So what to pack when you’re headed out into the backcountry? We go over safety gear in this story on avy safety, but here’s the rest of what we recommend.
Two low-profile packs that stand out are Deuter’s Freeride Pro 30 ($149; deuter.com) and Mammut’s Nirvana Snowpack ($170; mammut.ch). Both ride well, hold just the right amount of gear for anything from quick laps to a big day and make it easy both to carry skis/snowboards for bootpacking and to access gear. Inside, we like to stuff Arc’teryx’s Atom LT Hoodie ($199; arcteryx.com), a light, insulated Polartec shell that can serve triple duty as an emergency mid-layer, skinning or spring-day shell. For women, we recommend Patagonia’s Skinnard ($300; Patagonia.com), a breathable, light (22 ounce) shell with guts. For a classic mid-layer, check out Melanzana’s Micro Grid Hoodie ($61; melanzana.com), a multi-functional piece, perfect for a cold-conditions mid-layer and made here in the U.S.A. in Leadville by a true Colorado homegrown business. Down below, nothing beats FlyLow’s Chemical Pant ($270; flylowgear.com), which provides ample venting for the skin up and burly reinforcement for the tumble down. Many people forgo the helmet in the bc, but we have yet to test a helmet as suited to hiking and touring as Smith’s Maze ($100; smithoptics.com), which provides all the protection you need in tight trees and loose-rock couloirs, yet weighs in at just 11.5 ounces, ideal for huffing it uphill. Combining Gore-Tex and leather, Scott’s Bolt ($80; scottusa.com) glove holds up to wilderness rigors without too much bulk. All you ask of your skins is not to fail. BCA’s new Climbing Skins ($102–$140; backcountryaccess.com) impressed us as far as being easy to stay on and strip off with ease. A spot of tea always makes a backcountry trip more civilized, so we put some Puh Ehr in Stanley’s Nineteen13 vacuum bottle ($25; Stanley-pmi.com).