Welcome to a special Backcountry Issue installment of Gear Spotlight from FREESKIER. Here, we provide a close-up look at the equipment and accessories that everyone should know about when heading off-piste. Can’t get enough gear? Click here to see our entire 2019 Buyer’s Guide.
All-new for this year, the Grizzly Gulch Jacket is the centerpiece of a men’s line of outerwear designed by the experts at Backcountry in collaboration with Flylow. Constructed specifically for long stints out of bounds, the Grizzy Gulch (and Mill D Bib) are made of Polartec Neoshell, one of the lightest and most breathable fabrics on the planet, which is ideal when you’re hauling multiple day’s worth of gear from hut to hut. Two oversized chest pockets can fit skins for hot lapping, while full, 12-inch pit zippers allow you to cool down while you’re on the go. This kit is part of Backcountry’s alpine touring line that includes product collaborations with brands like Black Diamond and DPS.
Pair with: Mill D Bib Pant
For mid-winter backcountry missions, cold hands are a no-go. The North Face solves this problem with the Kootenai mittens, which are insulated and lined with plush fleece and fully-waterproofed with Gore-Tex Pro inserts. An articulated design adds comfort and a long cuff ensures snow is denied entry, even on the deepest days. A removable wrist leash that holds a hand warmer also provides a thoughtful touch and further promotes toasty digits.
Full Tilt loyalists are reeling in delight with the all-new Ascendant, the company’s first touring boot. Here, the shell and tongue are made of Grilamid, known for its outstanding strength-to-weight ratio, while a polyurethane cuff further dampens the boot’s reaction to fast, sweeping descents down big-mountain faces. A large, durable lever on the heel activates the boot’s walk mode, providing up to a 60-degree range of motion when the tongue is removed, so you can stride faster and more easily on your way up to the next objective.
Lightweight, agile, yet sturdy and wide enough for the steep and deep, the SEEKr 100 is a backcountry addict’s best friend. Inside, a three-dimensionally shaped poplar-paulownia wood core is reinforced with four layers of carbon fiber, ensuring that each turn is met with a balance of playfulness and strength. At 100 mm underfoot and with a slight early rise in the tip and tail, the SEEKr 100 finds the sweet spot between powder-hound and all-terrain powerhouse.
Paired with the SEEKr 100 skis, the ZED 12 bindings will deftly carry you to the far-off lines you’ve always dreamed about. New for this year, the ZED 12 is an updated version of the ever-popular Ion, but this binding employs a new toepiece for added downhill performance and safety. Utilizing “unique jaw dynamics,” G3’s updated toepiece absorbs up to 50 percent more energy than its predecessor, eliminating the need to lock-out the toe during firm, no-fall zone descents.
The Stash 40 is the biggest, most durable pack offered by Backcountry Access and it’s an ideal carry-all for long slogs from hut to hut. Offering 40 liters of storage space, a dedicated, easy access pocket for avalanche rescue tools and plenty of small pockets to keep everything you need for a multi-day backcountry trip organized, the Stash 40 should be a go-to for anyone keen to venture far out of bounds in search of fresh snow.
For backcountry skiers who covet weight savings, the Pret Cynic AT is your ticket to top-notch head protection in a package that won’t bog you down. Stripping down its popular Cynic helmet to the bare bones while employing a carbon-plated interior and passive venting, the AT weighs a mere 375 grams. Skiers who plan to start their ascent before dawn will also appreciate a Velcro headlamp attachment, so lighting the way is easier than ever.