Best of the Backcountry

Here’s EO’s pick for the gear that gets you safely out into the deep — and home safe.


Scarpa – Maestrale XT

The latest iteration of Scarpa’s do-it-all three-buckle touring boot is stiffer than previous models, with a 130 flex that gives it the control to hold sketchy lines. That’s not to say it’s a pure downhill boot: Weighing in in at 3 pounds, 4.6 ounces per boot in a size 27 and equipped with an easy-to-flip walk mode, it’s a pleasure on the skin track. $899; scarpa.com

La Sportiva – Skorpius CR

Meet the perfect boot if you want to mix uphill skinning and touring with occassional skimo races at A-Basin or Eldora. Weighing in at just under two pounds per boot in a size 27, it won’t cramp your style on the ups. But progressive flex and a reinforced carbon upper give it serious muscle.  $799; sportiva.com

Dynafit – Hoji Women’s Pro Tour

The comfy, powerful Hoji Pro Tour boot has garnered plenty of praise—including two of our Peak Gear Awards. That hype is well deserved since the design of the boot brings shell and upper together for a fit that delivers precise power control on the downs and doesn’t slop around on the skin track. But why should that performance be just for men’s sizes or small unisex verisons? The women’s model fits the female foot better and delivers just as much oomph when you need it. $800; dynafit.com

G3 – FINDr 94

A plank designed specifically with the needs of ski mountaineers in mind, the 94mm-underfoot version of the FINDr excels in the steeps with snappy turning and solid edge hold. Bonus: Magnetic contact points on the ski mean they stick together in a hurry when you need to sling them over your shoulder and boogie up the bootpack—saving precious time in a race. $919; genuineguidegear.com

DPS – Alchemist Wailer 100

Prvous versions of this ski have been a standard in our quiver for years. The preimpregnated carbon ripper is a champ on big tours where you have to deal with a range of conditions since it can elevate in bottomless fluff just as confidently as it keeps an edge on refrozen boilerplate. $800; dpsskis.com

Ortovox – Ascent 30 AVABAG

The complaint about avy airbags is that they are heavy, which seems a bit daft since the system could actually pull you out of a slide should you set one off. Plus, this pack and airbag weighs only 1 pound, 8 ounces—and the avy bag system is removible if you want to simply use the durable, roomy pack on its own. $720; ortovox.com

Backcountry Access – Tracker S

This new transceiver is a trimmed down—and thus less expensive—version of BCA’s tried-and-true Tracker3, which includes numeous features more apt for guides than casual backcountry schussers. The three-antenna S is an extremely intuitive beacon to use. Train with with it (consider an AIARE course) and it may save a life. $300; backcountryaccess.com

Outdoor Research – Inception Alpine Aerogel Gloves

NASA technology went into this stretchy fleece glove. The Primalof Aerogel insulation provides shocking warmth for its near negligent weight— after all, it was developed to keep astronauts toasty way out in space. $99; outdoorresearch.com

Rab – Mantra

The pefect athletic shell for the rigors of skinning and deep snow, the Mantra’s Pertex Shield Pro 3L keeps out a squall but stays quiet when you are moving in a hurry.  $350; rab.equipment

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