Welcome to a special Buyer’s Guide installment of Gear Spotlight from FREESKIER. Here, we provide a close-up look at the equipment and accessories that everyone should know about. Can’t get enough gear? Click here to see our entire 2019 Buyer’s Guide.
Whether you go with the 240 centimeter or 300 centimeter option, this probe is ideal for long, strenuous days in the backcountry where weight really does matter. The Carbon Speed Tech probe is built with triaxially-woven carbon fiber for incredible strength and weight savings, with the 240 centimeter version coming in at 220 grams and the 300 centimeter at 284 grams. Bright five millimeter increment markings and a quick-draw deployment system, like that of the pull-start on a lawnmower, help shave time during a rescue, too.
If you’re looking to get into backcountry skiing, take a look at the new Tracker S when perusing your transceiver options. The Tracker S is a streamlined, more affordable version of BCA’s award-winning Tracker 3. The beacon boasts an instantaneous real-time display and the ease of use found in the rest of the Tracker line, but doesn’t include motion-sensing auto-revert mode, electronics performance testing or upgradeable software. Beginner backcountry skiers, take notice.
Mammut’s new Ride Removable Airbag is compatible with the brand’s removable Airbag System 3.0. The inflatable airbag packs down incredibly small, saving room for your other essentials. It’s Mammut’s lightest airbag to date and deploys up and behind the user’s head to protect from trauma that could occur during a slide. As for the pack itself, it features a padded, removable hip belt; a safety-tool pocket; a hydration stow zone; an oversized goggle compartment; an ice axe stow-away system; and a diagonal ski carry. With a total weight of 2,900 grams, the Ride Removable Airbag 3.0 is a dependable backcountry avalanche pack that won’t bog you down too much.
If traveling light and fast is your top priority when venturing into the backcountry, the Alugator Light Shovel from Mammut will be right up your alley. The Alugator Light lives up to its name, weighing in at just 475 grams. The blade can be stowed flat in your bag, thanks to a straight blade back, ideal for saving space. The level design is also beneficial for cutting straight snow profiles, great for those who obsess over their perfectly manicured snow pit study sites.
While girthy in size, the Fatso is unbelievably light, like Jerome Bettis in his prime, able to truck defenders or use his deftness to elude them. The Komperdell pole has a polyurethane grip that is soft, won’t slip and is 43 centimeters in length, ideal for choking up when touring across a slope. A high-density aluminum (read: light, durable) locking system allows for quick and easy adjustments. Bonus: they pack down to a manageable 109 centimeters in length.
BCA gave its useful and popular BC Link radio a makeover for 2018-19. The BC Link 2.0 comes complete with two watts of power, doubling its usable range to approximately six miles. Its new microphone is designed to block out snow and the on-off-channel dial has a raised ridge to prevent inadvertent switching. Communication is key in the backcountry, and the BC Link 2.0 is a worthy piece of gear for any out-of-bounds enthusiast.
G3 has redesigned its climbing skins heading into this winter so that skiers can easily choose the right skin for any mission. The new ALPINIST+ series boasts five products, each focusing on a specific strength: Universal, Grip, Glide, Speed and Pow. By employing a combination of different fabrics with each skin, G3 provides the ideal grip and glide for each specific condition. The Vancouver-based brand also utilizes a reformulated adhesive that will allow for more backcountry laps without having to reapply glue. Seen here is the Grip skin, which features a high-traction nylon build to ensure you can hang onto those steep, icy skin tracks.
This 240 millimeter probe is best suited for those frequently skiing amidst a continental snowpack—shallow, dry and faceted. The Probe 240 Short features a lightweight yet strong aluminum build along with a teardrop-shaped tip that helps to penetrate frozen surface debris with ease. Bonus: The probe’s sleeve displays illustrated emergency instructions for a bit of added reference should you find yourself in a burial situation.
The innovative new Barryvox S avalanche transceiver is a recreational backcountry skier’s best friend. It has a 70 meter receiving range as well as an incredibly useful smart feature that walks its user through a search grid pattern via responsive animation on the screen—it’ll even direct you when and where to start probing. The three-antennae beacon has a claimed battery life of 300 hours in transmit mode.
G3’s Avitech Shovel is a go-to for experienced ski guides in large part because of its completely flat blade surface, which aids in digging and sculpting pristine snow study pits. A heat-treated blade and shaft help remove lingering structural stress from the welding process and ensure an incredibly strong tube-to-blade attachment—essential for removing iced up debris. G3 offers the shovel in a super lightweight “T handle” with a “D grip” that allows for more leverage when shoveling.