Backcountry skiing is an experience entirely its own, and something every person can customize to his or her specific style. From low-angle powder fields to multi-day missions, there are plentiful ways to enjoy the off-piste experience. For that reason, manufacturers—now, more than ever—are engineering products tailored specifically to those different kinds of missions, enabling every type of skier to enjoy the mountains without wasting time fussing with gear.
“People do so much to train and prepare for backcountry days,” says Dynafit freeride athlete Riis Wilbrecht. “If you don’t have gear that can keep up or that’s durable, your day can either be ruined or made a lot more difficult.”
When selecting gear for a specific backcountry mission, choosing the “right stuff” ultimately comes down to what works best for the individual. But, this also means compiling a kit that’s comprised of equipment that work well together. Product designers go to great lengths, for example, to make sure a specific jacket and pant work in tandem; the result a catalyst for better performance. Additionally, brands such as Dynafit create different gear within the same categories—like outerwear, skis and bindings—that are meant to excel at certain styles of skiing, whether that’s busting out quick laps in the sidecountry or gunning for a bigger, burlier summit.
“If your goal is to go out and only ski the backcountry, you want a company that has that in mind when designing every single piece of gear,” says Wilbrecht. “When you start from the bottom up, you’ve got the ski that’s designed in mind with the binding, and the binding is designed in mind with the boot, and that flow of engineering lines up every single piece that you’re using to make it a really easy and coherent setup.”
Wilbrecht notes that having a complete setup, designed from the ground-up to work together, not only makes transitions quicker and simpler, it’s also confidence-inducing knowing that gear is going to operate (and cooperate) from the trailhead to the summit and back. Now, with all of this in mind, here’s a kit ideal for freeride touring, a FREESKIER-approved setup for a jaunt out of bounds on the hunt for fresh tracks.
Dynafit Beast 108
The Beast 108 from Dynafit is a backcountry powder hound’s dream plank. The design of this ski—full ABS sidewalls, ash wood core, Double Ellipse Rocker construction with a carbon core in the tip, as well as a reduction in top sheet—drastically reduces the weight of this freeride-centric ski without sacrificing any performance. At 108-millimeters underfoot, the Beast 108 is made for those who spend a lot of time going up on the skin track and hitting cliffs, backcountry booters and make long, arching turns on the way down. “These things go everywhere, from steep days in the alpine to spinning side hits at the resort,” adds Wilbrecht. “The newest Beast is remarkably responsive and durable allowing me to have the confidence to move quickly through big lines and have a smooth ride down.”
Dynafit Hoji Free 130
Skiing hard and walking easy have never married so well in a ski boot than with the Hoji Free 130. An iteration of the original Hoji Pro Tour boot, the Hoji Free 130 features a toe-bail—making it compatible with alpine and touring bindings. The 130 flex makes it stiff enough for the burliest of skiers and a 55-degree range of motion in walk-mode makes for smooth and comfortable ascents. The 102-millimeter last accommodates wider feet and a customizable liner makes honing in the fit a cinch. “I love this boot for every occasion,” says Wilbrecht.
Dynafit ST Rotation 12
“These bindings make life easy,” raves Wilbrecht. Designed for ski tourers who demand premium performance on the way down, the ST Rotation 12 will carry every freeride skier with the utmost confidence. A 10-millimeter forward pressure adjustment ensures consistent binding release—cliffs or snow sharks included—and three heel risers mean these bindings were made for walking, too. With an adjustable DIN value from 5-12, the ST Rotation 12 suits the needs of most backcountry freeride skiers. Wilbrecht adds, “Transitions are a piece of cake because of the durable heel piece that doesn’t jam up and runs smoothly in all temperatures.”
Leki Helicon Lite
The Helicon Lite ski pole from Leki is a reliable backcountry tool, blending a durable aluminum upper shaft and lightweight carbon lower—all in an adjustable package. You can’t go wrong here.
Dynafit Free Gore-Tex Jacket & Pant
Available in three colorways—yellow, blue and a sleek camo print—this three-layer hardshell jacket stands out not only for its design but also its performance. Featuring Gore-Tex C-Knit Technology, the outer layer is extra durable and the inner layer is soft to the touch. Completely water- and windproof, as well as incredibly breathable, two under-arm vents provide better airflow for those long slogs uphill. And several specially-designed pockets provide enough storage—namely, two outer zip pockets, two interior mesh pockets and a small sleeve for a lift pass. A storm hood easily fits over a helmet and a mesh powder skirt seamlessly integrates with the Free Gore-Tex Pant preventing snow creep. “This jacket allows you to keep a comfortable temperature through the [most sufferable], long days,” says Wilbrecht.
Designed for steep and deep conditions, the Free Gore-Tex pant—also available in yellow, blue or camo print—is Dynafit’s most fully-featured freeride pant. Equipped with Gore-Tex C-Knit Technology, it’s just as capable keeping snow, moisture and body heat out. A removable nylon bib adds extra protection for getting #pitted and three large pockets—two on the thighs and one on the bib—create ample storage. Perforations on the back of the bib as well two side zippers create better airflow and the Free Gore-Tex Jacket seamlessly integrates with the pant via a mesh powder skirt. “This kit is built for backcountry travel. It packs down to the size of a small burrito while keeping you as warm as one, too,” adds Wilbrecht.
Strafe Men’s Alpha Hooded Insulator Jacket
Designed to stay on from the bottom of the skin track and back, the Alpha Hooded Insulator Jacket from Strafe is a layering staple for backcountry enthusiasts for its temperature regulating abilities and light weight. Thoughtfully packed with quick-drying Polartec Alpha insulation and wrapped in stretch RECON air fabric, this insulating mid-layer is made for every adventure, no matter the weather.
Backcountry Access Tracker 4
The fourth iteration of the brand’s most successful avalanche transceiver, the Tracker 4 is more durable than ever before with an over-molded rubber case to protect the beacon from bumps and tumbles. A large LED display operates on BCA’s foolproof software with Big Picture modes and signal suppression for multiple burials. Simply put, the Tracker 4 is incredibly user-friendly.
Mammut Alugator Light Pro Hoe
When a scenario requires moving a ton of snow in very little time, you’re going to want Mammut’s Alugator Light Pro Hoe. Throw this bad boy into hoe mode and use the D-grip handle to efficiently remove debris. For building booters or digging out a place to take a break, simply reposition the blade on the shaft to use as a regular shovel.
Black Diamond Quickdraw Carbon Probe 320
Deep snowpacks are no match for the Black Diamond Quickdraw Carbon Probe 320 thanks to its 320-centimeter length. Located buried skiers with ease by simply pulling on the handle to assemble the probe and penetrate frozen solid surfaces with the oversized alloy tip.
Pomoca Free Pro 2.0
If there’s ever been a skin made specifically for freeriders, it’s the Free Pro 2.0 from Pomoca for its light weight, superior grip and glide and specific freeride attachments. A back fix attachment system makes the skin compatible with all ski lengths and fittin the click lock on the front of the skin makes it a universal system, no matter the tip shape.
Backcountry Access Float 22
When it comes to airbag packs, weight matters, so Backcountry Access made the tried-and-true Float 22 five percent lighter this year. Boasting 22 liters of storage space (plenty for a single day out of bounds), a dedicated safety pocket for your shovel and probe and a fully integrated BCA Link 2.0 radio pocket, there’s a spot for everything in this pack. With airbag capabilities, it’s perfect for backcountry day missions as well as cat- and heli-skiing.
Giro Grid MIPS
Active ventilation with an odor-resistant, moisture-wicking liner, a Fidlock magnetic buckle and dial-in fit adjustment are just a few details worth sharing about the backcountry-focused Giro Grid MIPS helmet. When you pick it up—or put it on your head—for the first time, you’ll notice its amazingly lightweight feel at just 400 grams. More often than not, you’ll forget you’re even wearing it; but Giro hasn’t skimped on safety here. MIPS Spherical technology has been seamlessly integrated into the helmet’s construction and the single-piece liner provides a fit that feels like your favorite beanie. Adjustable venting allows you to control the airflow and Polartec Power Grid material inside the Giro Grid MIPS wicks any lingering moisture away.
Giro Contour Goggle
To enhance the skier’s field of view without adding bulk, the Giro Contour employs Expansion View Technology—a toric-shaped lens that combines the unencumbered peripheral vision of a spherical lens with the low-profile styling of a cylindrical one. On the Giro Contour the proprietary VIVID contrast-enhancing lens, made in collaboration with the experts at Zeiss, further heightens the on-snow experience helping define snow variances and blocking harmful UV rays while allowing contrast-boosting “blue light” through. The ventilation pattern atop the goggle frame promotes airflow to effectively eliminate fogging; it’s lined with a comfortable triple-layer face foam; there’s a magnetic quick-change lens system; and every goggle comes standard with a second low-light lens.
Bare Republic Mineral Face Sunscreen
Boasting broad-spectrum 30 SPF UVA/UVB protection, Bare Republic’s Mineral Face Sunscreen uses all-natural ingredients to be kinder to your skin and the Earth. Vegan and reef-friendly, this sunscreen doesn’t contain any harmful parabens or GMOs and a staple in our packs. At altitude, those UV rays are more potent than you think!
Kate’s Real Food Granola Bars
These organic energy bars from Jackson Hole-based Kate Schade come in six delicious flavors, including lemon, coconut and ginger, dark chocolate and cherry and almond for an all-natural boost of energy. And they don’t leave you feeling bogged down after your skin track snack.