Backcountry skiing is a unique sport. The reward of powering yourself up a peak on just your own two feet and a pair of skis is incomparable—not to mention the glorious untouched skiing on the way down. It’s also a sport that can be tailored to the individual, whether you’re someone who is just looking for a playful powder field close to the trailhead or the next North American first descent. For that reason, manufacturers like Dynafit are producing products designed for those different kinds of backcountry missions, enabling every skier to maximize their time in the mountains without wasting any energy or sacrificing safety.
“When you’re spending a significant amount of time in the mountains it’s really important to manage the things that you can control, and your time out there can be one of them,” says Dynafit ski mountaineer athlete TJ David. “In order to minimize risk, I think it’s important to have gear that works succinctly together and that efficiency allows you to move better out there, to minimize your time out there and to, ultimately, minimize your risk exposure.”
At the end of the day, choosing the “right” gear comes down to personal preference but there’s something to be said about compiling a kit of compatible pieces. Dynafit designers go to great lengths to ensure each product serves a specific purpose, like the Superlite 150 binding and the Blacklight 88 ski, which are built to be light and fast, yet incredibly durable to withstand the high-stakes terrain ski mountaineers often find themselves in.
“It’s important that each piece of gear works well together rather than piece-mealing stuff together from different brands, says David. “When you buy Dynafit products and you use them, you know this specific boot is going to work really well with this binding with this ski in this scenario. I do find that that’s important because as a ski mountaineer and somebody who is pushing personal boundaries and boundaries in the sport, I really need to rely on the equipment. Any failure in equipment in the mountains is a really big deal,” David emphasizes.
Specifically for ski mountaineering, David looks for products that are, first and foremost, durable, lightweight and functional. The less time David spends fidgeting with heel risers and changing layers, the more time he has to focus on the pursuit in front of him. With all of this in mind, here’s a FREESKIER-approved setup ideal for long days and big missions in the mountains.
Dynafit Blacklight 88
The lightest all-around ski in the Dynafit lineup—weighing just 1,140 grams at 172 cm—the Blacklight 88 is made to help you achieve your personal best in high-stakes, high alpine terrain. A 100-percent carbon construction means this ski is light and fast for the ascent but a poplar wood core, ABS sidewalls and a tapered tip and tail ensure stability for the ride down, no matter the snow conditions. “It’s important to have a ski that always holds an edge no matter what the conditions are,” says David. “The Blacklight is a great adventure ski that works really well with the Superlite binding.”
Dynafit Superlite 150
The lightest binding in Dynafit’s lineup, the Superlite 150 was made for fast ascents. Made entirely out of aluminum, the brand was able to acheive the perfect balance between lightweight and durability. A race-insipred toe with added torsional strength aids in driving biggers skis while a lateral DIN adjustment from four to 13 and a vertical release of eight, this binding is just as comfortable in a ski mountaineer race as it is in no-fall-zone backcountry terrain. “You don’t have to turn the heel piece to transition from climb to skiing mode,” adds David. “That piece of functionality is so important when you’re on a steep line or on top of a peak.”
Dynafit Carbonio TLT8
“A light boot is really important but we can’t sacrifice downhill skiability for lightness,” says David. As part of the brand’s Carbonio collection, the TLT8 offers both uphill speed and downhill durability. Weighing just 950 grams per boot, the TLT8 features a 60-degree range of motion in walk mode for energy savings with every step. A carbon fiber cuff and a forward lean of 15 or 18 degrees in ski mode adds stability in all types of snow conditions, and 103 mm last width gives this boot an athletic fit to efficiently transfer power from the boot to the binding and ski. “I want a boot that has plenty of forward lean, that way I can make really precise turns, I’m not going to get thrown in the backseat if the snow is variable,” adds David.
Dynafit Blacklight Pro Pole
A combination of carbon on the top half and Kevlar carbon on the lower half make the Blacklight Pro the most durable pole from Dynafit and an extended EVA foam grip allows for varying hand positions depending on the steepness of your ascent. “In rough terrain, if you break a pole out there it’s not going to make skiing down very fun, or to continue climbing up, so that’s why Dynafit made this pole a combination of Kevlar and carbon, to keep it light but also ready for impact protection,” says David.
Dynafit Mercury Pro Jacket & Pant
“I really like the fact that Dynafit continues to make kits that match up well with the individual athlete’s pursuit,” says David of the Mercury Pro kit. Designed for long tour days, the softshell jacket and pant feature a stretch woven nylon fabric for its breathability and freedom of movement. Underarm ventilation in the jacket and leg vents in the pants provide extra relief when the ascent starts heating up. Available in both men’s and women’s sizes and colors, the Mercury Pro kit is ideal for ski mountaineers of all shapes and sizes.
Dynafit Radical Down Jacket
TJ David’s preferred warm layer for transitions and extra cold touring days, the Radical Down jacket features a Responsible Down Standard (RDS) goose down treated with water-resistant DOWNTEK. While most down layers lose their insulating capabilities when exposed to moisture, the Radical Down maintains its warmth and loft, even when wet. A nylon outer shell adds to the jacket’s weatherproofness and elastic bands on the cuffs and lower hem keep the elements out. An athletic cut and available in three colorways, the Radical Down looks and works just as well on top of a peak as it does on your commute to work.
Mammut Barryvox S
The newest iteration of the brand’s Barryvox avalanche transceivers, the Barryvox S is even more user friendly and easy to handle to help improve the probability of a successful rescue. A search range of 70 meters and a multiple-burial function make this one of the best beacons on the market.
Ortovox Beast Shovel
Stable and reliable in crucial situations, the Beast shovel from Ortovox gets the job done efficiently. Weighing just 580 grams, the Beast is lightweight but its high-quality aluminum materials make it burly enough to move even the heaviest of debris.
BCA Stealth 270 Probe
Featuring the brand’s Quick-Lock hardware, the Stealth 270 probe allows for the fastest assembly on the market. Measuring 270 centimeters with laser-etched depth markings, deep snowpacks and debris piles are no match for this BCA probe. The brand backs up this product with a limited three-year warranty.
Pomoca Climb 2.0
Made to climb for miles and miles, Pomoca’s updated Climb 2.0 skin is 70 percent mohair and 30 percent nylon for an unmatched combination of grip and glide. Its light weight and packability also make this the ideal skin for touring enthusiasts with a pension to go deep and steep.
Ortovox Ascent 32 Backpack
Designed for the most demanding mountain missions, Ortovox thought through every detail of the Ascent 32. Resistant to abrasions yet incredibly lightweight thanks to a nylon 100D Robic Ripstop fabric, this pack saves weight without sacrificing comfort and functionality. The Ascent features a designated map compartment, safety equipment pocket, an ice axe holder, rope fastening and hydration system compatibility—making use of all 32 liters of storage space.
POC Obex BC SPIN
Designed specifically for backcountry use, the Obex BC SPIN helmet can speak for you when you can’t in the case of an emergency. Equipped with an NFC Medical ID chip, first responders can use the information stored to assist in a rescue scenario. POC’s proprietary SPIN technology protects the brain from impact and an adjustable venting system and removable ear pads provide extra comfort without sacrificing any safety features.
POC Orb Clarity
The Orb Clarity from POC features a unique frame construction to maximize the field of view in every direction and a toric lens shape for minimal distortion. Combined with lenses developed by Zeiss, the Orb Clarity enhances contrast and clarity, no matter the light condition.
Black Diamon Raven Ultra Ice Axe
Designed for ski mountaineering, the Raven Ultra Ice Axe climbs alpine ice and snow with no problem. An angled spike easily plunges into frozen couloirs and an investment-cast stainless steel head and aggressive pick bite into moderate ice with absolute ease.
Petzl Irvis Hybrid Crampon
When the ascent gets too steep for skinning, the Irvis Hybrid Crampons from Petzl will provide secure traction on icy couloirs. Featuring a steel front piece and an aluminum heel piece, the Irvis Hyrbid balances performance, technicality, weight and traction beautifully while the CORD-TECH linking system reduces bulk and LEVERLOCK UNIVERSEL binding fits the front of any boot.
Zinka Mineral Clear Zinc Oxide Sunscreen
High alpine missions means high-alpine sun exposure. Protect your skin from harmful UV rays with zinc oxide sunscreen from Zinka.
Honey Stinger Energy Chews
Honey Stinger Energy Chews are a delicious, bite-sized burst of energy. Made of organic honey and tapioca syrup, these chews offer multiple carbohydrate energy sources: glucose, fructose, maltose and sucrose.