand rather than futzing with camera controls. $399; driftinnovation.com 

6. La Sportiva Spitfire

Tipping the scales at just 44 ounces per boot, the Spitfire wants to be the first up the trail. That makes it ideal for rando racing but a low profile Grilamid shell and a Carbon Reinforced Polymer cuff gives the boot enough downhill oomph for local exploration. Best of all, they switch from tour to ski mode with one easy flip of the top buckle. $899; sportiva.com

7. Dynafit One PX

Dynafit took its wildly popular (but insanely minimalist) TLT5 and gave it a touch more downhill guts to create a light touring boot for the mainstream. Weighing in at just 27.5 ounces per boot, it features a similar one flip buckle for walk or tour mode, but it’s warmer, roomier and more confident on the downs. $640; dynafit.com

8. Ortovox Zoom Plus

Here’s an affordable beacon that’s basic and effecive. It uses just two buttons and a simple display screen but still takes advantage of Ortovox’s smart, three antenna system to locate victims buried at odd angles. $299; ortovox.com

9. S.O.G. Powerlock

Melding ski patrol and special ops, this is one multitool you will want in your pack when things go wrong. The clippers will cut through a quarter and the small saw is damn sharp. $114; sogknives.com

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